Hackers could use a nasty bug to expose government websites

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According to cybersecurity researchers at Defense.com, approximately 332,000 websites have been exposed to malicious actors due to a vulnerability in the open-source developer tool Git.

As TechRadar reported, of these websites, 2,500 are associated with the .gov domain in different countries, leaving various organizations at risk of online attacks and misuse of data.

Digital encrypted lock with multi-layered data. Getty Images

The researchers say the vulnerability is due not so much to a problem with Git, but to users not protecting their files with the proper antivirus protocols. Due to the nature of open source tools being the most basic code in any program, they can easily be tampered with if left unprotected. In this case, hackers can access records and download data from government agencies.

“Open source technology always has the potential for security vulnerabilities, being rooted in publicly available code. However, this level of vulnerability is not acceptable,” Oliver Pinson-Roxburgh, CEO of Defense.com, told TechRadar.

He added that the UK government was among organizations whose domains were at risk and should “monitor their systems and take immediate action to address the risks”.

Defense.com researchers further explained that a single file in a folder can contain data for an entire codebase history, including “previous code changes, comments, security keys, as well as sensitive remote paths containing secrets and files with plain text passwords”. “Typically, users with such access may be those with credentials to fix problems rather than exploit them. Some folders contain login credentials and API keys, which can give unwanted users access to even more sensitive information.

Pinson-Roxburgh noted that some organizations might leave certain records open for their own specific purposes; however, there are still many more who might unknowingly be at risk of a data breach.

Git serves a very popular user base of over 80 million active users. It can be a reminder for organizations to update the antivirus protocol, especially when it comes to open source programs.

Recently, cybersecurity company Buguard reported on the Wiseasy brand, which is well-known in the Asia-Pacific region for its Android-based payment system. Its accompanying Wisecloud cloud service was hacked by malware stealing employee computer passwords and ending up on the dark web market. This allowed bad players to infiltrate the brand’s database and gain access to 140,000 payment terminals worldwide.

Notably, the popular payment system brand lacked commonly recommended security features, such as two-factor authentication. Android is also well known for being open source at its core.

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