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After attack, SourceForge speeds move to new security model

By Jeremy Kirk
January 31, 2011 10:29 AM ET

IDG News Service - The open-source software development site SourceForge is speeding up its move to a new a security model following a targeted attack that may have compromised the passwords of its large user base.

SourceForge, which hosts more than 260,000 projects, discovered the attack last Wednesday. It believes the attack was aimed at capturing passwords.

"Our analysis uncovered (among other things) a hacked SSH daemon, which was modified to do password capture," the organization said on its blog. "We don't have reason to believe the attacker was successful in collecting passwords. But, the presence of this daemon and server level access to one-way hashed, and encrypted, password data led us to take the precautionary measure of invalidating all SourceForge user account passwords."

Other people suggested the attack may have been aimed at corrupting projects hosted on SourceForge, and a review of code is under way to ensure data hasn't been tampered with. Users were also sent an e-mail informing them to reset their passwords. SourceForge said it expected access to projects to be restored early this week.

"We recognize that we could get services back online faster if we cut corners on data validation," SourceForge said. "We know downtime causes serious inconveniences for some of you. But given the negative consequences of corrupted data, we feel it's vital to take the time to validate everything that could potentially have been touched."

In the aftermath of the attack, SourceForge said it would accelerate the implementation of a new security model already under way. Many security decisions were made 10 years ago, but the site has grown from a few hundred users to millions.

SourceForge has been improving the security of Project Web, which is a general Web hosting platform that lets developers host Web pages, demos and deploy third-party Web applications.

"This new secure Project Web includes a new security model that moves us away from shared hosting while preserving the scalability we need for mass hosting," according to the blog post. "Because of this attack we'll be accelerating the rollout of Secure Project Web services as part of the process of bringing the project web service back online."

SourceForge is also looking to move projects off of CVS, a system for keeping track of software versions, to Subversion, another version tracker.

"We are also considering the end-of-life of the CVS service and hope to have user support in migrating CVS users to Subversion in coming months," SourceForge said. "Subversion generally provides parity to CVS commands, and many of our users have made this transition successfully in the past.

SourceForge is owned by Geeknet, a publicly traded company that is based in the U.S.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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