School Kid Uploads Ransomware Scripts to PyPI Repository as ‘Fun’ Project_CySecurityNews

An apparently school-age hacker from Verona, Italy, has become the latest to highlight why developers must be cautious about what they download from public code repositories these days. As an experiment, the teenage hacker recently posted many malicious Python packages containing ransomware programmes to the Python Package Index (PyPI).

The packages’ names were “requesys,” “requesrs,” and “requesr,” which are all typical misspellings of “requests,” a valid and extensively used HTTP library for Python. According to the Sonatype researchers who discovered the malicious code on PyPI, one of the packages (requesys) was downloaded around 258 times — probably by developers who made typographical errors when attempting to download the genuine “requests” package.

The bundle included scripts for exploring directories such as Documents, Pictures, and Music. One version of the requesys package included plaintext Python encryption and decryption code. However, a later version included a Base64-obfuscated executable, making analysis more difficult, according to Sonatype. 

Developers whose systems were encrypted received a pop-up notice urging them to contact the package’s author, “b8ff” (aka “OHR” or Only Hope Remains), on his Discord channel for the decryption key. According to Sonatype, victims were able to receive the decryption key without having to pay for it. 

“And that makes this case more of a gray area rather than outright malicious activity,” Sonatype concludes. 

Information on the hacker’s Discord channel shows that at least 15 victims had installed and run the package. According to the company, Sonatype identified the virus on July 28 and promptly reported it to PyPI’s authorities. Two of the packages have subsequently been deleted, and the hacker has renamed the requesys package so that developers do not confuse it with a valid programme.