Just over a year ago, we wrote about a “cybersecurity researcher” who posted almost 4000 pointlessly poisoned Python packages to the popular repository PyPI.

This person went by the curious nickname of Remind Supply Chain Risks, and the packages had project names that were generally similar to well-known projects, presumably in the hope that some of them would get installed by mistake, thanks to users using slightly incorrect search terms or making minor typing mistakes when typing in PyPI URLs.

These pointless packages weren’t overtly malicious, but they did call home to a server hosted in Japan, presumably so that the perpetrator could collect statistics on this “experiment” and write it up while pretending it counted as science.

A month after that, we wrote about a PhD student (who should have known better) and their supervisor (who is apparently an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at a US university, and very definitely should have known better) who went out of their way to introduce numerous apparently legitimate but not-strictly-needed patches into the Linux kernel.

They called these patches hypocrite commits, and the idea was to show that two peculiar patches submitted at different times could, in theory, be combined later on to introduce a security hole, effectively each contributing a sort of “half-vulnerability” that wouldn’t be spotted as a bug on its own.

As you can imagine, the Linux kernel team did not take kindly to being experimented on in this way without permission, not least because they were faced with cleaning up the mess:

Please stop submitting known-invalid patches. Your professor is playing around with the review process in order to achieve a paper in some strange and bizarre way. This is not ok, it is wasting our time, and we will have to report this, AGAIN, to your university…

GitHub splattered with hostile code

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