Rpad Domain Repurposed To Deliver Creepy (and potentially malicious) Content

I was about to embark on setting up a background task to sift through R package PDFs for traces of functions that “omit NA values” as a surprise present for Colin Fay and Sir Tierney:

When I got distracted by a PDF in the CRAN doc/contrib directory: Short-refcard.pdf. I’m not a big reference card user but students really like them and after seeing what it was I remembered having seen the document ages ago, but never associated it with CRAN before.

I saw:

by Tom Short, EPRI PEAC, tshort@epri-peac.com 2004-11-07 Granted to the public domain. See www. Rpad. org for the source and latest version. Includes material from R for Beginners by Emmanuel Paradis (with permission).

at the top of the card. The link (which I’ve made unclickable for reasons you’ll see in a sec — don’t visit that URL) was clickable and I tapped it as I wanted to see if it had changed since 2004.

You can open that image in a new tab to see the full, rendered site and take a moment to see if you can find the section that links to objectionable — and, potentially malicious — content. It’s easy to spot.

I made a likely correct assumption that Tom Short had nothing to do with this and wanted to dig into it a bit further to see when this may have happened. So, don your bestest deerstalker and follow along as we see when this may have happened.

Digging In Domain Land

We’ll need some helpers to poke around this data in a safe manner:

library(wayback) # devtools::install_github("hrbrmstr/wayback")
library(ggTimeSeries) # devtools::install_github("AtherEnergy/ggTimeSeries")
library(splashr) # devtools::install_github("hrbrmstr/splashr")
library(passivetotal) # devtools::install_github("hrbrmstr/passivetotal")
library(cymruservices)
library(magick)
library(tidyverse)

(You’ll need to get a RiskIQ PassiveTotal key to use those functions. Also, please donate to Archive.org if you use the wayback package.)

Now, let’s see if the main Rpad content URL is in the wayback machine:

glimpse(archive_available("http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/"))
## Observations: 1
## Variables: 5
## $ url        <chr> "http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/"
## $ available  <lgl> TRUE
## $ closet_url <chr> "http://web.archive.org/web/20170813053454/http://ww...
## $ timestamp  <dttm> 2017-08-13
## $ status     <chr> "200"

It is! Let’s see how many versions of it are in the archive:

x <- cdx_basic_query("http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/")

ts_range <- range(x$timestamp)

count(x, timestamp) %>%
  ggplot(aes(timestamp, n)) +
  geom_segment(aes(xend=timestamp, yend=0)) +
  labs(x=NULL, y="# changes in year", title="rpad.org Wayback Change Timeline") +
  theme_ipsum_rc(grid="Y")

count(x, timestamp) %>%
  mutate(Year = lubridate::year(timestamp)) %>%
  complete(timestamp=seq(ts_range[1], ts_range[2], "1 day"))  %>%
  filter(!is.na(timestamp), !is.na(Year)) %>%
  ggplot(aes(date = timestamp, fill = n)) +
  stat_calendar_heatmap() +
  viridis::scale_fill_viridis(na.value="white", option = "magma") +
  facet_wrap(~Year, ncol=1) +
  labs(x=NULL, y=NULL, title="rpad.org Wayback Change Timeline") +
  theme_ipsum_rc(grid="") +
  theme(axis.text=element_blank()) +
  theme(panel.spacing = grid::unit(0.5, "lines"))

There’s a big span between 2008/9 and 2016/17. Let’s poke around there a bit. First 2016:

tm <- get_timemap("http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/")

(rurl <- filter(tm, lubridate::year(anytime::anydate(datetime)) == 2016))
## # A tibble: 1 x 5
##       rel                                                                   link  type
##     <chr>                                                                  <chr> <chr>
## 1 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20160629104907/http://www.rpad.org:80/Rpad/  <NA>
## # ... with 2 more variables: from <chr>, datetime <chr>

(p2016 <- render_png(url = rurl$link))

Hrm. Could be server or network errors.

Let’s go back to 2009.

(rurl <- filter(tm, lubridate::year(anytime::anydate(datetime)) == 2009))
## # A tibble: 4 x 5
##       rel                                                                  link  type
##     <chr>                                                                 <chr> <chr>
## 1 memento     http://web.archive.org/web/20090219192601/http://rpad.org:80/Rpad  <NA>
## 2 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20090322163146/http://www.rpad.org:80/Rpad  <NA>
## 3 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20090422082321/http://www.rpad.org:80/Rpad  <NA>
## 4 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20090524155658/http://www.rpad.org:80/Rpad  <NA>
## # ... with 2 more variables: from <chr>, datetime <chr>

(p2009 <- render_png(url = rurl$link[4]))

If you poke around that, it looks like the original Rpad content, so it was “safe” back then.

(rurl <- filter(tm, lubridate::year(anytime::anydate(datetime)) == 2017))
## # A tibble: 6 x 5
##       rel                                                                link  type
##     <chr>                                                               <chr> <chr>
## 1 memento  http://web.archive.org/web/20170323222705/http://www.rpad.org/Rpad  <NA>
## 2 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20170331042213/http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/  <NA>
## 3 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20170412070515/http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/  <NA>
## 4 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20170518023345/http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/  <NA>
## 5 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20170702130918/http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/  <NA>
## 6 memento http://web.archive.org/web/20170813053454/http://www.rpad.org/Rpad/  <NA>
## # ... with 2 more variables: from <chr>, datetime <chr>

(p2017 <- render_png(url = rurl$link[1]))

I won’t break your browser and add another giant image, but that one has the icky content. So, it’s a relatively recent takeover and it’s likely that whomever added the icky content links did so to try to ensure those domains and URLs have both good SEO and a positive reputation.

Let’s see if they were dumb enough to make their info public:

rwho <- passive_whois("rpad.org")
str(rwho, 1)
## List of 18
##  $ registryUpdatedAt: chr "2016-10-05"
##  $ admin            :List of 10
##  $ domain           : chr "rpad.org"
##  $ registrant       :List of 10
##  $ telephone        : chr "5078365503"
##  $ organization     : chr "WhoisGuard, Inc."
##  $ billing          : Named list()
##  $ lastLoadedAt     : chr "2017-03-14"
##  $ nameServers      : chr [1:2] "ns-1147.awsdns-15.org" "ns-781.awsdns-33.net"
##  $ whoisServer      : chr "whois.publicinterestregistry.net"
##  $ registered       : chr "2004-06-15"
##  $ contactEmail     : chr "411233718f2a4cad96274be88d39e804.protect@whoisguard.com"
##  $ name             : chr "WhoisGuard Protected"
##  $ expiresAt        : chr "2018-06-15"
##  $ registrar        : chr "eNom, Inc."
##  $ compact          :List of 10
##  $ zone             : Named list()
##  $ tech             :List of 10

Nope. #sigh

Is this site considered “malicious”?

(rclass <- passive_classification("rpad.org"))
## $everCompromised
## NULL

Nope. #sigh

What’s the hosting history for the site?

rdns <- passive_dns("rpad.org")
rorig <- bulk_origin(rdns$results$resolve)

tbl_df(rdns$results) %>%
  type_convert() %>%
  select(firstSeen, resolve) %>%
  left_join(select(rorig, resolve=ip, as_name=as_name)) %>% 
  arrange(firstSeen) %>%
  print(n=100)
## # A tibble: 88 x 3
##              firstSeen        resolve                                              as_name
##                 <dttm>          <chr>                                                <chr>
##  1 2009-12-18 11:15:20  144.58.240.79      EPRI-PA - Electric Power Research Institute, US
##  2 2016-06-19 00:00:00 208.91.197.132 CONFLUENCE-NETWORK-INC - Confluence Networks Inc, VG
##  3 2016-07-29 00:00:00  208.91.197.27 CONFLUENCE-NETWORK-INC - Confluence Networks Inc, VG
##  4 2016-08-12 20:46:15  54.230.14.253                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
##  5 2016-08-16 14:21:17  54.230.94.206                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
##  6 2016-08-19 20:57:04  54.230.95.249                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
##  7 2016-08-26 20:54:02 54.192.197.200                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
##  8 2016-09-12 10:35:41   52.84.40.164                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
##  9 2016-09-17 07:43:03  54.230.11.212                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 10 2016-09-23 18:17:50 54.230.202.223                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 11 2016-09-30 19:47:31 52.222.174.253                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 12 2016-10-24 17:44:38  52.85.112.250                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 13 2016-10-28 18:14:16 52.222.174.231                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 14 2016-11-11 10:44:22 54.240.162.201                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 15 2016-11-17 04:34:15 54.192.197.242                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 16 2016-12-16 17:49:29   52.84.32.234                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 17 2016-12-19 02:34:32 54.230.141.240                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 18 2016-12-23 14:25:32  54.192.37.182                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 19 2017-01-20 17:26:28  52.84.126.252                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 20 2017-02-03 15:28:24   52.85.94.225                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 21 2017-02-10 19:06:07   52.85.94.252                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 22 2017-02-17 21:37:21   52.85.63.229                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 23 2017-02-24 21:43:45   52.85.63.225                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 24 2017-03-05 12:06:32  54.192.19.242                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 25 2017-04-01 00:41:07 54.192.203.223                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 26 2017-05-19 00:00:00   13.32.246.44                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 27 2017-05-28 00:00:00    52.84.74.38                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 28 2017-06-07 08:10:32  54.230.15.154                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 29 2017-06-07 08:10:32  54.230.15.142                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 30 2017-06-07 08:10:32  54.230.15.168                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 31 2017-06-07 08:10:32   54.230.15.57                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 32 2017-06-07 08:10:32   54.230.15.36                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 33 2017-06-07 08:10:32  54.230.15.129                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 34 2017-06-07 08:10:32   54.230.15.61                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 35 2017-06-07 08:10:32   54.230.15.51                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 36 2017-07-16 09:51:12 54.230.187.155                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 37 2017-07-16 09:51:12 54.230.187.184                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 38 2017-07-16 09:51:12 54.230.187.125                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 39 2017-07-16 09:51:12  54.230.187.91                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 40 2017-07-16 09:51:12  54.230.187.74                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 41 2017-07-16 09:51:12  54.230.187.36                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 42 2017-07-16 09:51:12 54.230.187.197                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 43 2017-07-16 09:51:12 54.230.187.185                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 44 2017-07-17 13:10:13 54.239.168.225                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 45 2017-08-06 01:14:07  52.222.149.75                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 46 2017-08-06 01:14:07 52.222.149.172                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 47 2017-08-06 01:14:07 52.222.149.245                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 48 2017-08-06 01:14:07  52.222.149.41                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 49 2017-08-06 01:14:07  52.222.149.38                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 50 2017-08-06 01:14:07 52.222.149.141                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 51 2017-08-06 01:14:07 52.222.149.163                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 52 2017-08-06 01:14:07  52.222.149.26                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 53 2017-08-11 19:11:08 216.137.61.247                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 54 2017-08-21 20:44:52  13.32.253.116                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 55 2017-08-21 20:44:52  13.32.253.247                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 56 2017-08-21 20:44:52  13.32.253.117                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 57 2017-08-21 20:44:52  13.32.253.112                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 58 2017-08-21 20:44:52   13.32.253.42                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 59 2017-08-21 20:44:52  13.32.253.162                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 60 2017-08-21 20:44:52  13.32.253.233                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 61 2017-08-21 20:44:52   13.32.253.29                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 62 2017-08-23 14:24:15 216.137.61.164                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 63 2017-08-23 14:24:15 216.137.61.146                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 64 2017-08-23 14:24:15  216.137.61.21                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 65 2017-08-23 14:24:15 216.137.61.154                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 66 2017-08-23 14:24:15 216.137.61.250                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 67 2017-08-23 14:24:15 216.137.61.217                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 68 2017-08-23 14:24:15  216.137.61.54                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 69 2017-08-25 19:21:58  13.32.218.245                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 70 2017-08-26 09:41:34   52.85.173.67                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 71 2017-08-26 09:41:34  52.85.173.186                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 72 2017-08-26 09:41:34  52.85.173.131                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 73 2017-08-26 09:41:34   52.85.173.18                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 74 2017-08-26 09:41:34   52.85.173.91                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 75 2017-08-26 09:41:34  52.85.173.174                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 76 2017-08-26 09:41:34  52.85.173.210                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 77 2017-08-26 09:41:34   52.85.173.88                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 78 2017-08-27 22:02:41  13.32.253.169                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 79 2017-08-27 22:02:41  13.32.253.203                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 80 2017-08-27 22:02:41  13.32.253.209                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 81 2017-08-29 13:17:37 54.230.141.201                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 82 2017-08-29 13:17:37  54.230.141.83                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 83 2017-08-29 13:17:37  54.230.141.30                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 84 2017-08-29 13:17:37 54.230.141.193                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 85 2017-08-29 13:17:37 54.230.141.152                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 86 2017-08-29 13:17:37 54.230.141.161                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 87 2017-08-29 13:17:37  54.230.141.38                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US
## 88 2017-08-29 13:17:37 54.230.141.151                     AMAZON-02 - Amazon.com, Inc., US

Unfortunately, I expected this. The owner keeps moving it around on AWS infrastructure.

So What?

This was an innocent link in a document on CRAN that went to a site that looked legit. A clever individual or organization found the dead domain and saw an opportunity to legitimize some fairly nasty stuff.

Now, I realize nobody is likely using “Rpad” anymore, but this type of situation can happen to any registered domain. If this individual or organization were doing more than trying to make objectionable content legit, they likely could have succeeded, especially if they enticed you with a shiny new devtools::install_…() link with promises of statistically sound animated cat emoji gif creation tools. They did an eerily good job of making this particular site still seem legit.

There’s nothing most folks can do to “fix” that site or have it removed. I’m not sure CRAN should remove the helpful PDF, but with a clickable link, it might be a good thing to suggest.

You’ll see that I used the splashr package (which has been submitted to CRAN but not there yet). It’s a good way to work with potentially malicious web content since you can “see” it and mine content from it without putting your own system at risk.

After going through this, I’ll see what I can do to put some bows on some of the devel-only packages and get them into CRAN so there’s a bit more assurance around using them.

I’m an army of one when it comes to fielding R-related security issues, but if you do come across suspicious items (like this or icky/malicious in other ways) don’t hesitate to drop me an @ or DM on Twitter.

Buy on AmazonDDS Blog
DDS PodcastAmazon Author Page

4 Comments Rpad Domain Repurposed To Deliver Creepy (and potentially malicious) Content

  1. Pingback: Rpad Domain Repurposed To Deliver Creepy (and potentially malicious) Content – Cloud Data Architect

  2. Pingback: Rpad Domain Repurposed To Deliver Creepy (and potentially malicious) Content – Mubashir Qasim

  3. Andrew Breza

    Fascinating. I wasn’t aware of several of your dev packages. Wayback is especially cool and exactly what I need for a project I’m currently working on.

    Reply

Leave a Reply