Cargo prior to Rust 1.26.0 may download the wrong dependency

  • >=1.26.0


The Rust team was recently notified of a security concern when using older versions of Cargo to build crates which use the package rename feature added in newer versions of Cargo. If you're using Rust 1.26.0, released on 2018-05-10, or later you're not affected.

The CVE for this vulnerability is CVE-2019-16760.


Cargo can be configured through Cargo.toml and the [dependencies] section to depend on different crates, such as those from crates.io. There are multiple ways to configure how you depend on crates as well, for example if you depend on serde and enable the derive feature it would look like:

serde = { version = "1.0", features = ['derive'] }

Rust 1.31.0 introduced a new feature of Cargo where one of the optional keys you can specify in this map is package, a way to rename a crate locally. For example if you preferred to use serde1 locally instead of serde, you could write:

serde1 = { version = "1.0", features = ['derive'], package = "serde" }

It's the addition of the package key that causes Cargo to compile the crate differently. This feature was first implemented in Rust 1.26.0, but it was unstable at the time. For Rust 1.25.0 and prior, however, Cargo would ignore the package key and and interpret the dependency line as if it were:

serde1 = { version = "1.0", features = ['derive'] }

This means when compiled with Rust 1.25.0 and prior then it would attempt to download the serde1 crate. A malicious user could squat the serde1 name on crates.io to look like serde 1.0.0 but instead act maliciously when built.

In summary, usage of the package key to rename dependencies in Cargo.toml is ignored in Rust 1.25.0 and prior. When Rust 1.25.0 and prior is used Cargo will ignore package and download the wrong dependency, which could be squatted on crates.io to be a malicious package. This not only affects manifests that you write locally yourself, but also manifests published to crates.io. If you published a crate, for example, that depends on serde1 to crates.io then users who depend on you may also be vulnerable if they use Rust 1.25.0 and prior.

Affected Versions

Rust 1.0.0 through Rust 1.25.0 is affected by this advisory because Cargo will ignore the package key in manifests. Rust 1.26.0 through Rust 1.30.0 are not affected and typically will emit an error because the package key is unstable. Rust 1.31.0 and after are not affected because Cargo understands the package key.

In terms of Cargo versions, this affects Cargo up through Cargo 0.26.0. All future versions of Cargo are unaffected.


We strongly recommend that users of the affected versions update their compiler to the latest available one. Preventing this issue from happening requires updating your compiler to either Rust 1.26.0 or newer.

We will not be issuing a patch release for Rust versions prior to 1.26.0. Users of Rust 1.19.0 to Rust 1.25.0 can instead apply the provided patches to mitigate the issue.

An audit of existing crates published to crates.io using the package key has been performed and there is no evidence that this vulnerability has been exploited in the wild. Our audit only covers the crates currently published on crates.io: if you notice crates exploiting this vulnerability in the future please don't hesitate to email secu...@rust-lang.org in accordance with our security policy.

Timeline of events


Thanks to Elichai Turkel, who found this bug and reported it to us in accordance with our security policy.