I have typed for user in $(cut -f1 -d: /etc/passwd); do crontab -u $user -l; done And that say

no crontab for root
no crontab for daemon
no crontab for apache2

and i got very often You have new mail in /var/mail/root message

when i read there are all the same

From root@lxc2014.localdomain  Wed Aug  2 15:40:02 2017
Return-Path: <root@lxc2014.localdomain>
X-Original-To: root
Delivered-To: root@lxc2014.localdomain
Received: by lxc2014.localdomain (Postfix, from userid 0)
        id 03E571D666; Wed,  2 Aug 2017 15:40:02 +0000 (UTC)
From: root@lxc2014.localdomain (Cron Daemon)
To: root@lxc2014.localdomain
Subject: Cron <root@lxc2014> /dev/.x;^Mno crontab for root
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
X-Cron-Env: <SHELL=/bin/sh>
X-Cron-Env: <HOME=/root>
X-Cron-Env: <PATH=/usr/bin:/bin>
X-Cron-Env: <LOGNAME=root>
Message-Id: <20170802154002.03E571D666@lxc2014.localdomain>
Date: Wed,  2 Aug 2017 15:40:02 +0000 (UTC)

/bin/sh: 1: ^Mno: not found

I know that ^M is \r brut why cron search this file...

migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 13 '17 at 7:20

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

  • There are a few system crontabs in addition to per-user crontabs. Does grep "no crontab" /etc/crontab /etc/cron*/* | cat -vet show anything? – Mark Plotnick Aug 2 '17 at 17:44
  • grep "no crontab" /etc/crontab /etc/cron*/* | cat -vet show nothing – Et7f3XIV Aug 5 '17 at 20:59
  • i've php5 in cron.d and apache2 apt aptitude bsdmainutils dpkg logrotate man-db mlocate passwd in cron.daily – Et7f3XIV Aug 5 '17 at 21:04
  • 1
    Can you try grep -F -r /dev/.x /etc /var/spool/cron | cat -vet ? I've never seen /dev/.x before. It may be a legitimate executable used to maintain /dev, or it may be suspicious. – Mark Plotnick Aug 7 '17 at 15:03
  • 1
    Sure. Use crontab -u root -r. That crontab entry was either a typo or malicious software (or both). – Mark Plotnick Aug 11 '17 at 12:49

When you get mail like

From: root@lxc2014.localdomain (Cron Daemon)
To: root@lxc2014.localdomain
Subject: Cron <root@lxc2014> /dev/.x;^Mno crontab for root
X-Cron-Env: <LOGNAME=root>

/bin/sh: 1: ^Mno: not found

and you can't tell which crontab contains the offending command, you can grep for pieces of command in the standard places:

grep -r "no crontab" /etc/cron* /var/spool/cron | cat -vet

The cat -vet will show any embedded control characters that would otherwise be invisible or result in cursor motion.

In your case, you found the command at

/var/spool/cron/crontabs/root:* * * * * /dev/.x;^Mno crontab for root$

and the file contains this (line breaks added for readability):

# DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE - edit the master and reinstall.\n
# (- installed on Thu Jul 20 20:50:12 2017)\n
# (Cron version -- $Id: crontab.c,v 2.13 1994/01/17 03:20:37 vixie Exp $)\n
* * * * * /dev/.x;^Mno crontab for root

Because of the embedded Ctrl+M character, running crontab -u root -l appears to show only no crontab for root. This looks like someone is trying to hide the crontab entry. I suggest that someone familiar with security and forensics take a look at your system to determine whether it's been compromised.

You can remove this crontab with crontab -u root -r.

You mentioned that /dev/.x doesn't exist, and that that string doesn't appear in any file under /etc, but please keep monitoring your system to see whether these files reappear. That would be a strong indicator that your system is still compromised.

If possible, please install all security patches offered by your distribution.

  • this command crontab -u root -r work well but after some reboot this entry come back... – Et7f3XIV Aug 16 '17 at 12:02
  • Looks like it's malware, then. Reinstall your system and make sure you're fully patched and change all your access passwords. See the link provided by @Kusalananda – Mark Plotnick Aug 16 '17 at 12:18
  • Ok i'll try to convince other admin. – Et7f3XIV Aug 30 '17 at 20:28

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