Prevention is better than cure, even in WordPress security. It is like an insurance, may you never need it, but it is always good to have it.
A common misconception is that malicious hackers only target websites with large income, or those that store valuable sensitive information. However, WordPress websites generally get a lot of unwanted attention, which is why it’s important to take preventive measures from the get-go. The good news is that (on top of basic measures such as having a robust updating strategy) WordPress offers you a lot of options to protect your website against hack attacks. Even simple implementations, such as enabling Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) can drastically improve the security of your website or eCommerce store.
In this article, we’ll talk about why preemptive WordPress security is the way to go. We will also highlight five preventive WordPress security measures, so you won’t have to deal with messy cleanups afterward. Let’s get to work!
Why prevention is essential in WordPress security
Spending time on preemptive security is a lot like getting travel insurance before heading to a safe and well-known country. It’s a step that’s usually forgotten about by many travelers – until your hotel room is ransacked. From then on, travel insurance is always a top
Hashcat is a free tool to crack passwords (hashes) using GPU power
When it comes to complex password cracking, hashcat is the tool which comes into role as it is the well-known password cracking tool freely available on the internet. The passwords can be any form or hashes like SHA, MD5, WHIRLPOOL etc. Hashes does not allow a user to decrypt data with a specific key as other encryption techniques allow a user to decrypt the passwords. Hashcat uses certain techniques like rainbow tables, dictionary attack or rather it can be the brute-force technique as well. This article gives an example of usage of hashcat that how it can be used to crack complex passwords of WordPress. Hashcat in an inbuilt tool in Kali Linux which can be used for this purpose.
If a user wants to look that what hashcat facilitates, by running hashcat –help as shown below:
Some pictures are given below as example:
- [ Outfile Formats ] -
# | Format
1 | hash[:salt]
2 | plain
3 | hash[:salt]:plain
4 | hex_plain
5 | hash[:salt]:hex_plain
6 | plain:hex_plain
7 | hash[:salt]:plain:hex_plain
8 | crackpos
9 | hash[:salt]:crack_pos
10 | plain:crack_pos
11 | hash[:salt]:plain:crack_pos
12 | hex_plain:crack_pos
13 | hash[:salt]:hex_plain:crack_pos
Here we go again. There's a company out there making security flaws public, without talking the the plugin authors.
A US-based cyber-security firm has published details about two zero-days that impact two of Facebook's official WordPress plugins. The details also include proof-of-concept (PoC) code that allows hackers to craft exploits and launch attacks against sites using the two plugins.
The two zero-days impact "Messenger Customer Chat," a WordPress plugin that shows a custom Messenger chat window on WordPress sites, and "Facebook for WooCommerce," a WordPress plugin that allows WordPress site owners to upload their WooCommerce-based stores on their Facebook pages.
The first plugin is installed by over 20,000 sites, while the second has a userbase of 200,000 -- with its statistics exploding since mid-April when the WordPress team decided to start shipping the Facebook for WooCommerce plugin as part of the official WooCommerce online store plugin itself.
Since then, the plugin has garnered a collective rating of 1.5 stars, with the vast majority of reviewers complaining about errors and a lack of updates.
Nevertheless, despite the bad reputation, today, the security of all users who installed these extensions was put at risk because of a stupid grudge
Consultant Joe Youngblood talks about a default setting in Yoast that makes it easier for hacker to harvest usernames, which means hackers have one-half of the combination for automated brute force attacks.
TL;DR WordPress creates Author Archives pages for anyone who publishes content on a website sometimes keeping that page live even if that content is transferred to another user.
By default WordPress uses the ‘username’ a user logins in with for the Author Archive page URL and offers no way of changing this.
When Yoast is installed sitemaps are activated by default creating an Author Archive sitemap which contains all the Author URLs complete with usernames.
Hackers can use this file to gain important usernames for a website, making hacking easier by only needing to guess passwords.
This attack vector can be patched by turning off Author Archives in Yoast or if Author Archives are required by editing the URL of author archives in the WordPress code.
Update: Yoast was notified of my concerns earlier this week, has fully reviewed them, and responded. Essentially in their response they stated this wasn’t much of a concern to them though they had discussed it and offered tips. I’ve placed their entire response at the bottom of this article, you can get there by clicking here.
Yoast is a wildly popular WordPress plugin that helps websites become more SEO friendly.
User trust once violated is very hard to regain. Be mindful to protect the trust you have earned.
A good write up that explains how even a small WordPress website with a handful of users can benefit from an audit trail (activity log).
It’s easy to assume that activity logs are something only a few websites can benefit from, or that they include far too much data to sort through. However, these assumptions are incorrect. Any type of website can benefit from having an activity log, from the smallest to the most complex. Understanding how activity logs work is the first step to using one successfully. With the right WordPress activity log plugin, you’ll never miss anything that happens on your website again. Plus, you can cut through the noise by disabling the events you don’t want the plugin to track.
In this article, we’re going to break down what activity logs are and why you can benefit from them. Then we’ll dismantle five common myths about WordPress activity logs, so you’ll know what to expect. Let’s get to it!
What Are WordPress Activity Logs (And Why You Need One)
Maintaining an activity log enables you to track specific kinds of events on your website. When it comes to WordPress, that can include any or all of the following:
User logins, and any changes made through the dashboard
Plugin and theme updates, installs, and removals
Changes to specific posts, pages, or custom
Vulnerability reporters are going rogue which is affecting site owners - why?
The relationship between WordPress developers and security researchers has been strained for some time now. Recently it is so bad that vulnerability reporters are going rogue which is affecting site owners. In the past months we’ve seen multiple researchers drop 0-day information (vulnerability details with no current patch available) which has resulted in our security staff being in emergency mode to ensure plugins are getting updated quickly, before sites get hacked. In some rare occasions where sites get hacked before we can patch, we’re putting in even more time handling incident response and cleanup for every affected site. This is not a healthy scenario for anyone involved. Developers are being rushed to produce patches, sites are getting hacked due to no fault of the site owners, security teams are putting in more time than normal towards remediation of hacks, and researchers are getting [bad] press over their actions.
Here are two articles from this week alone that show that security researchers are choosing to go full disclosure and their reasons why:
This scenario the WordPress and Security communities have got themselves in is a net loss for everyone involved
Pipdig Power Pack versions up to 4.7.3 contain the backdoor code, which has been removed as of version 4.8.0
Karl is off work this week (due to working in a school, lots of holidays, lucky bastard, bla bla bla). I asked him this morning to try and purchase the replacement keyboard for my laptop, as linked from my “OMG DISASTER” entry update, now that we’ve transferred money to the “Internet account”. He spent all afternoon trying to get them to accept the payment details/address etc with no luck. I returned from work (due to not working in a school and having crap normal holidays, bla bla bla) and we decided to resort to e-Gay e-Bay. I, of course, am terribly negatively biased against them since they allowed some tit up the road to sell stolen cameras using Karl’s mum’s address, causing the coppers to come and take away my laptop. Long story short, we registered there anyway and proceeded to “Click to Buy” a replacement VAIO keyboard/case that we found: £30.00 for the item, £8.00 post and packaging.
We went through, entered the details into PayPal, reviewed everything and clicked “Pay”. We received an error telling us that the seller did not accept payment through this method (despite the preferred method being paypal?)
Website maintenance and security are vital. You put time, effort and money into your business so why not make sure everything is always up and running the way it should be?
Website maintenance and security are a crucial element of your business. You put a lot of time and money into your online image as it represents your business, so why not ensure it stays up, runs smooth, and never has downtime. Even if your website is only used to provide informational content about your products or services, your website can be compromised if you don’t perform website maintenance and management on a regular basis. The last thing you want to deal with is hackers. They can bring down your website and create a problem for your business and your customers. So, what can you do? We’ll tackle each important task one at a time, but here is what you’ll learn:
The Main Website Maintenance and Security Master List
It’s actually pretty simple. Let’s take a look at 16 tips to maintain your website’s security so you won’t fall victim to hackers or other online threats. When you follow this master list, you’ll see that your website stays in tip top shape at all times. And, that’s what you want for the face of your business!
1. How Often Should You Backup Your Website
I’m sure the idea of backups is nothing new to you. Backups
An update to our vulnerability disclosure policy. 30 days - no exception.
This post is about the realities both good and bad that come with the responsibility of reporting vulnerabilities. The long days of summer are gone, fall has faded away and winter is upon us… reflecting back over the past months the Pagely security team spent some of those days uncovering and reporting a number of unreleased exploits (or 0days) being used against our customers’ sites. It’s just part of the job. When securing sites we see what vulnerabilities attackers are using and how they work, and as an extension of that task, we make sure plugin authors are notified about the vulnerability so they can apply a patch.
It’s a fantastic feeling when we see an actively targeted vulnerable plugin getting patched and secured, but that feeling only comes after the patch gets applied. Just like the feeling of the first fall colors coming in, summer must heed to fall, to allow the shorter, cooler days to prevail. If we had 365 days of summer, then the world would be a barren wasteland. Much like the seasons, vulnerability reports need to be handled swiftly, before the users of the software get burned by attackers.
The time spent waiting for the patch can be stressful,
Learn how we implement SSO using WordPress and Google accounts.
Single Sign-On (SSO) is one of those features every pointy-haired boss in the world wants on their websites. Managing user accounts and passwords across dozens of work-related sites gets very old, very quickly. The longer time went on, the greater the need for an SSO solution at WebDevStudios (WDS) became. I’ll tell you a little about our implementation of Single Sign-On using WordPress and Google accounts, and how it helps both WDS and our clients simultaneously. What is it?
In the simplest terms, Single Sign-On is a way for someone to access multiple websites using one set of username and password credentials.
The WDS-specific implementation uses Google authentication, primarily because we use the Google apps suite for our work tools. But WDS-SSO can easily support any standard OAuth service. Here’s a list of features we built into our SSO solution:
Google Auth support (including Two-Factor Authentication)
Client/Proxy configuration makes setup a one-time task
Enforces all sites involved to use HTTPS
Selective role maps (including Super Admin) for individuals and/or sites
Support for selective (multiple)
We use DNS billions of times a day… and most people don’t even know that it exists. When it comes to companies and individuals alike, DNS is our digital identity. Unfortunately, DNS is also vulnerable to a number of different threats, which is why learning about DNS security is so important.
We use the domain name system, or DNS, billions of times a day… and most people don’t even know that it exists. When it comes to companies and individuals alike, DNS is our digital identity. Unfortunately, DNS is also vulnerable to a number of different threats, which is why learning about DNS security is so important. Here are the top five DNS threats that you need to be ready for:
1. Registrar Company Hijacking
Almost all domain names are a registrar in a company called a registrar company. This is why many hackers will attempt to hijack a registrar company. If the attacker can somehow compromise your account with your registrar company, they will then control your domain name.
This, in turn, will allow them to transfer your domain name either to somebody else or to an offshore registrar, or otherwise use it to gain access to other email servers and web servers. Either way, domain name recovery will be a rather complicated and difficult process.
To reduce the risk of this happening, you will need to select a registrar company that offers excellent security measures. One example will be a multi-factor authentication system.
2. DDoS Attack
A DDoS attack is not a direct
This vulnerability allows an attacker who gains access to an account with author privileges to execute arbitrary PHP code on the server, leading to a full remote takeover.
This blog post details how a combination of a Path Traversal and Local File Inclusion vulnerability lead to Remote Code Execution in the WordPress core. The vulnerability remained uncovered in the WordPress core for over 6 years. Impact
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An attacker who gains access to an account with at least author privileges on a target WordPress site can execute arbitrary PHP code on the underlying server, leading to a full remote takeover. We sent the WordPress security team details about another vulnerability in the WordPress core that can give attackers exactly such access to any WordPress site, which is currently unfixed.
Who is affected?
The vulnerability explained in this post was rendered non-exploitable by another security patch in versions 4.9.9 and 5.0.1. However, the Path Traversal is still possible and currently unpatched. Any WordPress site with a plugin installed that incorrectly handles Post Meta entries can make exploitation still possible. We have seen plugins with millions of active installations do this mistake in the past during the preparations for our WordPress security month.
According to the download page of WordPress, the software
WordPress security is super important. But, as times change, knowing which classic WordPress security advice to follow and not to follow isn't easy. David Hayes of WPShout fame shares advice on what not to worry about.
Following last week’s post about WordPress security, in this post, I’ll start with advice I see commonly in other places that I don’t see much point in doing. Most of this advice is nearly harmless to slightly beneficial if it’s done. But the reason I don’t recommend it is that its benefits (where they exist) are so small. And the possibility that spending time on them makes you ignore more-valuable security practices is big. You’re free to do these, but I just don’t think they’re worth the time invested because the gains they give are very small. Don’t Bother: Hide WordPress Version
We’re starting with the most useless piece of common security advice—that you should hide your WordPress version number, or that you’re using WordPress. The second is very hard to do in a serious way, and the first is basically valueless.
Hiding that you’re running WordPress is hard, and most people are trying to do it merely by changing or eliminating a <meta> tag in their site. No reasonably intelligent botnet builder is going to be relying on that, and many webmasters of non-WordPress sites report that they see people
A look at how adapting our behaviors can result in a more secure website.
Web security has grown into one of the most important issues we face – right up there with design and development. And those of us who use an open source content management system such as WordPress are under even more pressure to tighten up security. The unfortunate fact is that, as time goes on, the task is only going to become more difficult. WordPress itself is the target of an array of automated attacks. Bots are attempting brute-force logins, script and database injections, along with a multitude of other malicious activities. But, while preventing bot attacks is vital, they’re far from the only threat that needs dealt with.
Indeed, there are other bases we need to cover. Beyond automated threats, changing human behavior may be an even more important step in securing a WordPress site. With that in mind, here are 5 things we can do right now to improve security.
1. Train Users in Best Practices
Part of a designer’s job description often includes training clients. But while we tend to focus on the basics of managing content, this is also a prime opportunity to talk about security. I know, it sounds like a potentially complicated discussion – but it doesn’t
Interesting to see that this bad actor got caught up in a big net.
People using pwned passwords can pose a serious risk to your cybersecurity. When hackers undertake a brute force attack – using passwords to take personal information or spend users’ hard earned money through your site – it’s usually the site owner/developer who gets the blame.
Admins know it’s key that WordPress users have secure passwords to keep web security watertight. But do you know if your WordPress users are accessing your CMS with insecure ‘pwned’ passwords? And do you know the risk? What is a pwned password?
Pwned passwords are over seven billion real-world passwords that have been exposed in data breaches. This exposure makes them unsuitable for use as they’re at much greater risk of being used to take over other accounts. They’re searchable online at the Have I Been Pwned database.
What’s the risk?
People using pwned passwords can pose a serious risk to your cybersecurity. When hackers undertake a brute force attack – using passwords to take personal information or spend users’ hard earned money through your site – it’s usually the site owner/developer who gets the blame.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued guidelines for federal agencies implementing digital identity services, which state:
When processing requests to establish and change memorised secrets, verifiers SHALL compare the prospective secrets against a list that contains values known to be commonly-used,
Don't wait for the worst to happen — use this WordPress security checklist to protect your website from the worst WordPress security issues.
Updated 11/9/18. Please note: this article contains affiliate links for businesses I use and love. Powering 30% of all websites in the world (and growing!) and capturing almost 60% market share of all open source content management systems, there is no doubt about WordPress’ popularity.
But when it comes to popularity on the internet, there are often consequences. Because of its widespread use, WordPress has become a favorite target for hackers and attackers.
Did you know:
There are roughly 91,000 attacks on WordPress every minute.
During the worst WordPress security breach, over 18 million users were compromised.
73% of the 40,000 most popular websites that use WordPress are vulnerable to attack.
Many of these hackers use bots to automate the process of sniffing out vulnerabilities from your site. With this in mind, an attack isn’t necessarily personal, which is why even the smallest, under-the-radar websites get hacked. Once their bots find a viable entry point, hackers jump in and take advantage.
Before going through the comprehensive WordPress security checklist I’ve put together to help you safeguard your website from the worst possibilities, let’s take
Recently I saw a talk on site security at a WordPress meetup that explained how vulnerabilities in sites are found and then exploited. It got me thinking that perhaps I should really look deeper into site security.
Recently I had Tim Nash, the WordPress platform lead at 34SP.com, speak at the local WordPress meetup I help run. It’s the third time Tim has spoken at the meetup, and in the past he has spoken about site security and performance but this time he spoke about a handful of case studies of hackings; how the sites were exploited and what could be done to mitigate the vulnerability. Tim’s talk was essentially a scaryhelpful introduction to penetration testing (or pentesting) with a WordPress flavor. It got me thinking just how secure the sites I manage are and perhaps I should really look deeper into site security further than just the fundamentals of WordPress security.
What is Penetration Testing
The deeper you get into site security, the darker it gets. Penetration testing is the practice of simulating an attack on a system, network, app or website to identify vulnerabilities that might be exploited.
In simple terms, you become the hacker to protect your site. But that means any testing you perform needs to be authorized by the site or system owner (read: your boss or client needs to give the thumbs up), and to avoid arrest and criminal charges (keep in mind I’m not
Majority of websites are at risk of malware that can harm the website and its visitors. Defend yourself and identify if there is malware on your website.
Malicious software is software that is designed specifically to get access to a computer without your permission. The main intention is to cause damage and to get unauthorized data. Hackers have become rampant in cybersecurity because of the extorted money they make from getting sensitive information from big corporates. Essentially, different malware can cause harm by stealing critical information, harming host networks and computers, stealing, rendering advertisement and so much more.
Types of Malware and how to detect them
It is essential to know different types of malware because this will play a vital role in detecting and preventing them.
A computer virus is a type of malware that has the ability to copy itself and also spread to other devices. It usually modifies other legitimate host files in your computer such that when a file is executed, so is the virus. Although most malware programs are not viruses, they can be spread through documents, script files and cross-site scripting vulnerabilities in most of the web apps.
The viruses usually spread by attaching themselves to different programs and executing code when the user launches any of the infected programs.
It turns out some bloggers are, indeed, debating the practical value of a Virtual Private Network for their business. So I thought I’d put my two cents in on the matter.
As a blogger and a privacy wonk, I’ve written a lot about WordPress security for bloggers and VPNs for digital nomads, gamers, binge-watchers, and privacy-minded folks in general. But it never occurred to me bloggers could be questioning the relevance of VPNs for blogging until someone asked me about it. It turns out some bloggers are, indeed, debating the practical value of a Virtual Private Network for their business. So I thought I’d put my two cents in on the matter.
What’s So Special about VPNs?
There are two fundamental functions of a VPN – geo-spoofing and data encryption.
A VPN is a network of servers across the globe.
A foreign IP enables you to bypass geo-blocks and unlock streaming sites, online TV, you get the idea. That’s geo-spoofing.
But a VPN also encrypts your traffic, making it unintelligible for anyone looking to snoop on your activities. That’s where the real value of VPNs kicks in – data encryption adds an extra layer of security to your browsing.
Now, let’s see if VPNs are relevant to blogging security.
VPNs Protect Your Admin Credentials
Securing your blog by enabling VPN encryption when you log in to your admin
Log files contain a wealth of information and give you the information you need as long as you know where to look for it. This article lists some of the log files typically found on a WordPress web server and highlights what information you can find in them.
Every service running on the web server on which your WordPress website is hosted has a log file. Log files are used to keep a record of what a service or software has done or what errors it encountered while running. Hence why logs are a vital tool for administrators, webmasters, developers, testers and anyone who works with software (including WordPress) or maintains an IT system. Typically, we focus on the WordPress activity logs because that is WP Security Audit Log does – it keeps a record of everything that happens on your WordPress website and multisite network in an audit log.
Though in this article we introduce you to some useful log files you can find on a typical WordPress web server. Logs give you all the information you need as long as you know what you are looking for and where to look for it, hence why we have written this article. So when managing a WordPress website you might need to refer to some of the below log files to troubleshoot a technical or user problem, learn about possible malicious attacks, and do forensic work.
Web server logs
Starting with the most obvious, the web server log files. WordPress is written in PHP so it is typically hosted on either
A very clever (and hard to detect) method of adding spam links to a site.
Here at Sucuri, we clean WordPress websites every day. There are various types of common malware, but when we stumble upon a different scenario, our research team likes to dig deeper and conduct a complete investigation. A license key is a place where a webmaster might not expect to find an infection, however, in this particular case, this is where we found one.
A Spam Injector Resembling a License Key
A client opened a malware removal ticket reporting some weird spam URLs injected onto their WordPress website. After further investigation into the files in the website, we discovered a hidden encoded spam injector malware in the following theme file:
The attacker formatted the encoded injector to look like a theme’s license key in order to distract the eyes of a less-trained security analyst from suspecting this to be malicious code.
Here is the malware that resembles a license key inside a WordPress theme:
Layers and Layers of Encoding
Not only did the attacker add malware to an “unsuspicious” file, but they also hardly used any encoding to ensure it was well hidden.
The injected code contained a few layers of encoding to further
Researchers say the PHP security flaw could leave countless WordPress websites open to exploit.
A severe WordPress vulnerability which has been left a year without being patched has the potential to disrupt countless websites running the CMS, researchers claim. At the BSides technical cybersecurity conference in Manchester on Thursday, Secarma researcher Sam Thomas said the bug permits attackers to exploit the WordPress PHP framework, resulting in a full system compromise.
If the domain permits the upload of files, such as image formats, attackers can upload a crafted thumbnail file in order to trigger a file operation through the "phar://" stream wrapper.
In turn, the exploit triggers eXternal Entity (XXE -- XML) and Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF) flaws which cause unserialization in the platform's code. While these flaws may only originally result in information disclosure and may be low risk, they can act as a pathway to a more serious remote code execution attack.
The security researcher says the core vulnerability, which is yet to receive a CVE number, is within the wp_get_attachment_thumb_file function in /wpincludes/post.php and when attackers gain control of a parameter used in the "file_exists" call," the bug can be triggered.