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Security The Internet

Survey Finds Most WordPress Blogs Vulnerable 82

Posted by kdawson
from the somehow-not-a-surprise dept.
BlogSecurity writes "Security analyst David Kierznowski shocked bloggers yesterday with a survey showing that 49 out of the 50 WordPress blogs he checked seem to be running exploitable versions of the widely used software. He said, 'The main concern here is the lack of security awareness amongst bloggers with a non-technical background, and even those with a technical background.' Mr Kierznowski also uncovered recent vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins that ship by default with the software, adding: 'WordPress users developing plugins must be aware of the security functions that WordPress supports, and ensure that these functions are used in their code.'"
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Survey Finds Most WordPress Blogs Vulnerable

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  • by iknownuttin (1099999) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:13PM (#19256093)
    So, how's a huge problem? If anything, some blogs need to be hacked to have some decent content on them!
    • by speculatrix (678524) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @04:23PM (#19259205)

      at my previous job there had been a programmer who used the same password for *everything*, and I do mean everything... from the mysql logins (both "root" and regular webapp), web site logins, shell accounts and the ssh passwords needed to move data around!

      I discovered he had a blog site, and guess what, his standard password worked on that too, both to login as him and as admin. Whilst tempted, I neither added nor deleted anything on his site, but I *did* go occasionally go through his blog posts and correct his spelling and grammar! He must have noticed because after many months of occasionally tweaking his content, the login finally stopped working. Yes, I'm talking about you, "smurphy" :-)

    • by kv9 (697238)
      Newsflash: bloggers are idiots. Film at 11.
  • irony? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by dotpavan (829804)
    where is this article hosted? [blogsecurity.net] yes, wordpress powered site!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Is there really a problem if he's running his site on a non-vulnerable version? He's merely pointing out that there are a large number of Wordpress-powered sites out there that are vulnerable. Not ironic in the slightest.
  • How do you fix it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:18PM (#19256189)
    As a wordpress user how do you fix it? I only blog to keep in touch with family and friend who live out of state. But it's been a fun project, though if it is easily exploitable I'd like to know how to fix it, and not just "you're site is EZly hax0red"
    • by packetmon (977047) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:38PM (#19256513) Homepage
      http://www.infiltrated.net/docs/modsecips.html [infiltrated.net] step by step... If its your own server... If not have the admin slap on mod_security for you and add the same rules in my previous post on this page... www.infiltrated.net/admin.php go for it... That's how I add content. There are a lot of variables to prevent against injections, etc.

      Block Spam injections [pathf.com]

      Directory traversal attacks SecFilter "\.\./"

      XSS attacks
      SecFilter "<(.|\n)+>"
      SecFilter "<[[:space:]]*script"

      SQL injection attacks
      SecFilter "delete[[:space:]]+from"
      SecFilter "insert[[:space:]]+into"
      SecFilter "select.+from"

      Too many times there are clueless admins (not you per se). But this also tends to be one of the grips on the Ubuntu Document [infiltrated.net] people flame me for. If *semi* even experienced admins can't lock a machine down... Imagine when Ubuntu on Dell becomes the next hot thing. Flame as much as you'd like facts are facts
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Mod security is an even bigger joke than your ubuntu article! [securityfocus.com] No web app should be vulnerable to directory traversal, XSS or SQL injection in 2007. If developers have made these simple mistakes, there's a strong possibility they made others that a band-aid will not fix.

        Users should 'fix' wordpress by keeping upto date with the latest stable versions of PHP and wordpress; security is a process and not a product. Personally I wouldn't use wordpress, it may be one of the better written PHP web-apps but unfortu
        • by packetmon (977047)
          Your words are contradictory... You state Mod security is an even bigger joke than your ubuntu article! blah blah cry cry.. Then state keeping upto date with the latest stable versions... blah blah So does that mean if you kept up to date with mod_security its still a joke. A system is only as secure as you make it, and FYI I'm very aware of the pros and cons with modsecurity, PHP and most CMS systems in general. So your point is what.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Instructions on upgrading WordPress. [wordpress.org]

      This assumes you control where your site is hosted. If it's a WP install provided by your hosting provider, ask them if they're up to date, and if not nag them until they are.

      (Now to see if posting AC cancels the mod points I'd already used here.. Ooh, a CAPTCHA!)

      HTH, NickFitz.

    • I maintain several WordPress blogs so this is of interest to me. Thank you.

      On the other hand, my wife needs to write some WordPress blogs for a client and neither she nor the client want to "play computer." They just want to add content. I was looking around for what would essentially business class WordPress hosting. They don't want bluehost or dreamhost at $7/mo and you get to run Fastastico, they just don't want to do that.

      Can anyone recommend a good, high quality, WordPress hosting company that handles
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Can anyone recommend a good, high quality, WordPress hosting company that handles all the tech work and just lets her handle the content?

        Hmm, perhaps Wordpress.com [wordpress.com]? I'm fairly certain that they offer hosting on your domain name now, not just at username.wordpress.com.

        (Not a shill, just trying not to undo my moderations.)

      • by galaxy300 (111408)
        What about custom domain mapping [wordpress.com] with WordPress.com? They maintain everything for you.
      • by kchrist (938224)
        Someone else mentioned hosted Wordpress blogs at wordpress.com [wordpress.com] and there's also TypePad [typepad.com]. TypePad isn't free, but it's inexpensive, and it also supports domain name customization so the blog can be accessible at her own domain name while still being hosted and managed elsewhere.
      • by 666999 (999666)
        Interestingly enough, Dreamhost doesn't use Fantastico. They have their own custom panel, with many fewer features than CPanel with Fantastico.

        This means Dreamhost customers have to update their Wordpress installations manually.

        A trivial matter to most of us here, but for those that have become accustomed to using Fantastico's 'Your Wordpress Installation is out of date! Click here to upgrade' it's a good deal more time-consuming.
  • self-updating (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dr_hooch (203015) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:18PM (#19256201)
    Maybe Wordpress could offer tools to help users better manage updates. Firefox does a great job these days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alphager (957739)

      Maybe Wordpress could offer tools to help users better manage updates. Firefox does a great job these days.
      An Application messing up files past my package-management system? Not on my system.
  • Now I have to stop posting replies on Slashdot, or the script kiddies might hack my site.
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:23PM (#19256283)

    I think it's about time web applications like WordPress included an update service. Put update notifications into an Atom feed pointing to tarballs incorporating an update script, patches, etc, and label them as security/minor/major. Have the system periodically retrieve them, automatically apply the security updates, and prompt the admin next time he logs in to apply the others.

    The only difficulty is that the developers need to have proper release management. No more bundling security fixes into whatever the latest development version is. No more releasing updates that fiddle with styles at the same time as fixing serious bugs. I don't think that's feasible for many web applications, but it's certainly achievable for bigger projects like Wordpress.

    I can't think of any web application that does this already off the top of my head. Does anybody know of any projects doing this?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I can't think of any web application that does this already off the top of my head. Does anybody know of any projects doing this?

      The closest thing I can think of is that there is a module for drupal that will check for updates and inform you. Last I checked it would give you download links, but that's as close as it got to installing them. I wrote a module installer at one point (I think there is one, but I actually did an integration job) but then a better release monitor was released, and so I abandoned

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PCM2 (4486)
        The default login screen for Wordpress does indeed automatically inform you of new updates. The problem is, it doesn't really seem to explain them properly. If I load it up right now, there's a notice telling me that Wordpress 2.2 was released 9 days ago. If I originally installed Wordpress longer than 9 days ago, this notice should be enough to tip me off that there's a new version available. Nowhere, however, does it explain that the 2.2 release supercedes the 2.1.3 release and that the 2.1.3 release shou
        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          The Drupal module tells you when there are critical security-related updates, so it had that much up on Wordpress, but that's about it.
          • by fatphil (181876)
            re your sig: 'The "Overrated" moderation exists only to facilitate abuse.'

            What should I do when I see a post containing gross factual inaccuracies moderated as "informative"?

            There really ought to be other downward moderations, but while there isn't a "just plain wrong", one _has_ to use "overrated". One might posit that for every type of moderation there ought to be an equal and opposite one.

            Informative <-> Wrong
            Interesting <-> Tedious
            Insightful <-> Well duh!
            Funny <-> 3 Stooge
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              What should I do when I see a post containing gross factual inaccuracies moderated as "informative"?

              That's a great question. I don't have a good answer. Perhaps I will change my sig a touch. Something to the effect of that the fact that it does not go to metamoderation provides only for abuse.

              There really ought to be other downward moderations, but while there isn't a "just plain wrong", one _has_ to use "overrated". One might posit that for every type of moderation there ought to be an equal and opposite

    • by hkgroove (791170)
      Simple Machines [simplemachines.org] does a decent job. Usually releasing patch files that you download from their site via the admin panel or uploading them directly and installing them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) *

      I think it's about time web applications like WordPress included an update service.

      It depends on what you mean. Wordpress already tells you when a new version is available. What it doesn't do is automatically install it for you. In the case of PHP apps, this is a good thing. (At least, as far as running a PHP app in the first place can be considered a "good thing".)

      Wordpress installations rarely run the vanilla software. Usually the look has been customized by modifying templates and/or plugins have been ad

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PCM2 (4486)

        Wordpress provides an easy-to-use interface to do this, but it doesn't help anything if you upgrade your system. Your look and customizations will go "poof!" the moment you untar that new version.

        Actually, this isn't true -- provided you use some common sense about how you customize your Wordpress blog. It doesn't make a lot of sense to go ahead and apply all your customizations to a theme called "default," for example (though I'm sure that lots of people do this). When you go and untar the new version,

        • But if you had taken the time to make a copy of the default theme before you started mucking with it -- into a directory called, I dunno, "mytheme," perhaps -- your theme wouldn't get overwritten by anything in the tarball and your look and customizations would still be there as soon as you upgraded your database.

          That's assuming, of course, that you can use the old template. The new versions might contain changes to the modified files that can't be simply copied over.

          Not that I'm disagreeing with you about

          • by PCM2 (4486)

            That's assuming, of course, that you can use the old template. The new versions might contain changes to the modified files that can't be simply copied over.

            They might. In practice, they seldom seem to -- Wordpress may change but the APIs seem pretty stable. But, yeah, this is one of the things that makes Wordpress sort of a PITA.

    • by jcam2 (248062)
      From a technical point of view, this isn't usually possible. On most servers, web applications don't have the permissions to update themselves - the PHP scripts are run via mod_php as the 'httpd' or 'apache' user, while the scripts themselves are owned by whatever Unix account was setup to own and manage the domain. Sure, some hosting services run PHP scripts as the Unix user who owns the domain, but they seem to be in the minority.

      The updates are better done by the hosting control panel, assuming that i

  • Securing LAMP (Score:5, Informative)

    by packetmon (977047) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:24PM (#19256317) Homepage
    Securing LAMP [infiltrated.net] Mod Security [modsecurity.org] Its so simple a fix with mod_security...

    SecFilterSelective REQUEST_URI /admin.php chain
    SecFilterSelective REMOTE_ADDR "!^YOUR.IP.ADDRESS$" redirect:http://www.infiltrated.net/sorry.jpg
    SecFilterSelective ARG_username YOURUSERNAME chain
    SecFilterSelective REMOTE_ADDR "!^YOUR.IP.ADDRESS$" redirect:http://www.infiltrated.net/sorry.jpg

    Where your IP address and your username are the only ones to allow anything to the admin page. Anything else gets redirected elsewhere.
  • by umrguy76 (114837) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:26PM (#19256361) Homepage
    At least the WordPress site offers easy to follow directions.

    http://codex.wordpress.org/Upgrading_WordPress [wordpress.org]
  • SQL injection? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tcopeland (32225) <tom@thomaslYEATS ... d.com minus poet> on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:28PM (#19256375) Homepage
    An article about a Wordpress vulnerability [blogs.com] from last month sounded like a SQL injection flaw, and Secunia has a bunch listed here [secunia.com]. Mostly DOS and cross-site scripting... plus some "unspecified"...
  • Wordpress (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wumpus188 (657540) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:33PM (#19256431)
    The problem with WP that it is a major pain in the ass to update, especially if you're running somewhat customized installation. Besides, most bloggers are not technical people and just use whatever version someone installed for them (or installed by their provider).
    • by GiMP (10923)
      The problem is that even if someone is technical, they're either too busy blogging, or too busy *not* blogging to care. Wordpress has had a lot of vulnerabilities recently, so these results are no surprise at all.
    • Just for the record, as far as I can tell, Wordpress 2.2 was not a security fix. It includes new features and addresses bugs, but I looked through the list of tickets closed in the release of 2.2 and did not see that any security issues were addresses by that newest version. 2.1.3 was a security fix, which users were advised to install promptly (and I did)

      2.2 fixes bugs I never noticed and new features I didn't immediately need, so I can see why even good blog administrators might have waited to upgrade
      • by dbzero (64544)
        But with WordPress you can't be sure there isn't a security fix [sencer.de] in a latest version.
      • Run your WordPress using the working copy checked out from the WP repository. Upgrading your blog with a single svn switch command works like charm.
      • by kchrist (938224)
        Wordpress is only a pain to update if you're modifying the core files. Make customiztions the way you're supposed to, via plugins and a custom theme (and no, modifying 'default' doesn't count if you don't copy and rename it) and updates are quick and painless.

        I maintain four WP sites and have never had trouble updating any of them. Download and untar the latest release, copy the directory tree over the existing files, test, and upload to the live site (assuming you're doing this on a development site). I up
    • by teslatug (543527)
      I use DreamHost, they make updates to WordPress pretty simple.
  • by madsheep (984404) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:54PM (#19256769) Homepage
    This will sort of mirror what I've responded with on Full Disclosure. The first issue is that there really are not any details on this "survey" that was done. I am pretty sure I could conduct a survey that had 1000 WordPress blogs where only 1 of them was a vulnerable version. I am not saying there aren't plenty of older/vulnerable versions out there, but I think you get the point. The second issue is that relying on your extraction of a version number does not mean it's actually vulnerable. Patches or other mitigations could be in place.

    So if it's news to you that people run old and/or vulnerable software, then this might be something new. Otherwise it's just what I would expect.
  • I hope blogger isn't that vulnerable! Perhaps Google is better at security than WP guys.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cairnarvon (901868)
      What? It's not under WP's (or Google's) control if people who run their blogging software themselves don't remember to update often. All WordPress.com blogs are automatically updated to the latest version. This is about people who have a WordPress blog on their own webspace.

      This doesn't have anything to do with the WordPress crew sucking at security, just their users.
  • I'm the first to admit that I would love an automated update for Wordpress - the current manual updates are just enough of a pain that invariably they get delayed.

    That said, let's get some perspective on what is described by the author as "a desparate (sic) attempt to try and educate WordPress Plugin developers to some of the common security problems that can occur."

    From a quick reading of the guy's postings, these weaknesses really only allow one thing: Admin access to the Wordpress site.

    For the v
  • Clueless people running $software don't keep it up to date! Film at 11!

    You either do it yourself and accept the consequences, or find a host with a clue. wordpress.com will even host it for you for the ultra-easy-free option (though they'll charge for extra features).

    Just like... well, everything else you might run on a server. Including the OS.

  • As someone who has just recently been hacked (Druapal 5.1, not WordPress, but I almost went that direction) I can say that I've recently seen my fair share of hacked Wordpress sites (via links to/from referrers) that have been listed as 'defaced' with, "Attack Technics : FTP Protokol" listed on the bragging-rights page. In my particular case it was because my hosting service allows anonymous FTP uploads(?!) with no 'correct' way to disable it (???!!!) -- my solution was to allow 0KB of FTP transfer for anon

    • by cybermage (112274)
      In my particular case it was because my hosting service allows anonymous FTP uploads(?!) with no 'correct' way to disable it (???!!!)

      So, this had nothing to do with Drupal, right?
      • I shure as hell hope so. Before this post and after making the changes to FTP quotas, I had 41 hits from that page and have not been hacked again.

        I did make one other change: I moved the install.php file out of my web directory. However my statistics (AWStats) do not show any access to that file for the time period.

        I was able to recover well enough with some decent backups (mysqldump) and some help from the Drupal forum.

        If I have any more updates on this, I'll be posting them in the drupal forum [drupal.org].

  • by moore.dustin (942289) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @03:13PM (#19258033) Homepage
    So Wordpress is not secure and its users do not know how or perhaps do not even care to make it secure. That, to me, means that if WP does not change its delivery and security by default, tons of blogs will be compromised. That therefore means the market will be wide open for a service that has a secure code base that can be updated easily.

    Good riddance if that is the case. If they cannot adapt to the needs of its users, they deserve what will come to them, though their users do not :(
  • I'm a blogger, but I can see some conflict of interest in TFA.
  • The article says:

    "BlogSecurity incrementally harvested the WordPress software version from 50 blogs"

    What does incrementally harvested mean? How did BlogSecurity obtain the version info from the blogs it polled, and how did they go about picking which blogs to poll?

    There seems to be a lot of FUD in this article, and it's quickly cobbled together. There's no discussion on *how* vulnerable each version is. 2.1.3 was released April 3, but is discarded simply because the latest stable version is 2.2. Ve

    • by kchrist (938224)
      It's actually pretty easy to spider for Wordpress sites and check their version number. By default, most WP sites have a line like this in the page header:
      <meta name="generator" content="WordPress 2.2" />
  • at least I know it gets some hits.

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