You created a website and over the years you have added products, services, articles, plugins and all the rest that goes with keeping a website up and running. You have worked hard and the last thing you want is when you try to access your website… it is simply… “gone”!
It doesn’t exist anymore. You hosting company had “guaranteed” that they would backup your website regularly but when you phone your hosting company they now say that unfortunately they cannot restore your website…
Bad… very bad!
There are various reasons why your website “is no longer there”. It could have been hacked; there could have been a conflict between plugins or the hosting company went out of business… (as improbable as it may seem).
If you have a WordPress website it is ESSENTIAL that you have the following:
There are various security plugins, Wordfence security being one of the very best. The Wordfence security plugin has a free version and a paid version. The free version is, in most cases, all you need for good website security.
The two most important plugins for any website are: a good backup and restore plugin as well as a good security plugin. Don’t try and expand your website until you have them installed and setup.
At Wordfence we continually look for security vulnerabilities in the third party plugins and themes that are widely used by the WordPress community. In addition to this research, we regularly examine WordPress core and the related wordpress.org systems. Recently we discovered a major vulnerability that could have caused a mass compromise of the majority of WordPress sites.
The vulnerability we describe below may have allowed an attacker to use the WordPress auto-update function, which is turned on by default, to deploy malware to up to 27% of the Web at once.
Choosing the most damaging target to attack
The server api.wordpress.org (or servers) has an important role in the WordPress ecosystem: it releases automatic updates for WordPress websites. Every WordPress installation makes a request to this server about once an hour to check for plugin, theme, or WordPress core updates. The response from this server contains information about any newer versions that may be available, including if the plugin, theme or core needs to be updated automatically. It also includes a URL to download and install the updated software.
Compromising this server could allow an attacker to supply their own URL to download and install software to WordPress websites, automatically. This provides a way for an attacker to mass-compromise WordPress websites through the auto-update mechanism supplied by api.wordpress.org. This is all possible because WordPress itself provides no signature verification of the software being installed. It will trust any URL and any package that is supplied by api.wordpress.org.
WordPress powers approximately 27% of all websites on the Internet. According to the WordPress documentation: “By default, every site has automatic updates enabled for minor core releases and translation files.”. By compromising api.wordpress.org, an attacker could conceivably compromise more than a quarter of the websites worldwide in one stroke.
Below we describe the technical details of a serious security vulnerability that we uncovered earlier this year that could compromise api.wordpress.org. We reported this vulnerability to the WordPress team via HackerOne. They fixed the vulnerability within a few hours of acknowledging the report. They have also awarded Wordfence lead developer Matt Barry a bounty for discovering and reporting it…
This morning at 9am Pacific time we rolled out a new kind of firewall to over 1 Million active WordPress websites. It comes with a Threat Defense Feed that updates our firewall as new threats emerge. It also continuously updates our malware scan as we discover new malware patterns through our forensic research.