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Worm wiggles through weary WordPress

Spam-friendly malware spanks Scoble blog

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Hackers are exploiting older installations of WordPress to distribute blog comment spam and disguise links to malware-contaminated sites.

The worm-based attack targets an older version of the popular blog publishing software. Although the worm attempts to hide its tracks, coding errors mean that links on a blog wind up getting broken following an attack, thus revealing something is wrong, as explained in a blog post by Wordpress here.

This particular worm, like many before it, is clever: it registers a user, uses a security bug (fixed earlier in the year) to allow evaluated code to be executed through the permalink structure, makes itself an admin, then uses JavaScript to hide itself when you look at users page, attempts to clean up after itself, then goes quiet so you never notice while it inserts hidden spam and malware into your old posts.

The tactics are new, but the strategy is not. Where this particular worm messes up is in the "clean up" phase: it doesn’t hide itself well and the blogger notices that all his links are broken, which causes him to dig deeper and notice the extent of the damage.

Bloggers are advised to update their software to the latest 2.8.4 version of WordPress. Applying an update might be a chore but it's far easier than fixing a hacked blog, as WordPress points out.

Among those hit by the latest attack was tech blogger Robert Scoble, who lost two months of blog entries as a result. Scoble was hit by a similar attack a couple of months ago, and is now considering a switch to different blogging software.

The Guardian notes that attacks against WordPress are getting more frequent, wondering aloud if security concerns might one day prompt users to move away from the open source PHP application, whose widespread use makes it a tempting target for hacking attacks. ®

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