Feeds

Network Solutions mops up after mass WordPress breach

Plenty of blame to go around

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Administrators at web host Network Solutions say they've closed a hole that allowed attackers to commandeer a large number of sites so they tried to infect visitors with malware.

The mass hack caused Network Solutions customers running WordPress to silently redirect visitors to networkads.net/grep, a site that attempted to perform malicious drive-by downloads. Network Solutions has now closed the hole by resetting database passwords for the blogging software, the company said Sunday. Users should also review their settings for any administrative access accounts that aren't recognized and if found delete them.

The compromise was the result of database credentials that WordPress stores in plain-text, according to David Dede, a researcher with Securi Security. While the database is supposed to be accessed only with the Apache webserver, "lots of users" configured the file so it was readable by any Network Solutions customer.

A malicious user then employed a script that automatically scoured the Network Solutions system for poorly secured accounts and, when found, modified the databases so the corresponding websites redirected users to the malicious website.

"So, at the end anyone can be blamed," Dede wrote. "At WordPress for requiring that the database credentials be stored in clear-text. At WordPress again for not installing itself securely by default. At the users for not securing their blogs. At Network Solutions for allowing this to happen."

To clean up the mess, Network Solutions had to change the database passwords for WordPress, which will likely cause problems for customers who use scripts that automatically access the file. The Network Solutions blog post doesn't say whether changes have been made to customers' wp-config.php file, so users should check to make sure it's set to private by running the command "chmod 750 wp-config.php." ®

Update

A representative for some WordPress developers wrote in to take issue with Dede's claim that at least some blame rested with developers of the blogging software.

"WordPress, like all other web applications, must store database connection info in cleartext," wrote Paul Kim VP User Growth at Automattic Inc., which employs some of the core developers for WordPress. "Encrypting credentials isn't an option because the keys have to be stored where the Web server can read them in order to decrypt the data. If a malicious user has access to file system -- like they appeared to have in this case -- it is trivial to obtain the keys and decrypt the information. When you leave the to the door in the lock, does it help to lock the door?"

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.