Feeds

WordPress.com hack exposes confidential code

Multiple servers rooted

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The company that maintains the WordPress.com blogging platform said hackers gained root access to its servers and made off with sensitive code belonging to it and its partners.

Wednesday's advisory from Automattic is the latest to detail a breach on a company entrusted to keep customer information private. The company, which serves about 18 million publishers, said employees are still determining exactly what data was stolen, but the initial assessment didn't look good.

“Automattic had a low-level (root) break-in to several of our servers, and potentially anything on those servers could have been revealed,” the company's founder, Matt Mullenweg, wrote. “We presume our source code was exposed and copied. While much of our code is open source, there are sensitive bits of our and our partner's code. Beyond that, however, it appears information disclosed was limited.”

In the comments section to his post, Mullenweg said there's no evidence that passwords were exposed, “and even if they had they'd be difficult to crack.” He advised users to change their passwords anyway, especially if the same one is used in two or more places. WordPress passwords are hashed and salted using the Portable PHP password hashing framework, he added.

Mullenweg didn't say how hackers were able to root multiple servers belonging to his company but said it has “taken comprehensive steps to prevent an incident like this from occurring again.”

Automattic joins companies including RSA Security, Epsilon, and an unnamed reseller of SSL certificate authority Comodo in admitting to breaches that put its customers at risk. So far, there's little public evidence about who is responsible for the hacks.

With about 12 percent of websites running WordPress, the platform has long been a target of hacks. In 2009, a spam-friendly worm attacked older installations of the program, including that of tech blogger Robert Scoble, who lost two months of blog entries as a result. It was the second time that year that his blogging software had been exploited.

More recently, WordPress.com came under a massive denial-of-service attack that made it impossible for many of its users to publish their content.

Source code stored on Automattic's servers includes API keys and Twitter and Facebook passwords that can used to gain access to sensitive information, TechCrunch said.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.