Attacks/Breaches

Hack of Plug-in Website Ruffles WordPress Community

An intruder thought to be a former employee used a backdoor into the WPML website to skim email addresses and send a mass email blast.

When the website of a very popular plug-in used in an amazingly popular Web content management system (CMS) is hacked, this makes for big security news — even if, according to the plug-in's publisher, there's nothing to worry about.

WordPress is used as the content platform for around 75,000,000 websites. According to some observers, WordPress is used more than all the other CMS platforms combined, and it's the platform behind roughly one-third of all the content on the Internet. So when an email message was sent to the users of popular WordPress plug-in WPML (which stands for WordPress Multi-Language) telling them that major security holes had been found in the plug-in, the collective blood pressure of WordPress users went up a notch. 

The thing is, no such security holes had been found in the plug-in that is used by publishers who present versions of their site in multiple languages. Instead, an intruder thought to be a former employee used a backdoor into the WPML website to skim email addresses and send a mass email blast to the entire list from WPML.org's own servers.

In a blog post at WPML.org, CEO Amir Helzer detailed the steps the organization had taken to remediate the damage: "We updated wpml.org, rebuilt everything and reinstalled everything. We secured access to the admin use 2-factor authentication and minimized the access that the web server has to the file system."

While the organization stressed that no payment information had been compromised, it noted that login credentials for customer accounts had been taken. The group has sent legitimate follow-up email message to all users and is requiring them to reset their password on their next login.

In a statement provided to Dark Reading, Bill Evans, vice president of marketing for One Identity described a likely contributor to the hack. "In the case of this developer, they likely had access to a privileged account password, a database password, or an administrator password that was shared by many employees for the purpose of doing maintenance on critical systems." Helzer confirmed much of this in his blog post when he wrote, "Our data shows that the hacker used inside information (an old SSH password) and a hole that he left for himself while he was our employee."

In his extended statement, Evans stressed the importance of good privileged access management practices to eliminate the possibility of old and outdated passwords stored in code or DevOps config files.

Related Content:

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Russia Hacked Clinton's Computers Five Hours After Trump's Call
Robert Lemos, Technology Journalist/Data Researcher,  4/19/2019
Tips for the Aftermath of a Cyberattack
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/17/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-11378
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-20
An issue was discovered in ProjectSend r1053. upload-process-form.php allows finished_files[]=../ directory traversal. It is possible for users to read arbitrary files and (potentially) access the supporting database, delete arbitrary files, access user passwords, or run arbitrary code.
CVE-2019-11372
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-20
An out-of-bounds read in MediaInfoLib::File__Tags_Helper::Synched_Test in Tag/File__Tags.cpp in MediaInfoLib in MediaArea MediaInfo 18.12 leads to a crash.
CVE-2019-11373
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-20
An out-of-bounds read in File__Analyze::Get_L8 in File__Analyze_Buffer.cpp in MediaInfoLib in MediaArea MediaInfo 18.12 leads to a crash.
CVE-2019-11374
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-20
74CMS v5.0.1 has a CSRF vulnerability to add a new admin user via the index.php?m=Admin&c=admin&a=add URI.
CVE-2019-11375
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-20
Msvod v10 has a CSRF vulnerability to change user information via the admin/member/edit.html URI.