Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

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
7 Truths About BEC Scams
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  6/13/2019
DNS Firewalls Could Prevent Billions in Losses to Cybercrime
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/13/2019
Can Your Patching Strategy Keep Up with the Demands of Open Source?
Tim Mackey, Principal Security Strategist, CyRC, at Synopsys,  6/18/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-2729
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
Vulnerability in the Oracle WebLogic Server component of Oracle Fusion Middleware (subcomponent: Web Services). Supported versions that are affected are 10.3.6.0.0, 12.1.3.0.0 and 12.2.1.3.0. Easily exploitable vulnerability allows unauthenticated attacker with network access via HTTP to compromise ...
CVE-2019-3737
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
Dell EMC Avamar ADMe Web Interface 1.0.50 and 1.0.51 are affected by an LFI vulnerability which may allow a malicious user to download arbitrary files from the affected system by sending a specially crafted request to the Web Interface application.
CVE-2019-3787
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
Cloud Foundry UAA, versions prior to 73.0.0, falls back to appending ?unknown.org? to a user's email address when one is not provided and the user name does not contain an @ character. This domain is held by a private company, which leads to attack vectors including password recovery emails sent to ...
CVE-2019-12900
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
BZ2_decompress in decompress.c in bzip2 through 1.0.6 has an out-of-bounds write when there are many selectors.
CVE-2019-12893
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
Alternate Pic View 2.600 has a User Mode Write AV starting at PicViewer!PerfgrapFinalize+0x00000000000a8868.