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 Analyst at Omdia, focusing on enterprise security management. Curtis has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He has been on staff and contributed to technology-industry publications ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Cyberattacks Are Tailored to Employees ... Why Isn't Security Training?
Tim Sadler, CEO and co-founder of Tessian,  6/17/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Powerful Cybersecurity Skills the Energy Sector Needs Most
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer,  6/22/2021
News
Microsoft Disrupts Large-Scale BEC Campaign Across Web Services
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/15/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-2322
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
Vulnerability in OpenGrok (component: Web App). Versions that are affected are 1.6.7 and prior. Easily exploitable vulnerability allows low privileged attacker with network access via HTTPS to compromise OpenGrok. Successful attacks of this vulnerability can result in takeover of OpenGrok. CVSS 3.1 ...
CVE-2021-20019
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
A vulnerability in SonicOS where the HTTP server response leaks partial memory by sending a crafted HTTP request, this can potentially lead to an internal sensitive data disclosure vulnerability.
CVE-2021-21809
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
A command execution vulnerability exists in the default legacy spellchecker plugin in Moodle 3.10. A specially crafted series of HTTP requests can lead to command execution. An attacker must have administrator privileges to exploit this vulnerabilities.
CVE-2021-34067
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
Heap based buffer overflow in tsMuxer 2.6.16 allows attackers to cause a Denial of Service (DoS) by running the application with a crafted file.
CVE-2021-34068
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-23
Heap based buffer overflow in tsMuxer 2.6.16 allows attackers to cause a Denial of Service (DoS) by running the application with a crafted file.