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WordPress Automatic Flaw: Hackers Hijacking Sites with Admin Accounts


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WordPress websites, powering millions of online presences globally, are constantly under the watchful eye of cybercriminals seeking vulnerabilities to exploit. Recently, a critical security flaw in a popular plugin, WP Automatic, sent shivers down the spines of website owners.

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Let’s delve into the details of this exploit, the potential consequences, and most importantly, 10 actionable steps you can take to secure your WordPress website from similar attacks.

The culprit in this case is an SQL injection (SQLi) vulnerability discovered in the WP Automatic plugin. SQLi vulnerabilities allow attackers to inject malicious code into a website’s database. This malicious code can then be used to steal sensitive information, manipulate content, or, as seen in this instance, create entirely new administrator accounts on the compromised website. Security researchers at Patchstack identified the vulnerability and reported instances of attackers actively exploiting it.

Here’s a breakdown of the situation and what you, as a website owner, can do:

  • Affected Versions: All versions of WP Automatic prior to are susceptible to this attack.
  • Fix Available: Fortunately, the developers of WP Automatic have released a patch (version that addresses the SQLi vulnerability. Updating your plugin to the latest version is paramount to securing your website.
  • Identifying Compromise: If you haven’t updated the plugin yet, consider conducting a security scan to identify signs of compromise. Look for unauthorized administrator accounts or unusual activity within your WordPress dashboard.

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10 Ways to Lock Down Your WordPress Website:

  1. Patch Me Up: Make timely patching of vulnerabilities in all plugins and themes a top priority. Update as soon so new versions become available.
  2. Password Power: Enforce strong and unique passwords for all WordPress user accounts. Consider implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for an extra layer of security.
  3. Security Plugin Power: Utilize a reputable WordPress security plugin that offers features like malware scanning, website hardening, and login attempt monitoring.
  4. Backup, Backup, Backup: Maintain regular backups of your website’s files and database. This allows you to restore your site quickly in case of an attack.
  5. Least Privilege: Assign user roles with the least privilege necessary for their tasks. Avoid granting unnecessary administrative access to everyone.
  6. Disable File Editing: Consider disabling theme and plugin file editing from the WordPress dashboard to minimize potential damage from future vulnerabilities.
  7. Keep it Fresh: Ensure the WordPress core software itself is updated with the latest security patches.
  8. Choose Wisely: Select a reputable web hosting provider that offers security features and regularly backs up your website data.
  9. Scan Regularly: Conduct regular vulnerability scans on your website to identify and address potential weaknesses before they’re exploited.
  10. Knowledge is Power: Stay updated on emerging WordPress security threats and best practices. The more you know, the better you can protect your website.

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The WP Automatic exploit serves as a stark reminder that website security requires constant vigilance. By following these recommendations, you can significantly reduce the risk of your website falling victim to similar attacks. Remember, website security is an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. Proactive maintenance, user education, and a commitment to best practices are essential for building a robust online defense. Don’t wait until it’s too late – take action today to fortify your WordPress site and safeguard your valuable online presence.

Ouaissou DEMBELE
Ouaissou DEMBELEhttps://cybercory.com
Ouaissou DEMBELE is an accomplished cybersecurity professional and the Editor-In-Chief of cybercory.com. He has over 10 years of experience in the field, with a particular focus on Ethical Hacking, Data Security & GRC. Currently, Ouaissou serves as the Co-founder & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Saintynet, a leading provider of IT solutions and services. In this role, he is responsible for managing the company's cybersecurity strategy, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, and identifying and mitigating potential threats, as well as helping the company customers for better & long term cybersecurity strategy. Prior to his work at Saintynet, Ouaissou held various positions in the IT industry, including as a consultant. He has also served as a speaker and trainer at industry conferences and events, sharing his expertise and insights with fellow professionals. Ouaissou holds a number of certifications in cybersecurity, including the Cisco Certified Network Professional - Security (CCNP Security) and the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), ITIL. With his wealth of experience and knowledge, Ouaissou is a valuable member of the cybercory team and a trusted advisor to clients seeking to enhance their cybersecurity posture.


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