Author: Josh Martin

Experiencing Creative Diversity at WordCamp Atlanta

This weekend I had the pleasure of representing SiteLock in our sponsor booth at WordCamp Atlanta, and it was an astounding experience. I find myself amazed at the wonderful and diverse crowd that every WordCamp draws. From speakers sharing their tips for success, to all of the individual attendees with their own stories to tell, the WordPress community at large is an endless fountain of inspiration, knowledge, and collaboration.

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Malware

Apache Struts Vulnerability Found and Patched

A vulnerability was recently discovered in Apache Struts, a popular framework for web-based Java applications, which allows for remote code execution on affected servers and allows for complete control of the application. The framework is commonly used by large, sophisticated organizations such as Lockheed Martin and Citigroup, meaning the vulnerability could affect up to 65% of Fortune 100 companies, resulting in large scale data breaches and private consumer data theft.

Found by lgtm.com security researcher Man Yue Mo, the vulnerability stems from unsafe deserialization of user supplied data to the REST plugin, which allows API access to the Java application. Researchers contacted the Apache Foundation directly, allowing the plugin developers to patch the issue before widespread exploitation. As of this writing, at least one live exploit has been seen in the wild, and a Metasploit module was released.

Apache Struts joins a growing fraternity of widely used applications to see an API vulnerability this year, including WordPress and Instagram. WordPress shared a similar experience where the exploit was discovered before widespread attacks, but many users failed to update and suffered compromise and data loss. The Struts vulnerability is more complicated to exploit which should result in a less dramatic rise in attacks. Regardless, patches should be applied as soon as possible, as a proactive security stance is more effective.

Apache Struts users are urged to upgrade to version 2.3.34 or 2.5.13 respectively, and additional information is provided by Apache on the official struts webpage at: https://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/WW/Version+Notes+2.3.34 and   https://struts.apache.org/announce.html#a20170905.

More sophisticated exploits are likely to occur as this vulnerability is examined. The best option for mitigation is to patch Struts as soon as possible to the recommended versions and regularly check for updates. Website owners should also consider adding a web application firewall and malware scanner to mitigate or reduce the severity of compromise.

SiteLock TrueShield customers are already protected against this exploit. Attempted attacks will be caught and blocked by the TrueShield WAF. If your website isn’t protected, call SiteLock at 888.878.2417 to get TrueShield installed today.

SiteLock Threat Intercept

Threat Intercept: Malvertising via JavaScript Redirects

This article was co-authored by Product Evangelist Logan Kipp.

THREAT SUMMARY

High Threat
WordPress Website Security Threat Level
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Category: Malvertising / Malicious Redirect

Trend Identified: 5/17/2017

CVE ID: N/A

Trend Name: Trend El Mirage

Vector: Application Vulnerability, Multiple

The threat rating was determined using the following metrics:

Complexity:

MEDIUM: The vector used to infect websites appears to be through the use of leaked compromised passwords.

Confidentiality Impact:

HIGH: This infection provides complete control of the target website, including database content.

Integrity Impact:

HIGH: This infection provides the adversary administrator-level access to impacted website applications, making total data loss a possibility.


The SiteLock Research team has identified a trend of JavaScript injections causing the visitors of affected websites to be automatically redirected to advertisements without the knowledge of the website owner.

This infection impacts WordPress sites across all versions, but the affected websites identified at this time all show evidence of recent infection by a fake WordPress plugin that performed malicious redirects as well. The previous infections were determined to have been distributed via a botnet using a database of leaked login credentials, suggesting this new attack may similarly be accessing sites via compromised WordPress administrator credentials.

The malicious code becomes embedded into existing JavaScript files in the affected sites, ensuring that the code will be executed in visitors’ browsers regardless of their activity on the site.

The code as it appears in the injected files is obfuscated, which means it’s written in a way that makes it difficult for humans to read. This is the malicious script as it appears in the affected files:

WordPress Malvertising via JavaScript Redirects

Obfuscated JavaScript responsible for malicious redirects.

After decoding this file, we are able to determine the specifics of how it behaves:

WordPress Injected Javascript Malware

Decoded and formatted version of the injected JavaScript.

The redirect takes place immediately after loading a page including the infected JavaScript, after which a cookie is stored in the visitor’s browser called “csrf_uid” that expires three days after being created. The naming of this cookie is an attempt to hide in plain sight, as CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery) protection cookies are commonplace in many websites across the internet. While the cookie is active, no further redirects will take place. This provides two benefits to the attacker. First, the ad network will be less likely to identify suspicious behavior and flag the attacker’s account. Secondly, it makes the redirects more difficult to identify and duplicate by the sites’ owners and administrators, decreasing the likelihood that the specific infection will be identified and removed.

What is a website cookie?
Cookies are pieces of data that websites store in your browser for later use. Sites use cookies for a number of legitimate reasons, from storing login sessions to analytics of how users are browsing the site.

Fortunately, despite the nature of these redirects, no malicious activity has been identified in the advertisements themselves, meaning a system infection occurring after these redirects is unlikely.

Because the attack vector of this infection appears to be leaked login credentials from unrelated data breaches, it is very important to ensure that strong password policies are in place on your site. Avoid using the same password across multiple locations to prevent one service’s breach from exposing your accounts elsewhere. If you determine that your data has been part of a publicized breach, change your passwords immediately. Also, consider using a breach checker to identify if your email address has been associated with any public data breaches in the past, as this would be a major indicator that password changes will be necessary for your accounts.

If you are a website owner and you believe your website has been impacted by this infection, contact SiteLock as soon as possible at 855.378.6200. Our SMART scan began rapidly identifying and cleaning instances of this infection within 24 hours of being initially identified.

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WordPress Auto Login and Obfuscated Code

Malware comes in a great deal of unique shapes and sizes.  Most people know someone who has had the misfortune of an infected computer at some point. Ransomware, trojans, and viruses that affect consumers’ physical devices are generally built with compiled code, which means you can’t easily “take a look under the hood” to get a solid idea of how it works.

The types of malware we work with at SiteLock behave a little differently, however. The web-ready files we encounter most frequently are written in Interpreted Languages like PHP and JavaScript. This means that the files involved contain plain, human-readable code, allowing anyone who understands the language to see what the files do.

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