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Malware

Trending “Fireball” Adware Raises Botnet Concerns

Earlier this week, security researchers reported on a trending adware infection known as Fireball. Sourced to the Chinese marketing firm Rafotech, reports indicate a footprint of more than 250 million infected machines worldwide. While the infection currently appears to only make changes to victims’ browser homepages and search engines, analysis suggests that the software could be remotely leveraged to act as a malware dropper. A malware dropper is a program that can be used to remotely install malicious software onto a victim’s computer or network. This can be performed after any amount of time following the installation of the dropper itself.

If true, it’s possible that infected systems could be made part of a botnet and used to carry out new types of attack over the Internet.

The Fireball adware is being distributed via freeware software installers through a method known as bundling. You’re likely to have seen bundling yourself at some point. Legitimate software developers use bundling as a way to monetize the release of otherwise free software. When you download and install such a program to your computer, you may notice that you’re being asked to install additional, unrelated software, like toolbars or free trials of a different company’s programs. While annoying, most cases of bundling are simply a way for developers to make money while releasing a free product. However, this can also be used to deliver PUA (Potentially Unwanted Applications), like adware, software that can track your behavior online and serve advertisements based on this data.

Because of this, it’s important to remain mindful of the sources of programs you install. Cracked versions of paid products frequently include malicious files that can be used to infect your systems. For website owners, this also applies to pirated versions of software that you might want to install on your website, like premium WordPress plugins and themes. Even if the pirated files are free of malware, they do not typically receive security patches from the original developers, or they could be configured to download a malicious component at a later time. This can open your website to a myriad of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers to cause further damage to your online reputation.

Another point to consider, in the wake of Fireball’s massive online footprint, is the potential for damage caused by a botnet of this size. Malicious tasks that would be practically impossible for a single machine to perform (bulk hash cracking, login bruteforcing, denial of service attacks, etc.) become trivial when an attacker can utilize a quarter billion machines simultaneously to accomplish their goals. The potential for mobilization on this scale means it’s as important as ever to ensure tight security on all of your systems.

Strong passwords are a good start. Changing passwords regularly is another important step, given the frequency of major data leaks across the internet. By changing your credentials, you render a previously leaked password useless.

Protecting your website from bot traffic is a critical step in preventing malicious activity on your site. SiteLock TrueShield, a web application firewall,  provides effective traffic filtering that can drastically limit the impact of these attacks. Contact a SiteLock Website Security Consultant at 855.378.6200 to find the right security package for your business. We are available 24/7/365 to help.

What is WordPress Multisite and Who Should Use It?

In this post, we’re going to look at the Multisite feature of WordPress. We’ll learn what it is, when to use it, and when not to use it. We’ll also cover a few important best practices to keep in mind when running WordPress Multisite.

When you enable Multisite in WordPress, you have the ability to create a network of individual WordPress sites on a single installation of the software. Enabling, configuring, managing, and growing a WordPress Multisite-powered website is not for novice users, but depending on the goals of your business, it just might be the perfect solution.

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10 WordPress Website Performance Best Practices

If you’re reading this article, it’s almost certainly not the first website performance article you’ve browsed. Let’s be honest, practically everyone has an opinion on the matter and you would probably deforest half the Amazon rainforest if you tried to print each article you’ve come across. Since we all want to save the habitat of the endangered Amazonian Wapuu and skip the conjecture, I’d like to share with you my 10 WordPress website performance best practices that provide gains you can actually measure.

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The Ballooning Cost of Cybercrime

The legal industry finds itself in the upper echelons of companies when it comes to the fiscal impact of a cybercrime. However, many are ignoring this risk. According to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2015 Legal Technology Survey, about half of firms said they had no response plan in place to address a cybersecurity breach.

Furthermore, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts the costs associated with a cyberattack could balloon to $6 trillion globally by 2021. To put that in perspective, if cybercrime were a country, the number would represent the fourth highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world.

To better understand the costs associated with cybercrime it is helpful to group the expenses in two buckets, direct and indirect.

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How to Install and Configure the SiteLock Plugin (Video Tutorial)

In our Beginner’s Guide to the SiteLock Plugin for WordPress, we showed you the benefits of proactively preventing malware and hacking attempts on your WordPress website. In this video, you’ll learn exactly how to install and configure our plugin and connect it to a SiteLock account.

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WordCamp Jacksonville – A True All Things WordPress Conference

Last week I attended and spoke at the second annual WordCamp Jacksonville. It was my first time attending this camp and it didn’t disappoint. As the title of this post suggests, it seemed there was something for every type of WordPress user, and that’s not always an easy feat to achieve.

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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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SiteLock Unlocked: A Day in the Life of a Website Security Research Analyst

Welcome to SiteLock Unlocked, our new blog series that provides exclusive one-on-one interviews with the awesome team members here at SiteLock. Through this series, you’ll get an inside look at the more personal side of SiteLock. We’ll interview different SiteLock members from various departments to highlight how their dedicated efforts contribute to your website security.

To kick-start our series, we sat down with a member of the SiteLock Research team to showcase what a day in the life as a SiteLock Website Security Research Analyst looks like.

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How a Self-Published Author Turned to SiteLock to Save His Website [Case Study]

Overview

Bill Kasal is a retired award-winning TV, video and radio producer. With over 25 years of experience, he has held many impressive roles including; Program Director and co-host for the Coachella Valley’s highest rated morning radio show, Executive Marketing Director for another, and Executive Producer for a seven-part PBS Series. After winning countless awards for television programs for nonprofit organizations, Kasal has turned his focus to writing books.

Kasal is the author of seven self-published books on Amazon. His writings cover a wide range of topics, including observations on daily life, family, recipes, humor, and his experiences as a reserve police officer. To share his stories and promote his books, Kasal relies heavily on his WordPress blog, billkasal.com.

Kasal started his blog in 2010, and not only uses it as an outlet for his writing, but also as a way for his site visitors to find his Amazon Author Page. “My blog has an active following, and my visitors reference it regularly to stay updated on my upcoming book launches,” Kasal says.

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This is the Best Part of a WordCamp

When I attended my first WordCamp in 2011, I instantly fell in love with these events. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been fortunate to attend 29 different WordCamps around the world, and have learned so much from each and every one. In this time, I’ve realized what the absolute best part about any WordCamp is, and it’s my pleasure to share that with you.

Although there is a “best thing” about WordCamps (in my opinion), there are so many great things that should also be included here.

An Inexpensive Opportunity to Learn

the best part of a wordcamp

WordCamps are volunteer led and locally organized events. Each one is created by the community, for the community. The WordPress community is like no other I’ve been involved with. It’s open and collaborative with the goal to openly share knowledge in order to elevate attendee skills and understanding of the web publishing space.

WordCamps are in part funded by sponsors. There are global sponsors (SiteLock included), and many sponsors who are local to the event location. It’s an opportunity for companies and individuals to get their brand in front of attendees, but more than that, it’s a great way to give back to the WordPress project in a meaningful way.

Because sponsors donate their time and money, that means WordCamps can keep ticket costs low, usually in the $35 to $40 range. The affordable price tag makes these events accessible to more people than a traditional trade show or event where admission can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Shared Knowledge, Experience and Partnerships

the best part of a wordcamp

If you went to a trade show that included mostly local businesses, many with competing products and services, would you expect that they would share their best advice for acquiring and managing their customers? Probably not. But this is exactly what happens at a WordCamp.

I’ve seen premium plugin business owners discussing their revenue details. I’ve seen hosting companies commiserating on technical challenges and how they have approached a solution. I’ve seen two real estate website development agencies sharing how they acquire customers.

Similar to the mission of WordPress, Democratizing Publishing, the official WordCamp mission statement might as well be Elevating Each Other. Of course, it’s not all altruistic either. There are business partnership opportunities to be explored and agreed upon during WordCamps too, and this happens regularly. Whether it’s between two developers who team up to start an agency, or between larger companies finding a mutually beneficial subject to offer together.

The Session Topics

the best part of a wordcamp

And now we’re getting closer to the meaning behind the title of this post. Every WordCamp session I’ve attended has been something useful, relevant and actionable. No matter whether you’re a blogger, designer, developer, business owner or a combination of these, there is always useful insight being shared by speakers that attendees can take away and implement for their own WordPress journeys.

Not only are the scheduled sessions always packed with useful information, but so are the conversations you have with others in the Hallway Track. If you’re not familiar, the Hallway Track is a term used to describe the conversations and knowledge sharing that occur during and after WordCamp sessions. All of this leads me to the best part of a WordCamp…

The People

the best part of a wordcamp

The individual people that plan, organize, sponsor, and attend are the best part of any WordCamp. For the most part, there is a similarity between people who are involved in WordPress, and especially so with people who get involved with WordCamps. The common denominator is that they are all genuinely nice people.

I have no scientific data to prove this niceness, of course, it’s my own generalization. Even more than this, people at WordCamps are eager to learn and are even more eager to connect deeply with others who share the same passion for building the web that creates real and lasting relationships.

Follow the District for more information about and recaps of WordCamp events from around the world.

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