Huge attack on WordPress sites could spawn never-before-seen super botnet

According to Forbes, ARS Technica and Computer world Hosted WordPress sites are under attack by a bot net that’s 90,000 nodes strong. It’s recommended everyone update their WordPress software and to more secure passwords as soon as possible. If you’re hosting a free WordPress blog, as of now this  bot net wont effect you.

Here’s the article from ARS Technica:

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Security analysts have detected an ongoing attack that uses a huge number of computers from across the Internet to commandeer servers that run the WordPress blogging application.

The unknown people behind the highly distributed attack are using more than 90,000 IP addresses to brute-force crack administrative credentials of vulnerable WordPress systems, researchers from at least three Web hosting services reported. At least one company warned that the attackers may be in the process of building a “botnet” of infected computers that’s vastly stronger and more destructive than those available today. That’s because the servers have bandwidth connections that are typically tens, hundreds, or even thousands of times faster than botnets made of infected machines in homes and small businesses.

“These larger machines can cause much more damage in DDoS [distributed denial-of-service] attacks because the servers have large network connections and are capable of generating significant amounts of traffic,” Matthew Prince, CEO of content delivery network CloudFlare, wrote in a blog post describing the attacks.

It’s not the first time researchers have raised the specter of a super botnet with potentially dire consequences for the Internet. In October, they revealed that highly debilitating DDoS attacks on six of the biggest US banks used compromised Web servers to flood their targets with above-average amounts of Internet traffic. The botnet came to be known as the itsoknoproblembro or Brobot, names that came from a relatively new attack tool kit some of the infected machines ran. If typical botnets used in DDoS attacks were the network equivalent of tens of thousands of garden hoses trained on a target, the Brobot machines were akin to hundreds of fire hoses. Despite their smaller number, they were nonetheless able to inflict more damage because of their bigger capacity.

There’s already evidence that some of the commandeered WordPress websites are being abused in a similar fashion. A blog post published Friday by someone from Web host ResellerClub said the company’s systems running that platform are also under an “ongoing and highly distributed global attack.”

“To give you a little history, we recently heard from a major law enforcement agency about a massive attack on US financial institutions originating from our servers,” the blog post reported. “We did a detailed analysis of the attack pattern and found out that most of the attack was originating from [content management systems] (mostly WordPress). Further analysis revealed that the admin accounts had been compromised (in one form or the other) and malicious scripts were uploaded into the directories.”

The blog post continued:

“Today, this attack is happening at a global level and WordPress instances across hosting providers are being targeted. Since the attack is highly distributed in nature (most of the IPs used are spoofed), it is making it difficult for us to block all malicious data.”

According to CloudFlare’s Prince, the distributed attacks are attempting to brute force the administrative portals of WordPress servers, employing the username “admin” and 1,000 or so common passwords. He said the attacks are coming from tens of thousands of unique IP addresses, an assessment that squares with the finding of more than 90,000 IP addresses hitting WordPress machines hosted by HostGator.

“At this moment, we highly recommend you log into any WordPress installation you have and change the password to something that meets the security requirements specified on the WordPress website the company’s Sean Valant wrote. “These requirements are fairly typical of a secure password: upper and lowercase letters, at least eight characters long, and including ‘special’ characters (^%$#@*).”

Operators of WordPress sites can take other measures too, including installing plugins such as this one and this one, which close some of the holes most frequently exploited in these types of attacks. Beyond that, operators can sign up for a free plan from CloudFlare that automatically blocks login attempts that bear the signature of the brute-force attack.

Already, HostGator has indicated that the strain of this mass attack is causing huge strains on websites, which come to a crawl or go down altogether. There are also indications that once a WordPress installation is infected it’s equipped with a backdoor so that attackers can maintain control even after the compromised administrative credentials have been changed. In some respects, the WordPress attacks resemble the mass compromise of machines running the Apache Web server, which Ars chronicled 10 days ago.

With so much at stake, readers who run WordPress sites are strongly advised to lock down their servers immediately. The effort may not only protect the security of the individual site. It could help safeguard the Internet as a whole.

keyword: guitar spammed! – an open letter to Matt and the wordpress team (Updated 7-14-12)

(EDIT 2) I just went through Key word: Guitar and reported over 200 posts that have been put on 33 accounts in the last 18 hours. I guess wordpress is expecting its community to take our time and report these spammers and do nothing about it. I have news for you Matt Mullenweg, if you want wordpress.com to become as irrelevant as live journal loosing its 20 million people strong user base just keep doing nothing and see what happens. These spammers are making a fortune off of google keywords using anonymous proxies while your expectations are for the user base to report them. This didn’t work for live journal and it wont work for wordpress.com but will make you obsolete if you don’t take action. I beseech you to do some simple scripting blocking these fucktards like Google does on Blogger. If not your user base will leave and go elsewhere including myself. Please someone buy the them a clue. In the last 15 minutes Keyword guitar has been spammed with 471 individual spam posts.


(EDIT) I received this response from the WordPress team:
Thank you for this report; the blogs you reported actually contained information that helped us remove over 100 spam blogs on WordPress.com and will help us in keeping more off the service. Please continue to report this as you see it; we are constantly working to keep spam off the WordPress.com service and every report helps.


Dear Matt and WordPress team! keyword: guitar – There are 20 or more different accounts spamming this keyword all with hundreds of products that are music gear from various dealers. Almost posts or duplicates in one form or another. This keyword is now completely useless in a huge community musicians, producers, songwriters, audio engineers, singers, guitarists, bands, fans etc. There are 30 spam articles coming from 30 spam accounts to every one real human. There’s so many I could make a full time job in reporting them, no one has that kind time. What can I do to help that wont take 8 hours of my day?

Thank you for wordpress and all your hard work!

Re-posted on zombieminstrel.wordpress.com

An image of WordPress’s reader set at Keyword: Guitar

My Reader Feed Keyword: Guitar

My Reader Feed Keyword: Guitar