What's That Noise?! [Ian Kallen's Weblog]

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20080409 Wednesday April 09, 2008

WordPress Pandemic Chronicles - 2008-04-09

I've been acting on the assumption that WordPress 2.3.3 was a "safe" release. I certainly hadn't spotted any hacked blogs using 2.3.3 but poking around, I find these reports of compromised 2.3.3 blogs:

WTF? I'm going to continue assuming that 2.3.3 is secure and there was something else going on in those cases -- I'm expecting the WordPress developers to weigh in with a definitive statement on this (hello, anybody home?). Now, according to Blog Herald, the safe versions are 2.5, 2.3.3, 2.1.3, and 2.0.11 -- if that's the case, I'll incorporate that into another update to Technorati's crawler (though to date, 2.1.3 and 2.0.11 have so far been statistically insignificant).

Folks need to keep getting the word out: friends don't let friends run vulnerable installations of WordPress. In the meantime, here's latest snapshot of the trailing 90 days of WordPress updates handled by Technorati:

VersionCount (in thousands)Change
It's encouraging to see the numbers for 2.5 going up strongly: 7000 more WordPress 2.5 blogs updated since yesterday's trailing 90 days. Seems like the small flaps for the other versions are a wash.


( Apr 09 2008, 11:40:45 PM PDT ) Permalink

Stature In The Blogosphere (Or Open Source) Is Not Immunity

When I was comparing notes with Kevin Burton, it looks like we each independently found the same A-lister (who shall remain nameless here) that had fallen victim to the WordPress vulnerability on a secondary blog. I think we each independently had passed a "heads-up", I know I was in touch with this blogger a few times in the last two weeks about it. The blog has since been taken down (the URL redirects to a different blog and that redirect target is not vulnerable). This phenomenon is hitting blogs up and down the blogosphere's power curve -- it's neither the A-listers nor the Z-listers who are targetted. Any old vulnerable WordPress installation will do. And as can be seen in the metrics I've posted recently, the number of potential targets is vast.

Bokardo had fallen into the link-spam hole in Technorati's system because of spam defacement (I've since corrected the flagging, we're indexing Bokardo again). Ironically, the same day that Bokardo posted about being zapped in the Google index, the Google Webmaster Central Blog posted My site's been hacked - now what? which details the process of getting out of their purgatory. Unlike the aforementioned A-lister's silence on the matter, Bokardo author Joshua Porter posted about it, to which I say, "Yay, brother!" His case clearly illustrated the basic point: if you haven't upgraded your vulnerable WordPress installation, you're operating an insecure wiki -- any jackass with the exploit can re-write your pages (and worse). And they will.

Shift gears. I've been participating in online community on The WeLL for almost 14 years (yea, I'm paleolithic but I'm young at heart). One of the central ethical underpinnings on the WeLL is YOYOW: You Own Your Own Words. Other people can't quote/repost your words outside of the system without your permission and you need to be responsible for the things you say. In that spirit, I suggest that quality open source projects should adopt a collective You Own Your Own Code ethic. If you release code for other people to do great things with, mazel tov! But take pride in your products by keeping that usage fulfilling and secure. Where are the WordPress folks in getting the word out about the hack pandemic? Why isn't there a Big Red Banner on wordpress.org alerting people to the hazards of not upgrading? Waxing on about all of the groovy features in v2.5 is fine but really, they should be shouting: URGENT! YOUR INSTALLATION WILL BE HACKED UNLESS YOU UPGRADE TO ONE OF THIS FIXED RELEASES OR APPLY A PATCH. It's not like they don't know, both Kevin and I have talked to WordPress developers and posted very publicly about what's going.

Perhaps if Bokardo or the aforementioned A-lister migrated to Movable Type or some other platform and trumpetted about it, WordPress-land would hear the message. Instead of urging people to upgrade, maybe we should be urging them to migrate.


( Apr 09 2008, 10:37:03 AM PDT ) Permalink