WordPress is a wonderful platform that makes managing a website and creating content much easier for website owners and operators. But it can also come with inherent challenges, specifically related to website security.
If the security of your site is compromised, everything within it is exposed to the whims of a hacker. A cyber attack can put your customer's data, your content, as well as your website's code at risk. For eCommerce stores, this can lead to a loss of business. For those who operate a website for other reasons, it can leave visitors to your site exposed to an attack and potentially unwilling to revisit your site.
If you manage a WordPress site, you'll want to avoid the pitfall that happened to one of our customers who saw their security compromised. Luckily, our team was able to help them with enhanced website protection. Read on to find out what happened and how to take proactive steps to avoid it.
What Happened When One of Our Customers Discovered a Problem with Their WordPress Feed
One of our customers performed regular scans of their website to detect any challenges, issues, or potential vulnerabilities. This is an important part of effective cybersecurity because it allows you to observe problems before they've made major impacts on your site. If problems are already occurring, it allows you to play catch-up as fast as possible.
Our customer performed a scan and received an investigation report that included malicious URLs in their WordPress feed. After purchasing our cleanup plan, our team got to work. First, we needed to locate the specific problem so we could identify the needed action and what we needed to repair. We also performed a full website audit that pinpointed the malicious URLs injected into the feed. We discovered they came from spam posts automatically added to the customer website.
From there, we initiated our cleanup procedure. This included a full website server-side scan. We then removed the automatically added posts from the database. The customer was free to continue regular operations without worrying about the URL popping up again.
What is a WordPress Feed?
WordPress has many capabilities that make it the perfect tool for creating content and distributing that content to your online audience. It also gives you the ability to create a unique WordPress feed, which helps the people who like your site the most get the information you're sharing quickly.
A WordPress feed allows site visitors to subscribe to a rollout of your site's content. They can also post updates about your content as part of other sites, including their own. Think of it as a way for frequent readers to access your content as soon as it has become available (if they make an active decision to join your feed).
Using a WordPress Feed
A WordPress feed is essentially another vector for content delivery. It's how site visitors who enjoy your content can ensure they receive the latest updates on new pieces that become available. The feed can contain your full post as well as a summary along with vital metadata like author and tags..
A user's WordPress feed will include all of the feeds they have subscribed to, published to one centralized location. They can then view all of the content they subscribed to in the feed reader.
Unfortunately, hackers can use the feed for nefarious purposes. Here's how spam posts can then be injected into an unsuspecting website.
How Hackers Inject Spam Posts into a Website
The typical scenario is hackers stealing your site administrator's credentials using a brute force attack. That compromises your site's security because it gives access to your data and content.
In specific cases, the administrator credentials are stolen through the keylogger malware installed on a device used to access WordPress administrative panel.
Another case is when one of the installed WordPress plugins suffers from a 0-day security vulnerability allowing direct access and manipulation on a backend database - called an SQL injection. For example, the unpatched RCE vulnerability in the plugin allows remote code injection and execution. Once the code was injected, spammy posts were automatically generated and distributed via the feed.
If this sounds like a headache, you're right. Our customer was able to combat this challenge once they recruited us. However, you may want to stay ahead of having an issue like this impact you. Here's how you can better fortify your WordPress site.
How You Can Detect and Protect Yourself from a Spam/SEO Infection in Your WordPress Feed
It should be apparent that your WordPress feed can be compromised by spam posts that will frustrate your feed subscribers and hurt your credibility as a site. Fortunately, there are proactive measures you can take to mitigate your risk of this kind of attack. And as with most cybersecurity solutions, the best solution is usually the most simple.
In order to fight such kind of infection, Quttera's ThreatSign platform website malware monitoring and protection platform includes external (client-side) monitoring, allowing detection of spam posts and any other blacklisted URLs that find their way into your feed. This is how you detect and protect from infection.
ThreatSign's Web Application Firewall (WAF) also blocks any attempted brute force attacks, RCE attacks, as well as SQL injection attacks. It's a comprehensive security solution that acts as a safeguard for your WordPress site's data and content.
Without a detection and prevention provider to help handle this process for you, you'll have a harder time preventing this kind of attack from happening. If it does happen, you'll have an even harder time navigating your response posture. The ThreatSign platform protects your website from malware in your WordPress feed along with any other web malware.
ThreatSign website protection gives you one less aspect of WordPress site management to worry about. You'll have security covered and have more time to focus on doing what you do best - managing your site and creating content in a way that speaks to your customers and/or audience most effectively.
For more on how ThreatSign can help, contact us today!