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Our take on the “soaksoak” (revslider) infection

Ethical reportingHere’s our review of the recent revslider plugin exploit – or as some call it, “soaksoak” (ouch).

On November 22, 2014 while removing malware from a number of sites, we noticed a large number of them had backdoor shells buried in the revslider folder. After the first 100+ sites, we noticed the pattern.

A little Google searching found this site: http://whatisgon.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/another-revslider-vulnerability/

Our first notification was to hosting providers we work with. We told them what to search for so they could alert their customers. The problem was that we did not report it to the right people. That was our mistake.

The first sites did not have any code injected into the swfobject.js or collect.js files, or the .html or .php files. The sites simply had numerous backdoor shells spread throughout the wp-includes, wp-admin and wp-content folders. It appears as if the hackers were looking for the deepest level folders they could find.

Some online searching showed very few infected sites. 1,100 sites. We did reach out to those website owners to let them know – not to try and drum up business but to be responsible. And discrete.

Many of the forums are reporting links to 122.155... but we’re also seeing links to other IP addresses as well. The injected malscript can be in just the swfobject.js files or all .js files, all .html and selected .php files.

Some of the sites have code injected into the collect.js file which apparently is the same code that the malicious links point to. This leads us to believe that the hackers could use these infected sites in their future malicious links and most recently we see the infectious code using the local sites URL pointing to the infected collect.js file.

You’ll find the malicious code in the template-loader.php file located in wp-includes folder. This should be replaced with a copy of the original file downloaded directly from the WordPress site.

We choose not to alert all the script kiddies
I know what you’re thinking, if we knew about this back in November, why didn’t we blog about it?

Our searches showed a growing number of sites being infected. As of December 17, 2014, we saw 307,000 sites still infected with this – and they have all been verified by us as well.

We did not want to be the one to let every script-kiddie know so they could go out searching for these sites and take advantage of the backdoor shell on all these sites. We’ve been contacting these site owners to let them know and we feel that is the responsible thing to do.

I’m not saying that this was reported wrong. I’m just saying we made the decision to not report it to the masses.

Maybe a missed opportunity. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.

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revslider plugin vulnerability

website hackedBack in July the revslider WordPress plugin was discovered to have a vulnerability that allowed arbitrary files to be downloaded. This was specifically for version 4.1.4.

This vulnerability has been actively used to infect WordPress websites.

Normally, being able to download a file to your local computer isn’t a huge news flash. However, when you consider this allows people to download your wp-config.php, which contains all the login information for your database, it can be used in a variety of ways by cybercriminals.

I bring this up because we’ve been seeing a number of websites infected this way.

When the hackers download the wp-config.php file, they strip out the database login credentials and then try to login to the database remotely. If successful, they either add another user with administrative rights or change the password to one of the existing users with administrative rights.

Next, they login and either upload a malicious backdoor or use the theme-editor to inject malicious code in the theme files.

I would like to mention that some hosting providers, Bluehost, Hostmonster, JustHost and many others, don’t allow remote access to phpMyAdmin in the cPanel by default. You have to whitelist an IP address to enable remote access to phpMyAdmin.

That basically kills this specific attack in their environments. However, that’s only this specific attack. Other files could be downloaded that would provide the attackers enough information to be able to infect the website.

Also, some website owners use the same username and password as their cPanel. This could be disastrous. Never use the same password as your cPanel. Never.

As always, keep all your plugins and WordPress updated.

Always!

Thank you for reading. If you have this plugin contact me for a way to test your site (no charge).

Send me an email: traef@wewatchyourwebsite.com