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Security Alert: WordPress Accounts Targeted

April 18, 2013

Over the last few days FishNet Security's Global Threat Intelligence Center (gTIC) has been monitoring increased brute force attacks targeting over 90,000 web sites utilizing WordPress functionality. These attacks have been associated with botnet activity and focus on the default admin and common user accounts being targeted during the attack.

Common security practices of ensuring secure passwords are in place, ensuring multi-factor authentication is being utilized, ensuring that the latest vendor released patches and updates are implemented, and ensuring that Wordpress hardening standards are followed are highly recommended.

Additional recommendations provided by FishNet Security's partner Radware include: use JavaScript Web Challenges and to use an abnormal application behavior appliance that secures web applications. This can block these brute force attacks by detecting multiple unsuccessful login attempts to the WordPress login page originating from the same source in a short time period. The malicious sources can then be suspended or blocked for configurable timeframes.

In the event that a load balancing or proxy solution is in place, a throttling process may also be implemented.

On Monday, US-CERT issued a notice on these attacks. This release may be found at

US-CERT also provided more information to assist  administrators in maintaining their secure content management system include:

  • Review the June 21, 2012, vulnerability described in CVE-2012-3791, and follow best practices to determine if their organization is affected and the appropriate response.
  • Refer to the Technical Alert on Content Management Systems Security and Associated Risks for more information on securing a web content management system
  • Refer to Security Tip Understanding Hidden Threats: Rootkits and Botnets for more information on protecting a system against botnet attacks
  • Additional security practices and guidance are available in US-CERT’s Technical Information Paper TIP-12-298-01 on Website Security

Active reviews of accounts contained on WordPress servers should be monitored for unauthorized activity including access and system and file changes.

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