Earlier today, we released a new version of Jetpack, 12.1.1. This release contains a critical security update. While we have no evidence that this vulnerability has been exploited yet, please update your version of Jetpack as soon as possible to ensure the security of your site.
To help you in this process, we have worked closely with the WordPress.org Security Team to release patched versions of every version of Jetpack since 2.0. Most websites have been or will soon be automatically updated to a secured version.
Recently our colleague Joshua Goode escalated to the Security Research team an investigation he was performing on several websites that presented the same indicators of compromise. There were small variations in what the final payload was, but the attack timeline was always the same.
As Joshua initially pointed out and subsequently confirmed by me, the chain starts with the installation of the core-stab plugin, followed by other additional items. The following timeline depicts one of the many compromised sites we reviewed:
Jan 10, 2023 @ 17:29:49.587 UTC – Core stab plugin upload – /wp-admin/update.php?action=upload-plugin
Jan 10, 2023 @ 17:29:52.270 – /wp-content/plugins/core-stab/index.php
Jan 11, 2023 @ 02:12:50.773 – /wp-admin/theme-install.php?tab=upload
Jan 11, 2023 @ 03:37:58.870 – Another core-stab install
Jan 11, 2023 @ 04:15:06.014 – Installation of a new plugin, task-controller, /wp-content/plugins/task-controller/index.php
Jan 11, 2023 @ 08:23:26.519 – Installation of WP File Manager (Unsure if by attacker but this plugin is typical with a lot of malware)
The most common “coincidence” is that all users involved in this attack had their emails listed on at least one public password leak since 2019, which only corroborates the overall findings: the attacker(s) used compromised or leaked accounts to install the malware.
You can find more details on how the core-stab malware works, as well as detailed detection and blocking information for WP security experts, via WPScan.
What to do if my site was infected?
If you find the core-stab plugin installed on your site, the first thing you should do is remove it and then follow these next steps:
Versions before 9.9.7 of the WordPress plugin “The School Management Pro” from Weblizar contain a backdoor allowing an unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary PHP code on sites with the plugin installed. If you have an earlier version installed on your site, we recommend upgrading to version 9.9.7 or later immediately. This is a critical security issue.
During an internal audit of the UpdraftPlus plugin, we uncovered an arbitrary backup download vulnerability that could allow low-privileged users like subscribers to download a site’s latest backups.
If exploited, the vulnerability could grant attackers access to privileged information from the affected site’s database (e.g., usernames and hashed passwords).
We reported the vulnerability to the plugin’s authors, and they recently released version 1.22.3 to address it. Forced auto-updates have also been pushed due to the severity of this issue. If your site hasn’t already, we strongly recommend that you update to the latest version (1.22.3) and have an established security solution on your site, such as Jetpack Security.
It’s a general rule that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s especially true when it comes to nulled themes and plugins for WordPress sites. What can seem like a great deal on software can damage your website and result in more problems and costs than any potential savings. For safety and security, it’s important to be able to identify and avoid nulled software.
During an internal audit of the Smash Balloon Social Post Feed plugin (also known as Custom Facebook Feed), we discovered several sensitive AJAX endpoints were accessible to any users with an account on the vulnerable site, like subscribers. Some of these endpoints could enable Stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks to occur.
A successful Stored XSS attack could enable bad actors to store malicious scripts on every post and page of the affected site. If a logged-in administrator visits one of the affected URLs, the script may run on their browser and execute administrative actions on their behalf, like creating new administrators and installing rogue plugins.
We reported the vulnerabilities to this plugin’s author via email, and they recently released version 4.0.1 to address them. We strongly recommend that you update to the latest version of the Smash Balloon Social Post Feed plugin and have an established security solution on your site, such as Jetpack Security.
If exploited, the SQL Injection bug could grant attackers access to privileged information from the affected site’s database (e.g., usernames and hashed passwords). It can only be exploited if the classic-editor plugin is also installed and activated on the site.
Successfully exploiting the CSRF & Stored XSS vulnerability could enable bad actors to perform any action the logged-in administrator they targeted is allowed to do on the targeted site.
We reported the vulnerabilities to this plugin’s author via email, and they recently released version 0.9.5 to address them. We strongly recommend that you update to the latest version of the plugin and have an established security solution on your site, such as Jetpack Security.
Versions before 4.5.1 of the Software License Manager plugin for WordPress have an exploitable Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability. Any user logged in to a site with the vulnerable extension can, by clicking a link, be tricked to delete an entry in the plugin’s registered domain database table. The link can be distributed in an email, or on a website the victim user is likely to visit.
The good news is, there’s not much else that can be done by exploiting this weakness. And the attacker needs to know the id of the domain they wish to delete from the database beforehand.
Still, we recommend anybody running version 4.5.0 or earlier of the plugin to upgrade as soon as possible.
Recently the Jetpack team found some infected files in one of our hosted customers’ sites, and quickly traced the source of infection back to the Workreap theme by Amentotech. We started an investigation and uncovered a number of vulnerable AJAX endpoints in the theme; the most severe of these was an unauthenticated unvalidated upload vulnerability potentially leading to remote code execution and a full site takeover.
We reported the vulnerabilities to the Amentotech team via the Envato Helpful Hacker program, and the issues were addressed promptly by them. Version 2.2.2 of the theme was released on June 29, 2021 that fixes the found vulnerabilities.
Due to the seriousness of the vulnerabilities, we highly recommend all users of the Workreap theme to upgrade to version 2.2.2 or later as soon as possible.
Download the upgrade from the theme website and install it manually, or upgrade automatically via the Envato market plugin.
At Jetpack, we are continuously working to develop a better product for you and your website. This month, we bring the popular Story Block to the web editor, a feature previously exclusive to mobile. This release also includes a fix for a security vulnerability for the Carousel feature.
We consequently encourage you to update all sites that you administer as soon as possible.