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Website Security For Common CMS Formats

31-08-2015, 13:45

Website Security For Common CMS Formats

Content management system (CMS) site software, such as the most popular version, WordPress, has been known to cause problems in the past and appears to be heading that way again as a potentially serious flaw has been revealed by researchers. It seems that hackers are able to locate inactive or abandoned WordPress sites using automated scripts and hijack them, pulling in vulnerable users to the malicious content on the hijacked site via HTML code and phishing forms.

The good news is that to counter security vulnerabilities and related issues with WordPress CMS sites, researchers have developed WPScan Vulnerability Database, which is based around a WordPress vulnerability scanner that is Ruby-based, dating from 2011.

Unfortunately, CMS software is particularly popular among novice site owners, which makes it even more attractive to unscrupulous hackers. There are, of course, new threats to internet security emerging all the time. Among these are vulnerabilities including Heart bleed and Bash Bug. These present a level of risk and susceptibility that should give every internet user pause for thought.


Within the very popular and accessible OpenSSL cryptographic software library lurks the Heartbleed bug, which presents us with serious issues concerning vulnerability. This threatens the privacy of your communications via the internet and is used by many applications and websites, including instant messaging, email and Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

Those attacking your system can read memory that uses certain versions of OpenSSL. This has the potential to allow hackers to gain access to passwords and usernames, or even the server’s secret cryptographic keys used for SSL. Malicious users who obtain these keys can then observe all communications on your system, without your knowledge or permission.

Bash Bug

Sometimes known as Shellshock, Bash Bug acts as an interpreter (or shell) that allows you to send commands to UNIX and Linux systems. Frequently, it connects using Telnet or SSH. This bug dates back to the 1980s and is the default shell for both Mac OS X and Linux – both extremely popular and widespread operating systems. Given that Bash is so ubiquitous, it presents a very real danger.

This danger centres on Bash Bug’s ability to define environment variables on an arbitrary basis within a Bash shell, which specifies the definition of a function. The trouble begins when it carries on processing shell commands in the period after the function is defined, resulting in what is often described as a "code injection attack.”

The Internet of Everything

While many technophiles are getting excited about the "Internet of Everything” (IoE), there are a few experts injecting cautionary tales about some of the inherent dangers in the new expansion of internet capabilities. In a nutshell, the IoE allows you to connect people with a wide range of objects, functions, processes and services. You can enable the operation of machines and devices, identify and measure the physical properties of specific items and make an appropriate response, connect with objects and things on the internet, and access what is undoubtedly an ever-growing store of online data. This massively impressive hook up of all things online could transform how we interact with the web and our potential to develop new ways of working with and understanding things.

Remember the risks

Harking back to the CMS software issues serves as a useful reminder in respect of IoE, Heartbleed and Bash Bug. The new advanced connectivity has both disadvantages and drawbacks. If you think of the amount of data and the number of networks that you, personally, access, then you can begin to see where the key issues lie if you multiply this by, well, almost everyone else on the planet and apply the same person-to person ratios to business functions.

Bear in mind that cybercriminals aiming to cause harm will take advantage of any technological advances available to compromise the basic CMS formats if that helps them to draw you in to view malicious content and to compromise your own website.

Be aware

Security issues for CMS software tends to fall into a number of categories, including core code, per-site coding and configuration. With the first of these, you need to be aware of downloading modules such as Joomla or Drupal as well as downloading third-party extensions. Developers and design firms might also want to consider how they configure admin and other settings, including access permissions. In addition, you may also need to review and reconsider the security aspects of the operating system(s) and the physical server(s) you use, as well as the rest of your IT environment.

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