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AWSOM Pixgallery updated to 4.6.2

AWSOM Pixgallery has been updated and is now available for download from it’s product page, and will also soon be available from the WordPress auto-upgrade system. This version has a small bug fix for a possible Cross Site Scripting issue (thank you for the bug submission P. Thomas!). It is definitely suggested that all users upgrade to this version as soon as you are able.

WordPress 2.5.1 released, major security fix required

WordPress 2.5.1 has been released, and all 2.5 users should immediately upgrade to the new version. There is apparently some kind of security vulnerability fix in the new version, so this is a critical upgrade for all users. I suspect it’s probably related to the ongoing series of issues that are causing spam attacks on older versions of WordPress, so this is a pretty big reason to be constantly on the lookout for irregular things occurring on your sites and make sure you always have the most updated versions of plugins and such installed.

So far it looks like all of the AWSOM plugins are unaffected by the upgrade and still work properly. If you encounter any issues though please let me know.

Spam Hack in Progress across WordPress sites

There is currently a large scale spam attack on WordPress sites that is ongoing and affects primarily WordPress versions 2.1.x and 2.2.x (it’s not clear if 2.3.x or 2.0.x are affected, but it seems likely they aren’t). The attack results in a large number of spam listings injected into either posts or theme files which are then set to be hidden through css. Your will typically find that you’ve been affected when Google contacts you to say you are being de-listed due to a high number of spam links on your site. It is also typical for the attackers to delete all of your pages from your site for some reason, so if you load your site and all of your pages are gone you may have been hacked.

It’s not entirely clear what method the hackers are using to get admin access to the affected sites, but from my observation it may be a privilege escalation attack using the comment system. In some cases a random user account was created right before the attack. It was also noted that the comments.php theme file was altered to add in a console access applet which allowed for low level server access. If you get hacked make sure you check every theme file to make sure no malicious code was added–or better yet, reload your theme files from a backed up or fresh copy, and delete out any suspect user registrations.

WordPress 2.5 is apparently not affected by this problem, so an upgrade should help. I have upgraded my sites to 2.5 and have managed to mostly get things working (though my archive page on this site is currently non-functional). It looks like this is the unfortunate little push that will force most people to upgrade, though I strongly suggest making sure first that there are updated plugins that work with 2.5.

On the Same Track as Last Post

While it is always more convenient to place as many functions into one centralized site as possible, it is also generally more insecure and prone to problems. Case in point: Forum plugins for WordPress. While I know the desire to have one centralized administration area for a forum and your blog site might seem like a good idea, it is not always in your best interest to have this as your set up. Apparently there is a bug in the current version of the WP-Forum plugin that allows malicious users to access your database information. Whenever you have a situation where you allow users to add content to your site, you create a potentially vulnerable area for someone to exploit. In the case of a forum, this can be especially difficult to program in a manner that eliminates this risk. (note how often most forums have security updates, it’s a lot). So you end up with a case where you now have 2 different site concepts taken out by the most vulnerable element. I almost exclusively suggest that people simply run 2 different sites with 2 different databases and simply match them using a common looking theme. It’s simply more secure to do things that way.

Urgent Security Issue, Upgrade WordPress to 2.3.3 Now!

There has been an unscheduled WordPress Security release that upgrades WordPress to version 2.3.3. This is a critical update that closes a vulnerability that would allow registered users to edit the posts of other users if they sent a specially formatted request. It is strongly suggested that all users on the 2.3.x branch upgrade their version as soon as possible.

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