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Protect Against Humans.txt Query-String Scans

I woke up this morning to the sound of thousands of 404 requests hitting the server. It’s sad that there are kiddies out there who have nothing better to do than buy some pathetic $50 script and then sit there like an imbecile harassing people for hours on end. But alas, that is the world we live in — fortunately it’s less than trivial to block the entire scan with just a few lines of good old .htaccess. Read more »

Set Up WordPress MultiSite on MAMP

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to install and run WordPress MultiSite on a MAMP webserver. Running multiple sites from a single installation simplifies and streamlines administration, and serving it all from a locally installed version of MAMP gives you everything you need to develop your network of sites for the Web. Read more »

Run WordPress Locally with _AMP

To run WordPress on the Web, you need a domain name and web host. But you don’t need either of those things to run WordPress on your own computer. You need only to set up a local server environment that includes Apache, MySQL, and PHP. That may sound like a tall order, but thanks to packaged software bundles such as MAMP and WAMP, setting up a robust server environment on your computer is a relative breeze. Read more »

Blacklist Candidate 2012-11-13: Evil Scanner Edition

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of my Blacklist Candidate series articles. It’s always fun for me to talk (or write) about security related issues, especially when a quick slab of .htaccess can be used to take care of business. And that’s exactly what we have in this edition of the series, where I’m pleased to bring you Blacklist Candidate Number 2012-11-13: the “evil” scanner. Instead of scanning your site, collecting data, and moving on, Mr. 2012-11-13 continues to scan the same sites for the exact same set of files. And by “continues” I mean over and over and […] Read more »

6G Beta

Since releasing the 5G Blacklist earlier this year, malicious server scans and bad requests have surged with more novel attacks than I’ve seen since first getting into this stuff six years ago. In other words, now is the time to beef up security and lock things down. If you’re into monitoring your server and knowing your traffic, you may be observing the same recent spike in malicious activity. In response to these attacks, I’ve been secretly working on the next generation of G-series blacklist, the inevitable 6G Firewall. Read more »

Blank Space / Whitespace Character for .htaccess

Working on the next version of the G-Series Blacklist, I needed a way to match a wide variety of UTF-8-encoded (hex) character strings. Those familiar with their site’s traffic will recognize this particular type of URI request string, which is typically associated with malicious server scanning, exploits, and other malicious behavior. As I explain in this post, pattern-matching and blocking the blank-space, or whitespace character in URL-requests is an effective way to improve the security of your website. Read more »

Case-Insensitive RedirectMatch

Cool trick that you may not have known about.. it’s possible to get case-insensitive matching with the powerful RedirectMatch directive. Normally, you would just write your redirect as something like this: Read more »

WordPress MultiSite Subdomains on MAMP

Developing WordPress sites on a local MAMP server provides flexibility, privacy, and security throughout the development process. Setting up a WordPress environment on MAMP is definitely worth the effort, especially if you’re building and testing multiple sites using WordPress’ built-in MultiSite functionality. The easiest and recommended way of setting up WordPress MultiSite is to use sub-directories. So when you create a new site named “business”, it will be located at http://localhost/business/. Here’s a mini-tutorial on how to use sub-domains for your network sites. Read more »

Canonical URLs and Subdomains with Plesk

I am in the process of migrating my sites from A Small Orange to Media Temple. Part of that process involves canonicalizing domain URLs to help maximize SEO strategy. At ASO, URL canonicalization required just a few htaccess directives: # enforce no www prefix <ifmodule mod_rewrite.c> RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^domain\.tld$ [NC] RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://domain.tld/$1 [R=301,L] </ifmodule> When placed in the web-accessible root directory’s htaccess file, that snippet will ensure that all requests for your site are not prefixed with www. There’s also a force-www technique if that’s how you roll. Either way, the point is that on most shared hosting, URL […] Read more »

HTAccess Privacy for Specific IPs

Running a private site is all about preventing unwanted visitors. Here is a quick and easy way to allow access to multiple IP addresses while redirecting everyone else to a custom message page. To do this, all you need is an HTAccess file and a list of IPs for which you would like to allow access. Edit the following code according to the proceeding instructions and place into the root HTAccess file of your domain: # ALLOW ONLY MULTIPLE IPs <limit GET POST PUT> Order Deny,Allow Deny from all Allow from 123.456.789 Allow from 456.789.123 Allow from 789.123.456 </limit> ErrorDocument […] Read more »

HTAccess Password-Protection Tricks

Recently a reader asked about how to password-protect a directory for every specified IP while allowing open access to everyone else. In my article, Stupid htaccess Tricks, I show how to password-protect a directory for every IP except the one specified, but not for the reverse case. In this article, I will demonstrate this technique along with a wide variety of other useful password-protection tricks, including a few from my Stupid htaccess Tricks article. Before getting into the juicy stuff, we’ll review a few basics of HTAccess password protection. Read more »

Secure Visitor Posting for WordPress

Normally, when visitors post a comment to your site, specific types of client data are associated with the request. Commonly, a client will provide a user agent, a referrer, and a host header. When any of these variables is absent, there is good reason to suspect foul play. For example, virtually all browsers provide some sort of user-agent name to identify themselves. Conversely, malicious scripts directly posting spam and other payloads to your site frequently operate without specifying a user agent. In the Ultimate User-Agent Blacklist, we account for the “no-user-agent” case in the very first directive, preventing a host […] Read more »

HTAccess Spring Cleaning 2009

Just like last year, this Spring I have been taking some time to do some general maintenance here at Perishable Press. This includes everything from fixing broken links and resolving errors to optimizing scripts and eliminating unnecessary plugins. I’ll admit, this type of work is often quite dull, however I always enjoy the process of cleaning up my HTAccess files. In this post, I share some of the changes made to my HTAccess files and explain the reasoning behind each modification. Some of the changes may surprise you! ;) Read more »

Best Practices for Error Monitoring

Given my propensity to discuss matters involving error log data (e.g., monitoring malicious behavior, setting up error logs, and creating extensive blacklists), I am often asked about the best way to go about monitoring 404 and other types of server errors. While I consider myself to be a novice in this arena (there are far brighter people with much greater experience), I do spend a lot of time digging through log entries and analyzing data. So, when asked recently about my error monitoring practices, I decided to share my response here at Perishable Press, and hopefully get some good feedback […] Read more »

4G Series: The Ultimate Referrer Blacklist, Featuring Over 8000 Banned Referrers

You have seen user-agent blacklists, IP blacklists, 4G Blacklists, and everything in between. Now, in this article, for your sheer and utter amusement, I present a collection of over 8000 blacklisted referrers. For the uninitiated, in teh language of teh Web, a referrer is the online resource from whence a visitor happened to arrive at your site. For example, if Johnny the Wonder Parrot was visiting the Mainstream Media website and happened to follow a link to your site (of all places), you would look at your access logs, notice Johnny’s visit, and speak out loud (slowly): “hmmm.. it looks […] Read more »

4G Series: The Ultimate User-Agent Blacklist, Featuring Over 1200 Bad Bots

As discussed in my recent article, Eight Ways to Blacklist with Apache’s mod_rewrite, one method of stopping spammers, scrapers, email harvesters, and malicious bots is to blacklist their associated user agents. Apache enables us to target bad user agents by testing the user-agent string against a predefined blacklist of unwanted visitors. Any bot identifying itself as one of the blacklisted agents is immediately and quietly denied access. While this certainly isn’t the most effective method of securing your site against malicious behavior, it may certainly provide another layer of protection. Even so, there are several things to consider before choosing […] Read more »

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