Lynda.com Course: Developing Secure WordPress Sites

After months of preparation and production, my new video course on developing secure WordPress sites is now available at Lynda.com. This is my second video course on securing WordPress; the first one was originally launched in 2011 and remained in Lynda’s library for over five years. I received a lot of great feedback on the course, and so I jumped on the opportunity to do another one. If there is one thing that I enjoy doing, it’s helping people with WordPress and security. Overview This new Lynda.com course features over 30 video tutorials (over 2.5 hours!), and is jam-packed with […] Read more »

Block nuisance requests for .well-known, apple-app, etc.

Anyone who is paying attention to their server access and error logs has probably noticed that Google and other bots have been making endless requests for .well-known, apple-app-site-association, and various related files. This quick post explains how to save some server bandwidth and resources by blocking such repetitive requests, and also looks at a related problem with certain search engines <cough> not respecting a standard “410 Gone” server response. Read more »

Some Q & A

Gonna start posting or deleting all of my old drafts just to clean things up back here in the Admin Area. For example, here is a post that I wanted to flesh out with specific examples and all sorts of references, but it’s just been sitting and waiting for too long, so now I’m just gonna post it as-is. Enjoy or not, here it is.. Read more »

Stop User Enumeration in WordPress

This tutorial explains how to block user-enumeration scans in WordPress. As explained in greater depth here, user enumeration happens when some malicious script scans a WordPress site for user data by requesting numerical user IDs. For example, requests for ?author=1 through some number, say, ?author=1000, may reveal the usernames for all associated users. With a simple enumeration script, an attacker can scan your site and obtain a list of login names in a matter of seconds. Read more »

They’re Scanning for Your Backup Files

Just a reminder to keep your backup files offline. Do not store them in any publicly accessible space. It’s just not worth the risk man. And if you’re working online, you should know this already. If not, then continue reading to learn why it’s absolutely mission critical. Read more »

Brute-Force Login Drip Attack

I’ve been noticing a new strategy for brute-force login attacks: the slow, incremental “drip” attack. Instead of slamming a login page with hundreds or thousands of brute-force login attempts all within a few minutes, some attackers have been taking a more low-key approach by slowing down the rate of login attempts in order to bypass security measures. The “drip” brute-force attack is extremely annoying, and possibly dangerous if any of your registered users are using weak login credentials. Read more »

Stop RSSing.com from Framing Your Content

This quick post explains how to stop the notorious site scrapers, RSSing.com, from stealing your content. In fact, this technique can be used to stop virtually any site that uses HTML frames to scrape your pages. Once again, the solution is one line of .htaccess to the rescue. Read more »

Use Strong Usernames for Better Security

Image courtesy of eChunks.com Here is a quick security tip for people using popular apps on the Web. That is, apps like WordPress that may be widely used and targeted by bad actors and/or automated scripts. It’s all about adding another layer of security by hardening admin-level usernames.. Read more »

How to Block Baidu Bot

A user of my 6G Firewall recently asked how to block the “baidu” bot from accessing their site. This post explains why Baidu is not blocked in 6G and provides a quick .htaccess technique to deny it (or anything claiming to be it) access to your site. Read more »

Example of a Spoofed Search Engine Bot

While solving the recent search engine spoofing mystery, I came across two excellent examples of spoofed search engine bots. This article uses the examples to explain how to identify any questionable bots hitting your site. Read more »

Analyzing Weird 404 Search Engine Requests

Lately I’ve been getting a significant number of really weird 404 requests for one of my sites. At first I ignored them. Then upon closer inspection, I realized that the requests were reporting user agents like Googlebot, Bingbot, and other top search engines. So there was cause for concern. You don’t want legitimate search engines tripping over endless 404 requests that are completely unrelated to your site content. That gets into “negative SEO” territory, and should be investigated and resolved asap. This article explains what I was dealing with, how I investigated, and what I did to resolve the issue. Read more »

Block D-Bag Database Exploits

Some douchebag has been scanning my sites for a variety of potential database exploits. My sites are secure, so there is no real security threat, but the scans are extremely annoying and waste my server resources. Resources like bandwidth and memory that I would rather use for legitimate visitors. So after collecting some data and experimenting a bit, I wrote a simple .htaccess snippet to block a vast majority of these pathetic database-exploit scans. Read more »

New Plugin: Blackhole for Bad Bots

Image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. Finally translated my Blackhole Spider Trap into a FREE WordPress plugin. It’s fun, fast, flexible, and works silently behind the scenes to protect your WordPress-powered site from malicious bots. Here are some of the features: Easy to set up Squeaky clean code Built with the WordPress API Easy to reset the list of bad bots Easy to delete any bot from the list Works silently behind the scenes to protect your site Optionally receive an email alert with WHOIS lookup for blocked bots All major search engine bots are whitelisted so they will never get blocked Customize […] Read more »

6G Firewall 2016

After three years of development, testing, and feedback, I’m pleased to announce the official launch version of the 6G Firewall (aka the 6G Blacklist). This version of the nG Firewall is greatly refined, heavily tested, and better than ever. Fine-tuned to minimize false positives, the 6G Firewall protects your site against a wide variety of malicious URI requests, bad bots, spam referrers, and other attacks. Blocking bad traffic improves site security, reduces server load, and conserves precious resources. The 6G Firewall is entirely plug-n-play with no configuration required. It’s also open source, easy to use, and completely free, providing strong […] Read more »

Protect Against WordPress Brute Force Amplification Attack

It seems the WordPress xmlrpc.php file is the target of another type of attack. Before, it was the XML-RPC Pingback Vulnerability. Now, it is the Brute Force Amplification Attack. This post explains what you need to know and then cuts to the chase with several ways to protect your site against this new malicious exploit, as well as all other related threats. Read more »

What to do when your site gets hacked

Over the years, my sites have been hacked numerous times. Each hacking event was somewhat of a miserable experience at first, but ultimately educational and even enlightening. I’m not going to say that getting hacked was the best thing that ever happened to me, but it certainly wasn’t the end of the world. In this post, I want to share some important steps to take and things to keep in mind if and when you discover that your site has been hacked. Read more »

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