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Web Dev + WordPress + Security

Detect Attacks with PHP and .htaccess

This tutorial explains how to detect and block security threats via .htaccess, and then pass that information to a PHP script for further processing. This is a powerful technique that combines the power of Apache with the flexibility of PHP. Enabling you to do things like log all unwanted traffic, send email reports for blocked requests, create a UI to display logged data, and just about anything else you can imagine. It’s an excellent way to keep a close eye […] Continue reading »

Redirecting URLs that Include Numbers

Redirecting stuff with .htaccess generally is pretty straightforward, but there can be a lot of confusion when it comes to targeting patterns that include numbers. I think this largely is due to the syntax used for matching numbers in regular expressions. It’s sort of unintuitive until you get the hang of it. So to help in that regard, this tutorial explains the basics of matching numbers with .htaccess, and then provides some useful examples that should get you there. Continue reading »

Examples of Nested Encoding

Typically malicious scans use some sort of encoding to obscure their payloads. For example, instead of injecting a literal script, the attacker will run it through a PHP encoding function such as base64_encode(), utf8_encode(), or urlencode(). So if and when you need to decode some discovered payload, you can use whichever decoding function will do the job. For example, base64_decode(), utf8_decode(), or urldecode(). Sounds straightforward, but let’s dig a little deeper.. Continue reading »

Block Greasy Uploads Scanner

Whether you’re running WordPress or not, your site may be getting hit by endless scanning for your site’s uploaded files and similar nonexistent resources. Specifically, the “Greasy Uploads Scanner” endlessly scans sites for nonexistent resources in the /uploads/ directory, even if the directory itself doesn’t exist. Just mindless scanning for all sorts of weird files. It steals your server resources and threatens your site security. We hates them. And we wants to block them. Continue reading »

How to Block Bad Bots

Suffering from spammers, content scrapers, bandwidth leeches, and other bad bots? Got some loser stalking your chat forum? Site getting scanned by endless malicious requests? In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to block bad bots and users with minimal effort. Keeping the trash away from your site is gonna free up valuable server resources, conserve bandwidth, and improve the overall security and quality of your site. Continue reading »

Bulletproof Sitemap Redirects via .htaccess

[ Bulletproof Sitemap Redirection ]

Sitemaps have been shown to help search engines and other visitors understand and navigate your website. This tutorial gives you a simple yet powerful .htaccess technique for ensuring that search engines and other visitors can easily find your sitemap files. So even if they are looking for your sitemap in the wrong location, they’ll always be redirected to the actual, existing sitemap for your site. This strategy helps to improve consistency, minimize 404 errors, and save server resources. So it’s […] Continue reading »

WordPress .htaccess file

[ WordPress .htaccess file ]

The WordPress core uses .htaccess for two things: Permalinks and Multisite. This means that .htaccess is only required if you have enabled either of these features. Otherwise, .htaccess is entirely optional for default WordPress installations. Beyond the WP core, many plugins also use the .htaccess file for custom directives involving rewrites, redirects, custom headers, file compression, and much more. In many cases, such plugins add their .htaccess rules to your .htaccess file automatically, behind the scenes. Continue reading »

.htaccess Cleanup

Once again I am cleaning up my sites’ .htaccess files. I do this from time to time to remove old redirects, refresh blacklists, and update security and SEO-related directives. It’s tedious work, but the performance and security benefits make it all worthwhile. This post shares some of the techniques that were added, removed, or replaced from .htaccess, and explains the reasoning behind each decision. I do this for the sake of reference, and hopefully it will give you some ideas […] Continue reading »

Stop WordPress from modifying .htaccess

[ Perishable Press : Stop WordPress from modifying .htaccess ]

By default, depending on file permissions, WordPress automatically will modify the contents of your site’s .htaccess file. It does this on several occasions, adding and/or updating the rewrite rules required for WP’s permalink functionality. This post explains how this works, why it can be dangerous, and how to stop it from happening. Continue reading »

Stop User Enumeration in WordPress

[User Enumeration ]

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. Continue reading »

6G Firewall

[ 6G Firewall ]

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 […] Continue reading »

Redirecting Hash Fragments with .htaccess

During this year’s site redesigns, I noticed in the server logs some 404 errors for various WordPress comments. These 404 requests each involved a fragment identifier (i.e., character string beginning with a pound sign, #) being interpreted as its HTML entity hex equivalent, %23. It may not seem like a big deal, but these days every detail counts, so it’s wise to clean up as many 404 errors as possible. Thus, here is a simple .htaccess technique for redirecting hash-fragment […] Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

Blacklist Candidate 2012-11-13: Evil Scanner Edition

[ Blacklist Candidate Props ]

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 […] Continue reading »

6G Firewall Beta

[ 6G Blacklist (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 […] Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

Welcome
Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
The Tao of WordPress: Master the art of WordPress.
Thoughts
Currently having a blast redesigning Plugin Planet, so much work so little time.
Thanks to David McCan over at WebTNG for the awesome BBQ Pro review.
Enjoyed a nice mini-vacation with my fam. Great way to recharge and regroup.
Nice little interview with yours truly over at ThemeIsle. WordPress, web dev & more!
Perishable Press celebrating 16 years online! An incredible, rewarding journey.
Thanks to Nicholas Ferrell for his excellent and thorough review of Wutsearch search-engine launchpad.
Great article about using RSS as a Facebook alternative. I use RSS/feeds for news every day. Facebook, not so much.
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