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Web Dev + WordPress + Security

Disable Trace and Track for Better Security

The shared server on which I host Perishable Press was recently scanned by security software that revealed a significant security risk. Namely, the HTTP request methods TRACE and TRACK were found to be enabled on my webserver. The TRACE and TRACK protocols are HTTP methods used in the debugging of webserver connections. Although these methods are useful for legitimate purposes, they may compromise the security of your server by enabling cross-site scripting attacks (XST). By exploiting certain browser vulnerabilities, an […] Continue reading »

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, […] Continue reading »

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 […] Continue reading »

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 […] Continue reading »

Important Security Fix for WordPress

[ Screenshot: WP Default Database Error Page ]

The other day, my server crashed and Perishable Press was unable to connect to the MySQL database. Normally, when WordPress encounters a database error, it delivers a specific error message similar to the following: Continue reading »

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 […] Continue reading »

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. Shortcut: skip the article and jump to Disclaimer and Download » Referrer Spam Sucks 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 […] Continue reading »

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

[ Image: Inverted Eclipse ]

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 […] Continue reading »

The Perishable Press 4G Blacklist

[ 4G Stormtrooper ]

At last! After many months of collecting data, crafting directives, and testing results, I am thrilled to announce the release of the 4G Blacklist! The 4G Blacklist is a next-generation protective firewall that secures your site against a wide range of automated attacks and other malicious activity. Continue reading »

Yahoo! Slurp too Stupid to be a Robot

I really hate bad robots. When a web crawler, spider, bot — or whatever you want to call it — behaves in a way that is contrary to expected and/or accepted protocols, we say that the bot is acting suspiciously, behaving badly, or just acting stupid in general. Unfortunately, there are thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of nefarious bots violating our sites every minute of the day. For the most part, there are effective methods available enabling […] Continue reading »

Building the Perishable Press 4G Blacklist

[ Building the Hoover Dam, Part 1 ]

Last year, after much research and discussion, I built a concise, lightweight security strategy for Apache-powered websites. Prior to the development of this strategy, I relied on several extensive blacklists to protect my sites against malicious user agents and IP addresses. Unfortunately, these mega-lists eventually became unmanageable and ineffective. As increasing numbers of attacks hit my server, I began developing new techniques for defending against external threats. This work soon culminated in the release of a “next-generation” blacklist that works […] Continue reading »

Controlling Proxy Access with HTAccess

In my recent article on blocking proxy servers, I explain how to use HTAccess to deny site access to a wide range of proxy servers. The method works great, but some readers want to know how to allow access for specific proxy servers while denying access to as many other proxies as possible. Fortunately, the solution is as simple as adding a few lines to my original proxy-blocking method. Specifically, we may allow any requests coming from our whitelist of […] Continue reading »

Redirect All (Broken) Links from any Domain via HTAccess

Here’s the scene: you have been noticing a large number of 404 requests coming from a particular domain. You check it out and realize that the domain in question has a number of misdirected links to your site. The links may resemble legitimate URLs, but because of typographical errors, markup errors, or outdated references, they are broken, leading to nowhere on your site and producing a nice 404 error for every request. Ugh. Or, another painful scenario would be a […] Continue reading »

Yahoo! Lies about Obeying Robots.txt Directives

There are two possibilities here: Yahoo!’s Slurp crawler is broken or Yahoo! lies about obeying Robots directives. Either case isn’t good. Slurp just can’t seem to keep its nose out of my private business. And, as I’ve discussed before, this happens all the time. Here are the two most recent offenses, as recorded in the log file for my blackhole spider trap: Continue reading »

Better Default Directory Views with HTAccess

[ Screenshot: Default Directory View ]

Beautify your default directory listings! Displaying index-less file views is a great way to share files, but the drab, bare-bones interface is difficult to integrate into existing designs. While there are many scripts available to customize the appearance and functionality of default directory navigation, most of these methods are either too complicated, too invasive, or otherwise insufficient for expedient directory styling. In this comprehensive tutorial, you will learn how to use the built-in functionality of Apache’s mod_autoindex module to style […] Continue reading »

Blacklist Candidate 2008-10-19

[ Photo: Television Flashback ]

Welcome to the Perishable Press “Blacklist Candidate” series. In this post, we continue our new tradition of exposing, humiliating and banishing spammers, crackers and other worthless scumbags.. From time to time on the show, a contestant places a bid that is so absurd and so asinine that you literally laugh out loud, point at the monitor, and openly ridicule the pathetic loser. On such occasions, even the host of the show will laugh and mock the idiocy. Of course, this […] 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 »
Banhammer: Protect your WordPress site against threats.
Thoughts
Take a screenshot with Firefox (no extension required). Open Developer Tools Settings and enable the “Take a screenshot” button. Then click the button :)
Take a screenshot with Chrome (no extension required). Open DevTools, type Cmd + Shift + P, then type screenshot.
After 10 years working on my 2010 iMac, my upgrade finally arrived. Shiny new iMac shipped from Ireland :)
Too much caffeine weirds me out. But I love the taste of coffee. So once in a while I enjoy a small cup of decaf. Hits the spot.
Chris Coyier is a truly awesome person. One of the finest people I've ever worked with. Just #gottasayit
Excel won't open CSV file because SYLK format? Open it with text editor and add an apostrophe ' at the beginning of the file, save changes, done.
Displaying too many social media buttons and links all over the place imho makes you look desperate and frankly kinda sad.
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