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Web Dev + WordPress + Security

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 »

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. Continue reading »

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 […] 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 »

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 »

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: Continue reading »

Clean Up Malicious Links with HTAccess

[ Screenshot: Google Search Results ]

I recently spent some time analyzing Perishable Press pages as they appear in the search results for Google, Bing, et al. Google Webmaster Tools provides a wealth of information about crawl errors, as well as the URLs of any pages that link to missing content. Combined with your site’s access/error logs, you have everything needed to track down 404 errors and clean up your listings in the search engine results. Continue reading »

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 […] Continue reading »

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. 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 »

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 »
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