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Web Dev + WordPress + Security

BBQ Firewall (Free WordPress Plugin)

BBQ Firewall

BBQ Firewall is a lightweight, super-fast plugin that protects your site against a wide range of threats. BBQ checks all incoming traffic and quietly blocks bad requests containing nasty stuff like eval(, base64_, and excessively long request-strings. This is a simple yet solid solution for sites that are unable to use a strong Apache/.htaccess firewall. Continue reading »

expose_php, Easter Eggs, and .htaccess

[ Screenshot: PHP Logo ]

A reader recently brought to my attention a reported vulnerability on servers running PHP. It’s been known about for eons, but it’s new to me and it involves easter eggs in PHP so I thought it would be fun to share a quick post about what it is and how to prevent leakage of sensitive information about your server. It only takes a moment to disable the easter-egg information, should you decide to do so. Continue reading »

Protect Against Brute-force/Proxy Login Attacks

[ Solomon Grundy of the Legion of Doom ]

For the past week, I’ve been monitoring activity from a set of IP addresses involved with brute-force login attacks. Brute-force login attacks involve systematic guessing of passwords using various common usernames such as “admin” and “username”. So for example, an attack will target an array of sites, use “admin” as the username, and then make numerous attempts at “guessing” your password. And to obfuscate their malicious activity, the attack is executed from multiple IP addresses, either via proxy or possibly […] Continue reading »

Tale of a Hacked Website

[ Prise de la Bastille, by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel (Detail) ]

I love a good story. Almost as much as I enjoy securing websites. Put them together and you’ve got suspense, intrigue, and plenty of encoded gibberish. But no happy ending this time, in this case the smartest decision was to “pull it” and rebuild. The site was just wasted — completely riddled with malicious code. Without current backup data, it would’ve been “game over” for the site, and possibly the business. 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 »

PayPal Phishing Spam

[ PayPal Phishing Spam Email ]

Just a heads up to anyone else getting the occasional PayPal phishing spam.. Usually it’s pretty easy to spot one of those crafty phishing emails, just hover over any links before clicking to view the real URL in the status bar. You know, the link says something like, “click here to restore your PayPal account,” but you know that’s garbage and could easily prove it by checking the actual link URL, which is usually something completely bonkers, like: Continue reading »

5G Blacklist 2012

[ 5G (2012) ]

The 5G Blacklist helps reduce the number of malicious URL requests that hit your website. It’s one of many ways to improve the security of your site and protect against evil exploits, bad requests, and other nefarious garbage. If you’re tired of all the slow, bloated security plugins and expensive 3rd-party services, the 5G Blacklist is a solid solution to help protect your Apache-powered site. Continue reading »

5G Blacklist for Microsoft IIS

[ 5G (MS IIS) ]

By design the 5G Blacklist works on Apache servers, but thanks to Scott Stawarz, here is a version for Microsoft IIS. Disclaimer: I do not use any Microsoft server stuff, so make sure to properly test everything before running this code on a live/production site. Also, if you scroll down to the end of this article, you will find some useful bonus snippets. Continue reading »

Building the 5G Blacklist

[ Common Server Responses ]

Protecting your website is more important than ever. There are a million ways to do it, and this is one of them. In fact, it’s what I use to protect Perishable Press and other key sites. It’s called the 5G Blacklist, and it’s something I’ve been working on for a long time. The idea is simple enough: analyze bad requests and block them using a firewall/blacklist via .htaccess. Now in its 5th generation, the 5G Blacklist has evolved into a […] Continue reading »

Block Tough Proxies

If you want to block tough proxies like hidemyass.com, my previously posted .htaccess methods won’t work. Those methods will block quite a bit of proxy visits to your site, but won’t work on the stealthier proxies. Fortunately, we can use a bit of PHP to keep them out. Continue reading »

10 Characters for Your WordPress Blacklist

[ Screenshot: Comment Spam in Moderation ]

Quick WordPress tip for easily and quietly blocking a ton of comment spam. Akismet and other programs are good at catching most spam, but every now and then a bunch of weird, foreign-language spam will sneak past the filters and post live to your site. Here’s a good example of the kind of stuff that’s easy to block: Continue reading »

5G Firewall Beta

[ 5G (beta) ]

Updating the 4G Blacklist, the new 5G Firewall is now open for beta testing. The new code is better than ever, providing wider protection with less code and fewer false positives. I’ve had much success with this new firewall, but more testing is needed to ensure maximum compatibility and minimal issues. Continue reading »

What a Malicious Server Scan Looks Like

Like most sites on the Web, Perishable Press is scanned constantly by malicious scripts looking for vulnerabilities and exploit opportunities. There is no end to the type and variety of malicious URL requests. It all depends on the script, the target, and the goal of the attack. Malicious scripts generally seek one of two things: Continue reading »

2010 User-Agent Blacklist

[ 2010 User-Agent Blacklist ]

The 2010 User-Agent Blacklist blocks hundreds of bad bots while ensuring open-access for the major search engines: Google, Bing, Ask, Yahoo, et al. Blocking bad user-agents is an effective addition to any security strategy. It works like this: your site is getting hammered by rogue bots that waste valuable server resources and bandwidth. So you grab a copy of the 2010 UA Blacklist from Perishable Press, include it in your site’s root .htaccess file, and enjoy better security and performance. […] Continue reading »

Protect Your Site with a Blackhole for Bad Bots

[ Black Hole (Vector) ]

One of my favorite security measures here at Perishable Press is the site’s virtual Blackhole trap for bad bots. The concept is simple: include a hidden link to a robots.txt-forbidden directory somewhere on your pages. Bots that ignore or disobey your robots rules will crawl the link and fall into the honeypot trap, which then performs a WHOIS Lookup and records the event in the blackhole data file. Once added to the blacklist data file, bad bots immediately are denied […] Continue reading »

2010 IP Blacklist

Over the course of each year, I blacklist a considerable number of individual IP addresses. Every day, Perishable Press is hit with countless numbers of spammers, scrapers, crackers and all sorts of other hapless turds. Weekly examinations of my site’s error logs enable me to filter through the chaff and cherry-pick only the most heinous, nefarious attackers for blacklisting. Minor offenses are generally dismissed, but the evil bastards that insist on wasting resources running redundant automated scripts are immediately investigated […] 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 »
Digging Into WordPress: Take your WordPress skills to the next level.
Thoughts
Making great strides on my new book. Planned release in December :)
To organize my life, I keep it simple. online: plain text files, offline: sticky notes.
Official list of Googlebot IP addresses.
Lot of 1s in today’s date 20211111.
Working on a new book :)
I enjoy listening to original Star Trek and NG episodes while working online. After a while it feels like I’m working on the ship as part of the crew, going on adventures.
New version (2.6) of my shapeSpace starter theme now available! Always free & open source for everyone :)
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