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When it comes to improving the security of WordPress it often times seems that security companies more interested in promoting themselves than actually improving security. One company that comes to mind is Wordfence, so it wasn’t surprising to see when they discussed the recent malicious takeover of the Display Widgets plugin it was devoid of any discussion of the real problems this situation highlighted and that need to be fixed, instead it was largely a rather explicit ad for people being reliant on their plugin, when the average WordPress website shouldn’t even need any security plugin if security was being handled right.
Yesterday we looked at what happened when a popular plugin, Display Widgets, was purchased by someone (or someones) with malicious intent and people on the WordPress side of things handle things poorly. In a link included in one of the comments on that post we found another piece of the what happened that makes WordPress’ handling of this seem worse, while also providing yet another reminder of how even basic improvements are not happening to the process of handling vulnerabilities in plugins.
We often say that a lot of the people in the security industry don’t know and or care much about security, and we unfortunately keep coming across examples of that. The latest example involves a really bad vulnerability assessment that we ran across while looking in to what recently happened with the plugin Display Widgets, which involved the new owner of the plugin placing malicious code in to it. While looking into that situation we noticed that the changelog entry for version 2.6.3 of the plugin said:
Recently there has been a fair amount of coverage of popular Chrome extensions being modified to include malicious code after the login credentials used to control them in the Chrome Web Store had been compromised through phishing. In the past extensions have been purchased and then malicious code added to them as well. There is no reason that the same thing can’t happen with WordPress plugins and recent similar situation with the plugin Display Widgets shows that the people on the WordPress side of things are not currently up to task of handling this type of situation properly. Unfortunately, this isn’t at all surprising because elements of the failure with this situation are things that we have been seeing and discussing for some time.