Among the oddities of the security industry is that so often people seem to be skeptical of the wrong things, as they are more likely to believe that security companies are lying about things where there isn’t a logical reason to do that, while being overly trusting about extraordinary claims being made about security products and services, which often turn out to be false. Last week we touched on the kind of claim that should elicit suspicion, that being that unqualified claim that the Wordfence Security plugin “stops you from getting hacked”. As we found when dealing with a website hacked due to a widely exploited vulnerability it didn’t protect the website (that is far from the first time we have seen it fail to stop a hack).
The company behind the Wordfence Security plugin is not by any means an honest company from what we have seen from over the years, so it wasn’t surprising for us torun across them advertising their payed service in a dishonest way. Yesterday we had noted that they appear to have left the public in the dark about an unfixed vulnerability in a WordPress plugin that was being exploited. After viewing Wordfence’s website while looking over that post we started getting re-targeted ads for their Wordfence Premium service and a lot of them.
When it comes to choosing security products and services what is lacking is nearly any evidence that they are effective, while at the same time there is plenty that shows that many of them are not. For example, over at our main business we regularly have people asking if we offer one that will really protect their website from being hacked after the one they were using didn’t prevent their website from being hacked. So why would people being using those if there isn’t evidence that they work? One of the reasons we have heard from people we have dealt with that have had their websites hacked is that they are using products and services based on recommendation of others. Since those are not going to be based on evidence, since there is a dearth of that, not surprisingly a lot of that advice is quite bad. Take as an example of that bad advice, the most recent post on the blog of the Ninja Forms plugin, which is used on 1+ million websites. We ran across that while looking if they had released a post on the vulnerability fixed a couple of days ago, when were detailing that.
Over at our main business we have a steady stream of people contacting us to ask if we offer a service that will stop their websites from being hacked, a not insignificant number of them mention that they are currently using a service that claimed to do that and there website got hacked anyway. That second item obviously tells you that these service don’t necessarily work, but what seems more relevant to the poor state of security is that even when one of these doesn’t work these people are often sure that they can and do work, just the one they used didn’t. That probably goes a long way to explaining why the complete lack of evidence that these services are effective at all hasn’t been an impediment to people using them. The problem with that is not only do they end up not working well or at all, but the money spent on them could have been spent on services that actually improve security of these websites (and everyone else’s website if there services is anything like ours), but are not sold on false promises.
When it comes to protecting WordPress websites against vulnerabilities in plugins we provide a level of protection that others don’t for the simple reason that we do the work they don’t (but that they absolutely should be doing). The result can be seen with the plugin WP GDPR Compliance, which had multiple vulnerabilities fixed in version 1.4.3.
We were recently looking back at some of our messages on the WordPress Support Forum in relation to some posts we have been writing related to the terrible moderation of that forum. In one of the topics we had started, there were a few things that we noticed that we thought were worth discussing as they relate to other things we have been looking at recently.