Hetzner Online, a large German hosting provider, provides hosting for three websites that are critical for a major SEO poisoning campaign. SEO poisoning involves getting web pages listed in search engines that when accessed attempt to infect the computer with malware.
This particular campaign involves two sets of hacked websites and the websites hosted by Hetzner Online. The first set of websites has been hacked to display the content from a file requested from getalllinks.info, dvc44ftgr.com, or uniteddomainsweb.com when a page from the hacked website is requested by a search engine. The files from getalllinks.info, dvc44ftgr.com, and uniteddomainsweb.com, hosted by Hetzner Online at the IP address 220.127.116.11, include links to pages on the second set of hacked websites. The content of those files can be seen at http://www.getalllinks.info/links/0.txt, http://www.dvc44ftgr.com/links/0.txt, or and http://www.uniteddomainsweb.com/links/0.txt. Search engines crawl those pages on the second set of hacked websites and they get included in search engines results. When people access the pages through search engines they are redirected to fake anti-virus scanner that attempts to infect their computers with malware. Without the three domains hosted by Hetzner Online the pages on the second set of websites are never crawled and never get included in the search results where the could be accessed by users.
We contacted Hetzner Online about the issue a month ago. We receive a message acknowledging our message, but they have taken no action beyond that. Hetzner Online is not the first prominent host to have provided service for this SEO poisoning campaign. The Planet previously provided service for these domains and continued to host these domains for three months after we contacted them.
In Websense’s 2010 Threat Report they listed WordPress Attacks as on of the significant events of the year. They also claimed that WordPress “was hacked numerous times in 2010″. While its true that some outdated WordPress installations were hacked during the year (as they and other web software have been for years), the hacks that they refer to in their report, which were much larger than any actual hacks of WordPress, were not hacks of WordPress at all. The hacks they refer to were actually hacks that targeted hosting providers that would allow malicious code to be added to websites hosted with the provider whether they were running WordPress, other software, or no software at all.
In most of the hacks the malicious code was placed in all files that had a .php extension. WordPress, by the nature of being the most popular web software, was the most of often affected, but all web software that have files with a .php extension were also affected. In other cases the hacks targeted database fields specific to WordPress, but they could have affected any other software that utilized a database if the hacker had chose to target them instead of WordPress.
Websense is not alone is making these false claims, other supposed security experts also made similar claims and some hosting provider have attempted to lame blame on WordPress. Network Solutions was the only one to later apologize for blaming WordPress.
Websense also claimed that “numerous vulnerabilities were known to exist during the height of the attacks”. Seeing as WordPress was not hacked as claimed, the claimed numerous vulnerabilities also don’t exist. In fact during the year the only security vulnerability that required the release of a new version of WordPress was one that allowed “logged in users can peek at trashed posts belonging to other authors”. This vulnerability would not have allowed the WordPress installation to have been hacked.
Making false claims about WordPress’s security damages WordPress reputation without improving security. In fact it may have the effect of decreasing security, as it may lead to people to use software that does not focus on security as well as WordPress does. WordPress responds quickly to security issues, automatically informs users of upgrade within their software, and makes it relatively easy to upgrade the software as well. By comparison two web software apps that have actually had major hackings in 2010 have not responded properly, osCommerce has chosen not release a patch for their security vulnerabilities and OpenX has recommend a fix for a vulnerablility that actually causes future upgrades to fail.
Last month it was disclosed that there was a vulnerability in the Video Ads plugin for OpenX. The vulnerability is contained in the ofc_upload_image.php file located in/www/admin/plugins/videoReport/lib/ofc2/ directory and is currently being exploited to cause ad servers to include malware on the banner pages they serve. The Video Ads plugin was first included with OpenX in version 2.8.4 and the version included with 2.8.5 and 2.8.6 also contained the vulnerability. The version including in OpenX 2.8.7 does not include the vulnerability, the ofc_upload_image.php file is empty.
In the Product Updates page listing for OpenX 2.8.7, in the OpenX admin interface, it states:
If you recently upgraded to version 2.8.6, you can simply install an upgraded video ad plug-in available [here] or remove the following file: admin/plugins/videoReport/lib/ofc2/ofc_upload_image.php from your installation.
Others have also made the suggestion that should delete the file. You should not delete the file as this will cause future upgrades of OpenX to fail. Instead, if you are running version 2.8.6 and are not upgrading to version 2.8.7 you should delete the content of the file but not the file itself. If you are currently running version 2.8.5 or below you should upgrade to 2.8.7 as those versions contain other security vulnerabilities.
If you have not done an upgrade since deleting the file adding an empty file named ofc_upload_image.php in the /www/admin/plugins/videoReport/lib/ofc2/ directory will prevent a future upgrade from failing.
If you are currently doing an upgrade and are receiving a red box that says “One or more plugin files couln’t be located, check the install.log file for more information” after you enter the path on the page that says “Provide the path to your previous OpenX installation.” you need to add an empty file named ofc_upload_image.php in the /www/admin/plugins/videoReport/lib/ofc2/ directory and then reenter the path. If you are not sure what the path is you can find it in the configuration file. The path is listed in the webDir parameter, make sure to remove the /www/images from the end of the path listed in the parameter.
If you previously attempted the upgrade and now receive a message that says “Your OpenX database and file structure are both using the most recent version and therefore no upgrade is required at this time. Please click Continue to proceed to the OpenX administration panel.” when you tried to try to perform the upgrade again you have two options. For the first, you will need to change the value of the oa_version record, in the _application_variable table of the database used by OpenX , to version number of OpenX you are currently running and then you need to start the upgrade process again (including deleting the new installation and then uploading a new copy of it). For the second, you will need replace the old OpenX installation with the new one and then you will then need to manually reinstall the plugins. The plugin installation files can be found in the /etc/plugins directory of the OpenX download.