Pharma Hacks MAY 2021
WP Security Exploits for SEO/DDoS
Be informed about the latest WP Security Exploits for SEO gains and DoS/DDoS remote controls, identified and reported publicly. With Pharma Hacks MAY 2021 the consequences of a hack are ugly. You will experience major backlash on your WordPress domain, costly damage control/recovery, immediate revenue loss with long-term consequences. Consider our FREE security AUDIT.
An estimated 663.000+ active WordPress installations are susceptible to these attack types, considering only the publicly available numbers. The estimated number can double with versions already closed due to security concerns.
It is a 12.5% increase compared to December 2020. We compare last month versus previous winter holiday season, which has the biggest shopping traffic and attack spike throughout the year. Read more about our previous reports here: 16 Pharma Hacks APR 2021 – WP Security Exploits for SEO/DDoS and 8 Pharma Hacks JAN 2021 – WP Security Exploits for SEO/DDoS. The following cases made headlines PUBLICLY just last month in the Pharma Hacks MAY 2021 category:
- Funnel Builder by CartFlows – Create High Converting Sales Funnels For WordPress < 1.6.13 – Authenticated Stored XSS via FB Pixel ID and Google Analytics ID
- Funnels are the most effective way to sell products & services. We created CartFlows, a WordPress Funnel Builder, to help every website owner get more leads, increase conversions, & maximize profits. Active installations: 200,000+
- NinjaFirewall (WP Edition) – Advanced Security Plugin and Firewall < 4.3.4 – Authenticated (admin+) PHAR Deserialization
- NinjaFirewall (WP Edition) is a true Web Application Firewall. Although it can be installed and configured just like a plugin, it is a stand-alone firewall that stands in front of WordPress. Active installations: 60,000+
- Simple 301 Redirects by BetterLinks – 2.0.0 – 2.0.3 – Arbitrary Plugin Activation
- Simple 301 Redirects by BetterLinks – 2.0.0 – 2.0.3 – Arbitrary Plugin Installation
- Got “404 not found” errors? Launching a marketing campaign with a new URL? Or relaunching your website with a new URL? Let’s redirect your old URLs to new ones automatically by creating 301 redirects to existing pages. Active installations: 300,000+
- SP Project & Document Manager <= 4.21 – Authenticated Shell Upload
- Project & Document management plugin, Remote file sharing, maintain and control unlimited number of documents, records, files, media, videos and images. You can create unlimited folders and sub folders to share, organize, manage client, student & supplier documents and accounts, control individual documents, and select specific file sharing of documents all in an easy to manage online process. Active installations: 3,000+
- Spam protection, AntiSpam, FireWall by CleanTalk < 5.153.4 – Unauthenticated Blind SQL Injection
- No CAPTCHA, no questions, no animal counting, no puzzles, no math and no spam bots. Universal AntiSpam plugin. Active installations: 100,000+
- Target First Plugin 2.0 – Unauthenticated Stored XSS via Licence Key
- The Target First WordPress Plugin, also previously known as Watcheezy, suffered from a critical unauthenticated stored XSS vulnerability. Active installations: Not public info
- The Plus Addons for Elementor < 4.1.10 – Open Redirect
- The Plus Addons for Elementor < 4.1.11 – Arbitrary Reset Pwd Email Sending
- Collection of 100+ Powerful Elementor Widgets, 18+ Templates, 300+ UI Blocks and Amazing Listing Builder for Post Types to surprise your clients with amazing Websites. Active installations: Not public info
BRIEF: Pharma Hacks MAY 2021 is an SEO spam attack type, where a legitimate website is used to sell illicit drugs. In this type of attack, hackers hijack websites, injects malware and uses that specific domain to sell illicit drugs like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra. This is where it started and got its name. Today, not just potency drugs are a drive. Anything that created interest from humans, but their local legislation failed to keep up with the latest trends are in this category. Consider this as a modern inquisition, where your domain is the heretic, spreading undesired ideology – sadly unknowingly.
Pharma Hacks Explained
The Pharma Hacks MAY 2021 exploits are used to insert rogue code in outdated versions of WordPress, themes and plugins. This new content inside existing pages and post are causing search engines to return ads for pharmaceutical products after a new indexation. The vulnerability is more of a spam menace than traditional malware but gives search engines enough reason to block the domain for distributing spam (NOT creating, JUST maintaining, harbouring, spreading).
Working parts of a Pharma Hacks MAY 2021 include a backdoor in plugins, themes and databases. However, the exploits are often vicious variants of encrypted malicious injections hidden in databases and require a thorough clean-up process to fix the vulnerability. Nevertheless, you can easily prevent Pharma Hacks by regularly updating your WordPress installations, themes, and plugins.
What is the impact of Pharma Hacks MAY 2021?
The consequences of a hack are ugly. You will experience some major backlash on your WordPress domain such as:
– A marked drop in search engine rankings for the keywords you’re targeting;
– High bounce rates as visitors are redirected to different websites;
– Wasted SEO efforts in the future;
– SERP blacklist warnings on your website like:
— This site may be hacked
— Deceptive site ahead etc;
— Hosting account suspensions;
— Email providers blacklisting your domain;
— High cleanup, recovery, damage control costs;
— Major decline in your brand’s image, reputation.
What is Denial of Service (DoS)?
Perhaps the most dangerous of them all, Denial of Service (DoS) is used to overwhelm a specific domain’s hosting resources (memory, CPU, bandwidth, etc). Denial of service is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted machine or resource with superfluous requests in an attempt to overload systems and prevent some or all legitimate requests from being fulfilled.
Hackers have compromised millions of websites and raked in millions by exploiting outdated and buggy versions of WordPress, themes, plugins and 3rd party connected software. Even the latest versions of WordPress software cannot comprehensively defend against high-profile DoS attacks, but will at least help you to avoid getting caught in the crossfire between financial institutions and sophisticated cybercriminals.
What is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)?
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is one of the most powerful weapons on the internet. When you hear about a website being “brought down by hackers”, it generally means it has become a victim of a DDoS attack. In short, this means that hackers made that domain unavailable by flooding or crashing the website with too much traffic.
Although financially motivated cybercriminals are less likely to target small companies, they tend to compromise outdated vulnerable websites in creating botnet chains to attack large businesses. The primary way a DDoS is accomplished is through a network of remotely controlled, hacked domains. This is where small businesses come to the crossfire. These are often referred to as zombies, botnets or network of bots. These are used to flood a high profile target.
What is the impact of DoS/DDoS?
Starts with a slow website, with vital parts not working accordingly (checkout, orders/account registration, processing, dispatching). It peaks for a real visitor as page not available. When the entire server crashed, then the domain is unavailable. END GAME.
This is a costly thing to defend in a cloud environment, due to creating more and more servers to serve traffic spike, it burns your hosting budget for an entire year in a few hours. In classical hosting environments, using a single physical machine to host the domain is simply incapable of facing even the most simple, smallest DoS or DDoS attacks.