The curious case of a WordPress plugin

Updated A British web-dev outfit has denied allegations it deliberately hid code internal it’s WordPress plugins that, amongst different things, spammed a rival’s internet site with junk visitors.

Pipdig, which specializes in designing themes and templates for sites going for walks the famous WordPress publishing device, changed into accused past due last week of together with code within its plugins that fired duff requests dot-com of a competing maker of themes. It was additionally accused of slipping in code that allowed it to wipe its customers’ databases remotely, adjust URLs in links, trade site admin passwords, and disable different third-party plugins.

The curious case of a WordPress plugin 1

These plugins are set up server-aspect by way of site owners to decorate their WordPress installations, and that they include backend and frontend code finished as traffic land on pages. Pipdig has denied any wrongdoing.

The accusations were made using Jem Turner, an internet developer who wondered the purpose of several subroutines in the Pipdig Power Pack (P3), a set of plugins bundled with Pipdig’s subject matters.

“An unnamed customer approached me this week complaining that her website, which changed into strolling a theme she’d purchased from a WordPress subject matter issuer, was behaving oddly. Amongst different matters, it becomes getting slower for no obvious purpose,” Turner claimed on Friday. “As velocity is an essential ranking aspect for search engines (no longer to say critical for keeping traffic), I said I’d do some digging. What I found really blew me away; I’ve never visible something adore it.”

Turner claimed she’d located that, among different matters, Pipdig’s plugins fired off-site visitors to a stranger’s website: for that reason, web servers hosting the P3 PHP code might robotically ship HTTP GET requests to a rival’s web site – kotrynabassdesign.Com – for this reason flooding it with connections from all around the world, it becomes claimed.

The P3 equipment also, it was alleged, manipulated links in customers’ pages to direct site visitors faraway from sure web sites, amassed data from customer websites, should trade admin passwords, disabled different plugins, and applied a remotely activated kill-switch mechanism allowing Pipdig to drop all database tables on a purchaser’s web site. Again, this is in line with an analysis of the P3 source code.

At the equal time, Wordfence, a protection vendor specializing in services for WordPress websites, says it fielded a similar grievance about the P3 code from one among its users and additionally found the same subroutines Turner described.

“The person, who needs to stay nameless, reached out to us with worries that the plugin’s developer can grant themselves administrative get right of entry to websites the use of the plugin, or even delete affected websites’ database content remotely,” Wordfence defined. “We have for the reason that showed that the plugin, Pipdig Power Pack (or P3), includes code which has been obfuscated with misleading variable names, character names, and feedback to hide these abilties.”

Don’t study me; I didn’t do it.

The reviews brought about a sturdy denial from Pipdig, which argued the claims have been unfounded. In its reaction on Sunday, the Pipdig team denied its software program intentionally lobbed net traffic at different web sites. In line with Pipdig, what turned into happening changed into that the P3 code might, once an hour, fetch the contents of…

…Inflicting the P3 code to fetch then that page that’s on some other server. That’s how the dot-com came to be flooded with requests from structures around the arena strolling Pipdig’s code. The biz stated it is trying to figure out how the external website online’s URL ended up in its license textual content record, which has for the reason been cleared of any textual content to prevent any needless fetching.

“We’re now looking into why this characteristic is returning this URL,” Pipdig stated in its response. “However, it appears to signify that some of the ‘Author URLs’ had been set to ‘kotrynabassdesign.Com.’ We don’t currently recognize why this is the case or whether the website owner has intentionally changed this.

“The response has to hit our web page’s wp-admin/admin-ajax—hypertext Preprocessor record below ordinary circumstances. On the floor, it could suggest that some piping subject matters were renamed to other authors. We might be searching further into this problem and offer greater data because it comes up. We can verify that it won’t reason any problems for web sites the use of piping topics, although the author name/URL has been modified.”

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