Exploitation of WordPress Page Builder Plugin Susceptibility on the Rise

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • Jul 19, 2022

Wordfence digital security specialists are issuing a siren call concerning the unexpected hike in online attacks designed to take advantage of unpatched weaknesses within WordPress plugins. More specifically, the WordPress plugin in question is the addon known as the Kaswara Modern WPBakery Page Builder.

What is Wordfence?

Wordfence is best described as a no-cost security plugin for WordPress. Wordfence includes an internal firewall, a scanner for malware, and automated cleaning tools that target malware. Wordfence is also revered for its extra layer of security, requiring that users pass through two-factor authentication, password management, and login protection before access is permitted.

What Else Do We Know About the Susceptibility?

Officially labeled with the letter/number string of CVE-2021-242484, the susceptibility is severe as it has a maximum of 10 CVSS rating, meaning it is of particular concern. The issue pertains to an arbitrary file that no one properly authenticated before uploading. There is the potential for exploitation, leading to the gaining of code execution and an opportunity for digital miscreants to obtain control of compromised WordPress websites.

When was the Bug Identified?

The bug was initially revealed in the spring of 2021, then formally identified by the WordPress security group in April. However, the flaw has not been fully resolved as of the time of this publication. Furthermore, it is important to note the plugin has since been closed off. The plugin has no active maintenance.

What is Wordfence’s Role?

Wordfence is responsible for protecting over a thousand websites with the plugin installed. Wordfence has thwarted nearly half a million online threats daily, dating back to the beginning of July of 2022. Wordfence representatives state those attacks originated from over 10,000 IP addresses, meaning tracking them and locating the originators responsible for them would be exhausting.

However, Wordfence digital security professionals insist the vast majority of the attempts to perform exploitation have been whittled down to merely 10 IP addresses. Hackers upload a ZIP archive with a harmful PHP file that allows them to transmit rogue infections that compromise the website's functionality.

What is the Overarching Aim of the Campaign?

It appears as though the campaign aims to transmit harmful code within seemingly innocent JavaScript files. The code unwittingly redirects visitors that come to the site to other dangerous websites. Avast has tracked these cyber attacks with the assistance of Sucuri. The attacks are performed under two separate names: NDSW (Avast) and Parrot TDS (Sucuri).

How Many Websites Have the Plugin in Question?

All in all, several thousand websites have the plugin in question. It is believed that somewhere between 4,000 sites and 8,000 websites contain the plugin.

What can be Done to Avoid the Threat?

Users with the infected plugin must remove it from their WordPress site as soon as possible. The removal of the plugin defeats the threat, allowing for a suitable alternative with sufficient functionality. Above all, business owners, managers, and even everyday computer users are encouraged to bolster their digital defenses against the new threats that emerge with each passing day.

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