Flaws in popular SEO plug-in put WordPress websites at risk

Users of the 'All in One SEO Pack' plug-in should update as soon as possible, security researchers from Sucuri warn

Many WordPress websites could be at risk of compromise if their administrators don't upgrade a popular search engine optimization (SEO) plug-in to a newly released version that fixes serious vulnerabilities.

Researchers from Web security firm Sucuri found two flaws in a plug-in called "All in One SEO Pack" that potentially allow attackers with access to non-administrative WordPress accounts to elevate their privileges and inject malicious code into the administration panel.

"If your site has subscribers, authors and non-admin users logging in to wp-admin, you are a risk," the Sucuri researchers said Saturday in a blog post. "If you have open registration, you are at risk, so you have to update the plugin now."

The "All in One SEO Pack" plug-in automatically optimizes WordPress content for more efficient indexing by search engine crawlers to achieve a better ranking in search results. According to statistics from the official WordPress add-ons repository, the plug-in has been downloaded over 18.5 million times to date.

One of the two flaws discovered by Sucuri can be exploited by a regular user, like an author or a subscriber, to modify a post's SEO title, description and keyword meta tags created by the plug-in. If used maliciously, this could result in damage to a site's search result ranking.

However, the vulnerability can also be combined with a second flaw to inject malicious JavaScript code on the administrator control panel that would execute when the page is loaded.

This means an attacker could potentially do things like change the admin account's password or insert backdoor code into the website files to conduct other malicious activities at a later time, the Sucuri researchers said.

WordPress site administrators are advised to upgrade the "All in One SEO Pack" plug-in to version 2.1.6 which was released Sunday in the WordPress add-ons repository. An update can also be initiated from the plug-in's administration panel.

WordPress sites have been a popular target for attackers over the years and vulnerabilities in the platform's third-party components such as plug-ins or themes have been exploited in the past.

A critical vulnerability found in 2011 in an image resize script called TimThumb that was bundled in many WordPress themes was still being targeted in attacks over a year later.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags patchesonline safetysecurityAccess control and authenticationpatch managementSucuriExploits / vulnerabilities

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?