21 May 2015

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning that individuals claiming to be aligned with ISIS are using vulnerabilities in plug-ins for popular web software to deface websites.

The FBI recommends that users of WordPress apply software patches to these vulnerabilities to reduce the risk of their websites being defaced.

An attacker can exploit the vulnerabilities to gain unauthorised access to computer systems or servers, enabling them to install malicious software, manipulate data or create new accounts with full user privileges for future website exploitation, the FBI says.  

WordPress is one of the most popular systems used worldwide to develop and manage website content. WordPress plug-ins are programs used to add further features and capabilities to these websites.    

The FBI warns that the defacements are affecting the website operations and communications platforms of news organisations, commercial entities, religious institutions, federal, state and local governments, foreign governments and ‘a variety of other domestic and international websites’.

According to the FBI, the perpetrators are not members of ISIS, but hackers using the ISIS name to increase their notoriety.

Reducing your risk

The FBI recommends that WordPress users review and follow WordPress guidelines, which are available at http://codex.wordpress.org/Hardening_WordPress.

You can find patches for vulnerable WordPress plugins at https://wordpress.org/plugins/tags/patch.

More information

How to set automatic updates on your computer.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.

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Disclaimer

This information has been prepared by Enex TestLab for the Department of Communications ('the Department'). It was accurate and up to date at the time of publishing.

This information is general information only and is intended for use by private individuals and small to medium sized businesses. If you are concerned about a specific cyber security issue you should seek professional advice.

The Commonwealth, Enex TestLab, and all other persons associated with this advisory accept no liability for any damage, loss or expense incurred as a result of the provision of this information, whether by way of negligence or otherwise.

Nothing in this information (including the listing of a person or organisation or links to other web sites) should be taken as an endorsement of a particular product or service.

Please note that third party views or recommendations included in this information do not reflect the views of the Commonwealth, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. The Commonwealth also cannot verify the accuracy of any third party material included in this information.

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