How to block your WordPress site from being scanned by WPScan with Nginx

Hello! First and foremost, why would you want to block WPScan from probing your site? Well we all know that security through obscurity is a bad practice. That said the risks of malicious activity on your site is undoubtedly heightened through many points of information disclosure that is freely available to parse and organize to make an accurate security risk assessment of your WordPress site. This type of information is easily attainable through automated scanners like WPScan. Tools like this scan for version tags in readme files, file size fingerprints and meta tags to determine not only the version of WordPress you are running but the version of each of the plugins you have installed. Why is information disclosure bad? Some would argue its not bad. Others would also point out that a 0-day WordPress core or plugin vulnerability could mean that minutes and hours of circumvention or lowered risk […]

How to cache queries to admin-ajax.php in WordPress to improve performance

Hello! Working with wordpress for a while now, we noticed that many actions, whether administrative in nature or building a WordPress query on the front end, are dependent on the built-in admin-ajax.php or WordPress AJAX API. Since many 3rd party plugins depend on this Ajax API to dynamically push and pull data, it is unfortunately a common occurrence to have the performance of a site impacted when many AJAX API calls are happening. One of the tell tale signs of admin-ajax.php performance issues can be seen when inspecting the network connections of rendering a particular page on your WordPress site. If you filter “admin-ajax.php” in your network tab of the developer console in your browser, you should see clearly the admin-ajax.php POST that may be taking too long. In our experience, some post grid plugins that make it easy to render a grid of posts on your page heavily rely […]

How to protect WordPress media files and only allow the users who uploaded them to view

Hello! In the past we have written about how to protect your WordPress media files. In the past exercises we utilized a strategy to set a session cookie with encrypted details that can be read and validated at the http service (i.e. nginx) as well as application (php/wordpress) level. Since then we have refined this process to be much more secure, flexible and efficient. We have abandoned the cookie validation process for verifying the request before serving it and replaced it with a slightly more complicated but much more secure method. First before getting into the details, why would we want to protect WordPress media files? Well the answer depends on what sort of site you have and what you are trying to do, obviously. In our scenario, which isn’t necessarily unique, we have end-users that register for an account in order to check out of a Woocommerce store. We […]

How to implement a government ID verification system with Woocommerce and WordPress

Need this implemented on your site? Click here and fill out our quote form! Hello! There are many reasons why your Woocommerce store may need a system to accommodate verifying the identity of your customers. Depending on what your selling and the local or federal laws that are in place, having the identity of your consumer verified may be needed for liability or compliance reasons. Additionally under certain conditions within your Woocommerce store (such as orders over a certain amount of money), validating the identity can dramatically reduce the risk of fraud and fraudulent transactions on your site. I’m going to go into details with how to implement a system into your Woocommerce store that will accommodate the following : Provide a section within the Woocommerce “my account” area for end-users to upload a digital image of their ID Add a new field for the user details to allow administrators […]

How to make bulk changes to WordPress Woocommerce product attributes with PHP

Hello! Sometimes its necessary to make site-wide changes to WordPress posts in order to save time and programmatically propagate changes without having to edit each post one at a time. For bulk manipulation of WordPress data, it is sometimes effective to write a command line PHP script to hook into your WordPress environment and execute changes. One of the main advantages with executing these types of functions on the command line as opposed to a web based interaction is you are not subject to the same execution and other timeout restrictions for web based requests. This means that a command line PHP solution can run longer, which is sometimes needed for complicated efforts. In our example, we will break down the PHP Command line script, how to safely and securely hook into WordPress to take advantage of all the built in functions, and update all the products in our WordPress […]

WordPress plugin to remotely manage and automate multiple WordPress sites

Hello! Being a Toronto based web design and development agency means that we interact with a significant number of WordPress sites. This tends to happen when a project starts (obviously), but often continues after a site is launched. This is something that we offer along the lines of “post launch maintenance”. By no means once a site is launched is our job done, and I’m sure a lot of other people in the industry can relate. If you follow the WP Vulnerability database notifications (if you don’t, you should), then you will see many notifications per day with various plugin or core vulnerability announcements. For this reason, among many others, we found ourselves struggling to automate and streamline the management of many client websites. We’re a fan of automation and have published articles on our efforts to integrate WordPress with Jenkins. With that particular plugin, we were able to automate […]

How to use Jenkins and Git to automate code pushes for your Laravel project

Hello! Recently we published guides how to push WordPress sites with Jenkins or how to push WordPress sites with a simple shell script. We thought it might be useful to give an overview of how to streamline your code integration process with Jenkins , GitHub and Bash shell scripting. The script I will outline below is definitely a starting point. There are of course efficiencies that could be made within this script, or perhaps that could be found with porting the logic within the script to Python. The idea behind this process is to automate and streamline code integration across your local development environment and potentially to a “staging” server where unit and other tests can be performed. Lastly a “production” push is included in this script. The strategy is to create a separate git branch for staging and production and to either push code directly or create a pull […]

How to craft an XSS payload to create an admin user in WordPress

Hello! XSS (or cross site scripting) attacks are a common method to maliciously execute actions against a website installation. In particular this type of attack vector is useful when dealing with a CMS like WordPress where you have administrative user accounts to target. This means that if you are able to craft an XSS payload that will ultimately be executed by the administrator of that site, you can essentially do whatever you want. In javascript of course. What I’ll go through in this post is exactly how to capitalize on a particular (old) WordPress plugin vulnerability to deliver a persistent XSS injection (not logged into WordPress) that will later be executed by someone logged into WordPress with higher privileges, such as an administrator. Persistent versus Reflected XSS This is debatable, but to simplify things it would be easiest to describe XSS attacks as being two high level methods : persistent […]

WordPress Woocommerce plugin to disable payment methods based on zip or postal codes

Hello! Woocommerce is a great easy-to-implement and versatile e-commerce platform. With the robust development community, expanding the core functionality can be relatively straight forward with the availability of a wide assortment of 3rd party plugins for Woocommerce. One of the things that we felt was missing, but a simple requirement, was the ability to manipulate the payment methods available based on the zip or postal code of the customer. This means that under certain conditions, the end-user will have a catered list of payment methods available to them. The system would need to have the ability to “Remember” the user, and subsequently the available payment methods, even if they came back later to purchase with a different postal or zip code. Why is this necessary? There could be many different justifications for this type of behavior with Woocommerce. If you are offering products and services to customers on a national […]

WordPress plugin to integrate Jenkins to streamline your build process

Hello! We love integrating Jenkins into development workflow. Typically Jenkins would be used for custom development projects to streamline the development “push” process in order to seamlessly integrate code changes from a testing / staging environment over to the live environment. For frameworks like Laravel or Django, this works very nicely. Until recently, we haven’t considered integrating Jenkins into our development workflow for WordPress projects simply because it seemed like overkill. It wasn’t until a few larger WordPress projects came along that required a standalone staging site to push changes that we considered actually integrating the push process with Jenkins into the WordPress administrative interface. What this means is that our clients wanted a staging environment to make content and other front facing changes, approve them internally and then initiate a content push from the staging site to the production / live site. From a development perspective we would be […]