How we created our own free content delivery network for WordPress users

Try out our Free CDN service by installing the Shift8 CDN WordPress plugin Hello! We thought it would be an interesting challenge both from a DevOPS perspective as well as a web development and integration perspective to create our own fully managed content delivery network. Utilization of the network is geared specifically for WordPress users. The idea being to give users a dead simple way to leverage geographic CDN endpoints across the globe by simply installing a WordPress plugin and activating with the click of a button. You never have to leave your site to register on a 3rd party website, you never have to set up API keys by hand or troubleshoot problems. We wanted it to be simple. And to work! There are many components that need to be integrated and ultimately tied together in order for a system of this magnitude to work. I’ll try to break […]

How to build a port scanner with Javascript using React Native

Hello! Why bother writing a port scanner in Javascript you might ask? Well javascript is many things, however the majority of its use is based on its original design to be synchronously executed in-browser using a single thread. Because of this, it becomes a challenge to write code outside of this original use case, though not impossible. The challenge of interacting with a local network using a language like Javascript then becomes an interesting endeavour (at least to me). If you take this type of a challenge and integrate it into a javascript based framework like react native, the potential increases exponentially. If one can successfully implement this type of network analysis on react native, then the use-case expands to platforms like iOS and Android. Same goes for AngularJS or Apache Cordova. There are many functions, libraries and modules that will help write asynchronous code. One of which is async. […]

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 inject advanced custom fields into your WPBakery post grid

Hello! Yes of course WPBakery / Visual Composer is bloated. Absolutely correct its more ideal to simply create your own page template with a custom WordPress query and design your own post grid from scratch. For smaller budget WordPress projects where time is money, it is sometimes ideal to go the post grid route. Why not? The customer wants the designed and customized end result but they have a restricted budget. WPBakery (aka “Visual Composer”) does save time in these scenarios, and there’s something to be said about applying customized CSS and jQuery to customize and tailor the vanilla packaged look and feel that these types of WordPress bundled solutions usually bring to the table. All that said, the point of this post is to describe how to properly inject custom ACF fields (advanced custom fields fields) into your post grids. Why would you want to do that? Well if […]

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 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 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 plugin to get geolocation coordinates from a visitors IP address

Hello! We recently had a requirement from a client to generate content on a page specifically based on the geolocation coordinates of the visitor’s IP address. Now this sort of mechanism isn’t totally new, however we decided to develop a WordPress plugin called Shift8 GeoIP that would obtain this information and set it into an encrypted cookie. The reason why we wanted a plugin to set your coordinates in a cookie was because the mechanism to obtain the geolocation coordinates would never need to change. We could then develop the custom content generation (i.e. finding a “store” nearest to your location) could be done directly in the WordPress theme for the particular page in question. Furthermore, we decided to ensure that the cookie data was encrypted using OpenSSL in PHP to ensure that this geolocation data could not be obtained by third parties by simply reading the cookie data. Below […]