Aug 26 2009

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wordpress woes

As is common with many blogs, my public ramblings on this site are made possible through the ease of use and flexibility of the mysql/php based software known as wordpress.. And again, as is common to much php/mysql based software, that package has vulnerabilities – sometimes serious, remotely exploitable vulnerabilities. When vulnerabilities are made public, and a patch to correct the problem becomes available, the correct response is to apply the patch, and quickly. In the world of mission critical software, or even in the world where your business or reputation depends upon correctly functional, dependable, and “secure” (for some arguable definition of secure) software it is absolutely essential that you patch to correct known faults. If you don’t, and as a result you get bitten, then your business or reputation, or both will suffer accordingly.

Yet again, as is common, I have to date used the services offered by a third party to host my blog rather than go to the trouble of managing my own installation. Many bloggers simply sign up to one of the services such as is offered by wordpress itself on the related wordpress.com site. Such sites tend to give you a blog presence of the form “yourblogname.wordpress.com” or “myblogname.blogger.com” etc. Other, usually paid for, service providers such as the one I use offer a blog with your own domain name. Whatever service you choose though, you are inevitably reliant on the service provider to ensure that the software used to host your site is patched and up to date. My own provider uses a template based approach to its blog service, This limits me (and others) to the functionality they choose to provide. In return, I expect them to ensure that the version of software they provide and support is as secure as is reasonably possible to expect for the sum I pay each month.

A couple of recent events have caused me to question this arrangement though and I am now in the process of moving this blog to one of my own servers. Firstly, wordpress itself has recently suffered from a particularly embarrassing remote exploit which allows an attacker to reset the admin password, and secondly, as I discussed at zf05 below, the servers belonging to some supposedly security conscious individuals were compromised largely because poor patch management practices (amongst other things) left them exposed.

Time to rethink my posture.

I currently have three separate VPSs with different providers and I figure it is time I took responsibility for my own configuration management rather than relying on my current provider (which, incidentally, hasn’t updated its wordpress version for some long time despite both this current and many earlier security updates being released). However, for a variety of “interesting” and ultimately annoying reasons, this is proving to be trickier than it should be.

I’ll post an update when I have made the transition. Meanwhile, I hope not to see any break in service – unlike the self-inflicted cock-up in transfer of one of my domains.

Watch this space.

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