I got hacked. I did it to teach you a lesson, and I’m sure you believe it.

The other day, this showed up in my e-mail:

A file change was detected on your system for site URL http://dfarq.homeip.net. Scan was generated on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 at 5:25 am

A summary of the scan results is shown below:

The following files were removed from your host:

/var/www/wordpress/wp-content/cache/supercache/dfarq.homeip.net/wordpress/index.html (modified on: 2015-11-03 03:23:52)
======================================

The following files were changed on your host:

/var/www/wp-content/themes/twentyfourteen/functions.php (modified on: 2015-08-19 22:24:04)
/var/www/wp-content/themes/twentyfourteen/header.php (modified on: 2015-08-19 22:24:04)
======================================

Login to your site to view the scan details.

I didn’t make those changes. Fortunately fixing it when changes appear in functions.php and header.php that you didn’t make is pretty easy.

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Reversing some WordPress malware

Aug 2016 update: Back in 2015, some kind of spam bot wormed its way into my site. I quickly cleaned it up, then decoded the attack and posted details here. Not long after, the spambot started directing traffic to this post, because it contains enough of the magic words, I guess. Only instead of serving up spam, it’s serving up my analysis. I’d rather you read this than spam, so I’ve left this page up.

On to the original post…

A few minutes ago I received an alert that some files had changed on my site (thanks to All-In-One WP Security). But I hadn’t changed anything and WordPress hadn’t updated itself.

Here’s what I found, and how I fixed it.

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Fixing white screens in WordPress

I got the white screen of death last week, but it was odd—it only happened if I tried to edit posts that were in draft or scheduled status. Already-published content would edit fine. Here’s my experience fixing white screens in WordPress.

Clearing my cache helped temporarily, but the problem would come back as soon as I saved a post. I ended up doing two other things as well, and then the problem went away. I emptied my spam, which also greatly sped up the site, and I also deleted a mobile plugin that I was no longer using but was disabled. Disabled plugins can still affect behavior sometimes. Read more

All-in-One WP Security and Firewall plugin can be spectacular, but be careful

Over the weekend I installed the All-in-One WP Security and Firewall plugin to fix another issue–more on that tomorrow–and I ended up breaking my site. Hopefully I fixed it to a better state than it started in.

The lesson, as with many security tools, is to proceed with caution.

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Why a non-web server has Apache and OpenSSL on port 2381

I was doing some scanning with a new vulnerability scanner at work. It found something listening on a lot of servers, described only as Apache and OpenSSL listening on port 2381. The versions varied.

Luckily I had another scanner at my disposal, and scanning with the other tool solved the mystery for me quickly. It turned out to be the HP System Management Homepage, a remote administration/diagnostic tool that, as the title says, lets you manage HP server hardware. It runs on Windows, Linux, and HP-UX. Read more

I fought the white screen, and I won!

WordPress occasionally suffers from the dreaded “white screen of death,” where you visit an admin page and, instead of being able to do what you want to do, you get a blank white screen. Meanwhile, the blog continues to function. If you have scheduled posts, they keep going. But with no admin access, the blog essentially becomes a ghost ship.

Several of the causes are pretty well documented, so I’ll talk about mine instead of rehashing old advice you can easily find elsewhere. Read more

How to maximize a Computer Science degree

Yesterday an interesting question popped up on Slashdot, asking for an alternative to a computer science degree for an aspiring web developer. He complained that what he’s learning in class doesn’t relate to what he wants to do in the field.

Assuming that by “web developer” he means someone who can code stuff in ASP and/or PHP with a database backend and do stuff in Javascript–as opposed to a designer who just does HTML and CSS–I think he’s best off staying where he is and asking better questions.
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DROP DATABASE wordpress;

This week, I doubled back down in earnest to get my webserver running on the hardware I bought a year ago.

After  getting Apache, PHP and MySQL installed on the box and playing together nice, I installed WordPress and got it running. Then I tried backing up and restoring files from my existing server, and the server didn’t like that one bit.

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