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How secure will SSL admin & logins make the site?

  • A client of mine is concerned about their users being subject to sniffing exploits and a malicious party being able to acquire logging details for the site I’m working on.

    We’ve setup SSL logins and (currently) protected the entire admin section too. That said, I’ve now discovered that WordPress doesn’t use sessions as it is stateless. If sessions are not in use, provided the login is encrypted, surely there is nothing that could be sniffed?

    If that is the case, why is it an option to protect the admin section?

    The problem I face is that I’m using BuddyPress and allowing users to log in from the homepage. Once logged in they can move seamlessly from the non-SSL front end to the SSL admin section so there are points during the experience when they are logged in but the content is not encrypted.

    Can anything be exploited?

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Moderator Jan Dembowski


    How secure will SSL admin & logins make the site?

    Secure enough. 😉

    You’ve implemented SSL for the critical portion which is the login credentials. That way monitoring the traffic in the middle (sniffing) is a pointless exercise as the login data is protected by encryption.

    The rest of the WordPress administration should be fine.

    But the BuddyPress login widget exists on a non-encrypted page! I guess the widget needs to be disabled?

    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    Maybe but you can check.

    On my WordPress installation I enabled SSL for login and not administration. It’s the credentials I want to protect so that’s fine for me.

    On my web server the SSL portion is just another vhost and it logs to a separate file for SSL requests. Log out and then tail that log when you log back in.

    On mine I see something like this in the SSL log when I do:

    xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx - - [05/Jul/2012:06:12:35 -0400] "POST /wp-login.php HTTP/1.1" 302 5352 "http://my-wordpress-url-here/wp-login.php?loggedout=true" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.7; rv:13.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/13.0.1"

    Which is what I expect to see: the POST of my credentials was via the SSL portion of my web site. I did it via the form when I logged out which is why the referer is set that way but the credentials are via HTTPS.

    Ok, I think it is secure as-is. I’ve checked the logs using the definitely secure login form and also using the signin widget. The logs are identical so I can only assume that both methods are secure.

    That said, my output looks a little different to yours. I keep seeing references to wp-cron like this:

    xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx – – [05/Jul/2012:12:06:56 +0100] “POST /wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron=1341486416.6266379356384277343750 HTTP/1.0” 200 – “-” “WordPress/3.4.1; https://%domain%

    Any thoughts?

    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    That’s fine and normal. It’s the WordPress job scheduler that’s being run.


    Thanks, I understand what it does but it seems to be using wp-cron to log me in as opposed to wp-login.php (to which there is no reference). Just a little peculiar.

    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    That’s not logging you in, the post is so wp-cron.php can run the job.

    If you look at all the web access logs you’ll see wp-cron.php frequently. See the “WordPress3.4.1”? That’s the user agent for the client that requested that POST. It’s your WordPress installation talking to itself. 😉 It does that.

    Ok no problem, thanks for the help!

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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