Pharmacy Hack Alive and Well
My site was recently cracked and the Pharma Hack was installed on it. It has been removed but today I was tracing back some of the links to the drugs that were listed on my site and what I found were sites with about 20 links to other WordPress sites. Many of the other site no longer had the Pharma Hack but there were plenty that still did. I was able to track back from them and found more sites with more links to WordPress sites.
It seems to me that there ought to be a way to at least make it harder for someone to profit from this hack.
Maybe WordPress.org could host a list of hacked sites or have an automated way to notify WordPress users that their site has been hacked atfter someone like me reported it. Maybe someone could even come up with a way to scan for the Pharma Hack or maybe just suggest somewhere to WordPress users that they google, “site: their-site viagra”
Maybe I will list the sites on a wordpress.com site.
I’ve moved this to the How-To and Troubleshooting sub-forum as Requests and Feedback is the wrong place to post this.
Maybe WordPress.org could host a list of hacked sites
Oh my gosh no. Never. Why publish a list of targets like that? The bad guys can fins your exploitable site without that and publishing that really is not a good idea.
My site was recently cracked and the Pharma Hack was installed on it.
Make sure you’ve properly deloused your site. Start with this link.
Also go through the hacked reading material.
Anything less will probably result in the hacker walking straight back into your site again.
I feel for you man, it took me 14 straight hours to get rid of the php trojan a few weeks ago…
Well, I created the site. The bad guy already have the lists of targets and they are constantly scanning to find more. The users need to know they are on it. I have tried to contact each of the site owners that I have found infected. Who knows how many of my emails are in spam folders. Please come up with a better way!
I hired Michael VanDeMar to clean my site. He is very experienced. I trust that he did a good job. I have read many of the links, which leads me to another point: WordPress is too easy for dummies like me to install and screw up.
I’ve moved this to the How-To and Troubleshooting sub-forum as Requests and Feedback is the wrong place to post this.
It seems like I can never get a post in the right place.
I’m wondering if @jan Dembowski understood why I started this tread or if he did, and intended to hide it as best he could. I was not asking for How-To and Troubleshooting help and I wasn’t planning on providing any.
But I’m willing to work with the cards he gave me. I read all the links he gave me and many more. It is time, I think, to stop totally thinking like a programmer or tech-head.
I read all these articles from people that are patting themselves on the back because they are clever enough to track down code that was written by someone more clever than they are. You know what, you plug that leak and the clever fellow just finds another one.
You clean one site that has the Pharma Hack you pat yourselves on the back and consider yourselves done. Well, you really are not until you find a way to starve the crackers to death. How may of you take the extra step of back tracking to all the sites that are feeding into the site you just cleaned? Have you taken the time to notify the contact of those sites? And have you taken it one step further and checked all the hidden links on those sites to see how many of them have been infected?
I have. And I contacted or attempted to contact the people with hacked sites and I have contacted their web host providers. Will it do any good? Maybe not. I don’t have the skills that it takes to write a program that would automate this but someone who does should.
If I can uncover a hundred or more hacked sites in one day with my limited skills and just using tools on the internet just think of what could be done using software? You might even uncover some really bad web host providers and force them to clean up their act.
What is the down side? You would also be cutting into the profits of companies like Securi that are white hat but profit from hacked sites. You might make people wonder if WordPress is secure enough. You might piss some web host providers off.
Or you might actually be able to make a difference and make a black hat hacker go without a meal or two. People might be really impressed that the WordPress community is willing to go an extra step to keep site secure. Maybe someone could even make a profit from the software by giving web host providers the tools the need to see that clients sites are safe.
Think about it. Maybe I am just a stupid old man or maybe I am on to something.
So the how-to is check the back links and help eliminate them and don’t be afraid or too busy to let someone know their site is hacked. If you find a web host provider who is chasing his tail repairing sites help them become proactive. This should be part of your troubleshooting skills.
The biggest problem I see (and I’ve repaired DOZENS of WordPress sites with hacks/malware) is it’s not the developers or the hosts, but the site owners that fail to understand the importance of everything WordPress recomments. Here’s my list of the top things that site owners don’t do that causes sites to get hacked:
1) Failure to update – I usually step into a hacked site and it’s like the thing hasn’t been updated since launch.
2) Passwords – Yup. Still an issue.
3) No Brute Force Protection/Housekeeping – There’s a plugin out there called GOTMLS…it’s an epic scanning/removal plugin that also adds brute force protection. It doesn’t consume resources like Wordfence and Sucuri, and there’s no upsell to a pro version. The thing works…plain and simple.
4) Outsourcing – If I had a dime for every time this happened. All too often site owner look across the pond for a cheapo “WordPress Expert” who in turn leaves their site in worse condition. On top of that, several of them hack up themes so bad that they become vulnerable. Some use severely outdated plugins. Understanding that a person like myself might be a bit more expensive, it can be worth it. I guarantee my work and I’ve had a problem only once (because of the “Other guy” nonetheless!)
While a list would be nice since, afterall it’s a big part of my business and I could use the references, I agree that a list is a bad idea for the sake of people “just checking it out”. WordPress as a whole is quite secure, and at some point, site owners need to take accountability.
I’m wondering if @jan Dembowski understood why I started this tread or if he did, and intended to hide it as best he could.
Really? You honestly think that? Come on. I’m a volunteer here just like you. I’m also a moderator and had I such Evil Intentions™ why would I not just delete the whole topic?
I was not asking for How-To and Troubleshooting help and I wasn’t planning on providing any.
I was attempting to cover all the bases. Those hacks are notorious for hiding were you can’t locate them and that was an attempt to be useful to you and others.
I’m moving this back to Requests and Feedback, feel free to comment on my motives about too.
*Jan looks for coffee, finds none*
What is the down side? You would also be cutting into the profits of companies like Securi that are white hat but profit from hacked sites.
They actually provide a service but more on point don’t have anything to do with WordPress in these forums.
You might make people wonder if WordPress is secure enough. You might piss some web host providers off.
So how does that work? Is this a public shaming of “infected” web sites?
Or you might actually be able to make a difference and make a black hat hacker go without a meal or two.
Those “black hat hackers” work in volume and use hacked sites en masse. You won’t make one bit of difference to those hackers because they don’t care. Their goal is to get the assets to spread spam and malware. It’s the spam that earns them money.
Before anyone replies along the lines “So you just want to give up??” that’s not it at all. But I do want to be productive and maintaining a list like that here isn’t.
Helping people out in the support forums is also productive.
Just to reinforce, all of the WordPress.org forums (including the Requests and Feedback forum) have a primary goal of helping people out. That’s why Jan tried to support you.
I owe you an apology. Yes what you are doing is productive. I’m sorry. I clearly have not been around these forums enough to understand them. I really do not understand why you moved my post. I’ll try to curb my rudeness and my enthusiasm in the future.
But I also disagree with you. I don’t really like the idea of a list either but I have to think low tech. I cannot program. I’ve forgotten the Honeywell H316 machine code that I learned 40 years ago and even if did remember it it wouldn’t be of much help.
Personally I don’t feel one bit ashamed of having my site hacked. I don’t know why anyone should, unless they are in the security consulting business or something like that.
How would it work? The better idea would be to be able to be able to notify people directly that their site had been hacked. But I don’t think that me emailing people is going get me very far.
Most of my email probably ends up in spam folders. I do think I have had some success though. So far I have identified at least one web host provider that seems to have a major security issue. They can ignore it if they want but I am not planning on it. If they fix their problem that will take hundreds of sites away from the crackers, even if it is just temporary. They will have to work harder. That would give me joy. If someone devises an automated way for host providers to monitor for Pharma and similar cracks they could probably get along with less support staff or divert them to doing other things. Even of they just set up google alerts for every web site it would be a simple thing
If every person fixing a pharma hacked site tracks back to all the sites with hidden links lists and tries to get them shut down we CAN make a difference. It isn’t that hard. I use http://www.siteexplorer.info a site that I found yesterday. If even a few people go through the list of hacked sites and contact the owners it means less money in the crackers pockets.
If I can convince google to track down hidden lists and ignore them to improve their search results then I might really be able to make a dent.
I know what it is like to be a tech and think like a tech. It is hard for me to be any other way. But I am too old for that now and I am trying very hard to think outside my tech box mind in hopes that I can find low tech solutions to fight back against high tech people limitless free resources.
Why am I picking on Securi? I’m just a bit cynical. I know they are good people but they also profit form cracked sites.
My feeling is that it isn’t good enough to just be relieved that my site no longer has the Pharma Hack. (for now)I want to fight back. I cannot give advice on how to clean a hacked site. I cannot track down hidden code.
I can track down lists of hacked sites that are out in the wide open in plain English. I am just not very efficient at it. That frustrates me. This is doable. I can feel it. Spidering back with software and collecting URLs from hidden links seems like such a simple task.
If you shut down the spam then the malware doesn’t’ have much relevance or has to be diverted to other purposes. It is just like the idea of everyone using strong passwords and/or a firewall like wordfence then what would the point of a cracker having an army of a thousand bots focused on 5000 dictionary attacks a minute?
Jan, I appreciate our thoughtfulness. I’m also trying to be helpful. I’m just hoping to get the attention of someone who can help me do it on a much larger scale.
I’m just one dumb old old man. Yesterday I would have been thrilled to be responsible for fixing one cracked site. Today I want to fix thousands because I can see the potential.
My message, think outside the box. Be proactive if you can.
Hey, Jan if you are ever up my way I’ll buy you a cup of coffee to make up for pissing you off. And I decided to offer you a bounty of one cup of coffee for every discovered and verified cleaned Pharma Hack site. Up to $100 worth. That is all I can afford.
You can blame the users of you want. I certainly deserve my share of blame. Someone may even want to create a certified WordPress user program. But when you find hundreds of hacked sites, not all of them WordPress being hosted by one provider you just have to ask yourself if really shouldn’t do a little educated shopping around.
Or is this just the way it is now?
Those “black hat hackers” work in volume and use hacked sites en masse. You won’t make one bit of difference to those hackers because they don’t care.
You don’t know it but you really made my point with that statement. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how.
Consider adding this to your list of useful links:
I’m declaring this hack dead. It is too easy to find for it to survive much longer and I am starting to find people who can grasp this concept. It is a rich pool of information about hacks that will soon be lost. If you have any interest in this type of hack I suggest you start looking for them and start building a database about them. You will learn which host providers host the most of them, what type of webmaster is most vulnerable, the paths the hackers pick to store files, their SEO dictionary (Which will help locate more sites using a simple search.), and certainly much more than I have time to list or to discover. One question remains, why has this hack been around so long? I smell the blood in the water already.
To find a seed site search for Purchase Medication, Order Medication, Generic purchase, followed by a drug name.
Once have located you first hacked site look for a txt file and it will give you more SEO search terms that will help locate other sites.
Also, find the hidden link sites. siteexplorer.info can help with this. The hidden link sites will give you the URLs of about 20 more hacked sites each. Do the same with each hacked site on the list.
Then think about how you can automate this and how this data can be useful?
You can bet that the hackers have a database about every pharma hacked site and have are using to learn which host providers are good targets and many other things about WordPress users bad habits.
All this is just sitting there in plan site for anyone willing to take the time.
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