Support » Fixing WordPress » Unknown logged in successfully as "systemwpadmin"

  • My website is
    My Wordfence shows a login record concerns me. Pls see below.The ‘systemwpadmin’ is not a user of my website at all. I can’ t see any relevant post or comment by it. Another thing is that Wordfence found a suspicious php file under wp-admin/includes/. Follow the suggestion of Wordfence, I deleted it, can’t remember the name, it didn’t exist before.

    Scottsdale, United States logged in successfully as “systemwpadmin”
    IP: [unblock]
    13 hours 43 mins ago

    I will have to observe for days to see if there is any damage.
    Could any one know this and kindly advice on it?
    Many thanks.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • I’m having the same issue with a site I’m helping with, the phantom systemwpadmin showed up in my login logs.

    I talked to the web host, and all they could give me was a list of activities supposedly committed by the phantom user — editing timthumb.php via the theme editor.

    I see that your phantom user came from a GoDaddy IP, and mine too, but from a different GoDaddy IP.

    After blocking that IP, have you gotten any activities from systemwpadmin again?

    By the way, do you have “Allow anyone to register” checked?

    And I assume you have searched your WP user table in the database and didn’t find systemwpadmin, is that correct?

    Has you site ever been hacked?

    Sorry for all the questions… I’m trying gather more information to investigate…

    p.s. I find Wordfence is an excellent security plugin as well. However if you want to scan your site with other scanners to catch anything that Wordfence might have missed, Anti-Malware (Get off Malicious Scripts) and Sucuri scanner are quite useful as well.

    Thanks for the reply.
    Your questions are Ok.
    After blocking the IP, it just disappears, not coming back.
    I have checked ‘allow anyone to register’ and systemwpadmin is not a WP user. My site was hacked once.
    Thanks for the suggestion. I may give it a try.

    Hi StoneChopper,

    Thanks for the additional info. It sounds like you have/had your site configured similar to the one I’m working on (that has this issue).

    I was talking to GoDaddy, and basically they told me what I suspected: someone was able to somehow add himself into the WP database, logged in and did his thing, then logged out and deleted himself from the database. The techs at GoDaddy suspected an unpublished backdoor to WP. Supposedly they are looking into the issue as well, since the offending traffic came from their servers.

    I have been researching ways to remotely add user into the WP database but haven’t found anything particularly useful yet. But if you’re curious to do some research yourself, I think that’s a good place to start.

    Meanwhile I have changed the WP database password (the one that’s in wp-config.php). If you have access to the file on the server, I would change its permission to 400 (readable by owner only, no write or execute access by anyone)). I have also turned the “allow anyone to register” off, as well as blocked the offending IP. So far I haven’t seen additional activities. Hopefully this helps fend off the attacks, at least till we figure out how the attacked was able to add himself into the database.

    Good luck!

    I suspect this it due to the Timthumb vulnerability. An attacker can use outdated Timthumb files to upload a script into your website, which can then be used to inject a user into WordPress.

    I suggest running the TimThumb Vulnerability Checker and updating any affected scripts.

    The next step is to search your WordPress files for exploit code. Read FAQ My Site Was Hacked and work through the steps described there.

    In particular, look for the following exploit code in your Functions.php file:

    function this_could_be_called_anything() {
            If (!username_exists('username')) {
                $user_id = wp_create_user('systemwpadmin', 'password');
                $user = new WP_User($user_id);

    As you might be able to tell, this code creates a new WordPress user (with wp_create_user) and assigns the ‘administrator‘ role.


    Thanks for the pointer. I actually came across the wp_create_user function while searching for code to create users remotely, but it doesn’t quite explain how the attacker was able to specify the numeric user ID (88888) to insert (instead of incrementing from existing IDs). Unless the attacker created an user first, then changes its number ID. But I don’t see the reason why he would do that, especially he was deleting the user after he was done anyways…

    Nevertheless, it’s definitely a good point about Timthumb and the theme’s functions.php. Before I took over the management of this site-in-question, it had an outdated timthumb.php. After I updated it to the latest version, the attacker actually tried to changed it (but wasn’t able to as I have other firewalls in place).

    The theme’s functions.php is, and has always been, clean, so are the rest of the core, theme and plugin files. However there were a bunch of unused themes and plugins, which I uninstalled. So it is very possible that some kind of user insert exploit code was hidden in one of those unused themes/plugins.

    Anyways, I’ll continue to research on this. Will update if I find any additional info.

    My interest in this stems from exactly the same login by a user id 88888 and name systemwpadmin 5 months ago (July). Details are on the forum thread “Unknown user “systemwpadmin” “: thanks to itpixie for alerting me to your new thread which I will watch with keen interest. As far as I know, only two other people have had similar problems so it does not appear to be widespread at present.

    For information,

    1) My web site definitely does not have any timthumb according to the timthumb scanner plugin.

    2) The only other time the log-in occurred was 11th November and my web host confirmed there had been a problem on another account on the shared server.

    3) In July, I think I did initially find a user 88888 in the database but next time I looked, it wasn’t there: I can’t be 100% certain because I was still in the throes of recovering from a major hack the previous month when I had to totally rebuild the site files and database.

    As far as I can ascertain, no damage was done to my files or database on either occasion but of course it is not easy to prove no damage was done, or won’t happen again. It’s all so disheartening. I’ve been through the “hardening_wordpress” recommendations even though they stretch my understanding and knowledge. If it is a server-related issue, then I just don’t have the skill to investigate but I am fairly certain that my web-host does have everything up to date.

    Hope this background helps. Best regards to all.

    So I have been hounding GoDaddy for more information, since they told me they were investigating the root cause of the attack, and since the attacks (at least for me and StoneChopper) came from GoDaddy servers.

    Beside confirming that the attack on my site-in-question did came from a GoDaddy IP, here’s the latest (most thorough) info I have gotten from them so far:

    We have continued to research the root cause of this issue, however due to security concerns we are unable to provide the entire results of our findings. Attacks originated from compromised accounts on other shared hosting servers and we have taken steps to prevent these attacks from succeeding in the future. We found that in most cases a previous compromise of the account had occurred in which attackers added a new WordPress administrator user named ‘systemwpadmin’ to the WordPress database. It does not appear to be an unpublished exploit, but rather a re-visiting of previously compromised and un-cleaned accounts. The ‘systemwpadmin’ user was later used to login directly to your WordPress admin, modify files, and the user was then removed from the database. We have placed additional security measures in place to prevent this specific attack in the future. You can work to prevent this attack or similar attacks by ensuring that WordPress is fully up to date as well as all themes, plugins, etc. and that any vulnerable items are removed from your account rather than simply being disabled via WordPress.

    Well, systemwpadmin was able to get into after I had all the usual security recommendations done and then some. The only thing I can suspect is that there were some unused themes and plugins when the attack happened, so may be one of them had exploit code. Those unused themes and plugins have since been deleted, and unfortunately I didn’t make copies of them before uninstalling them, so I can’t tell for sure if they were the culprits.

    I have pleaded with GoDaddy for more information, especially info on the exploit(s) involved (if there was any). I’m also curious about what “security measures” they put in to prevent such attack in the future, but I doubt they would tell me, especially if that would expose any vulnerability of their servers. I’ll update when I hear back from them.

    Meanwhile, I came across this video that shows an exploit to add a new admin user. It applies to WP 3.3.2, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect current WP version. Here’s a little more info on the exploit: link

    Ugh! WP removed the YouTube link and the exploit info link that I included…

    For the video:
    or Google “I-CEH.COM – WordPress 3.3.2 ADD ADMIN Exploit { Advisory } – Disclosure and Demonstration

    For more info on the exploit:
    or Google “WordPress 3.3.1 Multiple CSRF Vulnerabilities

    By the way, I did hear from GoDaddy again and they gave absolutely nothing other than saying the site was hacked back in August via Uploadify (which I already know and fixed). So I’m starting to think that it might have been a server vulnerability on GoDaddy’s part. Or they just have no clue of how the attack happened.

    Hi, itpixie
    Thank you so much for all the useful information. To be honest, I suspect GoDaddy.

    Hi Shane
    Thank you very much for the post. I will check the code.

    Many thanks, Cgw!

    Hi! my blog has been hacked 3 minutes after i have updated to WP3.5 (11/dec/2012) with the same method: systemwpadmin, ID88888, ecc.

    My web host is Godaddy. The attacks came from a Godaddy IP: (IP

    Very sorry to hear of yet another attack. It might help if you can give a few further details. In my case, my attack last July was from a Russian-based IP. My web host is Justhost.

    One problem is that now every new user that you now add will have an ID 88889, 88890, 88891, etc which for some reason makes me very nervous and I don’t know how to reset the database so that it continues as before. Does anyone know if the user id of “88888” is significant in anyway? (e.g. is there a limit within WordPress for the maximum number of users?)

    I’m still very puzzled what the attack achieved and other than new users having ID’s greater than 88888, I can find no lasting damage to my files or database.

    I noticed the same thing. I am also on GoDaddy.

    One thing I found was my header.php had been modified with a hidden div that pointed to “Faxless Check Cashing Online”

    I host 4 WordPress sites on my GoDaddy account.

    The wpsystemadmin account appeared on 2 of the 4 sites, and was only Administrator on one site (the same on with the modified header)

    So it looks like GoDaddy has not really solved the issue on their end like they told me.

    I still have not been able to get GoDaddy to provide any more info in regards to what exploit(s) (they think) was used to hack the site. I definitely think those of you who are hosted on GoDaddy should contact them to let them know about the issue.

    In the meanwhile, here are some things I think that helped locking down the site, beside the usual WP clean up (

    1. updated the salt values in wp-config.php
    2. updated my WP database password
    3. got rid of any unused themes and plugins — I suspect some kind of user creation script might have been added there in my case
    4. I use Wordfence to get alerted when admin level users login so I can better monitor who’s accessing the site. It also help scanning for malicious stuff.
    5. Ultimate Security Checker scans for malicious stuff in post and comments too, if you need a scanner for that.
    6. If you still have the default WP user “admin”, delete that ASAP. If that’s your username, set up a new admin user with a new username for yourself and delete the “admin” username
Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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