Monitor your WordPress Installation for Hacking

WordPress HackedWordPress installations require some folders to have permissions set at 777 either temporarily or permanently. These writable folders allow hackers to upload files used for phishing, DDoS, or sending email spam.

The WordPress File Monitor Plus Plugin monitors not only the files in the WordPress installation folders but all the files in the public folder for additions/deletions/changes.

Here are features in the latest version (2.2):

  • Monitors file system for added/deleted/changed files
  • Sends email when a change is detected
  • Administration area alert to notify you of changes in case email is not received
  • Ability to monitor files for changes based on file hash, time stamp and/or file size
  • Ability to exclude files and directories from scan (for instance if you use a caching system that stores its files within the monitored zone)
  • Site URL included in notification email in case plugin is in use on multiple sites
  • Ability to run the file checking via an external cron so not to slow down visits to your website and to give greater flexibility over scheduling
  • Ability to set file extension to be ignored or only scanned
  • Multi-site support

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Media Temple DV 4.0 – Cronjob Issues with Plesk 10

CrontabAfter migrating from Media Temple DV 3.5 to Media Temple DV 4.0, I found my email box filling up with notices of cron errors. Sometimes, the error was “-: wget: command not found” or other times “-: php: command not found”. Commands worked perfectly fine if run in SSH but not through the Plesk Cron Tab (Scheduled Tasks).

Initially, calls to the normally superb Media Temple Support resulted in several unsatisfactory replies such as “crons should work just fine on Plesk 10” or “we really don’t support crons”. I tried everything. Believe me, several weeks living without crons was not fun. Databases didn’t get backed up, emails didn’t go out, cleanup scripts didn’t run, etc. Then finally, a senior support engineer at Media Temple put me on the right track by mentioning that the user (i.e., the service) requires shell access to run crons in Plesk 10.

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Freelance Confidential – New book for Freelancers

Freelance ConfidentialFreelance Confidential, from Rockable Press, is aimed at providing the hard numbers on the biggest issues of freelancing. And, advice for freelancers, by freelancers on how to improve and grow their business.

  • Where do you find clients?
  • How much do you charge?
  • How do you raise your rates?
  • Is social media really worth it?
  • and more, …

Written by Amanda Hackwith (FreelanceSwitch Editor), the book draws on survey statistics from over 3,200 freelancers and insightful interviews from 10 notable success stories, including Envato’s Collis Ta’eed, Linda Formichelli of Renegade Writer, and more. Freelance Confidential asks frank questions and gets the answers that will help your freelance business grow. Whether you’re a successful freelancer who’s reached a plateau or one who’s just starting out, learn the truths to success in Freelance Confidential.

Available: Amazon
Paperback: 140 pages
Price: $34.99
Publisher: Rockable Press (March 16, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0987102605

WordPress Code Injections – A New Threat

Code InjectionOne of my clients has a rather popular sports site on based on WordPress. The site is up-to-date and running on DV server. A few weeks ago malicious code starting to appear on the site setting off warnings from anti-virus programs that monitor websites.

Sometimes, entire files are uploaded that contain malicious scripts. Most of the time, however, JavaScripts are appended to existing PHP or HTML files. One of the favorite targets is the WordPress index file (index.php). A self-executing JavaScript is added after the closing ?> tag. How they append the file is a bit of a mystery as permissions are correctly set at 644. The purpose of the malicious code seems to vary. Some code attempts to spread worms/trojans, steal passwords, or re-direct to spam sites (meds).

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How to make DomainKeys using Plesk 8.60 with external DNS control

KeysServer-generated emails on websites requiring registration or verification, often do get not through Hotmail and Yahoo Mail spam filters. Hotmail requires a valid SPF record which is easy to implement. And, Microsoft will whitelist your domain for Hotmail if you request it.

Yahoo filed a patent for the DomainKeys concept in 2003. They still use DomainKeys and require it especially for server-generated emails. Implementing it used to require running a Perl script to generate the key pair for the electronic signature. And, instructions for updating your server DNS are difficult to find.

Plesk 8.6.0 has DomainKeys built into the Plesk CPanel. However, there is one extra step that is critical if you control the DNS externally (for example, with Media Temple’s Account Center). Here’s how to do it:

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