Life Cycle of a WordPress (or Joomla) Zero-Day

It’s rare that you find good write-ups with evidence-based details on the field of security. (This I learned while working on WordPress Security with Confidence.) This is true for a whole host of reasons, but it’s one of the many reasons that I’m pointing you all at this write-up from Larry Cashdollar.

Larry’s narrative loses me a bit (on two readings), but some of the facts he lists are really interesting:

  • His disclosures of new Joomla vulnerabilities were, best he could tell, ignored by the black hat hackers that control the attack scripts that take on sites for over a year from the time they were publicly disclosed.
  • But then, he discovered that the reason may have simply been the location of his disclosure (emphasis mine): “While my advisories had permeated the usual exploit curator websites, like, they had not made it over to, and Two days after submitting all three exploits to I found a hit in Akamai’s logs.
  • When he disclosed a path traversal vulnerability in a WordPress plugin, it took (just) 4 days for him to see an attack.
  • When Larry tracked what happened following Marc Montipas’s disclosure of a serious vulnerability in the JSON REST API (in WP below 4.7.2), he saw attacks started just three hours after the disclosure what made. But some (maybe a large percentage) of these requests may have been security scanners and not real attacks.
  • Larry speculates that a lot of attackers are using “Google dorks” to find WordPress sites. That is, queries like inurl:/wp-content.

(found via Marc Montpas)

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