Our admins located a series of unauthorized attacks on CMS-based sites on our platform over the weekend. Those attacks appeared to be part of the CryptoPHP hacker ‘campaign’.
CryptoPHP is a threat that uses backdoored Joomla, WordPress and Drupal themes and plugins to compromise web servers.
This turns out to be a global phenomenon, which was discovered by experts in the Netherlands through a compromised Joomla plugin on a customer’s site.The plugin had been downloaded from a legitimate-looking site that offers a list of free, compromised themes and plugins.
What is the CryptoPHP malware all about?
By downloading and installing pirated CMS themes and plugins on their own sites, users also install the CryptoPHP backdoor, which empowers attackers to exercise remote control over their sites.
The CryptoPHP malware can inject infected content into the compromised sites and even update itself.
However, the main purpose of the malware is to conduct blackhat SEO operations. Experts have detected links and text injected into the compromised pages with the sole purpose of tricking crawlers into giving the hacker sites backlink credit and a pagerank.
Experts have identified thousands of plugins that have been backdoored using CryptoPHP, including both WordPress and Joomla plugins and themes and Drupal themes.
The exact number of websites affected by CryptoPHP has not been determined yet. However, specialists have reasons to believe that they are at least a few thousand.
How are sites on our platform affected by CryptoPHP?
Unfortunately, a few CMS sites on our platform became the target of CryptoPHP hackers as well. Upon locating the attack, our admins made a thorough investigation of the affected sites and found out that they all contain files like ‘social.png’, ‘social0.png’, or ‘social1.png’, etc. in their code, which are actually PHP scripts instead of PNG files.
They have managed to clean all infected sites of the malware. However, they cannot guarantee that CMS users will not be compromised again if downloading a pirated CMS theme or plugin from the web.
What should I do to make sure I am not affected?
If you have ever installed pirated or untrusted WordPress/Joomla/Drupal plugins/themes/templates, you are potentially susceptible to a CryptoPHP attack.
This is why, you need to take immediate measures and check your sites for files named ‘social.png’. If the file is a PHP script instead of a PNG file, you are probably backdoored.
Also, if you realize that you are infected, you can resolve the problem temporarily by activating the Outgoing Connections Firewall from your Web Hosting Control Panel:
The backdoored sites are trying to make outgoing connections to certain IPs, so this will help you pause the attack until you find a way to resolve the problem.
The best way to protect yourself from the CryptoPHP malware is by making sure you download CMS themes/plugins from from trusted developers’ sites and popular marketplaces.
Here you can find the whole report by the Dutch company, which diagnosed and publicized the CryptoPHP malware:https://foxitsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/cryptophp-whitepaper-foxsrt-v4.pdf