Cybersecurity researchers have exposed a new and sophisticated strain of malware posing as a WordPress plugin, with the ability to stealthily compromise websites. Discovered by Wordfence, this rogue code initially deceives users with a professional-looking introduction that suggests it’s a caching plugin.
Furthermore, the malware includes various functions, adds filters to evade detection, and even has pinging capabilities to confirm its operational status, along with the capacity to modify files and create rogue admin accounts with a predefined username and password. To cover its tracks, the malware can remove the rogue admin account when no longer required.
Additionally, the malware provides attackers with the ability to remotely activate various malicious functions, manipulate posts and page content, inject spam links, and redirect site visitors to suspicious websites by manipulating search engine crawlers. These features make it a versatile tool for malicious actors to take control of a victim’s website and monetize it while compromising the site’s SEO rankings and user privacy.
It can easily evade detection by inexperienced users due to its ability to remotely activate plugins and modify content. The scale of the attacks and the initial intrusion vector remain unknown.
This revelation comes as Sucuri reported that over 17,000 WordPress websites were compromised in September 2023, with Balada Injector malware adding malicious plugins and creating rogue blog administrators. The discovery underscores the ongoing challenges website owners and administrators face in protecting their platforms from increasingly sophisticated malware attacks.
Researchers are working diligently to understand the extent of these attacks and the methods used to breach the compromised sites, emphasizing the critical importance of robust website security measures.