WordPress users urged to manually update to fix bug that prevents automatic updating

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Feb 8, 2018

WordPress has long had a bad reputation in the security community. While this is understandable – compromised installations of the popular content management system are regularly used to spread malware and spam – it is also a little unfair, as the security of WordPress has improved a lot over the years.

Indeed, exploitable vulnerabilities in the WordPress core have become quite rare, with most recent compromises using a flaw in a plug-in or theme. What has made the biggest difference to the security of its install base, though, is the ability, introduced in 2013, for WordPress installations to self-update, thus ensuring vulnerabilities are patched automatically.

Unfortunately, this feature broke in a rather bad way this week. A regular maintenance update contained a bug that triggered a fatal error when WordPress was trying to determine whether it needed updating, thus preventing any updates from being installed automatically.

The bug has since been fixed but, as you can guess, the fix won't be installed automatically. Users are thus being urged to update to WordPress 4.9.4 manually.

wordpress_logo.png

 

It is unclear whether all WordPress installations with auto-update enabled did indeed install the faulty update in the 21-hour period during which it was available, but I have seen reports of people who say their site installed both updates automatically. Though the (sparse) technical details published by WordPress don't make mention of it, is is possible that the issue only affected a subset of the install base. This could also explain how the bug passed the project's QA.

 

 

Though there are are currently no known vulnerabilities in the WordPress core, those running WordPress are strongly advised, if it hasn't auto-updated, to update to 4.9.4 manually sooner rather than later, to make sure they will be protected against future vulnerabilities. And it doesn't hurt to point out that, for the average WordPress user, the self-update function still seems a far better option than any of the available alternatives.

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

Paper: Alternative communication channel over NTP

In a new paper published today, independent researcher Nikolaos Tsapakis writes about the possibilities of malware using NTP as a covert communication channel and how to stop this.

VB2019 conference programme announced

VB is excited to reveal the details of an interesting and diverse programme for VB2019, the 29th Virus Bulletin International Conference, which takes place 2-4 October in London, UK.

VB2018 paper: Under the hood - the automotive challenge

Car hacking has become a hot subject in recent years, and at VB2018 in Montreal, Argus Cyber Security's Inbar Raz presented a paper that provides an introduction to the subject, looking at the complex problem, examples of car hacks, and the…

VB2018 paper and video: Android app deobfuscation using static-dynamic cooperation

Static analysis and dynamic analysis each have their shortcomings as methods for analysing potentially malicious files. Today, we publish a VB2018 paper by Check Point researchers Yoni Moses and Yaniv Mordekhay, in which they describe a method that…

VB2019 call for papers closes this weekend

The call for papers for VB2019 closes on 17 March, and while we've already received many great submissions, we still want more!

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.