WordPress 4.1

WordPress 4.1 was recently released, and as always, we’ve updated our WordPress one-click installer to automatically install the latest version for new WordPress sites.

If you’ve previously installed an older version of WordPress, you should update it from within your WordPress Dashboard.

By the way, the new WordPress 4.1 Twenty Fifteen theme doesn’t display a default navigation menu, unlike earlier themes. To ensure you’ll always see a list of the pages on your site, our installer now adds a Pages widget at the top of the sidebar for new installations. If you later create a custom navigation menu, you’ll see two lists of pages in the sidebar. You can just delete the extra Pages widget if that happens to you.

Out-of-date WordPress sites will get hacked

I’m going to use annoyingly big type, on an annoying yellow background, because it’s important:

If you use WordPress, you MUST update your plugins and themes whenever you see that an update is available. If you don’t, your site will eventually be “hacked” because of a security bug in old software. The contents of your site will be replaced with something malicious, and your e-mail will be used to send offensive spam.

If you think “I won’t update that for a while because I’m concerned about compatibility”, like many people, you’re setting up yourself up for failure unless you have a specific plan to apply the update in the near future (by which we mean hours, not days). Otherwise you’ll just get further and further behind, and updating will become harder and harder, then you’ll be even more likely to be hacked every day.

Read the rest of this entry »

Some Mailman list mail delayed (resolved)

Due to a problem with the Mailman list management software, some Mailman list mail sent yesterday (December 2) and this morning (December 3) was delayed (although most was delivered normally).

We’ve resolved this. All delayed list mail has been delivered, although some messages may have arrived out of order due to the delay.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thanksgiving 2014 Holiday Hours

Our business offices will be closed on Thursday, November 27 to observe the US legal holiday for Thanksgiving.

As always, we’ll provide same-day support for time-sensitive issues via our ticket and e-mail systems. However, questions that aren’t time-sensitive (including most billing matters) may not be answered until Friday, and telephone support (via callbacks) will be available only for urgent problems.

PHP 5.3.29, 5.4.34, and 5.5.18

The PHP developers recently released versions 5.3.29, 5.4.34, and 5.5.18 that fix several bugs. We’re upgrading PHP 5.3, 5.4 and 5.5 on our servers as a result (this will be complete on all servers within 24 hours).

These changes should not be noticeable, but in the unlikely event you experience any trouble, don’t hesitate to contact us.

About the “POODLE” SSL security bug

Internet security researchers recently announced an SSL security bug nicknamed POODLE that affects SSL version 3 (“SSLv3”) connections.

The POODLE bug sounds similar to the Heartbleed SSL bug (which is probably why it’s getting so much press), but we should mention that it’s less of a risk: For POODLE to cause a security problem, someone would need to be able to intercept website traffic between a visitor’s older web browser and a secure site to start with — i.e., an attacker would need to have first “tapped” the network traffic to the affected site. That’s not impossible, and is certainly a particular concern for large sites, but it’s a relatively low risk for most sites. This isn’t the first “man-in-the-middle” SSL bug, and probably won’t be the last.

In any case, the impact of this bug is minimized because our servers support something called “TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV”. This prevents the attack with current versions of the Google Chrome browser, even if someone is intercepting all your network traffic. It will also prevent it with forthcoming versions of other major browsers like Firefox.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brief MySQL scheduled maintenance October 24 2014 (completed)

Between 9:00 PM and 11:59 PM Pacific time on Friday October 24 2014, the MySQL database software on each of our servers will be upgraded from version 5.5.38 to 5.5.40. This will cause an approximately 60 second interruption of service on each MySQL-using customer Web site at some point during this period.

This upgrade is necessary for security reasons. We apologize for the inconvenience this causes.

Update 9:23 PM Pacific time: The maintenance was completed and all services are running normally.

Protection against a critical Drupal security bug

The authors of the Drupal CMS software recently announced a “highly critical” Drupal security bug (CVE-2014-3704). This vulnerability is being very widely exploited: If you use Drupal 7 on a server without protection, and you haven’t upgraded to Drupal 7.32, your site is soon going to be compromised (taken over by “hackers”).

To protect our customers who have installed Drupal, yesterday we added security rules to block the common attacks. And today, we “patched” the vulnerable “database.inc” file on every copy of Drupal on our servers, blocking the more complicated attacks that we expect to see in the future.

So our customers are protected against this particular problem. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t upgrade Drupal: older versions also have other security bugs. So if you’ve installed the Drupal 7 software on your site, please make absolutely sure you’ve upgraded to version 7.32 today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blocking very weak WordPress login passwords

Recently, we’ve been seeing more and more WordPress sites maliciously “hacked” because the author chose a very weak password like “admin”, “password”, “temp”, “test”, or “wordpress”.

If you use a password like this, “hackers” can login before rate-limiting stops them from guessing stronger passwords.

Hackers are using automated software to try to login to millions of WordPress sites every day with these passwords. Because so many sites are being compromised this way, we’ve taken the fairly radical step of blocking all WordPress logins that use them.

Read the rest of this entry »

SSL certificates and SHA algorithms

This post describes a significant change in the way Web browsers recognize certain kinds of SSL certificates. We’re making sure that all SSL certificates bought from us are compatible with this change, and most customers can ignore the rest of this post, which has technical details.

Read the rest of this entry »