Protection against the BackupBuddy file download bug

The authors of the popular BackupBuddy WordPress plugin recently announced a serious security bug in many versions of their software.

This bug is being exploited by “hackers” who have used it to download the private “wp-config.php” file of many WordPress sites. It’s then possible to use the private information in that file to login to your WordPress dashboard without knowing the password, or to modify your site’s database.

We’ve added firewall rules to block downloads of that file via the bug, but in addition, we’re taking the following steps to protect our customers who were using a vulnerable version of the BackupBuddy plugin at any point between August 26 and September 8:

  1. Changed the backend WordPress database password to a new random one; and
  2. Changed the WordPress “salts” in the wp-config.php file.

These are the steps recommended in the post by the BackupBuddy authors, so our customers don’t need to do this themselves. (The post also suggests an optional third step, but that doesn’t apply to most WordPress sites.)

The only difference affected customers should notice is that WordPress may ask for your normal password again the next time you login, rather than “remembering” you from a previous login.

If you’re using the BackupBuddy plugin on your site, it’s also a good idea to make sure you’re using the latest version of it — in fact, it’s a good idea to turn on automatic updates for all your plugins to minimize the risk of something like this affecting you.

Finally, keep in mind that we already make daily backups of your website at no extra charge. We never want to discourage people from making their own additional backups, but those extra backups are most useful if they’re stored in another location (not just on the same server you’re making a backup of). While investigating this, we noticed that most people using BackupBuddy are simply storing an extra copy on the same server, which doesn’t add much protection against data loss. If you make your own backups, you should ideally copy them to your own computer, or to an external location like Dropbox.