Protection against setting the WordPress default “role” to “Administrator”

If you use WordPress, and you allow strangers to register for WordPress accounts (which isn’t usually a good idea, but some plugins require it), it’s possible to accidentally configure it so that those new users get created as WordPress administrators. That can happen simply by doing this:

Allowing this is a serious flaw that was supposed to be fixed in WordPress itself some time ago, but the problem still exists.

We don’t think it’s reasonable to ever create new users as “Administrators” by default, regardless of whether you have “anyone can register” turned on. (Even if “anyone can register” is turned off now, it would be easy to turn it on later without remembering to change the default role back.)

To make sure our customers’ sites stay secure, we’ve added some protections against this:

  • Setting the “New User Default Role” to “Administrator” is blocked at the Web Application Firewall (mod_security) level on our servers, whether from the WordPress dashboard or from any other web request;
  • If it somehow gets set anyway, our security systems will detect it as part of the daily security scan we do of every site;
  • If your site already had this setting as of today, we’ve restored it to the default “Subscriber” role.

Nobody should notice any changes as a result of this, but as always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or difficulties.