WordPress site hacked… pictures at eleven

Alert or technically astute readers will have noticed that this blog is powered by WordPress, and has been for some time. It’s a powerful, flexible and easy to use platform that has all the features I need from a publishing tool, and I tend to recommend it to friends and projects I’m working on – the Cambridge Film Trust, 100 Words, that sort of thing.

I normally try to keep track of the latest updates, and recently moved to WordPress 2.1, partly because of the new features, partly because of improved security and bugfixes. I had noticed, but hadn’t got around to downloading, 2.1.1, and it seems that I was lucky because the WordPress blog has news that their distribution server has been hacked and an exploit was added to the code available there.

Long story short: If you downloaded WordPress 2.1.1 within the past 3-4 days, your files may include a security exploit that was added by a cracker, and you should upgrade all of your files to 2.1.2 immediately.

This is bad, as they accept:

This is the kind of thing you pray never happens, but it did and now we’re dealing with it as best we can. Although not all downloads of 2.1.1 were affected, we’re declaring the entire version dangerous and have released a new version 2.1.2 that includes minor updates and entirely verified files.

They also say:

We are also taking lots of measures to ensure something like this can’t happen again, not the least of which is minutely external verification of the download package so we’ll know immediately if something goes wrong for any reason.

So am I going to change provider? No, because no application and no service is completely free of bugs, and sometimes bad things do happen to the best-intentioned and most careful people.  Will I be more careful about keeping an eye on the WordPress news – yes, because it has highlighted yet again something we all know but often forget, that no software is fit and forget, and those of us who prefer to run our own servers and handle our own publishing have to be willing to put the time in.