WordPress.org force resets all passwords

22 Jun 2011

Suspicious activity has forced popular blogging service WordPress to reset all passwords. The company says it noticed suspicious commits to several popular plugins, including AddThis, WPtouch and W3 Total Cache containing cleverly disguised backdoors.

Founder Matt Mullenweg is still investigating what happened but as a “prophylactic” measure decided to reset all passwords for WordPress.org, bbPres.org and BuddyPress.org.

It is understood that while WordPress itself was not hacked, certain plugins were. If downloaded they would have opened a backdoor into the system.

With all the heightened activity among hackers and the continuing spate of cyber attacks against high-profile targets by LulzSec and Anonymous, WordPress isn’t taking any chances.

The blog post from Mullenweg is as follows:

Earlier today, the WordPress team noticed suspicious commits to several popular plugins (AddThis, WPtouch, and W3 Total Cache) containing cleverly disguised backdoors. We determined the commits were not from the authors, rolled them back, pushed updates to the plugins, and shut down access to the plugin repository while we looked for anything else unsavoury.

We’re still investigating what happened, but as a prophylactic measure we’ve decided to force reset all passwords on WordPress.org. To use the forums, trac, or commit to a plugin or theme, you’ll need to reset your password to a new one. (Same for bbPress.org and BuddyPress.org.)

As a user, make sure to never use the same password for two different services, and we encourage you not to reset your password to be the same as your old one.

Second, if you use AddThis, WPtouch, or W3 Total Cache and there’s a possibility you could have updated in the past day, make sure to visit your updates page and upgrade each to the latest version.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years