FBI: Patch WordPress or face IS attacks

Islamic State supporters are targeting WordPress sites that haven't been updated, says US security agency

Hacker

Anyone using WordPress should update to the latest version immediately or risk their websites being taken over by hackers who support the Islamic State, the FBI has warned. 

IS, which is also known as ISIL, has targeted websites using the popular content management system (CMS), the FBI said. Hackers backing IS have targeted everything from the US military's Twitter feed to a Bristol public transport timetable

The US security agency warned that "individuals sympathetic" to IS have been defacing websites continuously, targeting sites belonging to news organisations, businesses, governments and more. 

"Methods being utilised by hackers for the defacements indicate that individual Web sites are not being directly targeted by name or business type," the warning said.

The notice pointed out that recent attacks have made use of WordPress flaws - many of which have patches available. 

"Although the defacements demonstrate low-level hacking sophistication, they are disruptive and often costly in terms of lost business revenue and expenditures on technical services to repair infected computer systems," the FBI said. "All victims of the defacements share common WordPress plug-in vulnerabilities easily exploited by commonly available hacking tools."

As alarming as the warning sounds, the FBI stressed that "the perpetrators are not members of the ISIL terrorist organisation", but sympathisers. 

"These individuals are hackers using relatively unsophisticated methods to exploit technical vulnerabilities and are utilising the ISIL name to gain more notoriety than the underlying attack would have otherwise garnered," the policing agency added.  

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