Isolation Photo Project : Day 144

Things were broken, and now they are not.

This week WordPress 5.5 "Eckstine" was released. I upgraded my website, and things immediately went sideways. But the problems started earlier, on 6 August, after I upgraded to JetPack version 8.8.1.

I didn't suspect JetPack 8.8.1 as the cause at the time, but my website was slower, and unknown to me, the upgrade broke the connection between VaultPress and my site was broken. JetPack is required to use VaultPress properly. Still in the dark on the issue, on 11 August, I upgraded to WordPress 5.5, and everything broke. My website went offline until 15 August when I recovered manually from a backup I downloaded from VaultPress.

I want to express my gratitude to the web designer and WordPress consultant Daniel Brinneman for his help in brainstorming avenues of troubleshooting.

At some point, after I calm down, I'll write up a longer post on what I think happened, what I did to recover the website, and lessons learned.

Submitted as part of the 100DaysToOffload project.

Web Application Firewall Summary

Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a security solution that protects web applications from various online threats and attacks. It sits between the user and the web server, analysing incoming traffic to filter out malicious requests and protect the application from potential vulnerabilities. The WAF helps safeguard against common web-based attacks like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and other application-layer exploits.

A Web Application Firewall employs a set of specific firewall rules to block complex attacks. These rules are based on known attack patterns and anomalies and are designed to detect and prevent attacks. Some examples of specific firewall rules that can block complex attacks include:

  • Signature-based Rules: These rules identify known attack patterns and malicious payloads, such as specific SQL injection strings or XSS scripts, and block traffic that matches these patterns.
  • Behavioral Rules: These rules analyse traffic behaviour and block requests that exhibit suspicious or abnormal patterns, even if they don't match a specific attack signature.
  • Rate Limiting Rules: These rules restrict the number of requests from a single IP address within a given time frame, mitigating the impact of brute-force and DDoS attacks.
  • Session Management Rules: These rules monitor and enforce session-related behaviours to prevent session hijacking and token manipulation attacks.
  • Geolocation Rules: These rules block or allow traffic based on the IP address's geographic location, helping filter out traffic from known malicious regions.

My WordPress WAF has all of these types of rules enabled.

The WAF Summary below displays the count of attacks the Web application firewall prevents on my WordPress website. The summary comprises three categories of attacks: Complex Attacks, Brute Force Attacks, and Blacklist Blocks.

  • Complex Attacks occur when a visitor requests the website with malicious intent to exploit the website or find a vulnerability that can be exploited later. The firewall rules block these types of attacks.
  • Brute Force Attacks are attempts to guess usernames and passwords to gain access to the WordPress admin.
  • Blacklist Blocks indicate the number of times an IP has been blocked from accessing the site as a preventive measure.

Determining which IP addresses to blacklist usually involves analysing various factors to identify potentially malicious sources. Some common methods include:

  • Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS): These systems monitor network traffic and identify suspicious or malicious behaviour. If an IP address is involved in malicious activities, it can be added to the blacklist.
  • Threat Intelligence Feeds: WAFs may use threat intelligence feeds from reputable sources that maintain lists of IP addresses associated with cyber threats. IP addresses from these feeds can be automatically added to the blacklist.

  • Anomaly Detection: The firewall may identify IP addresses that deviate significantly from typical traffic patterns or show patterns consistent with malicious activities, leading to blacklisting.

  • User Reports and Reputation Services: WAFs can consider user reports and reputation services that track and rate IP addresses' trustworthiness. Repeatedly flagged IP addresses may end up on the blacklist.

  • Manually Curated Lists: Security administrators can manually add suspicious IP addresses to the blacklist based on their analysis or incident reports.

My Web Application Firewall (WAF) utilises a combination of methods to dynamically update its blacklist, effectively blocking traffic from potentially harmful IP addresses. This proactive approach helps safeguard my WordPress website from malicious activities and ensures enhanced security.

Block Type Complex Brute Force Blacklist Total
Today 0 0 166 166
Week 63 193 963 1219
Month 112 193 4323 4628