SEO SPAM network – Details of the wp-includes infection

We have been digging lately in a large SEO SPAM network which is using thousands of compromised sites to increase their page rankings and spread malware. They are similar to the one we reported earlier affecting lean.mit.edu, but this time they seem focused only on WordPress web sites.

Sites compromised.

The list is big. Some of the ones that catched my eyes were:

Mindtouch.com (Popular open source product)
chapters.asmconline.org (American Society of Military comptrollers)
blog.woodward.edu (university)
content.hks.harvard.edu (university)
cima.ned.org (National Endowment for Democracy)
scripts.mit.edu
web.mit.edu
badminton.mit.edu
people.oregonstate.edu
whi.wts.edu
blogs.hartwick.edu
virtualcms.net

And the list goes on and on and on…

Attack method

All the sites infected are using the latest WordPress version and had a PHP script injected inside their wp-includes directory. The script name is random and it does two things:

  1. For a search engine, it shows a bunch of keywords (cialis, viagra, movie downloads, etc)
  2. For a normal user coming from Google, they are redirected to a web site with malware or to another site for more spam.

Example (do not click unless you know what you are doing):

http://chapters.asmconline.org/wp-includes/dh1h6/exqdmid.php?gottnci=282270

http://www.evolvingsolutions.ca/blog/wp-includes/js/tinymce/themes/advanced/images/xp/7fd66be0088be5bde44d8d7a804d5921

http://badminton.mit.edu/wp-includes/js/codepress/images/numbers.php?p=vente-viagra-en-ligne

http://blog.woodward.edu/SGA/wp-includes/js/crop/queeHoriz.php?p=buy-cialis

Finding more sites

Finding more sites is easy. Just search on Google for “inurl:wp-includes” and choose your preferred spam word. Examples:

Search for .org sites and viagra
Searching for airsoft eye gear
Searching for free movie download

Example 1 (Searching for Viagra on harvard.edu):

Example 2 (Viagra on blog.mindtouch.com)

The code being used is probably very similar to this one MW:SPAM:S2, used on a previous spam attack: http://blog.sucuri.net/2010/05/it-is-not-over-seo-spam-on-sites.html

If you suspect your site might be infected, search for these keywords and your site name.

If your site is hacked (or with malware) and you need help, send us an email at contact@sucuri.net or visit our site: http://sucuri.net. We can get your sites clean up right away.

Also, consider checking out our site security monitoring. We will monitor your sites 24×7 and alert you if it ever gets infected with malware, hacked or blacklisted.

Scan your website for free:
About David Dede

Sucuri Security bot (crazy work) - Malware research updates, sucuri news and more.

  • http://mindtouch.com/blog Aaron Fulkerson

    Thanks.

  • http://coffeetocode.net Patrick

    Any thought yet on the exploit vector? Seems like hosting provider is less likely. A plugin maybe?

  • Anonymous
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