In May and June, we saw our worst-of-the-worst IPs start using a new kind of attack targeting fresh WordPress installations. We also had our first site cleaning customer that was hit by this attack.
Attackers scan for the following URL:
This is the setup URL that new installations of WordPress use. If the attacker finds that URL and it contains a setup page, it indicates that someone has recently installed WordPress on their server but has not yet configured it. At this point, it is very easy for an attacker to take over not just the new WordPress website, but the entire hosting account and all other websites on that hosting account.
How the WPSetup Attack Works
There are several ways you can install WordPress. You can simply unzip the ZIP archive into a directory on your hosting account, or many hosting providers provide a one-click install that does the same thing.
At this stage, even though you have the base WordPress files installed, there is no configuration file yet, so it needs to be created. You used to have to do this manually, but new versions of WordPress guide you through creating this file using a web interface.
If you unzip WordPress or use a one-click installer and don’t immediately complete the installation steps, an attacker who is scanning for fresh installs on your server can use your fresh install to take control of your website.
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