UPDATED 13:51 EDT / NOVEMBER 28 2014

CryptoPHP backdoor threatens WordPress, Drupal, Joomla users

infected computer virus malware hack securityPirate theme and plugin providers are targeting WordPress, Drupal and Joomla users through a packaged backdoor called CryptoPHP.

The package gives hackers the ability to command and control server communication, mail communication as well as manual control on other server wide or installation wide settings.

A report released by Fox-IT states that CryptoPHP is primarily being used for Blackhat SEO, with link and text insertions in an attempt to gain favor with Google.

The capabilities of the CryptoPHP backdoor include:


  • Integration into popular content management systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla
  • Public key encryption for communication between the compromised server and the command and control (C2) server
  • An extensive infrastructure in terms of C2 domains and IP’s
  • Backup mechanisms in place against C2 domain takedowns in the form of email communication
  • Manual control of the backdoor besides the C2 communication
  • Remote updating of the list of C2 servers
  • Ability to update itself


In a follow up post on the initial report, the company reported it had found that 23,693 unique IP addresses connected to the sinkholes, and that the websites actually affected are likely to be significantly more as many infected web servers host multiple websites.

The backdoor has the greatest impact in the U.S., where researchers observed 8,657 infections. 2,877 infections were observed in Germany, 1,231 infections were observed in France, 1,008 infections were observed in the Netherlands, and 749 infections were observed in Turkey. 9,171 infections were observed in all other countries.

Fox-IT has published two Python scripts to detect CryptoPHP on servers and has provided instructions on how to remove the malware.

If you’re a WordPress, Joomla or Drupal user and are concerned that you are infected, one sign of infection is that the hack setups up additional Administrative accounts on your install. You should mainly be concerned only if you’ve previously installed pirated themes or plugins.

photo credit: Marika via photopin cc

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