Security Web Site Technologies

Who’s hacking Drjohnstechtalk lately?


This headline was inspired by years of listening to our managed service providers: overpromise and underdeliver! Who’s hacking my web site? I have no idea. But what I can deliver is a list of badly behaved IP addresses over the last 24 hours.

Let’s do it

So, here is a dynamically-compiled list of offenders who have “hacked” my web site over the last 24 hours. They are IP addresses caught trying to fetch non-existent web pages (such as the default login page) or post unauthorized content to the site such as spammy comments.

Without further ado, here are the latest IPs which include up-to-the-minute entries.

What are they?

I don’t think it’s anything glamorous like an actual black hat scheming to crack through my site’s defenses, which would probably fall pretty quickly! It looks like a lot of the same type of probes coming from different IPs. So I suspect the work of a botnet that crawls through promising-sounding WordPress sites, looking for weak ones. Probably thousands of bots – things like compromised security cameras and poorly configured routers (IoT) orchestrated by a Command and Control station under the control of a small group of bad actors.

And there is probably a bit of access from “security researchers” (ethical hackers) who look for weaknesses that they can responsibly disclose. I’m imagining this scenario: a security researcher discovers a 0-day WordPress vulnerability and wants to make a blanket statement to the effect: 30% of all WordPress sites are vulnerable to this 0-day exploit. So they have to test it. Well, I don’t want to be anyone’s statistic. So no thank you.

But I don’t have time to deal with any of that. It’s one strike and you’re out at my site: I block every single one of these IPs doing these things, even based on a single offense.

Actual example hacks

Here are some from November 2020: - - [22/Nov/2020:13:31:13 -0500] 704 "GET /blog/ HTTP/1.1" 200 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/88.0.4240.193 Safari/537.36" 818 - - [22/Nov/2020:13:31:14 -0500] 1 "GET /blog//wp-includes/wlwmanifest.xml HTTP/1.1" 200 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/88.0.4240.193 Safari/537.36" 386 - - [22/Nov/2020:13:31:14 -0500] 409 "GET /blog//wp-login.php HTTP/1.1" 404 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/88.0.4240.193 Safari/537.36" 371

Note the access at the end to /blog//wp-login.php, a link which does not exist on my site! I imagine the user agent is spoofed. Fate: never again to access my site. - - [22/Nov/2020:12:31:43 -0500] 26103 "POST /blog//xmlrpc.php HTTP/1.1" 200 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/88.0.4240.193 Safari/537.36" 1094

This one (above) is an xmlrpc.php example. The next one is a bit more infuriating to me – a blatant command injection attempt: - - [22/Nov/2020:09:58:43 -0500] 673 "GET /blog/ HTTP/1.1" 200 "\\think\\app/invokefunction&function=call_user_func_array&vars[0]=md5&vars[1][]=HelloThinkPHP21" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/78.0.3904.108 Safari/537.36" 743

I caught it due to the presence of index.php – another string which does not have a legit reason to appear in my access log, AFAIK.

Then there’s the bot trying to pull a non-existent .env (which, if it existed, might have contained environment variables which might have provided hints about the inner workings of the site): - - [22/Nov/2020:09:48:59 -0500] 1248 "GET /.env HTTP/1.1" 404 "-" "python-requests/2.25.0" 184

The 404 status code means not found.

And this one may be trying to convey a message. I don’t like it: - - [12/Nov/2020:00:24:00 -0500] 623 "GET /blog/2011/08/http://Idonthaveanywebsite... HTTP/1.1" 301 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MJ12bot/v1.4.8;" 723


By looking for specific strings I realize I am implementing a very poor man’s version of a Web Application Firewall. Commercial WAFs are amazing to me – I know because i work with them. They have thousands of signatures, positive and negative matches, stuff you’d never even dream about. I can’t afford one for my self-hosted and self-funded site.

A word about command injection

If you look at the top 10 web site exploits, command injection is #1. A bunch of security vendors got together to help web site operators understand the most common threats by cataloging and explaining them in easy-to-understand terms. It’s pretty interesting.


Sadly, the most common visitor to me web site are bots up to no good. I have documented whose hitting me up in real time, in case this proves to be of interest to the security community. Actual offending lines from my access file have been provided to make everything more concrete.

I have offered a very brief security discussion.

I don’t know who’s hacking me, or what’s hacking me, but I have shared a lot of information not commonly shared.

References and related

A great commercial web application firewall (WAF) is offered by F5.

Here’s the link to the top 10 web site exploits in clear language:

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