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Let's Encrypt certificates

Today, our in-house developed hosting Control Panel got another feature - an installation utility for the SSL certificates of Let's Encrypt. Our customers can now install Let's Encrypt certificates for any of the domains they host with us.

Let's Encrypt is a certificate authority that provides free domain-validated SSL certificates. Its activity is aimed towards providing secure connection between users and servers, and making encrypted communication a standard on the Internet.

The new utility in the hosting Control Panel provides very easy installation and management of Let's Encrypt certificates - a certificate is requested with a single click, and the whole validation process and following renewals are done automatically on the server side.

The use of Let's Encrypt certificates on our servers is completely free for our customers.


Critical vulnerability in ImageMagick discovered and immediately resolved on our servers

Recently, sources on the Internet reported a critical security vulnerability in the ImageMagick library. ImageMagick is a popular image processing utility for web sites, and it is utilized by many image processing plugins and tools. The vulnerability allows execution of remote code and file manipulation on the server.

Server security is a concern of an utmost importance, and our system administrators are constantly monitoring servers software and security lists, to make sure that our service is as safe as possible.

To mitigate the specific security problem, our system administrators immediately applied ImageMagick policy restrictions on all servers. The additional policy blocks certain ImageMagick features, such as the inclusion of remote data and operations with mvg files. The policy effectively resolves the problem with the specific vulnerability. Although unlikely, it is also possible that the policy would break some features of image processing tools and plugins. Nevertheless, we decided that the benefits of the additional restrictions outweigh the risks, as keeping our customers' data safe is of the highest priority for us.

A secure version of ImageMagick without additional restrictions will be mass-deployed on all servers as soon as it is released by its developers.


Highly-critical SQL injection vulnerability for Drupal - mass-fixed on our servers

On Oct 15, 2014, Drupal developers issued a notification of a critical SQL injection vulnerability, which affected all current Drupal 7.x versions. More information on the matter can be found at https://www.drupal.org/SA-CORE-2014-005.

The existing proof of concept allowed hackers to turn the SQL injection vulnerability into a remote code execution / file upload, and there are reports of many hack attempts against Drupal sites on the Internet. To protect the Drupal sites of our customers until they update their installations, we patched over 3000 Drupal installations on our servers. The applied patch does not affect the operation of the sites, but eliminate the threat which is a result of the announced vulnerability.

Customers still must update their Drupal installations to the latest version from Drupal.org.


WordPress sites with us are now protected against botnet brute-force attacks

During the last week, there is a massive botnet attack against random WordPress sites on the Internet, attempting to brute-force their administrative sections.

To protect the WordPress sites of our customers, we have set up an automatic brute-force protection for all of them. In case of too many unsuccessful login attempts against a WordPress site, its administrative section login screen will start to display a static page, thus not allowing the botnet to make further password-guessing attempts. When the unsuccessful login attempts cease, the WordPress login screen will return to a normal state.

Internet abuse becomes a more serious problem each day. Thousands of botnets are operating online to spread viruses, steal passwords and identities, send spam, etc. With this protection, our aim is to add more security to WordPress-based sites on our servers. Also, we strongly advise our customers to keep their site software, including themes and plugins, always up-to-date. Very often login credentials are stolen from local computers, therefore everyone must keep their local system protected against viruses and malware.


Prevention of unauthorized access to customer mailboxes

As a part of our security and abuse prevention plan, today we automatically changed the passwords of all mailboxes on our servers, which we found to be insecure. The weak password detection was performed by using automated tools utilizing swaks (Swiss Army Knife SMTP) and simple brute-force attempts, performed on our side against each mailbox.

Weak passwords may result in successful authentication attempts from malicious users which will lead to spam transmitted from our servers through the hacked mailboxes. To prevent this, we will continue to perform such security tests in the future. This will help us fight outgoing spam from our servers, also this will improve the security of the mailboxes of our customers by preventing unauthorized access to their mailboxes and the content there.

We consider weak passwords most popular words, as well as keyboard combinations such as "qwerty"," asdf", "qaz", etc, combinations such as "1234", "abcdef", "aaaa", "11111" and all similar. Also, there are other patterns of weak passwords and hack attempts such as password same as the mailbox username, email user@domain.com with a password "user1", passwords strings "password", "passw0rd", "changeme", etc.

We recommend to all customers to be careful when choosing the password for their mailboxes. A strong password is considered to be a string of at least 8 symbols, which contain letters and numbers. Having upper and lower cases also increases password security, as passwords are case sensitive.