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WordPress security researchers at Wordfence reported that a flaw in the OptinMonster WordPress plugin was found to allow hackers to upload malicious scripts to attack site visitors and lead to full site takeovers. Failure to perform a basic security check exposes over a million sites to potential hacking events.
“…we detailed a flaw in the OptinMonster plugin that enabled a dangerous exploit chain which made it possible for unauthenticated attackers to retrieve a site’s sensitive data and gain unauthorized access to OptinMonster user accounts, which could be used to add malicious scripts to vulnerable sites.”Lack of REST-API Endpoint Capability Checking
This vulnerability isn’t due to hackers being really smart and finding a clever way to exploit a perfectly coded WordPress plugin. Quite the opposite.
According to security researchers at popular WordPress security company Wordfence, the exploit was due to a failure in the WordPress REST-API implementation in the OptinMonster WordPress plugin which resulted in “insufficient capability checking.”
When properly coded, REST-API is a secure method to extend WordPress functionality by allowing plugins and themes to interact with a WordPress site for managing and publishing content. It allows a plugin or theme to interact directly with the website database without compromising security… if properly coded.
The WordPress REST-API documentation states:
“…the most important thing to understand about the API is that it enables the block editor and modern plugin interfaces without compromising the security or privacy of your site.”
The WordPress REST-API is supposed to be secure.
Unfortunately, all websites using OptinMonster had their security compromised because of how OptinMonster implemented the WordPress REST-API.Majority of REST-API Endpoints Compromised
REST-API endpoints are URLs that represent the posts and pages on a WordPress site that a plugin or theme can modify and manipulate.
But according to Wordfence, almost every single REST-API endpoint in OptinMonster was improperly coded, compromising website security.
“…the majority of the REST-API endpoints were insecurely implemented, making it possible for unauthenticated attackers to access many of the various endpoints on sites running a vulnerable version of the plugin.
…nearly every other REST-API endpoint registered in the plugin was vulnerable to authorization bypass due to insufficient capability checking allowing unauthenticated visitors, or in some cases authenticated users with minimal permissions, to perform unauthorized actions.”
Unauthenticated means an attacker that isn’t registered in any way with the website being attacked.
Some vulnerabilities require an attacker to be registered as a subscriber or contributor, which makes it a little harder to attack a site, especially if a site doesn’t accept subscriber registrations.
This vulnerability had no such barrier at all, no authentication was necessary to exploit OptinMonster, which is a worst-case scenario compared to authenticated exploits.
Wordfence warned about how bad an attack on a website using OptinMonster could be:
Wordfence notified the publishers of OptinMonster and about ten days later released an updated version of the OptinMonster that plugged all of the security holes.
The most secure version of OptinMonster is version 2.6.5.
Wordfence recommends that all users of the OptinMonster update their plugin:
“We recommend that WordPress users immediately verify that their site has been updated to the latest patched version available, which is version 2.6.5 at the time of this publication.”
WordPress offers documentation on best practices for REST-API and asserts that it is a secure technology.
So if these kinds of security issues aren’t supposed to occur, why do they keep on happening?
The WordPress documentation on best practices for the REST-API states:
“…it enables the block editor and modern plugin interfaces without compromising the security or privacy of your site.”
With over a million sites affected by this vulnerability one has to wonder why, if best practices exist, this kind of vulnerability happened on the highly popular OptinMonster plugin.
While this isn’t the fault of WordPress itself, this kind of thing does reflect negatively on the entire WordPress ecosystem.Citation Read the Report About OptinMonster at Wordfence
1,000,000 Sites Affected by OptinMonster Vulnerabilities
You're reading WordPress Plugin Optinmonster Vulnerability Affects +1 Million Sites
Security researchers at Jetpack discovered two serious vulnerabilities in the All In One SEO Plugin. The vulnerabilities could allow a hacker to access usernames and passwords and also perform remote code execution exploits.
The vulnerabilities are dependent on each other in order to be successful. The first one is called a Privilege Escalation Attack, which allows a user with a low level of website access privilege (like a subscriber) to raise their privilege level to one with more access privileges (like a website administrator).
The security researchers at Jetpack describe the vulnerability as severe and warn of the following consequences:
“If exploited, the SQL Injection vulnerability could grant attackers access to privileged information from the affected site’s database (e.g., usernames and hashed passwords).”Authenticated Privilege Escalation
One of the exploits is an Authenticated Privilege Escalation vulnerability that exploits the WordPress REST API, allowing an attacker to access usernames and passwords.
The REST API is a way for plugin developers to interact with the WordPress installation in a secure manner to enable functionalities that do not compromise security.
This vulnerability exploits the WordPress REST API endpoints (URLs representing posts, etc.). Attacks on the REST API are increasingly a weak point in WordPress security.
But it’s not the fault of WordPress because the REST API is designed with security in mind.
The fault, if fingers must be pointed, lies entirely with the plugins.
In the All In One SEO plugin the problem was in the security checks that verify if a user accessing an API endpoint had the right privilege credentials.
According to Jetpack:
“The privilege checks applied by All In One SEO to secure REST API endpoints contained a very subtle bug that could’ve granted users with low-privileged accounts (like subscribers) access to every single endpoint the plugin registers.
Hmm… Right?Authenticated SQL Injection
The second exploit is an Authenticated SQL Injection. This relies on an attacker first having some user credentials, even one as low as a website subscriber.
A SQL injection is the exploitation of an input with an unexpected series of code or characters which then enables the exploit, like providing access.
The non-profit Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) site defines a SQL Injection like this:
“An unintended data enters a program from an untrusted source.
The data is used to dynamically construct a SQL query”
Jetpack notes that the privilege escalation vulnerability allows an attacker to then mount the Authenticated SQL Injection attack.
“While this endpoint wasn’t meant to be accessible to users with low-privileged accounts, the aforementioned privilege escalation attack vector made it possible for them to abuse this vulnerability.”Updating SEO Plugin Recommended
This vulnerability affects versions 4.0.0 through 18.104.22.168. The latest version at this time, 22.214.171.124 is the safest version to update to. The security researchers at Jetpack recommend updating to the latest version.Citations Read the Jetpack vulnerability report:
Severe Vulnerabilities Fixed in All In One SEO Plugin Version 126.96.36.199Read What a SQL Injection Is
Google has updated its official Web Stories plugin for WordPress with the ability to embed content on webpages.
Since the launch of the Web Stories plugin it has offered robust creation tools, but users were on their own when it came to embedding the content they created.
WordPress site owners can now create Web Stories and embed them using the same tool. The update also offers the ability to embed Web Stories from other sites.
In addition to easier embedding, the plugin update makes it possible to integrate Web Stories into the theme customization process, and they can now be used with the Classic Editor.
Here’s more about how to embed Web Stories using the plugin.Web Stories Gutenberg Block
To embed Web Stories into WordPress webpages start by inserting a Web Stories block.
The block will give site owners three options for embedding Web Stories into a webpage or blog post:
Latest Stories: Display most recent stories, with filtering and sorting options. The list automatically updates as new stories are published.
Selected Stories: Display a list of handpicked stories.
Single Story: Embed a single story by providing its URL.
Site owners will then be asked to choose how they want their Web Stories displayed. The options are a carousel, a grid, or a list.
This new Web Stories block allows stories to be displayed anywhere blocks can be used.
This may encourage more site owners to use Web Stories, which can be an effective way to diversify sources of organic traffic.
Web Stories appear in search results and, recently, Google Discover. This gives site owners more ways for their content to get found across Google.
Think about how great it would look for a site to dominate the first page of search results with Web Stories and traditional web content.
Web Stories currently appear in Google Search & Discover in the US, India, and Brazil. Search Advocate John Mueller has stated Web Stories may be expanded to more countries if more sites start using them.
For site owners who are not sure whether to add Web Stories to their content marketing strategy, see this Web Stories guide for marketers written by Helen Pollitt. It’s likely to answer most questions people have regarding the benefits of using this content format.
For some not-so-obvious SEO tips on using Web Stories, see this guide from Brodie Clark. It teaches site owners how to do things like add meta data and Schema markup, and how to track the performance of Web Stories in Google Analytics.
Lastly, site owners should be aware that the quality of Web Stories matters when it comes to appearing in search results. Google has explicitly warned site owners against using Web Stories as a teaser for other content, saying those won’t be ranked in search results.
Source: Google Web Creators
Following a successful launch in 2023 ClinTex has been developing CTi-OEM, a blockchain app focused on using data analytics to enhance operational efficiency in clinical trials.
Due to the success of the CTi presale (in which the soft-cap target was achieved) and the swift development of the platform, ClinTex chose not to go ahead with the final stage of its IEO. Instead, the company chose to continue with a secure CTi token listing on top cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin and sustain the impressive momentum that the project had started to gather.
CTi Token giveaway
Clintex will be giving away over $1 million USD in CTi tokens to its community through a unique staking program designed to offer maximum benefit to its participants. The program is an opportunity for participants to earn as much as 40% interest to participants for staking CTi tokens over three different staking options.
The staking program will see ClinTex distribute a total of 18.5 Million CTi tokens to participants from 1st April 2023 to September 30th, when the first app is due for release. Because CTi is a single asset, participants of the program can earn high yield rewards by sending their CTi to the staking pool and will receive their stake and rewards after their staking time has elapsed.
Staking And Rewards
There are three options for CTi token staking, one month, three months or 5 months: with the highest interest rewards going to the longest staking term. One month stakers will be rewarded with 6% returns, a three-month stake offers a sizable 21% return and 5-month stakers will get a massive 40% return on their CTi tokens. For example, a 5-month stake of 1000 tokens would yield a 1,400 CTi return.
Token stakers will also have the option to increase their staking rewards even further with ‘Compound Staking’, an added benefit that allows for an additional staking period after the initial staking time has elapsed.
Anyone staking 1,000 CTi for 30 days will earn a return of 1,060 CTi but if they were to stake for an additional 30 days they would earn additional interest on the first months profits, increasing their rate of 6% to 12.36% and receiving a more substantial 1,236 CTi in the process.
Start Staking Now
Anyone can take part in the CTi staking program for the next 6 months, which is set to end at the same time as the launch of the first CTi app. Staking has now launched on the ClinTex website. Interested parties will require a web3 cryptocurrency wallet such as Metamask to take part in the program
Clintex: A Blockchain Solution For Clinical Trials
ClinTex is a scalable blockchain platform built for clinical trials, to serve as a single source of truth for the clinical trial and pharma ecosystem and designed for wide adoption by the stakeholders of the ecosystem.
In recent years the standards in the clinical trials industry have fallen, with hugely inflated costs and massive trial delays becoming the norm. The average cost of getting a new drug on the market today is an eye-watering $2.5 billion, and some trials can take as long as 10 years to be approved.
Distributed ledger technology has the potential to revolutionise the clinical trials industry and solve these growing issues. ClinTex stands head and shoulders from its peers with its fully scalable blockchain platform for the development of real-world clinical trials.
ClinTex will be the first company to deliver real-world solutions in the clinical trial industry with blockchain technology and AI, integrated with clinical data sources to make a positive lasting impact on a global issue.
ClinTex staking program represents a great opportunity to be involved in a potential industry-changing shift and is also a potentially rare investment opportunity for CTi holders. Join the CTi staking program to start earning up to 40% rewards for a 5-month stake.
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As part of our professional development (PD) at Two Rivers Public Charter School, we meet at least three times a semester with a group of colleagues to analyze student work. We do this to inform our instructional planning and design. We explore and gain feedback on questions like:
What stage are students in their understanding of and competency with the knowledge and skills we’re teaching?
What essential knowledge and core skills are assessed by the assignment?
What are next steps for teaching this skill to students?
This protocol helps us identify potential gaps between learning objectives and student mastery, come up with solutions to meet our students’ needs, and improve our teaching practice. Here are step-by-step instructions and a video on how to adapt this PD protocol at your school.
Bringing your students’ work to be critiqued by your colleagues may not be easy at first—in fact, it can make you feel vulnerable. But it’s in that vulnerability that you will find strength and support from both yourself and your colleagues.
At our school, we bare it all. We lay it all on the table—the good, the bad, and the ugly. We do this without ego, and we do this in order to become better teachers for our students. We do this because our leadership does a lot of work to cultivate trust in our staff. We set norms to work together. We also work hard to value each teacher’s different strengths. We take risks and honor the need to have difficult conversations. We are convinced that we learn better together and that our work benefits from the perspective of others. Many school-wide practices and routines are in place to allow us to do this, but nowhere is our willingness to be vulnerable more present than when we look at student work together.
How We Look at Student Work
When we look at student work, we share it honestly and with no filters. We gather with a group of teachers from different grade levels and content areas. The work is presented with minimal introduction and then discussed. The presenting teacher does not speak but listens, and then joins the conversation at the end after having had a chance to process all that has been gleaned from their students’ work.
Your Value as a Teacher Is Not Based on One Lesson
In order for this to be a useful experience, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable as professionals. We must first see ourselves as separate from our teacher selves. We are not just teachers. This separation helps us to see our work objectively. One crappy lesson does not a crappy person make, much like a brilliant lesson does not mean you are a brilliant person. We all have learning to do as teachers, and both the teacher who presents and the teachers who critique are enriched by this experience.
It’s Not About You, It’s About the Work
Needless to say, it can be terrifying to present work to your peers and ask them to judge your planning and design. Thoughts like, “What if they think I’m a terrible teacher?” are common. You are essentially asking fellow teachers to evaluate how well you have taught something—as evidenced in the work presented in front of them—which can be scary! Pushing past that discomfort is crucial. It is essential that when you bring work to the table, you don’t take things personally. It’s about the work, not you. With practice, this gets easier.
Though our leadership does a ton of work to set up structures that encourage trust, no real growth can happen unless each teacher commits to taking and sharing professional risks. If you allow yourself to be vulnerable—if you can be open to critique—the benefits can be astounding. Your perspective can widen to encompass the vision of your entire team. If you remain open and vulnerable, your work gets exponentially better. Being open to critique can yield richness beyond belief. This does not happen if you are not honest, or are trying to show off your best work. You must expose your weaknesses.
Trust Your Team
None if this can be done without a team that you know will not judge you personally. You need to be able to trust that they have the interest of the students at heart, will be fully present, and will analyze your students’ work with all of their teacher brain powers. I am lucky to be at a school where our leadership actively and intentionally cultivates trust among our staff. If you feel isolated at your school, reach out to like-minded colleagues. It can seem daunting, but don’t let that discourage you! The effort it takes to create and nurture professional relationships is worth it.
My first year teaching, I was at a school where there was not a lot of support or efforts to build trust. It was a large high school with hundreds of teachers. What made that year a resounding success for me was that I found two teachers that I could depend and rely on. As a first-year newbie, I failed many times, and I was able to see those failures as growth opportunities because of my tiny, trustful group. Once you create a group of like-minded colleagues, expose your struggles. That is an important first step toward establishing trust. When we shared our difficulties and strategized for improvement, it also built trust in our group. Though my colleague group was not facilitated by that school’s administration, the group was helpful—it allowed us to be vulnerable and truly hear others’ perspectives.
Valuing and trusting a wide range of perspectives is key. Although I now teach 6th-grade English language arts, I know that an early childhood teacher or a math teacher can view the work in a way that I would never have thought, which is invaluable. I can also gain important teacher wisdom by looking at their students’ work as we engage in these professional conversations.
A Culture of Colleagues
Looking at student work together has an immediate positive impact on the work we do in the classroom with our students. It’s like having a six-person super brain helping you plan your next lesson. However, part of the benefit of this practice is that it perpetuates a culture of trust outside of these conversations. Because I know I can be vulnerable while looking at student work, I also know I can seek help at other times. If I’m feeling that something is not going well in my classroom, I know that there are a host of teachers willing to help me think things through objectively. That is one of the most awesome things about our school. Our professional community allows us—even when the work is challenging—to feel that we are not alone in the work.
How have you been able to build trust?
If you can circumnavigate the slightly tangled selection of products and explore the inner workings of both the hosting and email on offer then 1&1 IONOS should not disappoint. For additional reassurance there’s a 30-day money back guarantee, and overall it’s one of the better choices for hosting your website right now.
GoDaddy. Now that it has morphed into 1&1 IONOS – vacuuming up ProfitBricks as it went – the company hopes it has been able to beef up the appeal of its hosting packages still further.Pricing & plans
The current array of options if you’re looking at 1&1 IONOS is substantial to say the least and it does have something for everyone. In fact, 1&1 IONOS is effectively a one-stop-shop for anything related to online activities and the internet.
It offers domain names and registration services, web hosting, WordPress hosting, email packages, e-commerce services, online marketing as well as server packages and Cloud Solutions on a choice of Linux or Windows-based servers. It also throws in an SSL certificate for good measure.
You can have some or all of this depending on what you’re after, and you can make additions to your bundle choice as you go. This is useful if you’re a business that’s expanding.
As is the case with all web hosting companies the deals come and go, but there’s always something of value to choose from with shared hosting being an ideal option if you’re starting out. You’re basically housed on a server with other sites, which is fine for fledgling operations such as a new small business.
If you’re a newbie then what’s available can be a little bewildering, but the prices are certainly competitive. The best example of this is the Web Hosting Business package, which is 12 months at just £1 / $1 a month. It then moves to £5 / $8 a month excluding VAT or local taxes.
You get 100GB of storage, 25 email accounts (each of those comes with 2GB of storage) plus a meaty 25 databases and PHP 7.3 with backend performance to match. That’s vital if you expect – and get – lots of site visitors. Look out for free incentives such as a free domain name (chargeable later though), lots of web design software and support for all popular applications such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
For alternatives, check out our roundup of the best web hosting services.Ease of use
There are also free images for making your website. If you’re after a simple online website building package then 1&1 IONOS has that too, with an option that can be easily found in your account area. This is pretty impressive and that’s boosted by its usability, which is nicely targeted towards those with little in the way of web design flair or technical knowledge.
To begin building a site the easy way you can choose a template design from the selection on offer and then add your own custom touch to the way it looks. Tools for doing this are fuss free and require no prior experience to master.
In fact, once you’ve got to grips with the toolbars themselves you soon find that it’s possible to create very presentable pages that can be published just as easily as they can be built. There are a few power tools within the options here too, so it’s also possible to spice up your content with more dynamic elements.
At the same time, everything is accessible without needing much in the way of nous when it comes to website building. It’s actually an enjoyable experience.Support
Customer support seems to be improving compared to the rather confusing means of getting answers to questions that used to be common with 1&1. There’s a 24/7 helpline if you need to phone them, plus email support and a community area too. Reminders for things like hosting renewals along with paying to keep your domain registered are better than they were, but we think that some of the wording in communications can still be a little clunky.
It’s also easy to miss things if you’re busy – and we all are – so a clearer way of flagging up essential communications to customers would be a welcome improvement within the 1&1 IONOS packages.Verdict
If you can circumnavigate the slightly tangled selection of products and explore the inner workings of both the hosting and email on offer then 1&1 IONOS should not disappoint. For additional reassurance there’s a 30-day money back guarantee, and overall we think it’s one of the better choices for hosting your website right now.
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