Archive for the ‘Wordpress’ Category

Improve wordpress admin password encryption authentication keys security with WordPress Unique Authentication Keys and Salts

Friday, October 9th, 2020

wordpress-improve-security-logo-linux

Having a wordpress blog or website with an admistrator and access via a Secured SSL channel is common nowadays. However there are plenty of SSL encryption leaks already out there and many of which are either slow to be patched or the hosting companies does not care enough to patch on time the libssl Linux libraries / webserver level. Taking that in consideration many websites hosted on some unmaintained one-time run not-frequently updated Linux servers are still vulneable and it might happen that, if you paid for some shared hosting in the past and someone else besides you hosted the website and forget you even your wordpress installation is still living on one of this SSL vulnerable hosts. In situations like that malicious hackers could break up the SSL security up to some level or even if the SSL is secured use MITM (MAN IN THE MIDDLE) attack to simulate your well secured and trusted SSID Name WIFi network to  redirects the network traffic you use (via an SSL transparent Proxy) to connect to WordPress Administrator Dashbiard via https://your-domain.com/wp-admin. Once your traffic is going through the malicious hax0r even if you haven't used the password to authenticate every time, e.g. you have saved the password in browser and WordPress Admin Panel authentication is achieved via a Cookie the cookies generated and used one time by Woddpress site could be easily stealed one time and later from the vicious 1337 h4x0r and reverse the hash with an interceptor Tool and login to your wordpress …

Therefore to improve the wordpress site security it very important to have configured WordPress Unique Authentication Keys and Salts (known also as the WordPress security keys).

They're used by WordPress installation to have a uniquely generated different key and Salt from the default one to the opened WordPress Blog / Site Admin session every time.

So what are the Authentication Unique Keys and Salts and why they are Used?

Like with almost any other web application, when PHP session is opened to WordPress, the code creates a number of Cookies stored locally on your computer.

Two of the cookies created are called:

 wordpress_[hash]
wordpress_logged_in_[hash]

First  cookie is used only in the admin pages (WordPress dashboard), while the second cookie is used throughout WordPress to determine if you are logged in to WordPress or not. Note: [hash] is a random hashed value typically assigned to your session, therefore in reality the cookies name would be named something like wordpress_ffc02f68bc9926448e9222893b6c29a9.

WordPress session stores your authentication details (i.e. WordPress username and password) in both of the above mentioned cookies.

The authentication details are hashed, hence it is almost impossible for anyone to reverse the hash and guess your password through a cookie should it be stolen. By almost impossible it also means that with today’s computers it is practically unfeasible to do so.

WordPress security keys are made up of four authentication keys and four hashing salts (random generated data) that when used together they add an extra layer to your cookies and passwords. 

The authentication details in these cookies are hashed using the random pattern specified in the WordPress security keys. I will not get into too much details but as you might have heard in Cryptography Salts and Keys are important – an indepth explanation on Salts Cryptography (here). A good reading for those who want to know more on how does the authentication based and salts work is on stackexchange.

How to Set up Salt and Key Authentication on WordPress
 

To be used by WP Salts and Key should be configured under wp-config.php usually they look like so:

wordpress-website-blog-salts-keys-wp-config-screenshot-linux

!!! Note !!!  that generating (manually or generated via a random generator program), the definition strings you have to use a random string value of more than 60 characters to prevent predictability 

The default on any newly installed WordPress Website is to have the 4 definitions with _KEY and the four _SALTs to be unconfigured strings looks something like:

default-WordPress-security-keys-and-salts-entries-in-wordPress-wp-config-php-file

Most people never ever take a look at wp-config.php as only the Web GUI Is used for any maintainance, tasks so there is a great chance that if you never heard specifically by some WordPress Security Expert forum or some Security plugin (such as WP Titan Anti Spam & Security) installed to report the WP KEY / SALT you might have never noticed it in the config.

There are 8 WordPress security keys in current WP Installs, but not all of them have been introduced at the same time.
Historically they were introduced in WP versions in below order:

WordPress 2.6: AUTH_KEY, SECURE_AUTH_KEY, LOGGED_IN_KEY
WordPress 2.7: NONCE_KEY
WordPress 3.0: AUTH_SALT, SECURE_AUTH_SALT, LOGGED_IN_SALT, NONCE_SALT

Setting a custom random generated values is an easy task as there is already online Wordpress Security key Random generator.
You can visit above address and you will get an automatic randomly generated values which could be straight copy / pasted to your wp-config.php.

Howeever if you're a paranoic on the guessability of the random generator algorithm, I would advice you use the generator and change some random values yourself on each of the 8 line, the end result in the configuration should be something similar to:

 

define('AUTH_KEY',         '|w+=W(od$V|^hy$F5w)g6O-:e[WI=NHY/!Ez@grd5=##!;jHle_vFPqz}D5|+87Q');
define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'rGReh.<%QBJ{DP )p=BfYmp6fHmIG~ePeHC[MtDxZiZD;;_OMp`sVcKH:JAqe$dA');
define('LOGGED_IN_KEY',    '%v8mQ!)jYvzG(eCt>)bdr+Rpy5@t fTm5fb:o?@aVzDQw8T[w+aoQ{g0ZW`7F-44');
define('NONCE_KEY',        '$o9FfF{S@Z-(/F-.6fC/}+K 6-?V.XG#MU^s?4Z,4vQ)/~-[D.X0<+ly0W9L3,Pj');
define('AUTH_SALT',        ':]/2K1j(4I:DPJ`(,rK!qYt_~n8uSf>=4`{?LC]%%KWm6@j|aht@R.i*ZfgS4lsj');
define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'XY{~:{P&P0Vw6^i44Op*nDeXd.Ec+|c=S~BYcH!^j39VNr#&FK~wq.3wZle_?oq-');
define('LOGGED_IN_SALT',   '8D|2+uKX;F!v~8-Va20=*d3nb#4|-fv0$ND~s=7>N|/-2]rk@F`DKVoh5Y5i,w*K');
define('NONCE_SALT',       'ho[<2C~z/:{ocwD{T-w+!+r2394xasz*N-V;_>AWDUaPEh`V4KO1,h&+c>c?jC$H');

 


Wordpress-auth-key-secure-auth-salt-Linux-wordpress-admin-security-hardening

Once above defines are set, do not forget to comment or remove old AUTH_KEY / SECURE_AUTH_KEY / LOGGED_IN_KEY / AUTH_SALT / SECURE_AUTH_SALT / LOGGED_IN_SALT /NONCE_SALT keys.

The values are configured one time and never have to be changed, WordPress installation automatic updates or Installed WP Plugins will not tamper the value with time.
You should never expand or show your private generated keys to anyone otherwise this could be used to hack your website site.
It is also a good security practice to change this keys, especially if you have some suspects someone has somehow stolen your wp-onfig keys. 
 

Closure

Having AUTH KEYs and Properly configured is essential step to improve your WordPress site security. Anytime having any doubt for a browser hijacked session (or if you have logged in) to your /wp-admin via unsecured public Computer with a chance of a stolen site cookies you should reset keys / salts to a new random values. Setting the auth keys is not a panacea and frequent WP site core updates and plugins should be made to secure your install. Always do frequent audits to WP owned websites with a tool such as WPScan is essential to keep your WP Website unhacked.

 

 

Helpful Hints For Starting A Small WordPress Website or Ecomerce Business

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

hints-for-starting-wordpress-site

Wordpress is the web application collection of PHP program behind thirty four percent (43%) of the internet’s websites, and fifteen percent (50%) of the top one hundred websites in the world, so if you’re considering it for your website then you’re perhaps thinking in the right direction. Small start-up projects a community website or even a small personal owned blog or mid to even large business presentation site  can benefit greatly from setting up their Web Platrform or Ecommerce shops on a WordPress website platform (that of itself depends just on a small number of technologies such as a Linux server with a Web Server installed on it to serve PHP as well as some kind of Linux host installed Database  backend engine such as MYSQL / PostgreSQL etc. …

But if you really want to create a successful ecommerce website on WordPress, that can seem a little intimidating at first as the general complexity to start up with WordPress looks very scary in the beginning. However in this article I’ll point to fewhelpful hints should get you off on the right foot, and make your entry into the world of Wodpress / WP Ecommerce a little easier and less scary.

This article is to be less technical than expected and in that will contrast slightly with many of the articles on this blog, the target audience is more of Web Marketing Manager or a Start-up Search Engine Optimization person at a small personal project or employed in the big bad corporate world.This is no something new that is going to be outlined in this article but a general rules that are known for the professional SEO Gurus but is most likely to be helpful for the starting persons.

If you happen to be one of these you should know you have to follow a set of well known rules on the website structure text, descriptions, text, orientation, ordering of menus and data etc. in order to have the WordPress based website running at full speed attracting more visitors to your site.
 

Photos
 

 

Importance of Photos on a Webiste
Although the text for your website is very important – more on that later – when a user first opens up your website in their browser, their eyes are going to be caught by the images that you have laid out on your website. Not using images is a big mistake, since it bores users’ eyes and makes your website seem amateur and basic, but using low quality images or irrelevant images can also harm your chances of appearing authentic to a user (yes here on this blog there are some of this low quality pictures but this is due to fact this website is more of information blog and not ecommerce. Thus at best case always make sure that you find the best, high-quality images for your website – make sure that you have the correct rights to use the images as well (as copyright infrignmenets) could cause you even a law suits ending in hundred or thousand dollar fines or even if this doesn't happen any publicity of such would reduce your website indexing rating. The images placed should always be relevant to your website. If you find a breath-taking sunset or tech-gadget picture, that’s great, but maybe not for your healthy food ecommerce store, but for your personal ranting or describing a personal experience.

 

Product Photos


Assuming that sooner or later even if you have a community website you will want to monerize it to bring back to yourself in material form at least part of the many years effort to bring the site to the web rank gained.
Leading on from that point, you’re going to be selling or advertise items – that’s the whole point of ecommerce. But users often find ads / online shopping frustrating due to not being able to properly see and understand what they’re buying before they make their purchase. This can lead to ‘buyer’s remorse’, and, consequently, refunds galore, which is not what you want. Make sure that images of your products are always available and of a high quality – investing in a fairly high quality camera might be a good idea – and consider many pictures for different angles or even rotating images so that the user can decide for themself which angle they want to look at.

 

Engaging Descriptions


“I can guarantee that you can’t remember the last five product descriptions you read – not even word-for-word, but the general ideas and vocabulary used will have been tossed into your short-term memory and forgotten in an instant. This is where your website can shine, and become better than ninety percent of those lingering on the internet,” Matthew Kelly, a project manager at WriteMyX and NextCoursework, suggests, “since putting effort into writing your product descriptions and making them lively and engaging will make your website memorable, and your subscribers will turn helpfully soon loyal customers will be more likely to come back time and time again and become repeat business, as well as mention you to their friends (social mounth to mouth marketing) and that way working as free advertising for you and making your website incredibly effective.”

 

Mobile-Friendly

 

Which device is most used to check email Laptop / PC or Mobile statistics as of year 2019

These days with the bloom of Mobile Devices that are currently overrunning the user of normal Desktop PCs, Laptops and Tablets and this trend is likely to stay and even increase, “If your website isn’t mobile-friendly in this day and age, then you won’t get anywhere with it.” Anne Baker, a marketer at BritStudent and Australia2Write, states. “Most people use their phones when they access websites, especially when they go shopping on the internet.

Statistics on user stay (secs / mins) stay on a website from Desktop PC and Mobile devices

On WordPress, this means finding a more recent theme – an older theme, maybe four-five years old, will probably not support mobile, and you just can’t afford to lose out on the mobile market.” In short, find yourself a mobile-friendly theme or install the right WordPress Pluguin that will enable you to have a Mobile Friendly theme in case if blog is accessed from a Mobile Dev or many of your customers will become frustrated with the badly formatted ‘mobile’ version of your website that they end up using, which might be for instance meant for a much larger screen. It can also ruin the atmosphere (experience) created at the accessed user site and have negative impact on your audience opion of your site or business. This is even more the case  if your website or webapp is targetting to be modern and keeping with the times – or especially if it deals with IT and electronics (where the competition is huge)!

 

Registration

 

Registration Ecommerce website

Registration form (Sign Up) on a website and the overall business cycle idea behind web product or business is of critical importance as this is the point that will guarantee intimidation with the customer, failing to have the person be engaged will quickly make your website rank lower and your producs less wanted. The general rule here is to make your registration be an easy (to orientate for the user) and be present on a very visible place on the site.

Registration steps should be as less as possible as this might piss off the user and repel him out of the site before the registration is completed. Showing oportunity to register with a Pop-Up window (while the user clicks on a place showing interest for the produce might be useful in some cases but generally might also push the user back so if you decide to implement it do it with a lot of care (beware of too much aggressive marketing on our site).

An example


The registration process should be as intimidating as possible to leave joy in the user that might later return and log in to your site or ecommerce platform, e.g. be interested to stay for a longer time. The marketing tactic aiming to make the user stay for a longer time on the website (dragging his attention / interest to stuff)  is nothing new by the way as it is well known marketing rule integrated in every supermarket you buy groceries, where all is made to keep you in the shop for as longer as possible. Research has shown that spending longer time within the supermarket makes the user buy more.

 

Returning customers can be intimidated with membership or a free gift (be it even virtual picture gift – free email whatever) or information store place could be given or if products are sold, registration will be obligatory to make them use their payment method or delivery address on next login to easify the buy out process. But if registration is convoluted and forced (e.g. user is somehow forced to become meber) then many customers will turn away and find another website for their shopping needs. Using a method like Quora’s ‘login to see more’ in that case might be a good idea even though for me this is also a very irritating and irritating – this method however should never be used if you run a ecommerce selling platform, on ecommerce site gatekeeping will only frustrate customers. Login is good to be implmeneted as a popup option (and not taking too much of the screen). Sign up and Login should be simplistic and self-explanatory – always not required but optioned and user should get the understanding of the advantage to be a member of the website if possible before the sign up procedure. Then, customers are more likely to sign up and won’t feel like they’ve been pushed into the decision – or pushed away, as the case may be.

Katrina Hatchett works as a lifestyle blogger at both Academic Brits and Assignment Help, due to a love of literature and writing, which she has had since youth. Throughout her career, she has become involved with many projects, such as writing for the PhD Kingdom blog.

Mass substitute WordPress site Old domain URL to new URL in MySQL (MariaDB) database after website migration

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

mass-substitute-old-urls-to-new-urls-when-moving-wordpress-website-migrate-wordpress

Mass substitute WordPress site Old domain URL to new URL in MySQL (MariaDB) database after website migration

If you have just migrated a wordpress blog or site to a new server (domain URL) and you have many articles pointing to the old URL. Out of sudden the new domain will end up with many broken links and that would have a severe negative SEO effect on your website leading to a certain downfall of your number of daily unique visits.

Of course manually changing the URL links is achievable by going through all Published Posts when migrating small websites with 10-20 pages,  however it is an impossible tedious task you would definitely want to avoid when you're migrating large WP based websites with few hundred or thousands of posts / pages,
bacause this would be a few weeks of mindless repeatable job to go through each and every post and substite the broken URLs.

Fortunately with a little bit of SQL magic either through MySQL CLI or PHPMyAdmin (if the website is moved to a shared hosting where you have disabled access to MySQL (MariaDB) default connect tcp port 3306.

Depending on the type of WordPress or Website the old broken URLs might be located in various Database tables.
 

– So when Mass URL substitution is might be required ?


1. You migrate a Website http://what-ever-website.com with (PHP / CSS / HTML / Templates) etc. from Hosting Provider Hostgator.com to UK2.com (because the website target client changed lately to United Kingdom customers) to http://what-ever-website.co.uk and the site is moved to a new domain beacause of Business rebranding
 

2. Other reason for changing internal URLs from one URL to another might be if you're migrating your website from HTTP to HTTPS for security.

3. You are restructuring file storage / image directories on the server or due to migration of files to external CDN (Content Delivery Network).
For example (http://your-server.com/images/ , http://your-server.com/files )  URLs pointing to old website location subdirectory has to be changed to the new one (http://your-server.com/img/ , http://your-server.com/data)

 

– So what is the automated approach to solve the task of Mass URL substitution across WP site ?

 

  •  Create full backup of all your website database and double-check the backup (try to restore on a test (home) server or other hosting account to make sure the backup is consistent and restore would work normally if necessery
     
  • You can Create Backup either with mysqldump command tool manually … with the right command arguments or use some kind of script such as My tiny mysqlbackupper.sh shell script which I shared under my previous article Make daily MySQL on Linux backup with Shell Script  via PhpMyAdmin.


2. Change old website URL to new one directly from Database using MySQL text client
 

To change incorrect URL with the new correct one the general query to run is:

 

update TABLE_NAME set FIELD_NAME = replace(FIELD_NAME, ‘find string’, ‘replace string’);

 

To change old website URL to the new website URL across every table within the wordpress database use below queries:
 

hipo@linux:~$ mysql -u root -p
Enter password:

 

USE blog;

 

UPDATE wp_options SET option_value = replace(option_value, 'Existing (old) URL', 'New URL') WHERE option_name = 'home' OR option_name = 'siteurl';

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, 'Existing (old)URL', 'New URL');

UPDATE wp_postmeta SET meta_value = replace(meta_value,'Existing (old) URL','New URL');

UPDATE wp_usermeta SET meta_value = replace(meta_value, 'Existing (old) URL','New URL');

UPDATE wp_links SET link_url = replace(link_url, 'Existing (old) URL','New URL');

UPDATE wp_comments SET comment_content = replace(comment_content , 'Existing (old) URL','New URL');


3. Replace Old website URL to New one after migration using PHPMyAdmin web interface
 

If you don't have access  ssh shell, you can also run the queries via PhpMyAdmin to do so:

1. Open PHPMyadmin URL Panel in browser and login with your user / pass

2. Choose the wordpress database of the wordpress site / blog

3. Select SQL tab and in the panel type on above given SQL queries
 

web-hosting-phpmyadmin-sql-query-tab-screenshot-how-to-run-sql-queries-via-phpmyadmin

If you're lazy to type there is also a web based SQL queries generator tool for moving websites to a new domain


4. Using Search and Replace WordPress plugin to do the old URL to new URL (strings) transition
 

If you have never used SQL queries and you're totally new to it and don't want to risk breaking up something there is also a bunch of wordpress plugins available that do the URL string substitution throughout each wordpress table in a WP database one such WordPress plugin is Search and Replace I have written earlier an article Change string in all WordPress Posts with Search and Replace plugin.


5. Problems with data-serialization
 

If you do a simple search and replace of Old domain urls to New ones, using above given commands and you still end up with some broken links on WP Pages that might be due to data-serialization issues (for the cause of issues check out what is data serialization).
Data serialization in wordpress terms is an array of PHP encrypted data that contains the actual URL, thus a simple search and replace as explained above if URLs use data-serialization would not work. There are available tools online that does URL search and replace operation through  "serialize-data sensitively" if you stuck with data-serializatoin caused issues.

Besides that for there are written scripts that does URL substitution to a WordPress or Joomla websites so an alternative to above WP plugin to replace the URL after migration is to use one of the scripts available a very famous one that will do pain-free all URL / string substitutions inside your WP, Drupal,  Joomla databses is interconnect/it.
 

Few closure words
 

As a system administrator and webmaster I have migrated wordpress installations many times with the need to change the old URLs to a new ones for both customer websites and my own wordpress based. On many ocassions because of lack of attention and hurry, I've messed up things.
The moral I got out of this is when you're doing a WordPress migration just like everything you have to be very attentive and do everything step by step slowly and have a good idea on what you're doing in advance …

Even as a person who had overall idea on how MySQL Server works and have experience in writting SQL queries, I have to confess I've  made mistakes during URL substitution operations when doing it via the MySQL CLI every now and then.

Thus I would recommend you better use some of the many plugins for wordpress and script tools (few of which I mentioned above), especially if you're not having at least few years with some kind of UNIX variation / Linux / MySQL.

How to Downgrade WordPress install to a prior release to Fix problems with wordpress after upgrade

Friday, October 27th, 2017

howto-downgrade-wordpress-to-a-prior-previous-version-easily-with-wp-downgrade-plugin-step-by-step-guide

Are you a wordpress website or blog owner? Did you recently upgraded to the latest WordPress release as you wanted to always keep ahead with security and latest wordpress functionalities ?

but out of a sudden components of WordPress stopped working after the upgrade …

I'm one of this and recently I've upgraded WordPress to 4.8.2, hopeing that this would make my blog even better with the fresh new wordpress but suddenly my Widgets stopped working, e.g.

 

Appearance -> Widgets

 

Show me strange blank page, when I tried to debug that in browser, with browser console in Google Chrome and Firefox ESR / Opera with Inspect elements, I could see some partially generated webpage, so I investigated further to see what in reality is creating my WordPress Widget troubles, I tried adding WordPress Debugging in wp-config.php for those who don't know how to do it to do so, you need to add the following line of code to wp-config.php
 

# vim /var/www/blog/wp-config.php

define( 'WP_DEBUG', true );
define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true );

 

If everything is fine with your wordpress installation (e.g. directory / file permissions are reporting the fine), The log file should be situated under
 

wp-includes/debug.log


But if you enabled debugging like me and nothing was visible neither in WordPress WP generated page, neither in that log or even worse, the file is not being written, that might be an indicator of either a seriously messed wordpress installation, or bugs occuring due to combination of WordPress release with the PHP installed on the server in my case the WordPress was 4.82 and PHP is standard Debian package PHP 5.6.30

 

The next place I checked logically is HTTPD (Apache) both access and error logs and there I found the widgets.php once called is returning 500 (Internal Server Errors), so I was forced to do something to make my appearance work again.

I tried my best to make Appearance -> Widgets and Appearance -> Customize WP Dashboard menus to work but without success so I finally got pissed off and decided to downgrade WordPress to the previous version where everything was running fine.

A quick investigation in Google led to find that there is an easy to use WordPress plugin that is capable of upgrading / downgrading wordpress to virtually all official WordPress releases.

Below is shortly what I had to do to Downgrade my WP 4.8.2 to WP 4.7.3

 

1. Download WP Downgrade Specific Core Version wordpress plugin
 

 The plugin “WP Downgrade” forces the WordPress update routine to perform the installation of a specified WordPress release. The Core Release you specify is then downloaded from wordpress.org and installed as would any regular update. You can permanently stay on a previous version of your choice or update selected.

To download the plugin click here, save it to your computer and then transfer to server or directly use wget or curl commands with the exact plugin location and unzip it standardly

#  cd /var/www/blog/wp-content/plugins
#  wget https://downloads.wordpress.org/plugin/wp-downgrade.zip
#  unzip wp-downgrade.zip

N.B. ! On a shared hosting or CPanel, you might have to upload the plugin with FTP.

 

2. Enable WP Downgrade Specific Core Version wordpress plugin
 

Plugins -> WP Downgrade Specific Core Version enable


Below is a quote from the plugin website describing more about WP Downgrade plugin:

"WP Downgrade | Specific Core Version has the potential for becoming one of the best-loved plugins among those, who simply cannot update to the latest WP release.

In the past the latest WP release was the only offering for WP’s Automatic Update routine. This left all those behind, who have to wait with Core updates, until their plugins become compatible with newer WP releases. When this finally happens, more often than not there has already been yet another Core update. In the end a dreaded, cumbersome, time-consuming and error-prone Manual Update used to be the only way to go.

With WP Downgrade | Specific Core Version this is now a thing of the past. Anyone who lags behind the latest WP release is now able to use Automatic Updates even to lower WP versions. What WP Downgrade does simply is to make WP believe that the version you want to update to actually is the latest version. Because of this, there is no difference to updating to the latest version."

 

3. Configure WP Downgrade Specific Core Version plugin

 

Navigate to:

Settings -> WP-Downgrade

how-to-downgrade-wordpress-easily-to-a-previous-prior-release-wp-downgrade-screenshot

 

 

4. Install (Downgrade) WordPress to the previous release


Next you will have to press the re-install button to install the desired WordPress release, if you're unsure which was the exact previous version you used you can check the list of All WordPress official released versions here choose any version that was released few months before the latest that was creating troubles for you and do re-install with it, if you face issues with it, you plenty of other versions that are close to it with which you can try, after all one of them should be working.
 

downgrade-wordpress-howto-wordpress-re-install-button-screenshot
 

Assuming that your directory structure of the current installed WordPress is not having any permission issues, the respective version of wordpress would be downloaded and untarred over the actual latest release you're having, so soon you'll have your WP reverted to the OLD release.

Once downgrading in my case immediately my Appearance -> Widgets started working again. Hooray!

Note: that if you face some permission errors during download or install of the downgradable version of wordpress you will be notified, to fix that just take few minutes with chown command and so something like:

 

chown -R www-data /var/www/blog/


that should fix permissions for you so then you can happily again, re-run the re-Install button to finalize WP Downgrade.

Now you can enjoy your life as everytihng will be working as expected, no broken more strange plugins behavior (which is another additional effect showing incompitability between WordPress release and a Plugin, no nothing), you can sleep calmly again.

Enjoy! 🙂

How to merge two or more wordpress sites from separete domains into one without impacting SEO

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

merge-multiple-wordpres-websites-howto-merge-two-or-more-websites-together-without-loosing-seo-credability

If you run multiple WordPress websites or blogs, but one of the websites is much more developed at a certain point you might decide that the best of the two worlds would be two merge two WordPress blogs into one.
 

So how can we do merge your multiple wordpress websites into single ?


1. Export content from each of the old websites you will be closing soon

First thing to do is to immediately create SQL data and WordPress sites backup, so if something goes wrong you can easily restore.

 


Next From wordpress admin area wp-admin

export-content-wordpress-website-screenshot-howto

Visit

Tools -> Export

Make sure, the All Content option is selected like shown in above screenshot and click on

Download Export File button

The downloaded files will have a copy of all yours

– Posts and pages
– Custom Post Types
– All included categories and tags

Once we have transferred the file to the Website with which we're going to merge old WP content, we need to install the Import plugin

install-wordpress-importer-to-merge-multiple-wordpress-sites

To do so navigate to:

Tools -> Import -> (Intall now)

wordpress-merge-two-or-more-websites-run-importer-screenshot.

Tools -> Run Importer

You will be asked for the file you just dumped into the second wordpress install which you'll be merging

export-and-import-wp-file-screenshot

Wordpress will start importing, your Export file and analyze it, then you will be redirected to

Import Settings Page
 

wordpress-import-settings-page-screenshot-howto-merge-sites

Assign Authors (that should be your account or the account with which the primary blog has most posts and with which you'll be merging).

Hopefully all will be fine with import and you will get the success page:

wordpress-success-page-importing-two-websites

One last step is to set properly redirects so that the transition merge from the Old Website to the New one does not impact your website Search Engine Optimization Ratings.

The redirects are made via .htaccess file it will be located in the Document Root (Or main directory) of your wordpress installed websites for example if your website is located under /var/www/wordpress-site your .htaccess file will be located under /var/www/wordpress-site/.htaccess

Open the file (SITUATED ON THE OLD WORDPRESS WEBSITE THAT YOU'LL BE MERGING) with editor directly on the server or if it is a shared hosting, download it and edit it at your side.

To the beginning of it add the following Apache ModRewrite code:
 

#Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newsite.com/$1 [R=301,L]


Replace inside above example http://www.newsite.com with the name of the primary domain name to which we're merging (e.g. the merging domain and not the one we merge).

If you experience some problems with pictures or you like to Merge Bulk Edit categories  and tags  read import external images to wordpress as well as how to merge bulk edit categories in tags in WordPress

 

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Fix WordPress after interrupted upgrade

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

briefly-unavaiable-for-a-scheduled-maintenance-wordpress-website-fix-howto_1

I've recenty tried Update my WordPress blog sites and being unattentive I've selected all the plugins possitble for Upgrade by checking the "Select All" check box on the Update dialogs and almost automatically int he hurry pressing Update button however out of a sudden I've realized I could screw up my websites brutally as some of the plugins to upgraded might be lacking 100% compitability with their prior versions.

I've made a messes out of my blog many times during upgrades because of choosing to upgrade the wrong not 100% compatible plugins and I know well how painful and hard to track it could be a misbehaving incompatible plugin or how ot could cause a severe sluggishness to blog which automatically reflects on how well the website search engine ranked in Google / Yahoo / Bing indexed etc.

Thus as an almost unconcsious reaction to prevent myself the future troubles I've tried to cancel the update request in Firefox browser and trying to reload the Update page with a hope that I might be quick enough for the Apache / WP / MySQLbackend Update Update queries request to be delaying for processing but I was too slow and bang! I ended up with the following unpleasent message in my browser:

briefly-unavaiable-for-a-scheduled-maintenance-wordpress-website-fix-howto
Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance.
 

As you could guess that message caused me quite a lot of worries at hand especially since I've already break up my sites many times by doing quick unmindful reactions and the fact that there is Google Adsense ads appearing which does give me some Return on Investment cents every now and then …

It took me few minutes of research online to find what really happened and how to fix / resolve the WebSites normal operations.
 


So what causes the Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. appears ?

When WordPress does some of its integrated maintenance jobs a plugin enable / disable or any task that has to modify crucial configurations inside the database WordPress does disable access to all end clients to itself in order to protect its sensitive data to appear to browser requestors as showing some unexpected information to end client browser could be later used by crackers / hackers or a possibly open a security hole for an attacker.

The message is wordpress generated notice and it is pretty normal for the end user to see it during the WP site installation update depending on how many plugins are installed and loaded to the site and how long it will take for the backend Linux / Windows server to fetch the archived .zips of plugins and substitute with the new ones and update the files extracting them to wp-content/plugins and updating the respective required SQL database / tables it could be showing for end users from few secs to few minutes.

However under some circumstances on Browser request timeout to remote wordpress site due to a network connectivity issue or just a bad configuration of Apache for requests timeout (or a slow remote server Apache responce time due to server Hardware / Mem overload) or a stupid browser "Stop" / cancel request like in my case you end up with the Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance and you can can longer access the your https://siteurl.com/wp-admin Admin Panel.

The message is triggered by a WP craeted file .maintenance inside /var/www/blog-site/ e.g. WordPress PHP scripts does check for /var/www/blog-site/.maintenance
existence and if it is matched the WP scripts does generate the Briefly unavailble … message.


How to resolve the "Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute" WordPress error ?

As you might guess removing the maintenance "coming soon" like message in most of the cases comes to just deleting the .maintenance file, to do so:

1. Login to remote server via FTP or SFTP
2. Locate your WP website root folder that should be something like /var/www/blog-site/.maintenance and issue:
issue something like:
 

$ rm -rf /var/www/bog-site/.maintenance


Assuming that some plugin Update .zip extraction or SQL update query did not ended being half installed / executed that should solve the error.
To check whether all is back to normal just refresh your browser pointing to the "broken" site. If it appears well you can thank God for that 🙂
If not check the apache error logs and php error logs and see which of the php scripts is failing and then try to manually fetch and unzip the WP .zip package to wp-content/plugins folder and give it another try and if God bless so it will work as before 🙂

How to prevent your WP based business in future from such nasty errors using A Staging site (test) version of your blog ?

Just run a duplicate of your website under a separate folder on your hosting and do enable the same plugins as on the primary website and copy over the MySQL / PostgreSQL Database from your Live site to the Staging, then once it is enabled before doing any crucial WordPress version updates or Plugins Update always do try the Upgrade first on your Test Staging site. If it does execute fine there in most of the cases the result should be the same on the Production host and that could solve you effors and nerves of debugging a hard to get failure errors or faulty plugins without affecting what your End users see.

If you're not hosting the WordPress install under your own hosting like me you can always use some of the public available hostings like  BlueHost or WPEngine

 

Apache Webserver disable hostnamelookups “HostnameLookups off” for minor performance increase

Friday, February 12th, 2016

apache-disable-dns-lookups-for-speed-hostnamelookups-off-directive-building-scalable-php-applications

If you don't much care about logging in logs from which domain / hostnames requests to webserver originate and you want to boost up the Apache Webserver performance a bit especially on a heavy loaded Websites, where no need for stuff like Webalizer, Awstats etc. , e.g. you're using GoogleAnalytics to already track requests (beware as sometimes GoogleAnalytics could be missing requests to your webserver, so having some kind of LogAnalyzer software on server is always a plus). But anyways accepting that many of us already trust GoogleAnalytitcs.


Then a great tuning option to use in default domain configuration or in multiple VirtualHosts config is:

HostnameLookups off

If you want to make the HostnameLookups off as a default behaviour to all your virtualhosts on  Debian / Ubuntu / CentOS / SuSE / RHEL distro virtualhosts add either to default config /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default (on Deb based Linuxes) or (on RPM based ones), add directive to /etc/httpd/httpd.conf

For self-hosted websites (if run your own small hosting) or for a home situated webservers with up to 20-50 websites it is also a useful optimization tip to include in /etc/hosts file all the IPs of sites with respective domain names following the normal syntax of /etc/hosts, e.g. in my own /etc/hosts, I have stuff like:
 

pcfreak:~$ cat /etc/hosts
127.0.0.1 localhost localhost.localdomain
127.0.1.1 pcfreak.pc-freak.net pcfreak mail.pc-freak.net
192.168.0.14 new-pcfreak
219.22.88.70 fw
212.36.0.70 ftp.bg.debian.org
212.211.132.32 security.debian.org
83.228.93.76 pcfreak.biz pc-freak.net pc-freak.net
# for wordpress plugins
216.58.209.3 gstatic.com
91.225.248.129 www.linkedin.com
74.50.119.198 www.blogtopsites.com
94.31.29.40 static.addtoany.com
216.58.209.202 fonts.googleapis.com
216.58.209.14 www.google-analytics.com
216.58.209.14 feeds.feedburner.com
93.184.220.241 wprp.zemanta.com
199.30.80.32 stumbleupon.com
156.154.168.17 stumbleupon.com
2.18.89.251 platform.linkedin.com
# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts

# … etc. put IPs and hostnames following above syntax


As you see from above commented section for wordpress plugins, I've included some common websites used by WordPress enabled plugins to prevent my own hosting server to query DNS server every time. The normal way the Linux / Unix works is it first checks in /etc/hosts and only if the hostname is not defined there then it queries the DNS caching server in my case this is a local DJBDNS cache server, however defining the hosts in /etc/hosts saves a lot of milisecons on every request and often if multiple hosts are defined could save (decrease site opening for end users) with seconds.


Well now use some website speed testing plugin like Yslow, Firebug Fiddler or HTTPWatch

 

Change website .JS .PHP Python Perl CSS etc. file permissions recursively for Better Tightened Security on Linux Webhosting Servers

Friday, October 30th, 2015

change-permissions-recursively-on-linux-to-protect-website-against-security-breaches-hacks

It is a common security (breach) mistake that developers or a web design studio make with dedicated or shared hosted websites do to forget to set a nice restrictive file permissions.

This is so because most people (and especially nowdays) developers are not a security freaks and the important think for a programmer is to make the result running in shortest time without much caring on how secure that is.
Permissions issues are common among sites written in PHP / Perl / Python with some CSS and Javascript, but my observations are that JavaScript websites especially that are using some frameworks such as Zend / Smarty etc. and are using JQuery are the most susceptible to suffer from permission security holes such as the classic 777 file permissions, because of developers who’re overworking and pushed up for a deadlines to include new functionality on websites and thus often publish their experimental code on a Production systems without a serious testing by directly uploading the experimental code via FTP / WinSCP on Production system.

Such scenarios are very common for small and middle sized companies websites as well as many of the hobbyist developers websites running on ready CMS system platforms such as Joomla and WordPress.
I know pretty well from experience this is so. Often a lot of the servers where websites are hosted are just share-servers without a dedicated sysadmin and thus there are no routine security audits made on the server and the security permissions issue might lead to a serious website compromise by a cracker and make your website quickly be banned from Google / Yahoo / Ask Jeeves / Yandex and virtually most of Search Engines because of being marked as a spammer or hacked webiste inside some of the multiple website blacklists available nowdays.

Thus it is always a good idea to keep your server files (especially if you’re sysadmin) with restrictive permissions by making the files be owned by superuser (root) in order to prevent some XSS or vulnerable PHP / Python / Perl script to allow you to easily (inject) and overwrite code on your website.

1. Checking whether you have a all users read, write, executable permissions with find command

The first thing to do on your server to assure you don’t have a low security permissioend files is:

find /home/user/website -type f -perm 777 -print

You will get some file as an output like:

./www/tpl/images/js/ajax-dynamic-list/js/ajax-dynamic-list.js
./www/tpl/images/js/ajax-dynamic-list/js/ajax_admin.js
./www/tpl/images/js/ajax-dynamic-list/js/ajax_teams.js
./www/tpl/images/js/ajax-dynamic-list/js/ajax.js
./www/tpl/images/js/ajax-dynamic-list/js/ajax-dynamic-list_admin.js
./www/tpl/images/js/ajax-dynamic-list/lgpl.txt

2. Change permissions recursively to read, write and exec for root and read for everybody and set all files to be owned by (root) superuser

Then to fix the messy permissions files a common recommended permissions is 744 (e.g. Read / Write and Execute permissions for everyone and only read permissions for All Users and All groups).
Lets say you want to make files permissions to 744 just for all JavaScript (JQuery) files for a website, here is how:

find . -iname ‘*.js’ -type f -print -exec chown root:root ‘{}’ \;
find . -iname ‘*.js’ -type f -print -exec chmod 744 ‘{}’ \;

First find makes all Javascript files be owned by root user / group and second one sets all files permissions to 744.

To make 744 all files on server (including JPEG / PNG Pictures) etc.:

find . -iname /home/users/website -type f -print -exec chown root:root ‘{}’ \;
find . -iname /home/users/website -type f -print -exec chmod 744 ‘{}’ \;

WordPress Security: Fix WordPress wp-config.php improper permissions to protect your sites from Database password steal / Website deface

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

wordpress-security-Fix-wordpress-wp-config-improper-permissions-to-protect-your-sites-from-Database-pass-steal
Keeping WordPress Site / Blog and related installed plugins up-to-date
is essential to prevent an attacker to hack into your Site / Database and deface your site, however if you're a company providing shell access from Cpanel / Plesk / Kloxo Panel to customers often customers are messing up permissions leaving important security credential files such as wp-config.php (which is storing user / pass credentials about connection to MySQL / PostgreSQL to have improper permissions and be world readable e.g. have permissions such as 666 or 777 while in reality the WordPress recommended permissions for wp-config.php is 600. I will skip here to explain in details difference between file permissions on Linux as this is already well described in any Linux book, however I just will recommend for any Share hosting Admin where Wordperss is hosted on Lighttpd / Apache Webserver + Some kind of backend database to be extra cautious.

Hence it is very useful to list all your WordPress sites on server wp-config.php permissions with find like this:

 

find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1;

 

I find it a generally good practice to also automatically set all wp-config.php permissions to 600 (6= Read / Write  permissions only for File Owner  user 0 = No permissions for All groups, 0 = No Permissions for all non-owner users)

If find command output gives you some file permissions such as:
 

ls -al /var/www/wordpress-bak/wp-config.php
-rw-rw-rw- 1 www-data www-data 2654 jul 28  2009 wp-config.php

 

E.g. file permission has 666 permissions (Readable for all users), then it is wise to fix this with:
 

chmod 600 /var/www/wordpress-bak/wp-config.php


It is generally a very good practice to run also a chmod 600 to each and every found wp-config.php file on server:
 

find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1 -exec chmod 600 '{}' \;


Above command will also print each file to whcih permission is set to Read / Write for Owner (this si done with -print1 option).

It is a good practice for shared hosting server to always configure a root cronjob to run above find chmod command at least once daily (whenever server hosts 50 – 100 wordpress+ more sites).
 

crontab -u root -l | { cat; echo “05 03 * * * find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1 -exec chmod 600 '{}' \; } | crontab – 


If you don't have the 600 permissions set for all wp-config.php files this security "backdoor" can be used by any existing non-root user to be read and to break up (crack)  in your database and even when there are Deface bot-nets involved to deface all your hosted server wordpress sites.

One of my servers with wordpress has just recently suffered with this little but very important security hole due to a WordPress site directory backup  with improper permissions which allowed anyone to enter MySQL database, so I guess there are plenty of servers with this hidden vulnerability silently living.

Many thanks to my dear friend (Dimitar PaskalevNomen for sharing with me about this vulnerability! Very important note to make here is admins who are using some security enhancement modules such as SuPHP (which makes Apache webserver to run Separate Website instances with different user), should be careful with his set all wp-config.php modules to Owner, as it is possible the wp-config.php owner change to make customer WP based websites inaccessible.

Another good security measure to  protect your server WordPress based sites from malicious theme template injections (for both personal own hosted wordpress based blog / sites or a WordPress hosting company) is to install and activate WordPress Antivirus plugin.