Comment on Display Widgets Plugin Review by SEO Gold Coast Services.

Sorry to hear of the problems.

In principle yes the hack could have compromised your site in other ways.

I never installed the Display Widgets Plugin v2.6.* on a live site, only tested it in Localhost, so have no examples to look at beyond the “displaywidgets_ids” example I’ve pasted below (that was from my localhost test install).

The Display Widgets plugin v2.6.* adds a database option in the “wp_options” table looks like this:



This in itself doesn’t cause any harm per se, but the entry and the plugin code allowed the developer to add a dynamic post into your database.

I don’t have an example of what this looks like, but understand it includes the name of the plugin “Display Widgets” and would assume it’s also in the “wp_options” table.

I’m afraid it’s a case of going through the database to see if anything stands out, for most WordPress sites the wp_options table tends to be below a few hundred entries so doesn’t take too long to look through. You are looking for anything that mentions Display Widgets or displaywidgets.

If the hacker went as far as to add one of these dynamic posts into your database there’s no reason why the entry couldn’t include other malicious code.

So basically they add a database entry which the malicious plugin (v2.6.*) uses to make a dynamic post database entry, but it could also be used to do other malicious things to your site. They could add all sorts of vulnerabilities to add backdoors.

The best advice would be to use a backup from before you installed the v2.6.* code, but that could be a backup from over 3 months ago!!!

Even though I have regular backups, if I had installed the malicious code I couldn’t go back three months (would loose important articles/comments), so would have to go with a manual security clean. I wrote a comment about what I’d do with the sites files at How to Clean a Hacked WordPress Site.

Now I know a little more about what the backdoor hack does I’d also go through the database looking for options related to displaywidgets (did this in my localhost test installs, found nothing).

The person/people behind the malicious code has been doing this for years, they own loads of sites related to payday loans, finance, gambling… and have been hacking sites for years (found one mentioned on the WP forums from ~4 years ago) to add SEO link SPAM (they have a very well thought out SEO link SPAM program: I’m impressed). To put things into perspective the main suspect is in his early twenties and lives in a property that was bought in December 2016 for over £750,000 and they say black hat SEO techniques don’t work anymore :-)

BTW Before doing anything I’d look through your sites log files for errors, white screen suggests a 500 error. The logs can point you in the right direction.

If you find it difficult to access your log files you can also get WordPress to output a “debug.log” file by adding this to your “wp-config.php” file:

Download the “wp-config.php” file via FTP to your computer, edit it with a text editor.

Find this line:

$table_prefix  = 'wp_';

Might not be ‘wp_’, doesn’t matter.

Below it add

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

when there’s errors it creates a file under:

“example.come/wp-content/debug.log” this file is publicly available (anyone can read it).

Browse through your site and check the file (can load it in a browser).

After finding and fixing the errors modify the code to:

#define('WP_DEBUG', true);
#define('WP_DEBUG_LOG', true);
#define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false);

Adding # comments out the code so it won’t run, but it’s in the file for next time (just remove the #s to check for other issues).

Also go to “/wp-content/” and delete the “debug.log” file, error notifications can be used by hackers to test for vulnerabilities, so you don’t want an easy to find log file left behind.

If you want to harden WordPress a little also add this to the “wp-config.php” file:

# Disable Editing in Dashboard
define('DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true);

This turns file editing under your Dashboard off: this assumes you don’t edit plugin and theme files under your Dashboard (which you shouldn’t do as there’s no backup).

David Law

More Comments on Display Widgets Plugin Review by SEO Gold Coast Services

Display Widgets Plugin v4.0.0 Release

I’ve released a Free Security Update/Upgrade of the Display Widgets Plugin which is called v4.0.0 and is malicious code free and extends the widget logic features. I’ll be supporting the …

Adopting the Display Widgets Plugin

Thanks for your kind words :-)

A couple of small inaccuracies in your comment above.

The WordPress plugin team didn’t delete/close/moderate my WordPress forum support posts, it was “Jan Dembowsi” (@jdembowsi) a …

Display Widgets Plugin v2.7 Download

There’s some info on the Display Widgets support forum about the 2.7 update, but you can’t get to it easily because the main Display Widget Plugin page is still closed …

How to Clean a Hacked WordPress Site

Sorry to hear your site is hacked, there’s probably tens of thousands of Display Widget v2.6.* users in the same boat!

I’ve not looked at a Display Widget Plugin v2.6.* hacked …

Display Widgets Plugin v2.6.3.1 Review

I said I wasn’t going to waste my time contacting the WordPress plugin team again, but I couldn’t help myself, the Display Widgets plugin developer is a hacker and is …

Display Widgets Plugin v2.6.1 Deleted from the Plugin Repository

Originally posted to the WordPress support forum…

WordPress has deleted the Display Widgets plugin again, (twice in a week!) this time because of version 2.6.1.

The cause is the code in the …

Display Widgets Plugin Geolocation Tracking Visitors without Permission

Originally posted to the WordPress support forum…

I have a question regarding the visitor data you are tracking/storing and your terms at the site has been deleted.

Section 10. Privacy policy …

More Comments by SEO Gold Coast Services

Google Defamation Process

Most likely Google alone.

Google trusts what they are told via the defamation reports, there doesn’t appear to be any detailed checking on Google’s part!

So if someone makes a credible defamation …

Google Mobile Usability Test

SEO tools like SEOptimer are generally not very good, they are built by programmers who are human and they make mistakes, so I’d take the SEOptimer Usability Device Rendering F …

Twitter Permanent Suspension

When you said “I apply most of the tricks talked about in this article” does that mean you are following at least 400 Twitter accounts everyday and unfollowing them all …

Camping World Biloxi

This is a Camping World Biloxi SEO test.

The Camping World Biloxi Google search phrase sees around 1,900 searches a month, a number 1 Google listing for Camping World Biloxi would …

Revolution Slider JS Bloated

All because I avoid using flashy JS features via plugins like Slider Revolution to maximise pagespeed does not mean I don’t know how to use flashy Javascript features whilst minimising …

GTmetrix Website Speed Test Location

Regarding GTmetrix speed testing you have to take into account hosting location when comparing 2 websites targeting different countries.

My SEO Gold site which mostly targets the UK market is hosted …

Revolution Slider Images NOT Responsive

The Revolution Slider SEO Optimization article is a snippet of a larger article Optimized Images Load Faster and Consume Less Cellular Data which looks at a website created by a …

It’s Illegal to Threaten Someone Online

WoW! I critique the old out of date web design of a local Skegness business and James Smith (AKA: fake name) resorts to childish personal insults, why would you do …