In the past I’ve harped on the importance of making sure your scripts, CMS installations, plugins, etc. are all kept up to date. The reason for that is because of the increased risk in being hacked if you use an older version of something. Naturally, the older something gets, the more exploits are found for it. Such is the case with the most recent hack that has been discovered – CryptoPHP.

CryptoPHP has infected more than 20,000 servers across the web. What CryptoPHP does is give hackers access to websites/hosting accounts and allow them to inject malicious content onto their websites. In the most recent case, the hackers were using the servers to send out massive amounts of spam, which landed many shared hosting servers on blacklists, blocking all customers from being able to send email to many recipients.

So, how did the hackers gain access to the hosting accounts? Essentially, what they did was copy certain paid themes and plugins for popular content management systems like WordPress and Joomla, change them so that they could get access, and offer them for free so that people would download them instead of the legitimate versions that they would otherwise have to pay for.

I guess I should say that it’s also important that you check and make sure wherever you’re getting your theme, plugin, whatever, is from a reliable source. Chances are if you’re getting something for free that normally should be paid for then it isn’t reliable.