Security Experts:

Attackers Trojanized Popular Web Analytics Platform Piwik

Piwik, an open source alternative to Google Analytics, announced on Tuesday that they had suffered a security breach, and the attacker inserted a backdoor into their software, which was available for download for a few hours.

Piwik is used by 460,000 websites, and has been downloaded well over a million times. The platform is a self hosted, open source alternative to Google Analytics that’s been around since 2007.

HandOn November 26, the webserver was breached due to a security vulnerability in a WordPress plug-in used on the site. According to a write-up on the incident, the attacker was able to add malicious code to the Piwik 1.9.2 ZIP file. The Trojanized archive was available for a few hours, but was pulled after users started to report problems.

“[The] attacker used a security issue in a WordPress plugin we were using, and gained partial access to the server,” a report on the breach explains.

“We are still working with our system administrators on the issue and have some ideas to make this kind of problems much less likely to occur. We will post a follow up once these new mechanisms are in place...”

In addition to announcing the breach and hijacked code, the developers have outlined the steps needed to check for compromise, and to correct any issues. The first place to check, should your organization use this software, is the piwik/core/Loader.php file for the altered string of code, which will contain eval commands for base64 encoding.

“We would like to thank the Piwik users who quickly reported this problem (by email and in the forums). We received more than five reports in a two hours timeframe, which shows that the Piwik community is very vigilant and ready to react to any problem. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience. Please be sure that we will do our best to keep Piwik (and a safe place in the future.”

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.