Security Experts:

Security Advisory: Assume Every Drupal 7 Site Was Compromised Unless Patched Immediately

Drupal Issues “Highly Critical” Security Alert to Drupal 7 Users

Earlier this month, Drupal patched a critical SQL injection vulnerability (CVE-2014-3704) that exists in all Drupal core 7.x versions up to the recently-released 7.32 version, which fixed the issue. 

According to the developers of the popular content management system (CMS), automated attacks began exploiting the flaw and compromising Drupal 7 websites within hours of the announcement of the vulnerability on Oct. 15.

Even for those who responded quickly and patched their Drupal installation following the disclosure, Drupal is warning that organizations should take caution and assume their Drupal 7 web sites were compromised.

“You should proceed under the assumption that every Drupal 7 website was compromised unless updated or patched before Oct 15th, 11pm UTC, that is 7 hours after the announcement,” the Drupal Security Team wrote in a security advisory on Oct. 29.

The issue is particularly nasty, as it allows an attacker to exploit the vulnerability without needing an account or duping a user into exposing credentials.

The Drupal Security Team also warned that attackers may have created backdoors in the database, code, files directory and other locations, and could compromise other services on the server or escalate their access.

Patching Won’t Remove Backdoors

While users are urged to apply the patch immediately, it’s important to realize that applying the patch will not fix an already compromised website.

“If you find that your site is already patched but you didn’t do it, that can be a symptom that the site was compromised - some attacks have applied the patch as a way to guarantee they are the only attacker in control of the site,” the advisory explained.

Attackers may have copied site data and could use it maliciously, leaving no trace behind. 

“While recovery without restoring from backup may be possible, this is not advised because backdoors can be extremely difficult to find,” the advisory cautioned. “The recommendation is to restore from backup or rebuild from scratch.”

For those who believe their Drupal-powered site may have been compromised, Drupal does provide documentation on what steps to take in terms of response.

Additional details and actions to take in response to the vulnerability or a potential compromise are available online. 

Content management system vulnerabilities are juicy targets for hackers, explained Incapsula's Orion Cassetto in a blog post Sept. 11. 

"Since the top CMSes are so popular, these security vulnerabilities are actively sought after—both by security researchers and members of the hacker community," Cassetto argued. "Once identified, these flaws can turn into a virtual gold mine for hackers, creating a much more efficient way for them to execute automated mass-scale attacks."

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.