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Identity & Access

WordPress 4.3 “Billie” Improves Password Security

WordPress 4.3, dubbed “Billie” in honor of jazz singer Billie Holiday, is available for download. The latest version introduces new features for both website administrators and developers, along with significant password security improvements.

WordPress 4.3, dubbed “Billie” in honor of jazz singer Billie Holiday, is available for download. The latest version introduces new features for both website administrators and developers, along with significant password security improvements.

With the release of version 4.3, the developers of the popular content management system (CMS) announced some changes in the way passwords are chosen and changed.

In WordPress 4.3, when administrators create new user accounts, they can automatically generate a strong password. If they want to change that password, a strength meter informs them if the password they are setting is strong or weak. If the password is weak, users have to check a box to confirm the use of a weak password.

By default, the generated password is not shown to the admin and a password reset link is sent to the user via email. Clicking a button reveals the password to the administrator, allowing them to send the password generated by WordPress to the user via instant messaging applications. This is also useful for non-email environments.

Clear text passwords are no longer emailed to users in order to protect WordPress accounts in case the email is compromised. Furthermore, password reset links by default are only valid for 24 hours.

“This is a relatively minor change to WordPress that will significantly enhance default user behavior for a big security win,” WordPress developer Brian Krogsgard said in a blog post.

When a password or email address is changed, an email alert is sent to the user. This way, if the browser session is hijacked by a malicious actor and the email address or password are changed, users will be able to quickly take action. WordPress developers noted that the email alerts can be disabled by setting send_pass_change_email and send_email_change_email filters to false.

“Although WordPress isn’t stopping you from choosing terrible passwords, the default in 4.3 is that you get secure passwords, and making them less secure takes a bit of work,” noted Mark Jaquith, a lead WordPress core developer.

Related Reading: WordPress Rushes to Fix Critical Zero-Day Vulnerability

Related Reading: WordPress 4.2.3 Fixes Vulnerabilities, Bugs

Related Reading: Six Vulnerabilities Patched With Release of WordPress 4.2.4

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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