Call for testing 0.2.2.5 beta1

May 11, 2021
Darko G.

I’ve almost done with devoloping the next release 0.2.2.5 of IP Location Block. Before releasing this version in public, I’d ask you to test and see if the beta1 works for you. You can download it from here.

How to test

  1. Download zip archive and unzip it.
  2. Deactivate your IP Location Block.
  3. Upload whole of ip-location-block in the unzipped archive into your plugin’s directory on your server. It can be overwritten.
  4. Activate IP Location Block again.

Although I’ve made sure that it would not break anything in an obvious way, please keep in mind that this is a developing version. It might still contain undiscovered issues. When you find or notice something, please let me know about them in the comment of this post.

What’s new in 0.2.2.5 beta1

Comparing changes between the last release 0.2.2.4.1 and 0.2.2.5 Beta1 is available here.

Improvement: Clean uninstall for multisite

Before this release, clean uninstallation of this plugin would remove settings, statistics and logs only for main site in multisite environment. Now you can remove those for all sites by just enabling “Remove all settings at uninstallation” at “Plugin settings” of main site, and execute “Delete” from the plugin dashboard.

Improvement: Analyzing requested URI

It’s very important for IP Location Block to apply the proper filter to validate the malicious requests. So analyzing a requested URI depending on its type is the core process of this plugin.

In the previous version 0.2.2.4, I tried to improve to perform this analysis well which result caused the fatal error and broke the site. The main reason of this trouble was the lack of testing patterns of server configurations.

In this release, I’ve tested the following patterns:

  1. http://example.com/ … Top directory type of single and multisite
  2. http://example.com/sub/ … Sub directory type of single and multisite
  3. http://domain.example.com/ … Sub domain type of multisite
  4. FORCE_SSL_ADMIN … Admin dashboard over SSL

In the last version 0.2.2.4.1, FORCE_SSL_ADMIN did not work properly. But in this release, that issue might be fixed.

Additionally, parse_url() was discarded in analyzing requested URI to avoid unexpected behavior because the document says:

This function is not meant to validate the given URL, it only breaks it up into the above listed parts. … On seriously malformed URLs, parse_url() may return FALSE.

Buf fix: Avoid race condition on activation/upgrade

On activation or upgrade, IP Location Block provides self recovery process that would add the valid country code into the whitelist when self lockout happens. This would be done in background by WordPress cron system.

During the execution of this process, there was slight possibility that the cron would be kicked by the visitor. In this case, the country code derived from that vistor’s ip address would be added with comma like JP,US.

Thanks to BartTheMan, this issue was completely fixed in this release emoji .

Bug fix: Compatibility with other plugins

In the last version, the option “Important files” was defined as “wp-config.php,passwd”. But actually, these words are used to detect malicious signatures in the requested query that works independently of “Block by country” and “Prevent Zero-day Exploit”.

For example, the following Local File Inclusion attack can be detected:

http://example.com/wp-content/plugins/vulnerable/download.php?file=../../../etc/passwd

But this feature was not so clever to distinguish WordfencePasswdAudit from passwd. Thanks to ac1643, the compatibility issue with Wordfence + AG Custom Admin and IP Location Block was reported at support forum.

In this release, wp-config.php and passwd will be replaced to /wp-config.php and /passwd if those have no / at their top.

Trial new feature: Bad signatures in query

Now “Important files” has been renamed “Bad signatures in query”.

Well then, how should this plugin validate malicious signatures against such as SQLi, XSS.

The bast way to achieve this is to equip a kind of parser to analyze command and syntax of MySQL and JavaScript. But implementation in PHP is not suitable because of its cost. So I’ve implemented “Sum of weighted scores” with only a few lines of additional code.

Let’s think about SQLi. Usually, several sql commands are combined as below:

CREATE USER 'user'@'attacker.com' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

or

SELECT LOAD_FILE(0x2F6574632F706173737764); # /etc/passwd

If SELECT and LOAD_FILE are weighted by 0.5 as their score, the total score becomes 1.0. As a result, it reaches at the threshold of “malicious” (actually its value is 0.99). Now you can define a signature as “signature : weight” like following:

Bad signature in query

My recommended definition can be available from “Import best practice” button. But I can’t decide its best settings. For example, the following valid request would be blocked because it includes select and where in its query.

http://example.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?action=my_selection&where=my_page

So I should continue to improve the parser and words from now. Note that the current limitation is that you can’t include space inside each signature.

New feature: Exceptions in plugins/themes area

Some of plugins and themes need to access their own php files directly on the public facing pages. For example, WP-SpamShield Anti-Spam requires wp-content/plugins/wp-spamshield/js/jscripts.php on the pages.

Previously, you need to add some snippets into your functions.php to specify the plugin or theme that you want to exclude from the validation target.

Now you can specify them at “Plugins area” and “Themes area”.

Exceptions

Note that you should still use ip-location-block-bypass-admin to bypass a certain action for admin-ajax.php and admin-post.php.

Hope for your cooperation

It’s nothing special but I’m hoping for your ordinary job.

For me and IP Location Block, the next formal release 0.2.2.5 is a very important milestone, because I’d like to give it the potential ability for a new protection functionality in the future release which may be 2.3.0 and later.

So I would deeply appreciate for your kind cooperation emoji .

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