Note: I’ll be using Hello Dolly as my example ‘bad’ plugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party for this post. It’s fine and not (to my knowledge) vulnerable.
There are a few reasons people report plugins but the main two are as follows:
- Guideline violations
- Security vulnerabilities
If you report a plugin, you can make everyone’s life easier if you do the following:
Verify that it’s still applicable
Before you do anything, check if the exploit is on the latest version of the code or not. If it’s not, we may not do anything about it, depending on how popular the plugin is.
Use a good subject line
“Plugin Vulnerability” is actually not good at all. “Plugin Vulnerability in Hello Dolly – 0 Day” is great.
Send it in plain text
SupportPress The ticket management interface for the plugin emails. It has been replaced with Help Scout. is a simple creature. It doesn’t like your fancy fonts and inline images. Attachments are fine, but we cannot read your ‘Replies in-line in red’ so just keep it simple.
Link to the plugin
Yes, it’s that easy. Put the URL A specific web address of a website or web page on the Internet, such as a website’s URL www.wordpress.org on it’s own line, no punctuation around it, for maximum compatibility. With over 35k plugins, and a lot with similar names, don’t assume, link.
If the plugin is not hosted on WordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/, I’m sorry, but there’s nothing we can do, so please don’t bother reporting it to us. We have no power there.
Explain the problem succinctly
Keep it simple.
“Hello Dolly has an XSS vulnerability” or “The Author of Hello Dolly is calling people names in the forums” or “Hello Dolly puts a link back to casino sites in your footer.”
Think of your intro like a tweet. Boil it down to the absolutely basic ‘this is what’s wrong.’
Keep the details clear
If someone’s acting up in the forums, link to the forum threads.
If you know that on line 53, the plugin has a vulnerability (or a link back to that casino site), then you can actually link right to that line: https://plugins.trac.wordpress.org/browser/hello-dolly/tags/1.6/hello.php#L53
We love that. If you don’t have that line, it’s okay. Tell us exactly what you see. “When I activate the plugin using theme X, I see a link to a casino site by my ‘powered by WordPress’ link.” Perfect. Now we know where to look when we test.
Show us how to exploit it
Don’t ask us ‘Can I send you an exploit?’ Just send us all the information. If the exploit’s already up online, like on Secunia, link us to it.
If you know exactly how to exploit it, tell us with a walk through. If the walkthrough involves a lot of weird code, you may want to consider using a PDF.
We’re going to take that information and, often, pass it on directly to the developers.
Tell us if you want them to have your contact info
We default to not passing it on, out of privacy, so “If the developer needs more help, I can be reached at…” is nice. Even “You can give the developer my information so they can credit me…”
We’re probably not going to follow up with you
We love the report, we review them, but we’re not going to loop The Loop is PHP code used by WordPress to display posts. Using The Loop, WordPress processes each post to be displayed on the current page, and formats it according to how it matches specified criteria within The Loop tags. Any HTML or PHP code in the Loop will be processed on each post. https://codex.wordpress.org/The_Loop. you back in and tell you everything that’s going on for one very simple reason. We don’t have the time. If you told us to give the dev your contact info, then we did, but we don’t have any way to promise they will, and we don’t have the time to play middle management.
Emailing us over and over asking for status gets your emails deleted. It’s not personal, it’s seriously a time issue. We’re nothing more than gatekeepers, we are not a security company and we’re not equipped for keeping everyone up to date. We don’t have an administrative assistant to handle that. We work with the developer to fix the issue and we work with the .org team to see if we need to force update the plugin, and that takes a lot of time.
We don’t do bounties
This is a little interesting but basically we’re not going to pay you. A lot of people ask for ‘credit’ so they can ‘earn’ a bounty, and that’s cool, but we’re not going to report that for you. Generally if you say you want a bounty, we give your info to the plugin dev, though, so they do know you’re interested.
How do you report?
You can report plugins by emailing
That’s it 🙂 Thanks!