Understanding the BackupBuddy WordPress Plugin Exploit


In 2022, a critical security vulnerability exploit, CVE-2022-31474, was discovered in the popular BackupBuddy WordPress plugin. This premium plugin, designed for creating and managing website backups, had a flaw in its directory traversal functionality.

This flaw allowed attackers to access backup files containing sensitive data like database credentials and user information.

Additionally, BackupBuddy has since changed ownership to a new parent company and changed its name to Solid Backups, making previous versions of BackupBuddy deprecated.

While this compromise was initially found in 2022, GreenGeeks and other web hosting providers have experienced an increase in attacks that are targeting this plugin, requiring a permanent solution to this threat to prevent additional exploits of data.

Identification and Response

The Wordfence Threat Intelligence team discovered the vulnerability, which permitted unauthenticated users to download arbitrary files from affected servers. After responsibly disclosing the issue to iThemes, the plugin’s developers, a patch was quickly released.

Wordfence published an advisory urging immediate updates to mitigate risks.

Impact on Web Hosting Providers

Web hosting providers, especially those offering shared hosting, faced significant challenges. Shared hosting environments are particularly susceptible to cross-site contamination.

Providers had to disable and remove the BackupBuddy plugin since it is a premium plugin that they couldn’t update on behalf of users. They informed clients about the issue and recommended downloading the patched version directly from iThemes.

Backup Storage on Shared Hosting

BackupBuddy’s method of storing backup files posed additional problems for shared hosting environments, which typically do not allow extensive storage. The plugin’s storage-intensive operations could degrade performance and increase data exposure risks.

Hosting providers often prohibit storing large backup files on shared servers and recommend alternative solutions that use secure, offsite storage.

GreenGeeks does not allow the storage of large backup files on EcoSite or Reseller servers. We recommend alternative backup solutions that either store backups offsite or use more secure and resource-efficient methods.

For instance, UpdraftPlus will allow you to store backups on cloud servers such as Drop Box and Google Drive for free.

GreenGeeks also offers nightly backups of all EcoSite and Reseller accounts. Storing additional backups within your account(s) can delay our backup process, causing a lapse in the data we retain.

Preventive Measures and Best Practices

The BackupBuddy exploit underscores the importance of regular security audits and updates for WordPress plugins. Site administrators should:

  • Perform Regular Updates: Keep all plugins, themes, and core WordPress installations up-to-date.
  • Use Security Plugins: Use plugins that provide firewalls, malware scanning, and intrusion detection.
  • Use Offsite Backups: Store backups securely offsite to minimize data loss risks.
  • Safeguard Access Controls: Restrict access to sensitive files and use strong, unique passwords for administrative accounts.


The CVE-2022-31474 vulnerability in BackupBuddy highlights the ongoing need for vigilance in website security. Regular updates, proper storage practices, and robust security measures are essential for protecting websites.

The collaborative efforts of security researchers, plugin developers, and hosting providers were crucial in addressing this vulnerability, emphasizing the importance of proactive cybersecurity practices.

For detailed information, refer to the official Wordfence advisory and the CVE database entry for CVE-2022-31474. These resources offer comprehensive insights into the BackupBuddy exploit and the steps taken to address it.

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