[wp-hackers] Plugin Privacy Option (was Revisiting phone home and privacy)

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at newclarity.net
Mon Dec 14 22:14:13 UTC 2009

On Dec 14, 2009, at 9:56 AM, Jeremy Clarke wrote:
> On Sun, Dec 13, 2009 at 11:29 PM, Stephen Rider
> <wp-hackers at striderweb.com> wrote:
>> On Dec 13, 2009, at 6:03 PM, Doug Stewart wrote:
>>> What about this: what if you added a Plugin-Update-URI header field to
>>> plugins and themes? Themes or plugins without an explicitly-defined URI
>>> would default to checking api.wordpress.org while plugin/theme devs that
>>> don't (for whatever reasons) want to use the .org hosting environment can
>>> host their own updates. Then, we could supply the necessary info for 3rd
>>> parties to implement the expected return values from the update API and then
>>> they, too, could take advantage of the internal WordPress upgrade checking,
>>> further reducing ways that individual blogs can be compromised.
>> My plugin code notwithstanding, I like Doug's idea a lot.
> It's a good idea too, though part of a bigger plan. The plugin code
> that achieves the same thing is much more likely to be a solution :)

I love the idea.  One thing that worries me is guarding against malicious intent. For example somebody puts up a bunch of plugs that do simple things each on their own website with cloaked owner info, and then get lots of users to a plugin? Next they add something evil and just wait for the users who are not paying attention to the state of WordPress to upgrade to the evil version. I know it sounds unlikely but it a potential.

That said, maybe a blacklist on WordPress.org that could be checked to block installation of malicious plugins? As soon as Dr. Evil version is released and someone notices, that plugin gets added to the blacklist with possibly even a link to find an alternate "clean" version so people are not left hanging if a new version of WordPress breaks their old plugin version.  (Somebody would have to clean it, of course.)

Just an idea. Thoughts?

-Mike Schinkel

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