Fatal Error due to null value into function in pluggable.php file

Hi all!

I want to thank you in advance for any help anyone can provide!

I have a WordPress & Elementor website on my own domain. I hadn’t been on for quite a while to check things. Recently when trying to login to the backend, I got a critical error. I managed to gain access via my host, and tried various troubleshooting, such as deactivating plugins, which didn’t work. I then followed a tutorial, added/changed a couple of lines so that the debug mode was switched on. Next time, attempting to login I got a more detailed message which I’ll copy below. I have anonymised the pathway as I’d prefer not to mention the specific site if possible.

Fatal error: Uncaught TypeError: hash_equals(): Argument #1 ($known_string) must be of type string, null given in /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-includes/pluggable.php:2577 Stack trace: #0 /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-includes/pluggable.php(2577): hash_equals(Object(SensitiveParameterValue), Object(SensitiveParameterValue)) #1 /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-content/plugins/wp-spam-shield-pro/wp-spam-shield-pro.php(262): wp_check_password(”, NULL, NULL) #2 /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php(324): hu_auth_signon(Object(WP_Error), ”, ”) #3 /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-includes/plugin.php(205): WP_Hook->apply_filters(Object(WP_Error), Array) #4 /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-includes/pluggable.php(618): apply_filters(‘authenticate’, NULL, ”, ”) #5 /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-includes/user.php(106): wp_authenticate(”, ”) #6 /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-login.php(1311): wp_signon(Array, true) #7 {main} thrown in /home3/public_html/pathway/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 2577

I don’t understand whether this is referring to one issue or many.

It mentions a specific line in the pluggable.php file, which I then went to check. This line is part of the function which starts

if ( ! function_exists( ‘wp_check_password’ ) ) :

and the specific line (2577) is:

$check = hash_equals( $hash, md5( $password ) );

Looking online this seems correct, so it just seems to be the value being passed to this which is wrong (null). Unfortunately I don’t know enough about WordPress and particularly the backend files to know where this value comes from. I don’t particularly understand php in general.

I thought it may be helpful to list all my plugins (either current or former) in case one of these changed something.:

* Caldera Forms
* Elementor
* Elementor Pro
* ElementsKit Lite (left deactivated)
* GDPR/CCPA Cookie Consent Banner (left deactivated)
* Jetpack (deactivated)
* Local Google Fonts
* MainWP Child
* Right Click Disable Original
* ShortPixel Image Optimizer
* The Bluehost Plugin
* UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
* WordPress Importer (left deactivated)
* Yoast Duplicate Post (left deactivated)

I noticed in the error message reference to another plugin (wp-spam-shield-pro) but have no recollection of having this.

If anyone has any suggestions about what I need to do/change that would be amazing.

Once again, huge thanks to anyone who reads or helps.

I work long hours, so may not respond quickly, but will do so when I can.

1 Comment
  1. Caldera forms was abandoned 2 years ago. Don’t use old plugins, as they’ll cause problems like this, as well as potential security issues.

    I’m guessing Spam Shield Pro is also out of date.

 

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