Did you know that the WordPress publishing platform runs almost 73 million websites worldwide? This puts WordPress ahead of Microsoft SharePoint, Blogger, and Drupal in terms of popularity. It also implies that WordPress is a popular hacking target.
Google detects approximately 10000+ malware websites each day and over 50000 + for phishing every week. If you take your website seriously, you need to follow the WordPress security best practices.
In this article, we will discuss WordPress security and vulnerability concerns, why they affect WordPress sites, and what actions you can take to ensure that you are not affected and feel secure using WordPress as your CMS.
Common WordPress Security Issues and Vulnerabilities
1) Outdated Themes & Plugins
One of the most appealing features of WordPress is its flexibility to customize. Hundreds of unique themes and plugins are created by developers for WordPress site owners to personalize their sites. However, site owners should take proper security precautions when using these extensions.
Updates with feature enhancements and extra security measures are frequently released by theme and plugin developers. However, not all developers do this. If they do not do so, sites that use these resources become susceptible to hackers exploiting outdated equipment as entry points.
Assume WordPress has released an update with a new security patch, but developers have not updated their theme to be compatible with the new requirements. In such instances, a hacker may exploit the theme’s flaw and take control of a site.
2) Undefined User Roles
When you build a WordPress site, you have the option of selecting one of six distinct user roles, such as Subscriber or Administrator. Each role includes native rights that allow or prohibit users from performing particular tasks on your site, such as updating plugins and uploading content. The default user position is Administrator, and this role has the most authority over any particular WordPress site.
This is where user roles come into play: if you have many users and don’t modify the default settings, everyone is an administrator. This does not imply that the individuals with whom you are building a site would damage you, but it does mean that a hacker who obtains access to your site will be able to make changes as an administrator.
If brute-force assaults are successful, poorly defined admin roles put your site in danger since admin roles allow a hacker complete access over your site.
3) Unauthorized Logins
Unauthorized logins are widely performed using “brute-force” methods. The attacker uses a bot to scan through billions of possible username-password combinations swiftly. If they’re lucky, they’ll figure out the correct credentials and get access to secure data.
There are two primary reasons why these attacks against WordPress sites are successful. First, the WordPress site’s default backend login page is relatively easy to locate. Anyone can access the login page by appending /wp-admin or /wp-login.php to the end of the site’s main URL. Attackers can quickly obtain access and attempt a brute-force entry if you don’t change the default login page.
In the case of an unauthorized WordPress login, the WordPress user bears responsibility as well. Attackers can quickly obtain access by combining the default “admin” login with a simple, popular password.
4) SQL Injection
SQL is a programming language that allows you to retrieve information stored on a website easily. It’s WordPress’s preferred language for database administration, and while it’s quite safe, malicious parties may use it to exploit your site. A hacker obtains access to your site’s database during a SQL injection and may view and alter it directly. Attackers may use SQL to create a new account on your site, add unwanted links and content, and leak, alter or delete data.
WordPress sites are vulnerable to this type of attack since they are designed to foster a sense of community. Attackers most commonly use SQL injections through visitor-facing submission forms such as contact forms, payment info fields, and lead forms. When hackers complete these forms, they’re not aiming to take advantage of your content offer; instead, they’re sending code that will execute and make modifications from inside.
The term “phishing” is derived from the process of fishing, in which individuals cast line after line in the hopes of catching a bite. When phishing, hackers send out a large number of Spammy links hoping that at least one person would click on them and have their information compromised. You’ve most likely heard of or been vulnerable to phishing attempts via truly genuine emails in your inbox or text messages from unknown numbers.
Due to outdated plugins, themes, software, or a lack of security checks for submission and comment forms, WordPress sites become vulnerable to phishing attacks. If a malicious person gets admin access to your site, they can publish Spammy links for users to click, compromising their information. Phishing takes advantage of consumers’ trust in you and your content because it’s unlikely that their first assumption is that you’re trying to defraud them. Hackers can also make comments on your website’s pages with links that appear to drive a visitor to Spammy sites.
6) Cross-site Scripting
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) occurs when an attacker injects malicious code into a website’s backend code. XSS attacks are similar to database injections in that they aim to inject code into your files; however, they focus on web page functionality. Hackers may try to harm visitors after they get access to your front-end display, for example, by providing a disguised link to a faulty website or showing a fake contact form to collect user information.
WordPress plugins and themes are once again responsible. If an attacker identifies an old or poorly-maintained plugin on your site, they can use it to get access to files that control the front-end of your website. The same applies to WordPress themes.
Tips to Secure Your WordPress Site
Here are some of the best practices tips to make your site highly secured.
1) Use strong username and password
Creating secure login credentials may be the simplest security practice anybody can do, but many users fail to do so. Unfortunately, 23.2 million accounts still use “123456” to set their password. A similar problem exists with usernames since many people use common usernames such as “admin” and “administrator.”
If you need help creating secure passwords, there are a plethora of free password generators available. To make usernames more distinctive, you may add digits and special characters within the keywords. Your website will be vulnerable to brute-force attacks if you use weak login credentials. To guess your login credentials, this sort of cyber-attack utilizes a trial-and-error method. As a result, it’s best to avoid utilizing frequent keywords while creating your login credentials.
2) Enable two-factor Authentication
Two-factor Authentication protects your WordPress login by adding an extra layer of security. In order to log in, you have to enter a time-sensitive code from another device, such as your smartphone. Two-factor Authentication is one of the finest ways to secure your WordPress login and almost eliminates the possibility of successful brute force attacks.
3) Keep your WordPress site Updated
One of the best methods to avoid any WordPress security issues is to keep your WordPress site updated. More than 86% of WordPress installations are running out-of-date WordPress versions.
Now login to your WordPress site and install any available updates for WordPress core, themes, and plugins. Make sure you have a valid license if you’re using premium WordPress plugins or themes to ensure you’re getting updates and not running outdated versions. Each WordPress update delivers new features and bug fixes, and security updates, which help your WordPress site remain safe from common, easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities. Updating the site is also helpful in WordPress maintenance service.
4) Limit Login Attempts
WordPress doesn’t limit how many times a visitor may try out different usernames and passwords throughout the login process. This is the source of many WordPress security problems created by unintended users. To avoid this and provide an extra layer of protection to WordPress websites, site administrators could install a limit login attempts plugin, stopping hackers from exploiting this vulnerability and executing a brute force login attack. This ingenious application will block the IP address of any potential hacker who attempts to access your WordPress site’s admin panel.
5) Install an SSL Certificate
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that encrypts data transit between your website and the user’s browser. This encryption makes it more difficult for someone to probe around and steal data.
After the release of Chrome 68, websites that load without HTTPS will be labelled as “not secure.” This implies that visitors who attempt to access sites that do not have an SSL certificate will receive a notice that the site is untrustworthy.
WordPress sites can be extremely safe if you take precautions to avoid, fix, or mitigate security vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them. Luckily, there are many easy and effective security practices you can perform to improve site security.
Contact us if you need to hire a WordPress developer. Do you have any WordPress security suggestions that we didn’t cover? If so, please share your comments below.