Ten Reasons of Security Threats to WordPress and their Solutions

Ten Reasons of Security Threats to WordPress and their Solutions

What is WordPress? 

WordPress is Content Management System (CMS) that can be used by anyone to host their website. People all around the globe use this tool to run their software houses and provide services to their clients. It basically provides a template system and plugin architectures to customize your own website. 

Why the Security of WordPress is Important?

As discussed above, WordPress press is used by people all across the world. So, a breach in its security can put a lot of data (shared or personal) at stake. Therefore, we should take as many measures as possible to ensure WordPress security. Following are some common reasons that cause security threats along with their possible solution. 

Outdated Software

WordPress usually releases updates after every three months mainly to fix bugs and to strengthen the security for the users. The software can be updated either manually or the user can enable the feature of auto-update. One of the top most reason for the WordPress security breach is the use of outdated software. According to the Sucuri database, Victor Santoyo said, “50.3% of infected WordPress websites are outdated.” 

The reason for the release of updates is to address the prevalent security threats, and not updating your site means you do not have the compatibility to fight those threats off. In order to secure your site from hackers, the most basic and easy thing to do is to keep your core software updated and your files up to date as well. 

Password Strength

The whole point of securing your site with a password is to allow zero access to unauthorized personnel or hackers. Hackers are usually intelligent people along with many other tools, they use a technique called Brute Force Attacks,  which means the attacker guesses a variety of passwords in hope of guessing the right one. People still use weak and short passwords and put their files to vulnerability. If a hacker cracks the password of the WordPress site, he will get access to all the files and data, putting everything in jeopardy. 

Therefore, it is very essential to use a strong, reliable, and different password that cannot be guessed easily by anyone. It is better to use a combination of alphabets, symbols, and numerals to make a strong password. Another handy trick is to use a lengthy password instead of a short one because it is less likely to be guessed. 

Unsecured Web Hosting

Websites hosted by WordPress are on a Web server. When a person or a company avails of this facility by WordPress, they sometimes do not secure their site properly. As discussed above, this makes it an easier target for hackers. It is worse in the case of a hosting company because if their system is not secure, the hosting provider can make all the other sites being hosted on that server prone to cyber-attacks. This will most certainly harm their reputation and the data they share with their clients. 

The best course of action in this regard is to avoid using shared servers because this makes your site vulnerable or opt for a reliable and secure server to have a good experience and improve WordPress security. 

No or poor SSL Certification

SSL, Secure Sockets Layers, ensures data encryption between you and your clients which provides an additional blanket of security to the site. It also helps to boast the website to make it more accessible to visitors. Having poor or no SSL Certification makes the site prone to cyber attacks, putting WordPress security at risk.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to install an SSL Certification on all your hosting sites. After that enable it on your WordPress account as well. After the activation, the URLs of your site can be changed from HTTP to HTTPS from the general settings. 

Inaccurate File Permission

Every web server uses a set of rules which allow access to all the files of the site. These rules are referred to as file permissions. If your file permissions are weak or inaccurate, it gives hackers a chance to overwrite or rewrite them, which in turn gives them accession to the files of the said site. 

To avoid this trouble and better WordPress security, you should make sure that the files on your site have file permission value of 644 and the folders on your WordPress site must have a file permission value as 755. 

Outdated Plugins or Themes

One of the features of WordPress is that it allows its users to create their own customizable themes and plugins. However, it is important for users to take proper security measures to avoid potential hackers. In order to do that, frequently updating your themes and plugins is a necessary step. According to data from WPScan, approximately 97% of the vulnerabilities in their database are plugins and themes and only 4% are core software. During WCEU 2022 session, Santoyo said, “In 2021, vulnerable plugins and extensions accounted for far more compromises than simply having the outdated core on your website.” 

In some cases, not all developers release updates with improved security features. So, this leaves easy accessibility for hackers to enter the site with outdated plugins or themes using basic tools. Thus, WordPress security is compromised. And in other cases, even if the developer has issued the proper update with additional security, the user or the owner of the site fails to update it. This also provides the hackers with an easy break-in point.
All of this can be avoided if the user or owner of the site updates its themes and plugins on regular basis. If you fear that updates will break your site, then keep a complete backup of your files in WordPress, but never continue using outdated plugins and themes. 

Cross-Site Scripting or XSS

Cross-Site Scripting, abbreviated as XSS, is a common technique used by hackers. Attackers usually add an infected code at the backend code of the targeted site and gain control over the functionality of the site. Sites with outdated core software, plugins, or themes are easy targets for this technique. These malicious codes can be disguised in the form of a link to an infected site which will open a gate to your data and files. 

No matter how effective the technique is or how intelligent the hackers are, you can always take prevention measures to shut down those points of vulnerability. In order to prevent yourself from XSS attacks, you must install a Web Application Firewall. Its job is to keep an eye on the traffic on your site and to prevent malicious visitors from entering your system from outside networks. In addition to this, always keep your software, plugins, and themes updated because most cyber attacks happen on outdated systems. 

Malware

Malware is a vicious software that hackers use to infiltrate the website. According to Sucuri’s data, 61.65% of their websites were polluted with malware in 2021The reason why WordPress security is compromised by malware is, again, outdated themes and plugins. Hackers are always on the lookout for weak points that they can manipulate to their advantage. They can crawl into your site and install faulty plugins among the legitimate ones and it often goes unnoticed. 

To ensure the WordPress security of your site, you should always abide by the types of files allowed by WordPress. Secondly, you should administer your plugins and themes regularly. Moreover, run security scans after regular intervals to identify any infected link or malware. You can also turn to WP scanners for this purpose. Install more strong security plugins for protection.

Structured Query Language (SQL) Injections

WordPress prefers SQL  for its data management. It is basically a programming language that helps in efficient access to the data stored on websites. Hence, it can be used by anyone, including hackers and people with malevolent intentions. There is a technique called SQL Injection, used by such ill-intentioned people to modify your site’s data directly. This also allows him access to make new accounts on your website, add infected links and steal, edit or remove data from your site. WordPress security has been threatened by this attack more easily because it was created on the basis which allows interactions among people and these SQL Injections also may come in the shape of a contact form or lead form. Therefore, when someone pursues these kinds of infected forms, the malicious code enters their site to modify the data from within the site. 

The reasonable way to avoid these kinds of attacks is to be on the lookout for every visitor on your site because anyone can be hiding such infected codes up their sleeves. It can incorporate into your SQL database. In addition to this, you can limit the entry of some characters into visitor submissions. Because symbols are used to create such codes and without permission of using them, the chances of these attacks can be minimized. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Spam

SEO is a process to maximize the chances of more traffic engagement to your website or web page on different search engines. Much like SQL Injections, this can also be manipulated by hackers for their advantage. What a hacker does is that he used the top-ranked pages or sites and incorporates them with spam keywords or even pop-up advertisements, so that they can sell things and benefit from someone else’s hard work. 

These attacks sabotage WordPress security as well because it is the most popular CMS. The reasons for successful SEO spam are mainly outdated software, plugins, and themes, inaccurate file permissions, or successful brute force attacks. Similar to many of the above-mentioned attacks like SQL Injections, these are also difficult to identify and usually go unnoticed by the owner of the site. Since these spam keywords are basically added to just the top-ranked pages of your site, it becomes difficult to catch them even during the site-wide review. The spam keywords are usually added in such a way as to keep the code of the page intact. 

Again, the easiest step to avoid such attacks is to keep your plugins and themes along with your core software updated and to use a strong password with accurate file permissions. WordPress security plugin also provides the option to scan for such malware. Try to keep an eye on your top-ranked pages and analyze the codes on a regular basis if you must. More traffic than usual out of the blue can also be a sign that a spam keyword may have been incorporated into your page code. Some internet browsers also notify you when your site is shown as a result of search words not related to it, hinting that it may have been attacked. These SEO spams must be identified and tackled, otherwise, all of your hard work will be in vain. 

 

Some other measures, like using proper security plugins to install two factors authentication to your WordPress account, backing up the data after regular intervals, putting a limit to login attempts, and turn the option of file editing off for the betterment of WordPress security. 

The above-mentioned reasons are the most common reasons that hover WordPress security and the majority of the infected sites or pages are under the cyber-attacks mentioned above. Triflers and hackers will always be on the lookout and will never miss any opportunity to hack into your system infecting it will all sorts of viruses or malware. Any small crack in your security can be a welcome sign for these unwelcomed humans. This is the reason, like every other platform, WordPress also encourages its users to keep their security walls tall and thick to keep these unwanted attackers away. But, the data released by Sucuri in 2021 shows that most of the sites which are infected because of outdated software or plugins and themes. The importance of updating your software along with the plugins and themes can not be emphasized more, as it makes the site vulnerable to most cyber attacks. The updates are released to deal with the security threats in the first place, and not being compatible with the new updates is like an invitation to the ill-intended people over the internet. You should keep your software, plugins, and themes updated and always run regular scans to detect any malicious code, link, or file for that matter. Use a strong and surmised password to make your experience at WordPress comfortable and fruitful. 

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