What is WordPress?
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that anyone can use to host their website. People all around the globe use this tool to run their software houses and provide services to their clients. It provides a template system and plugin architectures to customize your website.
Why is the security of WordPress important?
As discussed above, WordPress press is used by people worldwide. 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.
WordPress usually releases updates every three months mainly to fix bugs and strengthen the users’ security. The software can be updated manually, or the user can enable the feature of auto-update. One of the top reasons for the WordPress security breach is outdated software. According to the Sucuri database, Victor Santoyo said, “50.3% of infected WordPress websites are outdated.”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. To secure your site from hackers, the most basic and easy thing is to keep your core software updated and your files up to date.
Securing your site with a password is to allow zero access to unauthorized persons or hackers. Hackers are usually intelligent people and 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, jeopardizing everything.
Therefore, it is 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 not securing their site(s) properly will make all the other sites being hosted on that server prone to cyber-attacks. This will certainly harm their reputation and the data they share with their clients.
In this regard, the best course of action is to avoid using shared servers. 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 boost the website to make it more accessible to visitors. Having a poor or no SSL Certification makes the site prone to cyber attacks, putting WordPress security at risk.
Therefore, installing an SSL Certification on all your hosting sites is highly recommended. After that, please 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 site files. 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 ensure that the files on your site have a file permission value of 644, and the folders on your WordPress site must have a file permission value of 755.
Outdated Plugins or Themes
One of the features of WordPress is that it allows its users to create customizable themes and plugins. However, users must take proper security measures to avoid potential hackers. 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 the 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 site’s user or owner fails to update it. This also provides the hackers an easy break-in point.
All of this can be avoided if the user or owner of the site updates its themes and plugins regularly. 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 to the backend code of the targeted site and gain control over the site’s functionality. The sites with outdated core software, plugins, or themes are easy targets for this technique. These malicious codes can be disguised as a link to an infected site that 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. To prevent yourself from XSS attacks, you must install a Web Application Firewall. Its job is to keep an eye on your site’s traffic and 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 is malicious software that hackers use to infiltrate a website. According to Sucuri’s data, 61.65% of their websites were polluted with malware in 2021
WordPress security is compromised by malware, again, outdated themes, and plugins. Hackers are always looking for weak points they can manipulate to their advantage. They can crawl into your site and install faulty plugins among the legitimate ones, which often go 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 powerful security plugins for protection.
Structured Query Language (SQL) Injections
WordPress prefers SQL for its data management. It is 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 evil intentions. There is a technique called SQL Injection, used by ill-intentioned people to modify your site’s data directly. This also allows him 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. These SQL Injections also may come in the shape of a contact form or lead form. Therefore, when someone pursues these infected forms, the malicious code enters their site to modify the data from within the site.
The reasonable way to avoid these 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 be incorporated into your SQL database. In addition, you can limit the entry of some characters into visitor submissions. Because symbols are used to create such codes, without permission to use 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, hackers can also manipulate this for their advantage. What a hacker does is that he uses 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 also sabotage WordPress security 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 attacks mentioned earlier, like SQL Injections, these are also difficult to identify and usually go unnoticed by the site’s owner. Since these spam keywords are 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, themes, and core software updated and use a strong password with correct file permissions. WordPress security plugin also provides the option to scan for such malware. Keep an eye on your top-ranked pages and analyze the codes regularly if necessary. More traffic than usual out of the blue can also signify that a spam keyword may have been incorporated into your page code. Some internet browsers also notify you when your site is shown in the 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 your hard work will be in vain.
Some other measures include using proper security plugins to install two-factor authentication to your WordPress account, backing up the data after regular intervals, limiting login attempts, and turning the option of file editing off to improve WordPress security.
The reasons mentioned above are the most common reasons that hover WordPress security, and most 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 and infect it with all sorts of viruses or malware. Any small crack in your security can be a welcome sign for these unwelcomed humans. This is why, like every other platform, WordPress 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 infected sites are 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 ill-intended people over the internet. It would be best to keep your software, plugins, and themes updated and always run regular scans to detect any malicious code, link, or file. Use a strong and surmised password to make your experience at WordPress comfortable and fruitful.