Exploring Common WordPress Security Issues

WordPress has undoubtedly become the leading CMS provider in the world. Nearly 455 million websites are hosted using the WordPress CMS. Besides the number of websites hosted on it, WordPress is also the leading CMS provider with a market share of 61.8%. Joomla, another CMS provider and a competitor of WordPress, holds a market share of a mere 6% only.

Despite being the leading CMS provider, WordPress does have certain shortcomings also. One should know both pros and cons of using WordPress as the CMS for his website. One of the most significant drawbacks of WordPress lies with its weak security mechanism. Security has always been a reason to worry for its users.

What Makes WordPress Vulnerable?

Various reasons make WordPress a soft-target and vulnerable to several security issues). These reasons include-

Weaker Passwords

Having a weak password on your WordPress site represents one of the significant vulnerabilities that you should avoid at all times. As a website owner, make sure that your WordPress admin password is strong containing a mix of characters, symbols and numbers. Also, you should never use your WordPress admin password for any other online account.

Not Updating WordPress Add-ons

It is quite clear that if you don’t use the latest WordPress and its associated add-ons like themes and plugins, your website will serve as a potential target for any cyberattack. Usually, the updates of add-ons come with an additional layer of security, filling in the patches that might have existed in the previous versions. Thus, it would be best if you kept the latest add-ons on your WordPress website.

Using Add-ons from Non-Reliable Sources

An insecure or outdated PHP code can prove to be one of the most common ways in which an attacker can exploit WordPress vulnerability on your site. As a best practice, you should always install plugins and themes from trusted sources only.

Using Poor Quality Shared Hosting

Your WordPress resides at a server, makes it a potential target for attackers. Having a poor quality shared hosting can make your WordPress site more exploitable for web vulnerabilities. Shared hosting can also be a concern for you since multiple websites are hosted on a single server. If one website on the hosted server gets attacked, then the attacker can easily get away with the data of other websites hosted on the server. Thus, to ensure maximum security of your WordPress site, you should consider VPS hosting as it assures that website is hosted and stored on its own server.

So, what are these WordPress-related security issues that have been bothering its users. Let’s find out in the following section-

WordPress Security Issues

Malware

Malware refers to a malicious code that is used for gaining unauthorized access to either website or data. In the case of WordPress sites, malicious code is injected by cybercriminals to gain access to key website files. As a website owner, how can you determine if your WordPress has been under a malware attack? You just need to have a look at the recently modified file. This is the most primary cue for detecting malware on a WordPress site. Malware has no fixed form.

Some common ways in which malware can be injected on a WordPress site includes-

  • Malicious redirects
  • Backdoor attacks
  • Downloads driven malware
  • Pharma hacks

As a website owner, there is some positive news also. You can quickly identify these malware types and remove them as well. You just need to do is remove the files that have been infected by malware and then install the latest WordPress version and then restore your WordPress site from the backup that you have taken. Remember, that you have taken the backup of your site’s data before wiping out malware from your infected website.

SQL Injections

Whenever a database is created on a WordPress website, it uses a MySQL database. Cyber attackers inject malicious codes in the SQL queries and then redirect them to your website. When your server responds to these infected queries, the security of your WordPress site gets compromised, giving easy access to the database data to hackers. Once hackers have successfully penetrated your network, they tend to create new admin profiles, resulting in complete control of the website. Hackers also make use of SQL injections for inserting new data into your pre-existing databases, which might contain corrupt, malicious links and websites containing a lot of spam.

Exploits Related to File Inclusion

Any WordPress website has a code that is usually written in the PHP language. The same language is also written for WordPress plugins and themes present on a site. Attackers are always looking to gain advantages of loopholes that might be present in the website’s PHP code. In case hackers are successfully to find one, they’ll definitely go for file inclusion exploits. These loopholes aid hackers to load and run remote files, resulting in unauthorized access to your website. This is a common type of attack since hackers can easily get access to your wp-config.php data. This file is crucial for the installation of any WordPress website.

Cross-Site Scripting

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) forms a significant portion of the security vulnerabilities that occur on the Internet. Besides being a common Internet vulnerability, XSS attacks are also one of the most common vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins. In an XSS attack, the attacker follows malpractices to get his victim loaded to a webpage containing insecure JavaScript web scripts. These web scripts load in the background, without the visitor’s consent and then use it for getting away with the data from the victim’s browsers. The attacker gets away with critical data whenever the user enters his inputs on the infected webpage. A website vulnerability scanner can also identify such XSS attacks taking place on a WordPress site.

Brute Force Attack

In a brute force, attackers deploy a trial and error method, using different combinations of login credentials and exhausting all the chances. With a brute force attack, if the chances get over, hackers can penetrate your account. The brute force attack method is the simplest of all vulnerabilities attacks for gaining access to your WordPress site. WordPress doesn’t restrict the login attempts of a user, making it easier for the bots to attack your WordPress site. Multiple failed login systems can overload the hosted server, leading to your website slowing down.

Conclusion

On a concluding note, as a WordPress website owner, you must make sure that you are well aware of all possible vulnerabilities that might hamper your website’s performance. The security of your WordPress site is essential as it contains a lot of crucial data. Any loss to this data can disrupt operations and working of your business.

News Reporter
Rishabh Sinha joined ESDS after completing his MBA in Marketing from NMIMS. He is passionate about writing articles on latest technological trends such as Big Data, VR, IoT, AI.