Being a popular CMS platform for close to one-third of total online websites, it’s no surprise that WordPress security is a key area of concern. A favored target of hackers, the WordPress platform in itself is a secure platform and monitored regularly for security issues and updates, but there are extensions, themes, and plugins from third-party sources that can single-handedly be the source of exploiting vulnerabilities for hackers.
Once they’re able to illegally access the site, the damage is not limited to stealing of sensitive information, fraud alerts, illegal pop-up ads, etc. You can also expect to be blacklisted by major search engines like Google, Bing, or McAfee, which leads to eventual, yet fast, loss of reputation, and trusted customer base.
Keeping this in mind, what are the different kinds of threats that a WordPress site owner should be cautious about?
1. Brute Force Attacks
These kinds of attacks majorly target your login credentials, its effectiveness dependent on their level of complexity. Many WordPress site owners use easy details to log in like ‘admin’, ‘admin123’, etc, which admittedly is easier to remember, but puts you under prominent danger of being the victim of brute force attacks.
Since hackers are aware of this issue, they create a database of such commonly used login credentials, after which they program bots to target multiple sites and rapidly try out all these username and password combinations. The weaker your login details are, the higher the chance of compromising your WordPress security, and the statistics are equally worrisome – close to 10% of such attacks turn out successful!
You can check out WordPress Hack & Malware Removal Guide for complete info & the fixation steps.
2. Injection Attacks
Everyone familiar with CMS platforms, websites, and related applications would be familiar with the term SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks. For better understanding, let’s use a simple example.
If your WordPress site has an input field, like a search bar, or a simple contact form for the users to communicate further with your site, or even a comments section, this is surprisingly a very dangerous loophole for hackers to insert malicious code. There should be proper configuration to check the legitimacy of the data, validate and decide if it’s clean enough to be accepted. This means, the space for phone numbers should only accept digits, email ids should strictly be in a valid form, etc.
If not, your WordPress security stands at risk as the data entered in this manner is generally accepted and processed without any checks or caution, making it very easy for hackers to illegally manipulate the site. They can insert malicious scripts that will allow them to externally control the database for conducting certain illegal functions, get full control of the site, and destroy WordPress security.
3. Vulnerable Extensions and Plugins
This is present in every WordPress security manual, both on the site and others with related information, but make sure to use trusted themes and plugins found in the official repository or other reputed marketplaces like ThemeForest.
Always monitor, update, and supervise your list of plugins – review the ones that are in use and ones that are inactive and not useful, and delete the latter. The ideal prescription is to use only those extensions, themes, or plugins that are actively used in the maintenance of the WordPress site. If you do not recognize any plugins on the list, immediately review these, as hackers often install their own plugins and themes to make backdoors available for future misuse, essentially ensuring a secret passage to your WordPress site.
Do not trust pirated plugins or extensions, as they are often the source of hidden and highly dangerous WordPress security vulnerabilities and loopholes, and/or malware that can immediately and effectively infect the site.
4. Stealing Cookies
Cookies are one of the basic foundations of 21st century internet usage, manufactured in a way to optimize every user’s web experience. In simpler words, cookies are what’s behind a site asking you if they can ‘save your password’ or ‘remember me’, so that the next time you get onto the same site, you are provided with a simpler, faster, and friendlier browsing experience.
Essentially, cookies are tiny bits of data that record interactions between your browser and the site, such as making note of the products your customers purchase. This data is then stored on Analytics, which pops up suggestions regarding similar products and shows ads of the same – cookies are even used to store highly sensitive information like bank details and login credentials. But, this proves to be a more difficult situation for WordPress security concerns, when hackers manage to steal the cookies, and consequently, the information with it.
Your websites and your business’ sensitive data lands in the hands of the wrong person, which is a significant hit to your WordPress security features.
These are a few of the many concerns every CMS platform user, especially WordPress site owners, needs to keep in mind and actively set up WordPress security features, so as to ensure your site’s best performance.