Hackers use countless ways to gain control over WordPress websites. Some of the most common ones are backdoor attacks, SQL Injection, or a brute force attack.
A brute force attack is the most common and easy way to hack a website. You may never know you have been a victim of such an attack until your site is down.
In a brute force attack, hackers can use a wordlist with thousands of usernames and passwords to try out on the WordPress login page. This list has every possible combination in the formats like daniel/11, daniel/12, etc.
It is a tedious process, but with the help of software, it becomes super easy. In some cases, it could take seconds to crack particular, especially weaker, accounts.
Now, what if you lose your years of hard work on a website overnight? Scary, right? Well, you should not be as there are some concrete ways through which you can protect your website. By following them, you are very likely to stay safe.
What is a Brute Force Attack and How to Prevent it?
A brute force attack is a kind of hacking method in which a hacker uses automated software to crack the login credentials of a website.
The hacker may use complex algorithms, and once it gets the right combination of username and password, it can easily get into your website.
Such attacks might be directed against various types of services. Attackers could aim for users’ social media accounts or even online banking accounts.
However, such raids could also be targeted against WordPress websites. If the attack is successful, the perpetrator could make unsolicited modifications or perform an account takeover.
Types of brute force attacks
There are different brute force attacks circulating in the digital space. To protect your website and other accounts, you must know about each of them.
- Credential recycling:
- Dictionary attack:
- Reverse brute force attack:
As you know, some passwords are considered unsafe (yes, combinations like 123456789 are among them). However, it is not the only source hackers can turn to. Dozens of data breaches worldwide have resulted in an enormous number of passwords users set.
Thus, it could be the main inspiration for the brute force attack. For instance, if a specific attack targets your website specifically, a hacker might try to find a former password associated with you. It could be a password leaked by a completely different service. However, it can be used to hack into your WordPress website (if you use the leaked password for it).
The main source for these attacks is dictionaries. You might have thought it to be clever to use combinations of different words. However, it is not. Hackers can take whole dictionaries and run each word (or their combinations). Thus, you should not use dictionary words to protect any of your accounts, including WordPress.
In this case, the attacks are random typically. A hacker takes a popular password and runs it through various accounts. In some cases, these attackers might get lucky and access a random account using it.
Thus, brute force attacks differ in terms of what sources are used. It might be previously breached passwords, dictionaries, or known popular passwords.
Strengthen Your Password
Although there are many other ways to prevent a brute force attack, the strongest one is your login password. Ensure that you set a strong login password.
The word strong here does not mean David1234 or Daniel456. Such passwords are no longer safe. With the help of automated software, these can be cracked within seconds or minutes. Hence, set a password that satisfies the following conditions:
- It must be at least 12 characters long.
- It should not use the same character or number twice.
- Use special symbols like @#$%^&*<.>? etc.
- Using your name, date of birth, or any other similar personal information is never a good idea in passwords. Brute Force hackers can easily use them to hack into your account. So, it is always advisable to have a combination of uppercase letters, lower case letters, and special characters or digits.
- The password you set for your login page should be different from the one present in your database table, where WordPress stores all your users’ credentials.
Of course, you might feel confused as to how you are supposed to remember these combinations. Luckily, tools have been designed for exactly this purpose. Password managers are great additions to your digital arsenal.
They keep your passwords in a secure environment. The best thing is that you will only have to remember the password used to unlock your password manager. Everything else will be protected by the useful tool.
If you want to prevent your site from getting hacked through a Brute Force attack, you should consider using a firewall.
There are several plugins available that can remove the IP address of the attacker immediately after they have been detected trying out invalid credentials.
Other than this, a firewall can also help you in enforcing strong passwords, add CAPTCHA and geo-blocking. With the help of a firewall, you can also blacklist the suspicious IPs forever. If you are looking for a plugin, you can install the Wordfence Security plugin to perfectly secure your website from brute force attacks.
To some extent, it is understandable that the hacker got hold of your password. However, the next security level is a bit tough to crack. Two-factor authentication is sort of an impenetrable security measure that involves more than a password.
Nowadays, a password (even a strong one) is the minimum protection for accounts. There needs to be a third element, preventing unauthorized access even further. For this matter, two-factor authentication exists!
With 2FA, even if the hacker has your password, they won’t be able to hack your website as they will need a special login code commonly known as an OTP.
Once a user enters the user ID and password, an OTP is sent to their phone or mail, which can only be accessed by the legitimate user.
So, with 2FA, your website almost becomes impenetrable.
Limit the Login Attempts
The only reason a hacker can undertake the brute force attack is due to the number of login attempts they have. If you reduce the number of login attempts, there will be less possibility of a Brute Force Attack.
However, this may cause you inconvenience in the future if you forget your password.
Change the Login Page URL
Hackers are open to opportunities just because you provide them with. Most of the WordPress websites have the same login page URL elements such as /login, /wp-login.php, or /admin, etc. This provides the hacker an opportunity to hack into your website by going to the webpage and running the script.
To prevent this, you can make changes to the URL of the login page. Doing so will hide the login page and will make it tough for the hacker to get in. Although there are some methods to get around this, it will shield your website from most of the hacking attempts.
Check Data Breaches
As mentioned before, data breaches happen more frequently than we would like. Thus, it is essential to keep track of all the services you use. If in some case, a business suffers a data breach, you should be quick to react.
One of the first courses of action is to change your password. Do not wait around to find out whether someone will use it.
Of course, companies are required to let their users know that there are certain security issues (data breaches). Thus, keep an eye out for such messages and follow their guidelines.
Change your password regularly
Not all cybersecurity experts might agree with this recommendation. If a password is strong and has not been exposed, there might be no reason to change it. However, changing your passwords frequently could make it easier to protect your accounts.
For instance, if a password is compromised, the time that an attacker remains inside the hacked account is shorter.
However, please note that changing your password does not mean picking a weaker password. Your combination should be just as strong, if not more. It is one of the shortcomings that cybersecurity researchers mention when discussing frequent password changes.
A good website can take months to develop, and if you are not careful enough, your entire hard work can go down the drain within minutes. To ensure that you are not a victim of a brute force attack, keep your WordPress websites updated and follow all the above-mentioned ways strictly.
Moreover, to ensure that hackers do not steal your precious data, download a VPN app. It guarantees that everything you do online is encrypted. Thus, even if you connect to unsecured networks, your information will still receive the proper encryption. And, if you manage a WordPress website, you will likely work together with various colleagues.
Please pick secure collaboration tools and a robust environment for exchanging information. With such protection, brute force attacks or attempts to intercept your connection should be futile!