If you are searching for a CMS to start a website, WordPress would probably be your best bet. It is flexible, open-source, and easy to set up. WP also supports plenty of plugins and themes to maximize any site’s functionality.
With so many websites using WordPress, it became the most attacked content management platform. The minute you launch a new site, it begins to get torpedoed by bots that scan it for configuration slip-ups and security vulnerabilities.
Whereas WordPress Core gets regular updates and is really difficult to hack, third-party components are sometimes vulnerable. As per security experts from VPNBrains, themes and plugins are the weakest part of the WP ecosystem. Cybercrooks use them to take over websites.
The following article reflects several challenges related to WP security. It is intended to broaden your security horizons and maybe encourage you to rethink some protection methods.
Do not let the “set it and forget it” principle deceive you
The “set it and forget it” principle is a big misconception that can point you in the wrong direction. Numerous “one-size-fits-all” security plugins claim to offer ultimate protection in a snap. Unfortunately, this marketing mantra often lures some webmasters.
These products can give you a false sense of security but fail to remove the leading cause of website hacks. Such products follow a reactive protection approach and detect mostly mainstream viruses and vulnerabilities. This approach counters already known malicious code but cannot help with 0-day threats.
Another wrong assumption has to do with the idea that several security solutions can step up the security of your site. Quantity does not equal quality this time. Moreover, such a tactic causes conflicts. Security plugins implement overlapping config tweaks and deteriorate the website’s performance.
Instead of relying on a one-click WordPress security solution or a mix of several services, it is better to focus on proactive defense. For example, you can utilize a web application firewall to monitor anomalous traffic and protect against attacks that leverage 0-day vulnerabilities.
WP sites targeted by viruses
Hackers who deposit malicious code on WordPress websites have several reasons for that. They may wish to steal sensitive financial data, inject scripts to show ads, or mine cryptocurrencies.
Several recent malware outbreaks demonstrate how successfully malefactors may repurpose well-known and legitimate plugins in order to spread harmful payloads.
In many cases, outdated, not supported by developers, or crudely created themes and plugins become the primary entry points for viruses. The best recommendation here is to regularly update all these components. Before installing a new theme or plugin, it is vital to check the developer’s reputation. You should also attentively study users’ comments and feedback. Uninstall plugins you are not actively using.
When selecting a theme, stick with trusted providers like the original WordPress Theme Directory, TemplateMonster, or Themeforest. Using a security plugin with a virus scanning option makes sense but do not consider it a cure-all.
SQL injections still remain a significant problem
SQL injections zero in on databases. By executing special SQL commands, crooks may see, change, or delete data in your WP database. They can create new user accounts with admin rights and use them for various rogue activities. Often, SQL injections are pulled off via various forms created for user input, like contact forms.
To prevent SQL injects, it is good to shortlist user submission types on your website. For example, you can filter and block requests that include special characters unnecessary for specific web forms.
It is also good to add some kind of human verification (like the good old captcha) to the input process, as many of these attacks are carried out by bots.
Cross-site scripting leads to serious security issues
The main goal of an XSS attack is to riddle a website with code that will cause visitors’ browsers to run malicious commands. As these scripts come from trusted sites, Chrome and other browsers allow them to access sensitive information like cookies.
Hackers also utilize this method to change the website’s appearance and embed fake links and forms that lead to phishing.
One more exploitation vector involves drive-by exploits that require minimum or no user interaction to launch.
Unauthenticated adversaries can execute this form of abuse allowing malefactors to automate and reproduce the attack to reach their evil goals.
Again, vulnerable themes and plugins are often blamed for cross-site scripting incursions. Choose these components wisely and patch them regularly.
Weak authentication should be avoided by all means
Hackers continuously bombard sites with brute-force attacks. These attacks employ millions of username and password combinations to find a match. Proper WP password hygiene is crucial these days. The default username and weak passwords may lead to being hacked within several hours.
Use password managers to generate strong passwords and store them securely. Please mind that multi-factor authentication has become obligatory for websites in many industries these days. MFA makes brute-force attempts futile. At the same time, MFA may fail if someone is tapping into cell phone. So, be sure to keep your phone safe too.
Please also mind that adversary can figure out what sign-in page your site uses. It is not wise to use /wp-admin.php or /wp-login.php anymore. It is strongly advised to change it. Also, be sure to limit unsuccessful login attempts.
WP websites are suffering from DDoS attacks
Yes, it is not a WP-only problem. At the same time, given the domination of WP, DDoS operators mount their attacks against WordPress websites all the time. The principle of this DDoS attack is to flood a server with a tremendous amount of traffic. This method may knock the target site offline or make it inaccessible for most requests coming from legitimate users.
To minimize damages, WordPress site owners can outsource DDoS mitigation. Cloudflare, Sucuri, and other well-standing solutions may help here. A good hosting provider should be able to help too.
Be sure to use a proactive approach that eliminates dependency on constant virus removal and involves situational awareness. Keep your plugins and themes up to date. Install third-party components only when you really need them. Think of WP security as a process.