Here are 5 Vulnerabilities That Can Get Your WordPress Site Hacked!
Worried About a Website Hack? 5 Vulnerabilities That You Must Fix Today!
$26.5 billion. That’s how much website downtime costs businesses in lost revenue every year.
Lost customers, lowered SEO rankings, loss of revenues, and a huge impact on the brand image - these are just some of the ways a hacked or crashed website affects all kinds of online businesses. Not to mention all the wasted effort towards designing a website and running it.
While there are multiple reasons that can cause website downtime, the biggest one is your website getting hacked. WordPress websites are at additional risk of being hacked, thanks to the popularity of WordPress. Thankfully, most of these attacks can be averted - if you are aware of and act on some common website vulnerabilities that hackers exploit.
In this article, we take you through the five most common vulnerabilities that comprise the security of a WordPress site. Let’s get started.
1. Outdated WordPress Versions
As with any good software development organization, WordPress also releases major and minor versions of the WordPress core. With each update, users receive new and enhanced features, bug fixes, and security patches that remove any security vulnerabilities from the website.
This is also true for plugins/themes that are regularly updated by their respective developers.
However, a majority of users continue to run their website on outdated versions of the Core WP and plugins/themes. This makes it easy for hackers to find a weakness in an older version and exploit it in websites using the same version.
What is the fix? Make updating your WP and plugins/themes to the latest available version a part of your website maintenance plan. If you manage multiple sites, you can use a WordPress management tool like WP Remote to apply bulk updates to all your websites in one go. Security plugins like MalCare also offer WordPress management functionality to manage your websites centrally. As WP updates can sometimes break websites, we also recommend you use staging plugins to test your updates on a staging site before merging them with the live website.
2. Pirated Plugins/Themes
To save money, many users install pirated plugins/themes, that are free copies of popular and premium plugins/themes. However, on the flip side, pirated plugins/themes pose a security threat to your website as they are known to contain hidden vulnerabilities and backdoors that hackers can use to gain entry into and damage your WordPress installation.
What is the fix? The first step is to remove or uninstall any pirated plugins/themes from your site. Additionally, check for any inactive or unused plugins/themes. These are not updated by their developers, and are, therefore, risky too. Replace them with better plugins/themes from the official WP repository or trusted sites.
Checkout this list of tools that can help secure your WordPress site.
3. WordPress Login Page
Hackers often target your main login page or admin account, as it gives them greater control over your website resources. Login pages can be accessed at a default location (example, https://<mysite.com>/wp-admin). Here, hackers deploy brute force attacks that use automated bots to guess your account’s login credentials.
In other words, they try to forcefully break into your admin account by guessing the username-password combination. To make it easier for hackers, users often use weak usernames and passwords (such as “password” or “123456”).
What is the fix? You can prevent such attacks by changing the URL of your login page URL. This ensures that people are less likely to gain access to your login.
Another step is to strengthen your login credentials. To achieve this, you need to configure unique usernames for each user, along with strong passwords that are hard to guess even for automated bots. As a practice, ensure that your password is a minimum of 12 characters long and consists of a mix of upper-case and lower-case alphabets, numbers, and special symbols (example, “Pa$$w0rd_6510).
4. WordPress Admin Users
For any site, you need administrators (users with “admin” rights) to perform critical functions like installing/removing plugins and themes, creating more users, assigning user roles, and modifying core files.
Due to their higher privileges, admin user accounts are often targeted by hackers, as it allows them to inflict the most damage on any WP installation. The problem arises when site owners assign the admin role to many users, instead of restricting the function to 1 or 2 trusted users. Too many admin users on your website offer greater opportunities for hackers to break into their accounts.
What is the fix? Restrict the number of admin users to two or maximum, three users, who need admin privileges to do their job. For the rest, you can assign lower priority. These include Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber roles, each with decreasing authority levels.
You can easily assign or change user roles from your dashboard. This way, even if hackers manage to break into your user accounts, they will not have adequate powers to damage your backend files.
5. HTTP Mode
The final vulnerability in sites is that most of them continue to operate in HTTP mode. You can see this if you look at your website URL – does it begin with http:// or https://?
If it’s HTTP, the data transferred from this website to any user browser is not encrypted and can be intercepted by hackers. On the other hand, HTTPS, or Secure HTTP websites encrypt every data byte transmitted to the browser. Thanks to this, hackers cannot decipher the data even if they manage to capture it.
What is the fix? Move your site from HTTP to HTTPS by obtaining an SSL certificate. You can get this security certificate from your current hosting company. Alternatively, you can get your website SSL-certified by installing an SSL plugin like Let’s Encrypt or Really Simple SSL.
Considering the impact of the Covid crisis, most small and large businesses are primarily dependent on their website to reach their customers. The last thing you need is any website downtime that can frustrate your customers and force them to look for other alternatives.
Although there is no such thing as 100% immunity from hackers, as they keep devising innovative ways of compromising websites. However, the best you can do is to make their job harder. Fixing the five vulnerabilities in this article can go a long way to secure your site from hackers. That being said, we highly recommend investing in a security plugin like Sucuri or MalCare that regularly scan and remove even the hardest to detect malware. MalCare even has an inbuilt firewall that tracks every IP or traffic request to your website and blocks bad traffic from even reaching your site.
Have you had any faced any major security vulnerabilities that have caused your site to crash or malfunction? Are there any additional security measures you recommend? Do let us know in the comments below.