If you have a WordPress site, you are among 34% of the total website owners on the planet.  Website security is a huge recommendation for WordPress itself, as it clearly has a “corner on the market.”  But even the best content management system is not without flaws.  And, in the case of WordPress, there are a few flaws that can threaten a website’s security. Let’s unpack these potential threats and look at ways in which they can be avoided.

General Information About Vulnerabilities

First of all, remember that WordPress is open source.  There are individuals and groups that are working to find and then fix the security issues that they find in the source code.  And those fixes are pushed out to users in the form of updates.  So, whatever else you do, updating to the most current versions is critical.

Second, remember that vulnerabilities do not just exist in the core. They exist in plugins and themes that an owner installs. In fact, there are as many as 2,837 security issues, divided as follows:

  • 11% from themes
  • 14% from core
  • 75% from plugins

Most security issues occur when a hacker gains access to your site on the administrator level either through your dashboard or by inserting malicious scripts or files on your server. Bang – you are compromised.

If you are wondering how this is done, here are the five most common methods, and how you can prevent them in advance.

1. Bot Attacks

This is probably the easiest form of attack by hackers (called Brute Force). Basically, they run combinations of usernames and passwords through their spy software programs until they hit “pay dirt.”

Be aware that WordPress does not limit the number of tries before it locks a user out. And even if the hacker is not successful, the attack can overload your system and slow your site down. Worse, you might face suspension if you are overloading a shared host.

The obvious fix for this, as learned by Top Essay Writing, is to limit the number of allowed login attempts and then add a security question. As well, use a strong password that you don’t use anywhere else.

2. Vulnerable PHP Code

These are called code injection attacks. If there are vulnerabilities in the PHP code that is running your WordPress site, a hacker can inject code that changes the execution course. Here how this works.

There is a vulnerability in the code. You then load remote files, and hackers come in through them to access your WordPress configuration PHP file. The malicious code that has been injected can compromise your database, privacy, and security. Most often these attacks are used to get sensitive information from your database or modify that database in some way.

3. SQL Injections

WordPress website databases use MySQL for operations. If a hacker gains access to your database, all sorts of terrible things can occur. He can create a new administrative user account and then log in to everything on your site. He can place new data into your database, even linking to malicious websites.

Most often, though SQL injections are used to get to sensitive information in your database, such as customer personal and financial information. Retailers are especially vulnerable, as are health care providers. SQL code injection, for example, was one element in the huge Target breach several years ago – credit card information of some 40 million people was accessed.

The best protection against injections of any kind is, first, to keep everything updated, including your plugins and themes. As soon as you get notification of an update, download it immediately. They often include security patches.

As well, remember that badly-written code is vulnerable to injections. You should only install plugins and themes from known and reputable sources, like WordPress.org or other sources that have been around for a while. And do not take the free downloads from premium sources or that have been bootlegged. Those files can contain injections.

Classy Essay is a writing service that does business with a lot of third parties that often have access to some of their files. It recommends that anyone in a similar situation ensure that those third parties have top security measures in place. If they do not have the top security measures in place, injections can come through them. This is what happened to Target. Its HVAC vendor did not have proper security in place.

4. Malware

This is software code that hackers use to gain access to a website. The purpose is to get sensitive data, usually financial and personal information housed within the site’s files. Usually, hacked files are easy to detect because they been changed in some way. While there are a huge number of malware types and infections, there are some that are most common to WordPress.

Malware is easy to clean out. You can remove the malicious file, delete an infected file (if you have a backup off-site), install a new version of WordPress, or you can restore your existing site to a previous backup one. Be Graded, an online writing service, was glad it had a backup site when it was hit with several malware breaches all at once.

Security is one example of why business-level hosting is vital.  Our WordPress Hosting option we provide here at WebWize, WPEngine provide staging servers and continual website back-ups, saving hours of time and effort to fight such hacks.  In addition, WPEngine provides nightly security scans of all client websites they host, confirming no vulnerable plugins have been installed or need vital updates. You can not put a value on this level of hosting security

5. Cross-Site Scripting (aka XSS)

These are found in plugins. Here’s how it works. The hacker gets his victim to load web pages with Javascript scripts that are not secure. The victim doesn’t realize these scripts are loading. They are then used to steal information from the victim’s browser. With cross-scripting, a visitor thinks he is on the real website and will then provide information that is requested.

Some General Tips to Reduce Your Vulnerability

  1. Passwords: This was already mentioned but it is worth repeating. It’s so easy to avoid vulnerability if you have strong complex passwords that you use nowhere else. And change them periodically.
  2. Updates: Again, this is worth repeating. Download updates as soon as they are available. Running the latest versions of everything means you also have the latest security patches.
  3. Low Quality Hosting or Shared Hosting. Make sure that the host you use implements the latest security measures. And there is a problem with shared hosting. Some breaches into one server will spread to other sites on that same server. Having a VPN is best, even though it is pricier.
  4. Security Plugin

There are several good WordPress security plugins. While they may not provide 100% protection, they will add some layers for you.

6. Two-Factor Authentication
This will also add one more layer of protection for your login. You have a password and then a code can be sent to another of your devices, such as your phone.  It is time-sensitive.  This will almost completely eliminate bot attacks.  James Cooper, a website administrator for Studyker, swears by two-factor authentication: “We were victims of a brute force attack, and our site was badly compromised. Now, all of our permissioned staff must use two-factor authentication to access the files, and we have not have another incident.”

7. Run Your Malware Scans
This is a regular and easy activity. Get a malware scan service, and you will have a regular report.

8. Back-ups
If you are smart and host with a business-level hosting provider provided here at WebWize, back-ups are included with hosting, otherwise you will need to purchase a backup plugin and run regular backups and store them off-site on your own time.

Author Bio:
Angela Baker is a self-driven writing specialist and blogger, currently working for several writing services, including Write Scout, Subjecto, and as an editor and blogger for what she states is the best online essay writing services review agency. She is an avid self-learner who believes that everyone should broaden their horizons in some way each day. To round out her current writing activities, she is a frequent contributor to LiveInspiredMagazine.

About Glenn Brooks

Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.