WordPress is a well-known open-source PHP based CMS (Content Management System) platform used for writing blogs and developing websites. Easy accessibility of WordPress leads to a variety of threats and malware attacks. WordPress security is the highest priority for any organization that has a website. In addition, Google’s rule on blacklisting all websites with malware and threats, is yet another reason to consider WordPress security cardinal.
Reasons that lead to WordPress Website Hacking
There are umpteen reasons how and why a WordPress website is hacked. Here the top of the charts list.
- WordPress Update: WordPress is highly maintained and updated regularly and these updates need to be implemented on the WordPress website instantly. By ignoring WordPress website updates, one allows threats to harm your website. WordPress ensures that every latest updated version involves improvements and security updates, which addresses existing threats, and when a website is not adhering to these updates, the organization is exposing the website to threats, malware, and hacking.
- Default Admin Login: Even kids these days understand that the default URL for an admin panel login page is probably the most used link, for instance, com/wp-admin. This predictability makes it easy for attackers to hack/phish the website. Hackers and attackers usually try various combinations of username and password for hacking a program; setting an obvious or easy to hack username and password will aid bots crack the credentials and access the admin panel with ease, allowing the attackers to go ahead with their malicious activities.
- Common WordPress Folders: WordPress has common folders across all websites, such as Plugins folder, Themes Folder, Uploads folder, etc. The website owner can add a different folder, and so can hackers. They can enter malicious code in it.
- Insecure HTTP Server: A WordPress site can be hosted on an insecure HTTP server, which gives way to hackers to steal credit card information by intercepting the connection.
- Inactive Users: Users, especially Administrators, have access to modify content, and every User with a weak Username and Password is a threat to the website. When it is necessary to retain users, it is advised to change the role of the User from Administrator to Subscriber to avoid weak links.
Measures to ensure WordPress Website Security
- Keep it up to date: Keep your WordPress, plugins and themes up to date with their respective latest versions. Every new version of WordPress brings new features along with bug fixes and security fixes. Avoid unnecessary plugins and themes to reduce the vulnerability of the website. Always download plugins and themes only from trusted sources. Reading about the plugins, checking the reviews and number of downloads will help make the decision. Also, ensure that these plugins and themes sources provide regular updates, meaning even if there are bugs, the source should ensure an update or a fix.
- Security Firewall Plugin: Install a security firewall plugin to scan your website regularly. The firewall plugin allows periodic scanning of the website, malware removal, and track any update on the website such as login details, documents trail, suspicious login attempts, etc.
- Customize Admin URL: Change admin login default URL /wp-admin to your custom URL using the updated plugin and limit the wrong login attempts, to reduce the exposure to unauthorized users.
- Rename WordPress Database Prefix: While setting up a website, the default prefix used for the database is ‘wp_’, and most admins ignore changing the default settings, making it easier for hackers. Spammers and hackers run codes that mass attack ‘wp_’ files. Rename the default WordPress database prefix, rename WordPress tables, and User Meta tables. Always remember to backup WordPress files before making any changes.
- Avoid Common Usernames: Admin, wp-admin, etc., are truly common usernames that do not hold any strength against hackers. Using these usernames for the primary administrator user account makes the website vulnerable and easy to hack. Always have complex usernames and never have a username that appears anywhere on the website; for instance, you should not have an author name as is as a username.
- Strong Password: Using a strong password is given. However, users do not pay great attention to work-related passwords as much they need to. As a brand guideline, encourage all users to use unique username and passwords. Every password should be at least eight characters and should include all of the following.
- One uppercase
- One lowercase letter
- One number
- One special character
- No spaces
- Timely Backup: Be prepared for any adversity that the future holds, and make regular backups of all files and databases of WordPress website. Even in drastic conditions where an administrator is locked out, the backups can come handy.
- Disable PHP Execution: Block the PHP execution to untrusted folders manually by using the .htaccess file or plugin. Folders such as uploads, themes, plugins by default have read and write access, ensure these rights are allocated based on user roles.
- SSL Certificates: Secure WordPress website through Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to avoid any data leaks. Run your website HTTPS server to protect the data from getting stolen.
- User Rights: There are five different default users in WordPress. Each role has its own significance. Understand the user roles and assign access rights for each user role. Always remove access to any abandoned users. If an employee leaves an organization, the respective User should be either removed or transferred based on the requirement. Any unused or dormant user can be a weak link for hackers to enter.
Ensuring these measures are implemented effectively will close doors to any hackers or spammers or anyone phishing.
WordPress is an Open Source CMS which is free, but it does have some paid plugins. To secure the WordPress website, we need to take some actions on a regular basis. Always keep security and firewall plugins active to avoid all vulnerabilities. The best way is to keep a regular tab on your website and have a monthly or a fortnightly maintenance calendar to avoid missing out on any checks and maintain a secured website.
MetaSys has hands-on experience for more than two decades in providing custom software solutions. If you are looking for a WordPress expert to help you with WordPress website development or WordPress Security integration, you are at the right place. Get in touch with us and we will solve all your tech challenges.