WordPress is the most widely used content management system (CMS) on the internet, supporting more than 30% of all websites online. Being the most widely used CMS platform also makes it highly vulnerable and a favorite target for cybercriminals and hackers. As a result, many WordPress threats and security issues can put your website and business at risk.
If you would like to know how to avoid common WordPress threats and protect your site and your business, you are not alone. Many other people have searched for the same information. This article will help you understand the common WordPress threats and how to avoid them to keep your site secure.
What Is Malware?
Before we proceed to understand how to avoid the most common WordPress threats, let’s understand what malware is, and what it does.
The term ‘malware’ is a contraction whose full meaning is malicious software and is currently one of the biggest cyber threats.
Malware are hostile and intrusive software programs designed with the sole intent to:
- Gain unauthorized access to a device
- Bypass access controls, and compromise its functions
- Steal information and data
- Encrypt files
- Cause harm to the device, its data, and applications
Cybersecurity experts note that malware is generally spread through vulnerable software, infected websites, file sharing, or email attachment downloads.
Some common types of malware include:
Malware keeps developing, evolving, and changing face to bypass security controls and continue causing threats to devices and websites.
What Is WordPress Malware?
Today, malware is among the most common WordPress threats. WordPress malware is the malicious programs that hackers use to attack WordPress sites or the programs through which attackers gain unauthorized access to your website. Hackers find weak points and vulnerabilities in WordPress websites and use them as injection points for malware entities.
Once a malware entity gains access to your site, they take control of your site and use it for malicious purposes.
The Most Common WordPress Threats and How to Avoid Them
The most common WordPress threats include:
- Plugin vulnerabilities
- Brute force attacks, including password hacking
- Core and theme vulnerabilities
- Hosting vulnerabilities
- SQL injections
Here, we explain what these threats are, what they do, and the key rules to observe to keep your site secure.
Plugins are the biggest security risks on WordPress. WordPress has tens of thousands of plugins, created by thousands of developers, some of whom are scammers, hackers, and other cybercriminals who use the plugins to inject malware into WordPress websites.
To avoid and protect your site from plugin vulnerabilities, you need to:
- Install as few plugins as possible to reduce the surface area of threats.
- Keep all the plugins updated to find and fix vulnerabilities.
- Avoid using abandoned plugins.
- Download plugins only from reputable sites.
- Remove the plugins you’re not using.
Brute Force Attack
A brute force attack involves a password guessing attack, where the attacker (often a bot) guesses as many username-password combinations as possible to find the right (valid) one for your site. A brute force attack can also be called password hacking.
Some tips to avoid hacking your site through brute force attack include:
- Use cellphone (two-factor authentication) sign-in, where an attacker must access your cellphone to succeed in accessing your website.
- Avoid using obvious (easily guessed) usernames and passwords.
- Enable login security in your Wordfence to gain from the long list of login security features, such as strong passwords, limited login trials, limited forgot passwords attempts, locking our invalid usernames, and preventing user name discoveries among other securities.
Core and Theme Vulnerabilities
We’re bundling these two together only because they have similar mitigation measures. All you need to do is keep your site updated all the time, including your plugins.
Typically, WordPress Core is more secure than plugins. The majority of successful WordPress site attacks rely on recently fixed vulnerabilities. Keeping your site up-to-date fixes such vulnerabilities.
Everyone can make mistakes. Equally, web hosting companies can also make mistakes, or their software may contain vulnerabilities. To avoid hosting vulnerabilities, choose a site host with a good security reputation, and avoid incompetent web hosting.
SQL injection sounds like a horrible malware. WordPress runs on an SQL database that can make your site vulnerable if a hacker has access to your SQL database. If a hacker can access your database, they can insert malicious URL links or create an admin account that helps them access your site whenever they want. With access to your website, they can have access to sensitive information, which may allow them to even change your website’s content.
Some tips to avoid or prevent SQL injections include:
- Keep your site updated to the latest WordPress version. Old WordPress versions are vulnerable to SQL injections.
- Use anti-malware plugins such as WordPress Security Scan to locate and fix your site’s vulnerabilities.
- Use up-to-date PHP versions that your hosting server allows reducing vulnerability levels.
- Always update your site’s plugins.
Here are other key rules to observe to ensure your site secure:
- Thoroughly scan your WordPress site to detect and prevent potential threats and malware. You can use anti-malware software such as Sucuri, Word defense, and Anti-Malware Security.
- Always use strong passwords for all your user accounts.
- Always keep your WordPress themes, core, and plugins up-to-date.
- Ensure your site has no sensitive files lying around.
- Remove all unmaintained and old web applications, including old backups.
It is the responsibility of security researchers and developers to keep WordPress sites secure, but they can only do so much. Site owners also need to do their part. Ensuring your WordPress site is safe involves understanding the threats and how you can both avoid and protect your site against common sources of threats.
We believe this article has been helpful in helping you understand how to avoid the most common WordPress threats. If you’d still like to learn more, kindly visit our other articles on WordPress threats and security.