A comprehensive guide to WordPress security issues in 2024

A comprehensive guide to WordPress security issues in 2024

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System(CMS). WordPress security issues are an essential part of WordPress users.But this popularity comes at a price. WordPress-insecure websites can be an easy target for hackers looking to leverage known vulnerabilities to their advantage.

After a fresh installation, WordPress is 99.99999% secure. But it may become vulnerable as time passes and as you scale your website by employing plugins or themes and bringing traffic down the line. 

Note that WordPress security is all about risk reduction, not risk elimination. Since risk will never go away, maintaining the security of your WordPress website will always need regular evaluation of attack routes and potential dangers.   

In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of WordPress security issues and guidelines on the steps you can take to protect your site and your traffic from hackers and malware.  

Why is WordPress security important? 

wordpress-security-importance

If you want to keep your websites safe, you need to protect them against malware, phishing, and DDoS attacks. The income and reputation of your company could suffer significantly from a compromised WordPress website. Hackers can install dangerous software, disseminate malware to your users, and steal passwords and user information.

Even worse, you might have to reimburse criminals for their ransomware to get back access to your website. In addition, Google blacklists about 20,000 websites every week for malware and over 50,000 for phishing. WordPress security is something you should take additional care of if your website is a business.

As an online business owner, you must safeguard your company website, in the same like physical store owners must safeguard their establishments. 

How safe is WordPress security?

safe-secure-wordpress

Most people agree that WordPress is a secure content management system. But just like other CMS, if you don’t invest to secure your website, it may be open to attacks. There’s no avoiding the fact that WordPress-powered websites are frequently the target of hacks. 

A firewall service called WordFence stopped an astounding 18.5 billion password assault requests on WordPress websites, according to its WordPress security report. 

Remember that WordPress created 43% of the internet. Even accounting for WordPress’s market share, approximately twenty billion attacks are still significant. 

Now that you are aware of the details let’s go back a little. Keep in mind that these numbers are not WordPress’ fault before deleting your WordPress account. Rather, to be more precise, there is a problem with the WordPress software.       

As a result, there are actions you, as a responsible user, may take to support WordPress security initiatives. WordPress has a large security team of elite researchers and engineers who seek for weaknesses in its system. So they can address any problems before a hacker gets access to it. 

Additionally, the security team refreshes their software regularly with security patches. The way WordPress makes itself available to users may cause issues for WordPress sites. Using open-source software has several advantages, including the ability to optimize it, endless customization and accessibility for all users. Consequently, tens of thousands of developers have produced themes and plugins that greatly expand this platform’s capability.

What are some common WordPress security issues?

security-issue-wordpress

So what happens if you don’t take any action to secure your WordPress website and you ignore the statistics? It turns out that a lot is possible. These are a few of the most typical kinds of cyberattacks that target WordPress websites. 

Brute-force login attempts

brute-force-attack

This type of attack is among the most straightforward. It happens when an automated system rapidly enters many username-password combinations to guess the correct credentials. Not just logins but any password-protected data can be accessed using brute-force hacking. 

Cross-site scripting (XSS)

cross-site-scripting-attack

The XSS attack comes next. This kind of attack happens when a hacker “injects” harmful code into the target website’s backend to steal data and severely impair the functionality of the website. 

You can add the code to the backend with more intricacy. Or, the user can submit it as a straightforward answer to a visible form. Be careful of this. 

Database injections

database-injection

This kind of attack is also known as SQL injection. It happens when a hacker uses user input like a contact form to upload a string of malicious code into a website. 

After that, the website keeps the code in its database. Similar to an XSS attack, the website executes malicious code to obtain or compromise private data stored in a database.  

Backdoors

backdoor-attack

A common attack technique is also a backdoor. It contains code that allows a hacker to bypass the standard WordPress login process and access your website whenever they want. 

Backdoors are typically hidden among other WordPress source files by attackers, making it challenging for novice users to locate them. Attackers can create new versions of this backdoor and use them to get around your login even after it is deactivated.  

Denial-of-service (DoS)

Dos-attack

Attacks with Denial-of-Service (DoS) The next kind of assault is a popular one called a denial-of-service attack. Authorized people are unable to access certain websites because of these attacks. 

The most common way for DoS attacks to occur is when a server is overloaded with traffic, leading to a crash. When numerous machines launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assault simultaneously, the consequences are exacerbated. 

Phishing

phising-attack

Phishing is a term you may already be acquainted with. It happens when a hacker gets in touch with a target by pretending to be a trustworthy business or service. Phishing attempts usually ask the victim to download software. 

It provides personal information, or even visit a risky website that could damage their computer. An attacker may even plan phishing assaults on your clients by impersonating you if they manage to gain access to your WordPress account. It’s not excellent for your company’s reputation, as you can probably understand.

Hotlinking

hotlinking

Hotlinking is the practice of having content (usually an image) that is housed on your website. It shows on another website without permission, giving the impression that the content is original. 

Usually illegal, hotlinking puts the victim in a difficult situation because they have to pay each time content is copied from their server and shown on another website. It resembles theft more than a serious assault. 

Plugins

plugins

Most WordPress security lapses are the result of third-party plugins. You shouldn’t discount any of them, though they give some great extras that improve the functioning of your website.

Plugins are a typical way for hackers to interfere with the operation of your website because third parties develop them and provide them access to the backend.

Outdated WordPress version

outdated-wordpress-version

WordPress sometimes releases new versions of its software to patch security vulnerabilities. When fixes come out, the vulnerabilities become public knowledge and problems with old versions of WordPress are often targeted by hackers. You can avoid this issue by keeping your site up to date.

The login page

the-login-page

The backend login page for any WordPress website, by default, is the site’s main URL with “/wp-admin” or “/wp-login.php” added to the end. 

Attackers can easily find this page and attempt a brute-force entry. By keeping your passwords varied and complex, you can avoid the odds a hacker will accurately guess yours.

Outdated themes

outdated-themes

Your WordPress theme can open your site up to cyberattacks. Outdated themes may be incompatible with the most recent version of WordPress, allowing easy access to your source files. 

Also, many third-party themes do not follow WordPress’ standards for code, causing compatibility issues and similar vulnerabilities. Once again, research before adding a theme to your site.

WordPress security best practice: 15 WordPress security issues you need to take care of:

1. Secure your login procedures

secure-login-procedure

Since it plays a major role in maintaining the security of your website, this is step one. Maintaining the security of your accounts against unauthorized login attempts is the first and most important step in website security. 

2. Use strong passwords

strong-password

Even though we thought automobiles would fly in the future, people are still using “123456” as a password this year. All users who have access to your WordPress site’s backend are required to log in with secure passwords.

For all other users, even a single weak password could be problematic. To create secure passwords and manage them for you, you might wish to use one of the password managers we suggest.

3. Enable two-factor authentication

two-factor-authentication

Users using two-factor authentication (2FA) must utilize a second device to confirm their sign-on. This is one of the easiest yet most powerful techniques for protecting your login, and it does the trick. 

4. Limit login attempts

limit-login-attempts

You’re safeguarding your website by capping the amount of times a user can enter incorrect credentials. The CMS will lock users out if they try to log in too frequently, preventing brute-force login attempts. To handle this duty, you can install a plugin such as Limit Login Attempts. However, some hosting services and firewalls may handle it for you.

5. Add a captcha

If this seems familiar, it’s probably because many other websites have used this security feature. Through their verification of your identity as a live individual, they enhance the security of your login. Plugins can be used to incorporate a captcha on your website.

6. Enable auto-logout

enable-auto-logout

And lastly, if you’re using a public computer, be extra cautious when it comes to logging off. In the case that you fail to log out, auto-logout keeps unauthorized users from tracking you down. Use the inactive logout plugin to set up auto-logout for your WordPress account.

7. Update WordPress version

upgrade-wordpress-version

Older WordPress software versions are a major target. Make sure you frequently check for and install WordPress updates as soon as possible to reduce vulnerabilities to avoid this problem. Make a backup of your website and confirm that your plugins are compatible with the newest version of WordPress before updating to the oldest version of the software. Moreover, you might need to update your plugins. 

8. Using SSL (Secure Socket Layers) certifications 

secure-sockets-layer

SSL certificates are the de facto standard for all types of safe online transactions. Hosting companies supply them for free, and you can even purchase them to ensure very secure web transactions. HTTPS redirection is another key plugin that ensures encryption technology between the server and the client. As a result, all data transmitted between your website and the customer browser is encrypted.

9. Install the security plugin

security-plugin

You can keep your site secure using various WordPress security plugins. Choose the best WordPress security plugins for your needs and install them on the site.

10. Ensure database security

database-security

The security of the WordPress database is critical. You can make your site secure using a clever, inconceivable database name. The majority of them have the prefix “wp” in their names. Change it to something like “12ab_” to avoid the hackers’ attention. Allow a technical professional or WordPress developer to oversee database security.

11. Use trusted themes and plugins

plugin-theme-security

WordPress offers several themes and plugins, which are also high-risk regions. Website owners should add plugins after conducting extensive research and perhaps purchasing them from reputable developers. 

To avoid dangers, keep themes and plugins updated regularly. Any website should avoid using out-of-date components. Regular backups of the entire site are critical for all WordPress websites.

12. Choose the best web hosting service provider

web-hosting-service

It’s important to select a web hosting service that handles backups, uptime, server-level security and other features for effective server-side security. 

It provides anything from coding assistance to security measures. Smaller websites should also select an efficient hosting company that is concerned with server security.

13. Depends on the web application firewall

web-application-firewall

The web application firewall prevents misbehavior of any kind, including hacking and monitors traffic to detect anything suspicious on the network. 

This firewall keeps spammers and hackers at bay. This WordPress website security precaution requires a monthly subscription fee, but it is well worth it.

14. Ensure a secure connection on the WordPress site

secure-connection-wordpress-site

Any transfer of files or data should be done over exceptionally secure networks. In this case, request that your hosting provider implement SFTP or SSH protocols. They are superior to FTP.

15. Hide the admin login page

hide-admin-login-page

The common URL string “/wp-admin” or “/wp-login.php” allows attackers to monitor your WordPress login page easily. The best approach to prevent them from joining your site is to hide the admin login page using plugins such as WPS Hide Login.

Here are a few steps you can follow:

  • Harden the configure file from the attackers: You can keep critical information and security keys safe to protect the wp-config.php file from prospective attackers.
  • Use scanning plugins: WPScan is used to scan core files, plugins and themes. This is a simple security approach that works well for tiny sites.
  • Hide the WordPress version: The best approach to save your WordPress site is to keep it out of reach of hackers. If they realize the version is out of date, they will start their illegal operations. Hence it’s vital to keep it hidden.
  • Depend on the HTTP security header: Security headers carry information to help browsers handle site content. Scan your website with the securityheaders.com tool to determine which HTTP Security headers are present. 
  • Be regular with backups: Backups are essential for keeping the site up to date. You can enable automatic updates. This is something your team or hosting provider can do for the site. If your hosting service does not offer backups, you can use WordPress Backup services for a monthly charge. Some of the most popular WP backup services include VaultPress and BlogVault.

WordPress Security Plugins

1. Next3 Offload

next3-offload

Next3 Offload is one of the best cloud-based WordPress security plugins that protect your database.

This plugin can optimize website assets loading and reduce loading time by offloading WordPress files from the WordPress media library to the Cloud including Amazon S3, DigitalOcean Spaces, Bunny CDN, and Wasabi Cloud.

It functions incredibly quickly with Amazon CloudFront, Cloudflare, and other CDNs and instantly rewrites Media URLs.

2. Sucuri

sucuri-wordpress-plugin

Another popular WordPress security plugin is the Sucuri plugin. Preventive steps to strengthen security in vulnerable sections of your website are known as security hardening solutions. This plugin verifies secure setups and implements a set of rules on the website .htaccess file.

For each alert that the plugin generates, you can change the sender and recipients using email. You’ll be informed of any unusual activity on your website through these alerts. 

The Sucuri WordPress plugin comes with tools to check the integrity of additional files included with your original WordPress version, in addition to the core WordPress files (PHP, JavaScript, and CSS). 

For enhanced protection, you can use the Sucuri Firewall’s Firewall (WAF) feature to link it to the Must Have WordPress Plugins for Every Website

Conclusion

Since WordPress is an open-source platform, you, as the website owner, are ultimately responsible for website security.

A WordPress website is vulnerable to infection if you neglect updates, usernames, passwords and backups.

Remember these security precautions even if you’re not the one in charge of your website’s technical management. Find out the steps you are taking to secure your website by asking your developer or agency.

Security for WordPress can be challenging. So, you need to maintain a complete guideline for securing your website. 

We hope this article gives you a perfect solution for securing your site.

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Hafsina Sheherin Rimi
Written by

Hafsina Sheherin Rimi

Sheherin Rimi is a content writer of ThemeDev who prefers to write about tech products, travelling, health, food, lifestyle, marketing, technology etc. She also works for creating video. She has completed her Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering. Her hobbies include blogging, reading, cooking etc.

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