Are you afraid that your WordPress account will be hacked? We wish we could tell you not to be concerned, but the fact is that hackers are actively targeting WordPress websites. This is largely due to its widespread use; WordPress powers one-third of all websites on the internet.
Although WordPress is a safe forum for developing websites, it does not operate by itself. To run a WordPress site, you’ll need plugins and themes. Hackers sometimes exploit vulnerabilities in plugins and themes to hack a website.
Once they gain access to your website, they can use it to steal confidential information, defraud consumers, and view illegal content, among other items. Meanwhile, your site can appear in search results with an alert, be blacklisted by Google, or be suspended by your web host. All of this results in a decrease in tourists and sales.
Although WordPress developers aim to make the platform as safe as possible, WordPress site owners must also take precautions. In this post, we’ll go through the most popular attacks on WordPress sites and how to defend yourself from them.
If you’re concerned about hackers targeting your WordPress account, you may take immediate steps to secure it. You can use MalCare, a WordPress security plugin, to protect your site. Every day, it will search and track your site, preventing hackers from gaining entry.
Why Is WordPress A Popular Target For Hackers?
WordPress is a website creation platform that allows anyone to create websites without having to know how to code. WordPress is also absolutely accessible.
As a result, the internet now supports more than 1.3 billion active websites.
The downside is that WordPress websites receive more targeted traffic than websites created on other platforms.
Hackers can now hack into your website in a number of ways. We’ve whittled the list down to the top five. We’ll go into what happens and how to prevent it from happening to your WordPress account.
5 Most Common Attacks on WordPress Websites
Vulnerable Plugins and Themes
The main installation, themes, and plugins are the three components that make up a WordPress account. Could of these elements has the potential to make a website hackable.
There hasn’t been a significant flaw in the WordPress centre in years. It is maintained by a group of highly skilled and accomplished programmers. They put in a lot of effort to ensure that the platform is fully stable, so you don’t have to be concerned.
Third-party developers, on the other hand, build WordPress plugins and themes, and they are notorious for introducing WordPress vulnerabilities.
When a flaw is discovered, the developers immediately patch it and release an updated version.
Your site will be stable if you, the site owner, upgrade to the latest edition. It’s important to apply those security updates as soon as possible. That when developers release an update, they also release the reasons for the update, this is the case. As a result, the weakness is made public.
This suggests that hackers are now aware of the weakness. They also understand that not all website owners update their pages on a regular basis. As a result, once they discover that a plugin or theme is vulnerable, they programme bots and scanners to scour the internet for sites that use it. Knowing exactly what the bug is makes it simple for them to exploit it, break in, and inject malware such as wp-feed.php malware.
How to Protect Your site Against Vulnerable Plugin & Themes
- Using only themes and plugins from the WordPress repository or marketplaces such as ThemeForest and Code Canyon.
- Regularly review your plugin list and just keep the ones you use. Delete any that you don’t need or that are no longer around.
- Scrutinize your theme on a regular basis, and retain just the themes that you’re actually using.
Never use themes or plugins that have been pirated. They almost always contain malware that infects your website.
- Make sure you’re familiar with all of your site’s plugins and themes. Hackers often use their own plugins and themes to mount website backdoors. This grants them unrestricted access to your website.
Brute Force Attacks
You must enter your login credentials, which include a username and password, to access your WordPress account.
WordPress site owners often use usernames and passwords that are simple to remember. The default username for WordPress users is admin. ‘password123′ or ‘1234567′ are examples of common passwords.
Hackers are well aware of this and target WordPress sites’ login pages.
They compile a list of usernames and passwords that are often used. Then they programme bots to go after WordPress sites and try various combinations from their database.
Bots have a strong chance of guessing your login credentials and breaking into your site if they are poor. This is regarded as a ‘Brute Force Attack,’ and it is estimated that 10% of them succeed!
How to Protect Your site Against Brute Forcing
There are a few things you can do to protect your site from brute force attacks:
- Your WordPress username is admin by default. You have the option of changing it from admin to something more distinctive.
- Make a good password for your WordPress account. We recommend using a passphrase like Birdsofafeather123$ in conjunction with numerals and symbols.
- Using passwords that you haven’t used before on any other website.
- On your website, set a limit on the number of login attempts. This ensures that a WordPress user can only have a certain number of chances to enter the correct credentials, such as three or five. They’ll have to use the ‘forgot password’ option after that. You can use our MalCare security plugin to automatically enforce this login defence on your website.
- Use two-factor authentication, which requires a WordPress user to enter their credentials as well as a one-time password created on their smartphone or emailed to their registered email address.
Almost every website has an input field for visitors to enter data, such as a contact form, a site search bar, or a comments section. Visitors can also upload documents and image files to certain websites.
This information is generally acknowledged and sent to your servers for processing and storage. Before the data is sent to your servers, these fields must be properly configured to validate and sanitise it. Only valid data will be considered as a result of this. If these protections aren’t in effect, hackers will take advantage of the situation and infiltrate malicious code.
Let’s look at a WordPress site with a contact form as an example. This form should, at the very least, accept a name, an email address, and a phone number.
- The name field should accept only letters of the alphabet.
- The email address field should accept a valid email address format such as email@example.com.
- The phone number field should contain only digits.
Now if these configurations aren’t in place, a hacker can insert malicious scripts such as:
String userLoginQuery = "SELECT user_id, username, password_hash FROM users WHERE username = '" + request.getParameter("user") + "'";
This is a piece of code that tells the database to perform those tasks. Hackers may use this method to run malicious scripts on your site, allowing them to take complete control of it.
SQL injection attacks and Cross-Site Scripting are the most common injection attacks on WordPress pages.
How to Protect Your Website Against Injection Attacks
Many injection attacks are caused by themes and plugins that enable visitors to enter information on your site. We recommend only using well-known themes and plugins. Next, make sure your plugins and theme are still up to date.
Field entries and data submissions are under your influence. This is a technical problem that would necessitate the assistance of a developer.
Use a WordPress firewall to protect your site. If you have MalCare installed on your site, it will automatically set up a strong firewall to protect it from hackers.
Phishing and Data Theft
Visitors engage with the website in a variety of ways. Some simply read your blog posts, while others contact you through your contact form, and so on. If you have an ecommerce platform, you can notice that many people purchase products from it. This necessitates them logging into your site and providing credit card information.
When anyone enters credit card information on your site, the information is transferred and stored on your site’s server. When being transmitted, this information can be intercepted. Furthermore, credit card information may be compromised.
They can even gain access to your website and impersonate you. They trick visitors into disclosing personal data and payment details by sending emails or redirecting them to other websites.
How To Protect Your Site From Phishing and Data Theft
An SSL certificate should be used. The data being transmitted from and to your site will be encrypted as a result of this. And if a hacker intercepts it, they won’t be able to use it because it won’t be deciphered. Please see our SSL and HTTPS guide for more information. It will also remove the alert about your WordPress site not being safe.
If there is some suspicious activity on your website, use a WordPress Security Plugin to receive warnings. Hacking attempts would also be thwarted by the plugin.
Have you ever found that your browser asks you to “remember me” or “save password” when you log into a website? This is done so you don’t have to type in your login credentials any time you visit a website. You have the option of allowing the browser to save your login information.
Cookies allow browsers to save certain information. Cookies are little pieces of information that keep track of how a visitor communicates with a website. If you run an online store, for example, your site could monitor a customer’s path, including what products they looked for and what they bought. This information is used in analytics, and marketers use it to customise advertising to the preferences of visitors. Cookies can also be used to store financial and personal details.
If a hacker manages to steal your website’s cookies, they will have access to confidential details about your company and its guests. They will use this information to carry out malicious actions like defrauding consumers by stealing their credit card information.
More information is available in our simple guide to Cookie Stealing and Session Hijacking.
How To Protect Your Site From Cookie Stealing and Session Hijacking
- Change your WordPress salts and keys on a regular basis. The information contained in the browser’s cookies is encrypted using keys and salts. This is a purely technical measure. To change your keys and salts, we suggest using MalCare’s WordPress hardening feature. Access Security > WordPress hardening > Change WordPress Security Keys and Salts from the MalCare dashboard.
- Installing an SSL certificate to secure your website’s data is also suggested.
This concludes our discussion of the most common WordPress attacks. Before we go, we’d like to show you some WordPress hardening strategies that will make your site more resistant to such attacks.
How To Harden Your WordPress Site Against Attacks
Although you can take specific steps to protect your website from specific threats, you can also take certain general security measures to improve your site’s security. WordPress hardening steps are what they’re called. We’ve covered it briefly here, but if you want more details, read our in-depth guide on WordPress Hardening.
Disabling the file editor
The ability to edit theme and plugin files directly from the dashboard is available in WordPress. This feature is mostly used by developers and is not needed for many website owners. A hacker, on the other hand, can insert malicious code into your theme and plugin files if they gain access to your wp-admin dashboard. As a consequence, if you don’t need this feature, it can be switched off.
Disabling plugin or theme installations
Hackers who gain access to your site add their own plugins or themes. The majority of these plugins and themes are malicious and contain backdoors. This allows hackers to gain unauthorised access to your website.
Furthermore, as previously reported, insecure themes and plugins are a leading cause of website hacking. If you have multiple users on your website, one of them can instal an insecure plugin or theme. Hackers can gain access to your site as a result of this. You can prevent this by turning off plugin and theme instals on your web.
You can disable the installation option if you don’t instal plugins and themes on your site on a regular basis.
Limiting login attempts
As previously stated, you can restrict how many times a WordPress user can enter the correct login credentials to gain access to the web. Brute force assaults are no longer a possibility.
Changing security keys and salts
The information stored in your browser is encrypted using keys and salts. And if a hacker tries to steal your cookies, they will be unable to decode them. If a hacker gains access to these keys and salts, they can decrypt the cookies. Changing your keys and salts on a regular basis will help prevent cookie theft.
Blocking PHP execution in unknown folders
Code is only executed in a few files and directories on your WordPress platform. Other files, such as your Uploads folder, which contains images and videos, only store data.
When a hacker gains access to your website, however, they place php code in random folders or even build their own.
By disabling PHP executions in unknown directories, you can prevent this type of activity.
Technical expertise is needed to implement these steps. It’s not a good idea to do it manually. Using a plugin like MalCare, which helps you to do this in just a few taps, is much safer and faster.
Hackers have a plethora of methods for breaking into your WordPress account, and they’re still coming up with new ones!
To secure your website and keep it protected from hack attacks, you must enforce security measures.
To protect your WordPress account, we suggest installing our MalCare Protection Plugin. Hackers and malicious bots would be unable to access your site. You can rest easy knowing that your site is being watched over and secured.