Why is WordPress a Popular Target for Hackers?


WordPress is a well-liked target: WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, powering over 30% of all websites. Anyone considering creating a website, whether a small company or a big corporation, would consider WordPress. And for good reason: it’s open source software that can be customised and is supported by a large global community. But, as a result of his success, he has become a target.

How Popular is WordPress Exactly?

Let’s take a look at some statistics and see how big WordPress is. There are 75 million WordPress websites on the internet right now. According to W3Techs, 714 new WordPress pages are developed every day.

It shows WordPress’s ever-expanding scope. WordPress has been called the fastest growing content management system for the past eight years, indicating that it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

To comprehend WordPress’s exponential development, we must first comprehend its not-so-secret success formula. Since it is open source, it is transparent, and everyone can learn how to use it effectively. Its simplicity distinguishes it from other open source website building frameworks such as Drupal and Joomla. WordPress is made to be user-friendly, particularly for those with no technical background.

WordPress was first published in 2003 as an open source project that accepted contributions in order to address a variety of needs. Soon, a community grew up around the platform, and it’s one of the main reasons for its success. The WordPress community has increased in size over the last 15 years, assisting WordPress in becoming even more successful. However, because of its success, WordPress is an obvious target.

Reasons for Being an Obvious Target

When WordPress was first released as a publishing site, anybody with a little technical knowledge could use it. With the introduction of WordPress, website development was no longer restricted to web developers, resulting in a surge in popularity for the platform. WordPress, on the other hand, went a step further and encouraged people to add to its code. People jumped on board, and a group formed out of it. The platform’s success was fuelled by add-ons such as themes and plugins, which made it more personalised and usable. As a result, WordPress grew in popularity and gained the attention of the hacker community.

According to W3Techs, 48.1 percent of all websites in the world do not use a content management system. WordPress is the most used CMS, with 31.1 percent of websites using it.

It’s unsurprising that fame brings broad reach, which is why celebrities are paid to advertise corporations’ goods. Product X would sell much more if it is marketed by a well-known celebrity than if it is promoted by an unknown individual. However, one would not only attract the attention of the target audience, but also of hostile agents. Since the CMS is so commonly used, hackers are searching for bugs that will allow them to break into hundreds of thousands of websites. If they target WordPress pages, they’ll be able to do more harm than if they target less-popular CMSs.

Hackers will often automate the process in order to get the most out of their hacking attempts. Hackers seldom go out of their way to manually target and hack a website. They programme robots to look for and exploit flaws in WordPress websites. The bots then repeat the process on other websites that are vulnerable in the same way. Let’s pretend there’s a flaw in a plugin. The weakness becomes public very quickly due to the open source nature of WordPress. Thousands of websites may be hacked if hackers quickly learn to exploit the vulnerability before the plugin developers can release a patch. Websites are often hacked because they are not modified. It’s up to site owners to upgrade the plugin that will repair the vulnerability once developers release a patch for a vulnerability. Failure to do so exposes the site to a popular hacking attack. The most common cause of website hacking is, unsurprisingly, outdated themes and plugins.

In three pieces, we will break down why WordPress websites are the most popular target for hacking attempts: 1. The scale of the project, 2. The WordPress user base, and 3. The developers. Let’s delve a little deeper into each of these points.

Reason 1: Wide Scope Ensures More Opportunity to Cause Damage

Every month, over 409 million people visit over 21.9 billion WordPress sites, according to WordPress. This makes WordPress an ideal place to take advantage of. Let’s say a political hacker group decided to spread their message. Using WordPress websites to reach a wider audience would be beneficial.

However, various hacker groups have different motivations for attempting hacks. The extent of harm varies depending on the type of gain hackers are aiming for, but the fact remains that each exploit aims to gain as much attention, obtain as much information, or use as many resources as possible.

As a result, hackers search for bugs that would affect the greatest number of pages. Consider the TimThumb situation (it was an image resizing plugin). Since TimThumb was such a common tool, many themes included it as part of their kit. This eliminates the need to instal TimThumb separately. When you instal the theme on your site, it is automatically installed. Having a bundle of tools can sound appealing, but many site owners are unaware of the particular tools included in the kit. Since the site owners were unaware that a malicious code was on their site when TimThumb was hacked, several other sites were hacked. Using tools (plugins) or a CMS with a broad reach may help increase the range of damage.

Reason 2: WordPress Users Fail to Maintain Site

WordPress attracts a wide range of users because it is so simple to set up a website. Given its ease of use, preserving the protection of a WordPress platform necessitates careful attention to detail and diligence. Many website owners are reluctant to spend the time and effort needed to keep their site secure. Some people aren’t even aware of the dangers, which is understandable given that a common product must be safe or else it won’t be as popular.

Although the group focuses on making WordPress accessible to people with little or no technological knowledge, maintaining the web needs some understanding of the fundamentals of WordPress. For example, upgrading plugins and themes is the most recommended security measure, but updates may often break a site. If you learn how to test updates before posting them on the web, you will save yourself a lot of time and effort.

Many WordPress site owners lack technological expertise, and many are uninterested in learning how to keep their sites up to date. As a result, they’re a convenient target. Hackers these days aren’t just interested in major websites. They’ve found out how to use small sites as well, so if you have a small website, it’s just as likely to be targeted as any other site. This is why it’s a good idea to use a security plugin (recommended read: top WordPress security plugins compared). If you don’t have time to learn how to handle a website, why not use a security solution to automate the process?

Reason 3: Different Sorts of Developers

WordPress has many developers contributing to its code as a result of its open source philosophy. It attracts both experts and novices, leaving space for mistakes. Of course, there are guidelines and helpful tools (such as the WordPress Codex and forums) that contributors can use, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be followed. There is no way to track each and every contributor with hundreds of thousands of contributors spread across the globe.

WordPress maintains a public archive of all vulnerabilities and fixes. Anyone who wants to learn more about vulnerabilities and how they work can do so easily. Hackers may use this knowledge to target websites that still have some flaws.

So How Secure is WordPress?

It’s natural to wonder if WordPress is a stable site now that you know more about it. It’s a difficult question with no clear answer. All of the above factors do not make WordPress as a site vulnerable. However, it is clear that WordPress is part of an ecosystem (where plugins and themes can be used) that is partly responsible for its success but also makes the CMS vulnerable to hacking attempts. To keep your WordPress site secure, teach your administrators how to use it properly (here’s a good guide for WordPress tutorials), take precautions, and stay alert. In the other hand, there is no such thing as a fully stable website. Since protection can never be guaranteed, the purpose of security measures is to reduce the risk of a security breach. Keeping the website up to date will go a long way toward stopping hackers from gaining entry.

Installing a security plugin like MalCare that scans your WordPress websites on a regular basis is another essential step to take. If your site has been compromised, the plugin will assist you in cleaning it up. It will also shield your website from potential hacking attempts.