Many websites run on WordPress. Statistics have shown that more than 37% of website owners use WordPress.The CMS is known for its usability and accessibility. However as it gains more attention, some users take advantage of loopholes they can hack or steal websites.
This is a guide to help you improve the security of your WordPress sites.
In the previous year, 39% of WordPress websites were hacked because of security.
We can’t get rid of the security risks that come with WordPress. But we can control the number of times it happens.
Is your WordPress secure?
Your WordPress’s site security depends on you or your website administrator.
What are the threats that you want to secure your WordPress website from and how can you mitigate them? Read on.
There are two types of vulnerabilities faced by WordPress website owners.
- First, a hacker hacks a website by exploiting loopholes in the site code.
- Second, the website owner uses outdated plugins; doesen’t update their website or uses old versions of the platforms or softwares. This is described below so you can understand it better to dodge this.
Before going into WordPress vulnerabilities that arise from the administrator side let’s first understand some common vulnerabilities that arise by external attackers.
Vulnerability in the code of the website
Content injection vulnerability
This vulnerability permits an unapproved user to change the content of any blog, post, or page inside a WordPress Website. At this point where the parameters are not added properly, the attacker can use it to access the website and exploit parameter vulnerabilities to add or modify the content of the website.
As the page is connected with a legitimate site, the client accepts the specific substance showing up on the Web webpage is real and not from an outer source.
Cross-site scripting vulnerability
The attacker adds malicious scripts and code to the website which creates an error on the page and then he/she can easily steal any sensitive information on the websites. It also steals cookies and sessions of different users and can log in by using it.
WordPress SQL injection is an attack that is caused by entering malicious scripts and code in the URL of the website.
The hacker can gain access to the website’s stored information and can manipulate it.
They also can take over the website’s database and steal sensitive information stored on the website.
In this technique attackers redirect the target website to other malicious websites which is not only harmful for website owners but also for the users of the website.
The attacker can redirect users to their phishing website where they can steal sensitive information or some unethical website where any malware or adware can be attached to their browsers.
Brute force attacks
When the attacker finds the admin panel for the website, he tries to guess the panel’s username and password.
He then tries a brute force attack. He experiments with several credentials with millions of data and scripts and are run on the page.
If the credentials of the page match, then the attacker will have full access to the website.
Sensitive file disclosure
A website has many core files. Some files aren’t used for a long time, which makes it easier for the hackers to gain access to files which have sensitive information.
Privilege Escalation Attack involves network intrusion resulting from configuration failure of your website or any code error which causes an attacker to breach into the website without having your permission.
Supply chain attacks
A series of actions are performed by the attacker, like he can create a false plugin which can create a backdoor to the website and get full access to it.
But different owners of the websites may think it is genuine, as all others use it.
This type of attack is created when the website owners use WordPress plugins before giving detailed attention because of which the whole site is compromised because of it.
Vulnerabilities arise by administration failures
1. WordPress software vulnerabilities.
Using third parties, plugins and themes can threaten your website’s security.
The WordPress security team works meticulously for patching vulnerabilities and giving security important updates.
By constantly updating your website and installing the latest version, secure your websites.
Audit of plugin and themes of WordPress
Plugins and themes invite bugs and threats to your website.
For the security of WordPress and installation, we audit your plugins and themes on a regular basis because it is necessary to protect from new emerging vulnerabilities and threats that can later become a risk.
What do we do in plugin and theme security?
- Whether the plugin or themes have a large install base?
- To see if there are more users reviewing and to check the reviews have rated high?
- Are the plugins and themes achieving regular updates and security patches?
- Removal of unused WordPress plugins and themes
To keep WordPress updated: Users should regularly check that the WordPress and the plugins and themes in it are regularly updated or not.
2. Limit access to your WordPress site.
The most common way to hack into the WordPress admin page is because of weak authentication credentials.
Which gives direct access to the website.
Locking down your WordPress admin by using strong authentication can secure your websites and prevent hacking.
To reduce the rate of bad actors in your website, you can use strong credentials and unique passwords so that it blocks the privileges of the user assigned to their roles, enabling two or multifunctional authentication can be used.
Limiting the session timings may help in reducing the risks.
Managing accounts of WordPress users
A large number of attackers attack on pages like wp-admin, wp—login.php, and xmlrpc.php access point by using common credentials to gain user access to the website.
By using a unique password and username and removing the default admin account in your WordPress account makes it difficult for the bad actors to perform their malicious things on the website.
Use the least privilege principle
The least privilege principle composes of two steps:-
- Use a minimal set of privileges on a system
- For an action grant privileges for an exact duration.
- Use strong passwords
- Use two or multi-factor verification
- Limit WordPress login attempts
If you don’t limit your WordPress login attempts that the hacker will perform brute force attacks on the website which makes it vulnerable.
Not to make it vulnerable for the hackers limit login attempt like a user will get 3 attempts to log in or he will be suspended from the usage for a limited amount of time.
- Use captcha for pre-login
- Restrict access to only trusted IP’s
By restricting access of your website’s admin page to only trusted IP’s will make less unauthorized users and will secure your site
3. Monitoring and detection of WordPress
As you know there is no 100% protection of an environment nor a 100% solution.
So let’s introduce to you a phase known as Defence-in-depth.
This section will help you to know how you should use defense in depth technique which will help you to develop layers of protection on your website and provide defensive controls.
1. WordPress security plugins.
You will ask a question that if we are providing security from our side, then why you have to attach plugins to the website.
So the answer is though we are providing the best security for the website one can get, the plugins will help you by providing security from the user side of view any vulnerability from the user side can be mitigated through plugins.
Types of plugins:-
- Prevention category
- Detection category
- Audit category
- Utility category
2. Security from website hosting
Security from the website hosting point of view has been improving in the coming years.
Most of the security professionals provide security at various levels of stacks, but not on the website.
To provide security on the website level, different hosting agents have unique phenomena.
There four types of hosting installation for WordPress:-
- Shared hosting environments
- Virtual private server environment
- Managed hosting environment
- Dedicated servers
3.Backup of WordPress
For the improvement of your security backing up your site in the most important of them. Good backups can save you when you are actually in trouble.
Let’s say a hacker has put scripts on your website and has washed all the files that were in the website then only a good backup will help you to again stand up on your knees.
Though everything has been infected or cleared you can reattach it from the backup.
Key requirements for backup:-
- The location should be offsite
- Backups should be done automatically at every particular hour
- No redundancy should be there
- Make sure the backup is true and should be tested.
- Intrusion detection tools
One of the most advanced tools that will help you with your website is intrusion detection. If some hacker or any other malicious bad actor wants to do any malicious activity on your website that automatically you will get an alert. An alert will be generated every time any suspicious activity will be held on your website.
Activities performed by IDS:-
- Integrity monitoring
- Auditing alerts.
- Response and recovery plans are created
4. WordPress security service
One of the most common answers to provide security to your website is with the Web Application Firewall (WAF).
A website firewall is used to detect malicious activities, filter, and block malicious traffic which is generated on your website.
Your website firewall automatically blocks the hacker before his/her attack reaches your server.
The benefit of applying a firewall for your website is that we provide high end to end cloud-based security which will stand between hackers and your website.
Where the firewall automatically detects the threats and mitigates them.
The website administrator doesn’t have to do anything with the information, all the work will be done by experts from detection to blocking so that your website is not harmed in any kind of way.
5. SSL Secure Socket Layer
SSL has become one of the major components of a website not only for transmitting information to and from the website but also to increase the visibility of the website and also lower the chance of being penalized.
The function of SSL is to allow a website to be accessed over HTTPS, which encrypts the message which is traveling between the website and the servers. Since 2014, a ranking signal of SEO SSL has been used.
6. Common FAQs for WordPress security
Q. One of the most common questions asked by today’s website administrator is how to secure a WordPress website?
Well, the answer is to start practicing strong username and password to your website and start monitoring access control to it. You should always keep updating all the plugins, themes, and third-party components in your website to up to date with updating security patches for each one of them. Also to start using defense in depth technology by putting a layer of security for your site.
As a personal advisory, we encourage website owners that you should start deploying a well-stated firewall which will automatically block attacks and hackers once it finds them suspicious.
Q. What plugins we should use to secure our WordPress?
There are many plugins that offer a variety of functionalities like auditing of websites in a particular interval of time, malware analysis, deploying firewall, expert professional analysis of your website activity for each and every moment, tools like IDS and IPS which protect your website from any threat and bad actors.
Q. How do I protect and remove malware from my website?
One of the best ways to protect from malware is to deploy a Web Application Firewall to your website which automatically detects any malicious activity before it enters your servers.
Paying attention to your website can solve many vulnerabilities. Knowing major vulnerabilities in WordPress and how they can be solved by optimizing the site code for security. No hacker will ever get to your website.