WordPress is a content management website where an administrator manages the WordPress site while the content editors handle the content part and subscribers manage the profile part of the site. However, WordPress provides so many features like Adsy to its users but every coin has two sides. Yes! There are threats to WordPress sites. As WordPress is an open source so it means every individual is contributing towards the addition or upgradation, therefore there is a possibility that an amateur is handling the addition part, so that paves a way for security breaches.
In addition, everyone without any prior experience of creating a website has the opportunity to create a website so it is possible that the user does not know exactly regarding the working of the websites and the threats due to which the website of the particular user proves to be bait for the hacker.
Some of the common security issues are:
Brute Force Attacks: Brute force is a hit and trial method where the hacker tries each and every possible username or password, number of times until he reaches the goal i.e. cracking the actual identity of the legitimate user.
File Inclusions: As WordPress is a collection of codes in PHP language so after the unsuccessful brute force attack the other option that is still there with the hacker is of file inclusion.
In file inclusion, what a hacker does is he uses a vulnerable code that helps him in gaining access. He uses this code to load a file remotely to gain access to that user’s website.
Injecting into SQL: As in the background, WordPress uses MySQL as a database so, the hacker, in this case, gains access to the database of the site of the intended user. Through which he is able to create a new database, add new values to the database that have possibilities of being malicious if they include links to malicious sites.
Malware: Malware= Malicious+Software, is a code that is often used by the hackers to gain illegitimate access to either user’s computer or site. A malware replicates itself and causes harm to other files.
What causes vulnerability?
The most common causes of the vulnerabilities of a website or WordPress admin area are:
Using small passwords: Often, while creating new id’s recommendations are there to keep longer passwords as, cracking longer passwords with brute force attacks is quite difficult, as longer passwords will eventually take the longer period to crack. While it is easy and less time-consuming in the case of small and weak passwords.
No regular updations: Outdated themes or plug-ins also pave way for attacks. As with new versions new security features are there that help in prevent new attacks.
Relying on untrustworthy sources: Insecure, poorly managed or outdated sources, as well as codes, give a clear signal to the attackers that this site is ready for hacking as downloading themes from untrustworthy sources may contain some malware that easily get into the eyes of the hacker and they hack those sites then.
Using shared-hosting: When users go for shared hosting this also introduces the hacker as an alternative to attacking the user’s admin area. As in Shared hosting, multiple websites are stored on a single server. Therefore, if the hacker gains access to one site then it is easy for the hacker to gain access to other websites too. Therefore, if the hacker accesses the site of user’s friend then the user is also equally vulnerable to hacking by the hacker.
Best ways to protect the admin area:
Using Application Firewall: A website application firewall is like a windows firewall that monitors the incoming and outgoing traffic and then blocks any request that appears suspicious of it.
Using strong passwords: Always use strong passwords while making a website as these strong passwords prevent the website from any brute force attempt from the hacker’s side.
Use of special characters in passwords is highly recommendable as cracking the passwords with special characters is not that easy. Also, keep on changing passwords after every 6 months to ensure privacy.
Using two-step verification: As G-mail WordPress also provides two-step verification in which whenever a user logs in a six –digit code is sent to the user’s mail-id or phone and when the user enters the number in the box after entering username and password only when the access is granted.
Limiting the number of attempts: Now a plug-in is available that helps user to set number of attempts i.e. if the user set three attempts then if anyone tries to enter password in users account to crack it and enters the password more than three times then its prohibits that illegal user from further attempts by blocking further attempts.
Setting strict permissions: Setting permissions on all the directories to ensure that who can read or alter which directory/ file/content of the website and who can access which part of the site.
Running regular scans: Running regular scans gives the report regarding any sort of threat trying to disturb the normal functioning of the website.
Limiting access to IP’s: Limiting access to IP addresses may help admin area from an attack. As few IP addresses that seem to be legitimate can be illegitimate. Therefore, the admin must limit to only few trusted users and not just expand.
Removing hints: Often hints are there such as “which was your first school”, “what is your mother’s date of birth “these come as security questions. As if the user forgets the password then he may use these hints to successfully login to his site but it acts as a threat also as the attacker can use it to guess the username and password by randomly guessing the location etc.
Having a backup plan: In case an attacker gets access to the database of WordPress or the site then there should always be a backup ready to combat such situations. Setting up of scheduled backups and sending them offsite and that too very securely to a remote backup location is necessary. In addition, a provision to restore the backup needs to be there in case if there is a need for the same.