Is your WordPress site secure? The answer, as you might expect, is “it depends.” It depends on how conscious your business is of potential WordPress security issues and threats, and how diligent you are in installing appropriate fixes of which the team at WordPress makes you aware. As iThemes notes:
“Since WordPress powers 25% off all websites, security vulnerabilities are inevitable because not all users are careful, thorough, or security conscious with their websites. If a hacker can find a way into one of the 700 million WordPress websites on the web, they can scan for other websites that are also running insecure setups of old or insecure versions of WordPress and hack those too.”
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What WordPress Components Are the Most Vulnerable?
To ensure the security of your site, you need to bear in mind that it’s not only your core site which is at risk—it’s also everything you add to enhance its functioning. Wpscan has identified almost 4,000 WordPress security vulnerabilities. Of these, only 37% were related to the core WordPress site. More than half (52%) are related to plugins, and about 11% are related to themes.
What Are the Main Threats to the Security of Your Site?
The team at WordPress works hard to ensure the security of WordPress websites. Among other things, they’re diligent in identifying potential hacker threats, in creating appropriate patches, and in pushing these out to WordPress users. This is why you need to keep your site updated to the most recent version of WordPress.
That said, the most common hacker threats include the following 5:
1. Malware Attacks
Hackers can gain access to your site’s files using malware, which is short for “malicious software.” The first thing to do if you suspect a malware attack is to check your WordPress files to see if any of them has recently been changed without your knowledge.
Although there are scores of malware infections, WordPress is particularly vulnerable to things like malicious misdirects, backdoors and so-called drive-by downloads. To remove malware infections, you can either delete any infected files or install a new version of WordPress.
2. File Exclusion Exploits
These are attacks on your site’s PHP code (the code that runs your site). Essentially, the full exclusion exploit lets hackers use that code to get access to your site and its critically important wp-config.php file.
3. Brute Force Attacks
This sounds dangerous, and it is. Using your login screen, hackers enter multiple combinations of passwords until they hit on the right one. Once they have your password, they can exploit your server, which might cause a host to suspend your account.
4. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
Cross-site scripting is the most common form of security threat on WordPress sites, one associated with your WordPress plugins. In this circumstance, the hacker convinces a business to load webpages that contain insecure scripts, and in this way to steal your data.
5. SQL Injections
Your WordPress database operates using MySQL. SQL Injections allow hackers to get access to all the data on your site by setting up new administrative accounts. They can even enter new, specious data which can cause significant damage.
What Actions Compromise Your WordPress Security?
The simple answer is that you compromise your site by not being diligent, and by not installing new patches WordPress sends you. In addition, you compromise your security when you:
- Create weak passwords: be sure your password isn’t something obvious (like your birthday, for example), and that it is long and unique.
- Don’t update your themes and plugins: newer versions of themes and plugins are designed considering the most recent information WordPress has about potential hacking attacks. Always install that latest version of these to enhance security.
- Getting themes and plugins from sources you don’t know and shouldn’t trust: this one is a no-brainer. Either use themes and plugins from the WordPress repository or ensure that other providers are sources you can trust
- Don’t use hosts you can’t trust: most hosts want your business, so they do their best to ensure the security of your site and data—but some are better than others. Always check your host’s security competence before using them.
What Can You Do to Make Your Site More Secure?
The good news is that, once you understand the things which make your site vulnerable, there are proactive steps you can take to enhance the security of your site, including the following:
- Make sure your password is strong: this is an example of simple diligence doing the job for you. Always used best practice strategies to create a password that’s more difficult to hack. Generally, that means one with 12 to 14 characters and is unique. It’s also important to keep your password safe—don’t, for example, give it to anyone else, and don’t make it easy to find (for example, don’t create a word file called “password”). In addition, make a habit of changing your password every six months.
- Use a WordPress security plugin: this is essential. Plugins like iThemes Security Pro will let you update your most important security settings with a single click.
- Make sure your WordPress site is up to date: newer versions of WordPress, as well as its many themes and plugins, have been designed to anticipate the most recent security threats. When you receive a communication from WordPress to schedule an update, don’t put it off—it could save you from a potential disaster.
- Use two-factor authentication: two-factor authentication requires anyone attempting to login to your site to enter both a password and a second form of identification—typically a security token or some form of biometric identification, like a fingerprint. This makes it measurably more difficult for hackers to gain access to your site.
- Run occasional malware scans: a malware scan will identify and help you remove any malware on your site. The iThemes Security plugin will run these scans for you and give you reports on your malware status.
Admittedly, ensuring the security of your WordPress site, or any website for that matter, can be a bit complicated. Your best bet is to work with a trusted partner who can give you the advice and guidance you need. To learn more about the ways our web design and development, SEO and PPC, social media marketing, and competitor analysis services can ensure the security of your site and keep your business strong, contact us today.