5 common WordPress security issues to be aware of

Since WordPress is a popular platform powering approximately 25% of all websites, security vulnerabilities are inevitable.

Although WordPress has a team specifically devoted to identifying and fixing WordPress security issues, you shouldn’t become complacent when it comes to actively reviewing and maintaining your own website’s security.

Remember, WordPress is only secure if best practices are followed.

Here are five of the most common WordPress security vulnerabilities, along with steps you can take to protect your WordPress site from them.

1. Brute Force Attacks

Brute force attacks refer to the trial and error method of trying multiple username and password combinations until a successful combination is discovered. As WordPress doesn’t limit the number of login attempts, bots can use the brute force method to gain access through your login page.

Even if the bots don’t manage to gain access to your website, an unusually high frequency of login attempts can overload your system leading to being suspended from your hosting platform (particularly if you’re on a shared hosting plan).

Using a random string of letters and numbers for your password will make it harder for brute force attacks to be successful. You should also consider obscuring your login page for an extra layer of security.

2. File Inclusion Exploits

Vulnerabilities in your website’s PHP code are another common security issue that can be exploited by hackers. File inclusion exploits occur when a vulnerable code is used to load remote files that allow attackers to gain access to your website.

Through File inclusion exploits, an attacker can gain access to the wp-config.php file, one of the most important files in your WordPress installation.

The best way to protect your site from file inclusion exploits is to get a professional web developer to add any additional code needed. Don’t be tempted to do so yourself unless you have the expertise and experience to ensure you don’t leave your site open to this type of attack.

3. SQL Injections

SQL injections occur when an attacker gains access to your WordPress database and to all of your website data. It’s a very serious vulnerability because it’s easy to exploit and, in most cases, immediately grants full access.

SQL injections can modify and delete records in a database as well as inserting new data, including links to malicious or spam websites. Not only does this affect data integrity, it gives them access to sensitive data including, personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets and intellectual property.

By employing comprehensive data sanitisation and using a web application firewall, you can limit the possibly of falling victim to this type of attack.

4. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-Site Scripting vulnerabilities are the most common vulnerability found in WordPress plugins and nearly 84% of all attacks fall into this category.

In this instance, the attacker doesn’t target a victim directly. Instead, it exploits a vulnerability within a website that the victim would visit to deliver a malicious script to the victim’s browser.

In order for an XSS attack to take place, a website needs to directly include user input in its pages. The most common purpose of this type of attack is to gather cookie data, such as session IDs, user preferences or login information.

To secure your application output cleaning and validation should be performed on all data. For example, a phone number field should only allow numbers to be entered – no letters and no special characters. You can read more about how to prevent an XSS attack here.

5. Malware

Malicious software (Malware) is used to gain unauthorised access to a website to gather sensitive data. The four most common WordPress malware infections are: Backdoors, Drive-by downloads, Pharma hacks and Malicious redirects.

They can be easily identified and cleaned up by manually removing the malicious file or by restoring your WordPress site from a previous, non-infected backup.

To protect your website from malware, it’s vital to regularly backup your site. Having both an onsite and an offsite backup solution in place is sensible to help protect your data and your business reputation.

Keeping your WordPress core, themes and plugins updated is incredibly important to the overall security of your website, as well as having a reliable back up strategy. For complete peace of mind, you may wish to outsource looking after your website security to somebody with the necessary expertise, such as WP Tech Support.

At WP Tech Support, your website’s security is our priority and we know exactly what we’re looking for when it comes to site vulnerabilities. Not only can we implement measures to improve your current security level, we also backup your entire website to our secure cloud server every single day. Take a look at our monthly plans to find the one best suited to your requirements.

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