Is WordPress Secure?

Is WordPress Secure?

Written By: Seth Steiner
December 3, 2021
Written By: Seth Steiner
Published: December 3, 2021

WordPress is the most commonly used content management system (CMS). In 2021, WordPress reached 455 million websites using the platform. Consequently, this means more opportunities for cybercrime to occur on a WordPress website. But is WordPress secure?

The Debate

Over the years WordPress security vulnerabilities have been the subject of debate. Is WordPress Secure? Some believe that the platform can create more cyber risk than other platforms. However, “Is WordPress Secure?” is not so black and white. With the proper security practices in place, a WordPress website can provide the security and support necessary to mitigate the risks of cybercrime.

CyberCrime

Cybercrime is projected to grow 15% each year for the next 5 years. As a result, this trend is forecasted to cost the world $10.5 trillion by 2025 according to CyberCrime Magazine. With this in mind we think it’s a good time to discuss website security. More specifically, we will focus on WordPress. Is WordPress secure and what are some cyber security tactics and precautions one can take to put their most secure foot forward.

Technology will continue to advance. Devices, platforms and even vehicles are becoming more sophisticated and so do the hackers of the world. Furthermore, COVID-19 entered the scene in late-2019, exponentially increasing the amount of people and transactions occurring online. The FBI reported that in 2020 internet crime increased over 69% year-over-year.

Can Cybercrime Be Stopped?

The reality is that there is no way to completely stop cybercrime or hackers from trying to compromise your website; regardless of which platform you are using. For that reason, the best way to help prevent a website security breach is to become aware of the risks involved with your platform, keep your platform up-to-date, adopt a security protocol and adhere to it.

The best way to help prevent a website security breach is to become aware of the risks involved with your platform, keep your platform up-to-date, adopt a security protocol and adhere to it.

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WordPress Security Vulnerabilities

There are many reasons why a WordPress website can become compromised. Therefore, understanding the means of cybersecurity risk and what you can do to strengthen your security protocols is the key to fighting the good fight. Below we have outlined a list of common WordPress vulnerabilities and common website hacking strategies.

Common WordPress Vulnerabilities

WordPress offers a versatile software platform for users to build websites and integrate with other software applications. The keyword is software. Software requires upkeep, updates, upgrades and fixes. For that reason, when you combine multiple software applications running in conjunction with each other it is important to keep watch on your platform updates.

However, when one platform, theme or plugin receives an update that means that all the other applications being used on your platform may encounter technical compatibility issues with the update. Oftentimes, you will see many updates coming through after broader platform upgrades are made. These are typically compatibility upgrades so other applications continue to run smoothly with the new updates.

Updated WordPress Version

WordPress releases new versions of the platform itself. The reason for the updates can range from bug fixes, performance upgrades, feature and function enhancements and even security patches.

WordPress Theme

Likewise, it is equally important to keep your WordPress theme up-to-date. Some themes are WordPress owned and operated. However, others can be subject to 3rd party WordPress development groups. These 3rd party WordPress themes come from a source outside of WordPress. It is at the discretion of that company to ensure their theme adhere’s to WordPress’s updates without creating holes in your security perimeter.

WordPress Page Builders

By the same token, it is just as important to ensure that your WordPress page builder remains up-to-date for the very same reasons covered in the previous vulnerabilities.

WordPress Plugins

It’s safe to say we are seeing a trend in common risks associated with WordPress. WordPress operates on plugins. Plugins are essentially the features and functions that do not come with WordPress out of the box. The user has chosen to add these plugins to your website to achieve some desired or enhanced feature or function. These plugins can be WordPress owned and operated or again, come from 3rd parties.

Secured Server

Finally, your server is the heartbeat of your website. Without it and your website won’t see the light of….internet. In addition, servers come with their own security vulnerabilities but are only a stone’s throw away in commonalities between keeping your WordPress version, theme and page builder up-to-date. Servers need maintenance and updates just like WordPress. Securing your server means securing your network, operating system, and any applications or websites hosted on the server. Be sure to host your domain with a trusted provider.

Common Cybercrime Tactics

Hackers and their methods are becoming more advanced. Each day more and more people are using the internet to create accounts, manage their banking and purchase consumer goods. Data protection and security is critical. Below, we will cover some of the more common website security vulnerabilities you have already likely encountered.

Backdoor Security Breaches

Backdoor breaches are when hackers install malware which can sneak by your network security protocols and pull the wool over the eyes of authentication. Moreover, these types of attacks are subtle in nature. Hackers will identify a vulnerable component of your website which they will exploit. Moreover, this can occur inconspicuously as the hacker hopes that they will go undetected for as long as possible. Backdoor breaches can wreak havoc on your entire network if undetected. Thus, if you can’t identify when and where the breach occurred then it can be very difficult to know for for certain if you have patched up all the damage that has been done.

Backdoor security breaches may be attempting to:

  • Steal Data
  • Hijack Your Server
  • Launch a Direct Denial of Service Attack
  • Infect Website Visitors
  • Advanced Persistent Attacks (APT)

Malicious Redirects

Malicious redirects can be a byproduct of a backdoor breach. To explain, hackers make their way in and inject scripts into the affected website that will then redirect your website visitors to a malicious website where the user will be subject to even more online security risks.

Malicious Redirects may be attempting to:

  • Steal User Credentials
  • Launch a Phishing Scam

Cross Site Scripting (XSS)

Likewise, another tactic on the list of unsettling is XSS. With this cyber threat, a hacker is able to access the client-side code and inject malicious script into a web application. The code is executed in the browser of the user on the website. In other words, this type of threat is specifically targeting the users of a website or application rather than the organization or service.

XSS may be attempting to:

  • Steal Sensitive Information from a Users Browsing Session Such As Login Credentials to other sites, Personably Identifiable Information & Banking Information

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

DDoS attacks involve disrupting and blocking the normal traffic of a server, network or service. This tactic involves the hacker sending overwhelming amounts of traffic from compromised computers and devices, also known as “bots”, “botnets” or “zombies”. Since the malicious traffic is coming from actual devices it can become challenging to determine what traffic are normal visitors or users versus ZOMBIES!!!

DDoS Attacks may be attempting to:

  • Take down a website for a variety of reasons

BruteForce Login Attempts

Brute force attacks are when a hacker or script written by a hacker is attempting to log in to your account. They use username, email, and password combinations to attempt to gain access to the account, platform, or service. This is very common in the land of WordPress with hackers from around the world continuously attempting to gain access to the WordPress Admin.

Brute Force Logins may be attempting to:

  • Deface a website
  • Harvest and sell user information
  • Install or spread malware and spam
  • Expose or steal login credentials to gain access to the account and account information

 

How to Help Secure Your WordPress Platform

WordPress is a fantastic platform to build your website on. Likewise, every CMS platform comes with its own maintenance and unique needs. Let’s talk about best practices for supporting your WordPress website.

Keep an Eye Out for Updates

Keep a watchful eye out for any updates. Oftentimes, these updates include security upgrades and patches

Do Not Turn On Automatic Updates

I recommend leaving auto-updates turned off. Occasionally, some platform, theme, page builder or plugin updates can break other integrations when applied. Furthermore, in the event that a problem occurs when updates are applied it can be difficult to identify which specific update created the issue. More often than not, the plugin causing the issue has a bug and a fix will be pushed through for the next update.

Keep Your Platform, Theme, Page Builder & Plugins Up-to-Date

When updates do come through begin making the updates 1-by-1. Firstly, start with the platform, then theme, then page builder. Finally, address the plugin updates. This sounds time-consuming but it is not.

Only Use Well-Known, Well-Maintained & Consistently Updated Themes, Page Builders & Plugins

There are thousands and thousands of plugins available in the WordPress Plugin Store. Just because it is available for use does not mean that the 3rd party author of that software is well-known nor conforms to WordPress or security standards. Stick to well-known, widely adopted and reviewed plugins.

Remove Any Unused Plugins

Don’t leave unused plugins activated on your website. Likewise, don’t leave unactivated plugins on your website. Plugins add extra code to the backend of your website. As a result, this can lead to unnecessary security risks and performance lags.

Host Your WordPress Website with a Reliable Host

Make sure you host your website with a trusted provider that actively maintains their network. You don’t want the heart of your website in the hands of a poor hosting service provider. Metisentry offers a range of hosting packages to meet your needs and keep your website running smooth.

If You Have Sensitive Data – Invest in Premium WordPress Security Plugins

If your website collects sensitive company, customer or user data you should invest in the premium WordPress security plugin subscriptions. These plugins will help protect your data much more reliably than the freemium versions.

Make Sure Your Server Host is Taking Regular Backups of Your Website

Make sure you are making backups of your website on a regular basis. This can be automated on the server. This can be the difference between saving your site after a successful hack or having to gut it and start over.

So, Is WordPress Secure?

In conclusion, yes, WordPress is as secure as any software of platform. Every website, platform, application comes with the risk of being the victim of cybercrime and hack attempts. However, it is up to the webmaster to maintain the overall health and security protocol of your WordPress website to ensure you are doing all that you can to stay protected.

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