10 Common WordPress Security Issues and How to Solve Them

WordPress is a powerful and popular content management system (CMS). However, it isn’t without its faults. Being so widely used, it’s also a common target for hackers. Therefore, site owners can benefit from familiarizing themselves with WordPress security issues and taking measures to prevent them.

The good news is that you can take many different steps to secure WordPress. Whether you’re dealing with a hacked website or looking to take preventative measures to safeguard your site, plenty of services, tools, and solutions are available at your disposal.

The Importance of Securing Your WordPress Website

WordPress is the most popular CMS globally, powering over 40% of all websites. It’s an open-source project, meaning that anyone can contribute to its development.

Millions of people around the world use WordPress. Because of its popularity, the CMS is a prime target for hackers and malicious users.

A security breach can jeopardize the safety of your website and your visitors’ data. If a cybercriminal infiltrates your site, it can lead to extended downtime and exposure of private information. Not only can this incident hurt your traffic and business, but it can also cause long-term damage to your brand reputation.

Making sure your website is protected against WordPress vulnerabilities can minimize your chances of being the victim of an attack. By staying on top of security and performing security audits, you can optimize your site’s performance and maintain your customers’ trust and loyalty.

1. Weak Passwords

One of the biggest mistakes site owners and users make is using weak passwords. Easy-to-guess passwords make it simpler for hackers to access your website.

For example, one of the most common cyberattacks is a brute-force attack. During this hack, agents and bots use varying password combinations until they can crack the code and break in. They exploit your login page to gain access to your site.

This is why it’s crucial to ensure each user on your WordPress site uses a complex password. We recommend using a password generator tool, such as the one built-in to WordPress user pages.

2. Malware

Hackers can use malware to infect your website with malicious code to steal sensitive data. If you’re dealing with a hacked website, there’s a high chance that your files are infected with malware.

There are different variations of malware. Some of the most common types affecting WordPress sites include malicious redirects, drive-by downloads, and backdoor attacks.

There are various solutions for WordPress malware removal. Depending on how much your website has been affected, you may need to delete the corrupted file or restore a previous site version from a backup. This is one of the reasons why regularly backing up your site is so important.

3. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities are often found in WordPress plugins. These attacks involve hackers loading pages containing insecure JavaScript scripts to steal browser data.

For example, once your site is injected with the scripts, data can be stolen the next time a visitor comes to your website and fills out a form.

One of the best ways to prevent XSS in WordPress is to keep your site updated at all times. There are also a handful of WordPress security plugins that can help secure your site against this and many other types of attacks.

4. Outdated Software, Plugins, and Themes

The importance of ensuring that you regularly update WordPress cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, if you’re one of the WordPress users running an outdated software version, you’re more vulnerable to attacks.

Outdated software, plugins, and themes are responsible for some of the most common WordPress security issues. Theme and plugin developers regularly release updates that include critical security patches and bug fixes.

Staying on top of updates for any extensions installed on your site can help prevent attacks.

5. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

Another common type of WordPress security issue is a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. This occurs when hackers flood servers with manipulated traffic, causing them to crash and push all sites hosted on them offline.

This hack can cause downtime and, in turn, hurt your reputation. Typically, these types of attacks target sites with poor hosting security. To protect against DDoS attacks, it’s important to have monitoring tools in place to identify suspicious activity.

6. Structured Query Language (SQL) Injections

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language used to communicate with databases. WordPress websites use MySQL databases to function.

SQL injections happen when cybercriminals gain unauthorized access to your database and, in turn, your site data. Once they’ve gained entry, hackers can make direct changes to your database.

For example, hackers can create new admin users and then use those credentials to log in to your WordPress site. They can also add new data to your database, such as malicious links.

Submission, contact, and payment forms are common entry points for SQL injections. Rather than the information the form field is asking for, hackers will submit infected code directly into your SQL database.

7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Spam

Search engine optimization (SEO) is important to many WordPress site owners. Unfortunately, hackers can target your top-ranking pages and, similar to SQL injections, infect them with spammy keywords and fake ads. These elements can direct users towards shady or malicious websites.

Hackers can carry out SEO spam through brute-force attacks and vulnerabilities from outdated themes and plugins. One thing that makes SEO spam so dangerous is that it can be incredibly difficult to detect.

SEO spam could be as subtle as a cybercriminal adding a spammy keyword, such as “cheap Rolex watches,” to a page on your site. Unfortunately, when SEO crawlers crawl your site, they might flag your page for spammy behavior and penalize you.

8. HTTP Instead of HTTPS

For years, Google has emphasized the importance of website security and its role in SEO. Some common WordPress security issues can be attributed to running your website over Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) instead of Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

You’ll know if your site is running a secure connection if it has a closed padlock icon next to your URL name in the browser bar.

The padlock icon is a trust badge indicating that a website uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. The SSL protocol encrypts traffic from a website to a browser so that the information can’t be intercepted or used illegitimately by a third party.

Many hosting providers include SSL certificates in their plans. If you’re a Webzworld user, you can activate your certificate directly from your dashboard.

9. Phishing

Phishing is a type of malware that persuades unsuspecting users to offer their personal information with tactics that are masked as authentic or trustworthy. These attacks often come in email or text messages.

In most cases, the message will prompt the user to perform an action, such as update their password, to prevent something bad from happening (such as being locked out of their account unless they update it). When the user clicks on the link included in the email, it redirects them to what appears to be a legitimate website, then asks them to provide their login details.

If Google detects phishing scams on your site, you could get block listed and lose customer trust. To prevent phishing scams, it’s important to use WordPress security plugins to monitor your site activity and block suspicious users.

10. Low-Quality Hosting

As we mentioned before, your WordPress hosting provider plays a pivotal role in your website security. Poor or low-quality hosting with limited protections is a common target for hackers.

Shared hosting can be particularly concerning because all sites on the server share resources. This means that if one website is affected, all of them usually will be.

That isn’t to say that shared hosting is dangerous. Instead, it’s important to choose a shared hosting provider that is vigilant and thorough with WordPress security.

If you run a larger website, you might consider upgrading to a cloud hosting plan. While it’s somewhat more expensive than shared hosting, cloud hosting plans come with the peace of mind of knowing your site has its own allocated resources that you do not need to share with anyone. In addition, all of our hPanel-based plans come integrated with an automated Malware Scanner.

At Webzworld, we offer complete hosting solutions that include a variety of resources and features for protecting your website.

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