Web Development | 09-11-2020 | Zubair Khan
WordPress doesn’t have the best repute when it comes to security. Aspiring webmasters looking to build their websites are always put-off by that fact.
Why wouldn’t they be? On one hand, they hear about the benefits they can gain with WordPress, and on the other, they hear that 90% of all Website Attacks are on WordPress websites.
If you're one of those webmasters, your concern is justified. Security in the modern digital landscape is a top priority and having your site hacked is not something you want to experience. Once hackers gain access, they can do comment spam, link spam, display adult content on your site, and worse, steal the persona; information your customers or users have added on your site.
If you don’t act proactively, your WordPress site also runs the risk of getting blacklisted by search engines and your hosting account getting suspended.
But even with all the prevalent dangers, why do many experts still recommend WordPress? To put it simply, it’s the most secure platform on the internet if you do things right from the get-go.
In this article, we’ll show you the many ways in which WordPress is a secure platform, and how you can make it even more secure. So, without further introductions, let’s begin.
WordPress Is Secure – Here’s Why
Handling over 1.3 billion active websites on the internet, WordPress’ popularity outshines all of its competitors. But its popularity makes it an easy target for hackers since they can target a wide range of users.
Since 2017, WordPress has been safe from serious hacks, so we can assume, for now, that it’s pretty much safe. There are plenty of reasons behind that assumptions:
● The core WordPress development team has some of the most efficient developers in the market
● WordPress development teams constantly update their software processes to make WordPress more secure
● Testing for vulnerabilities and fixing them constitutes a major quality assurance measure
● Development of new defense mechanism is a constant practice in ensuring WordPress is secure from hackers
● Millions of dollars are spent each year to ensure make it even more secure
Even with all these activities performed by WordPress, it still falls victim to hacks. How does that happen? We will tackle this problem in the next section.
Why Are WordPress Sites Hacked?
How, even with all the development going on, does a WordPress site get hacked? There are usually two reasons behind them. Let’s discuss the first one, shall we?
Using Nulled or Vulnerable Themes and Plugins
One of the biggest security issues that come with WordPress is the presence of nulled and vulnerable themes and plugins. Let’s look at the nulled themes and plugins.
Nulled Themes and Plugins
Essentially, they fall under the category of outdated versions of updated themes and plugins. There are two ways with which webmasters can end up with a nulled theme or plugin:
● Forgetting to update their WordPress plugins and themes to the latest version
● Deliberately installing them to gain access to premium features and functionalities
While the former is a correctable mistake from the webmaster’s end, the latter is more important to discuss. There are plenty of premium themes and plugins that webmasters pay for to gain access to advanced features. But there are also nulled theme providers who trick webmasters into obtaining those features for free.
Yes, those features are indeed free but the themes and plugins are outdated without the latest security specifications. To gain those features in the latest version means you have to pay for it. More often than not, these plugins come equipped with malicious bugs that, when installed, results in making your site vulnerable to hackers.
Webmasters who install these plugins and themes are looking for a “free solution” to a problem that they have to pay for. They might be free but the trade-off for installing such free goodies is your site’s integrity in the eyes of customers as well as the search engines.
There are plenty of steps involved in selecting a WordPress Theme. You don’t necessarily have to use a nulled theme to gain premium features without paying for them. You can customize your existing WordPress theme to make it more professional and personalized. Though a little effort is required, it is still better than having your WordPress site hacked.
Security Vulnerabilities from the Admins and Users
Yes, even with all the security automation tools present, WordPress is not exempt from the issues of human errors. Lack of foresight from the administrators and users (i.e. developers) has the potential to make a site vulnerable to hacks. Let’s look at how each of the following human errors can cause security problems for your site.
Weak Usernames and Passwords
It is highly emphasized that your WordPress account should always have a strong username and password. You can be as creative with your username as you can. For the password, however, you need to be proactive and create an impenetrable password. We would suggest using a password generator and a password storage tool to ensure that your passwords are created and stored safely for you to use.
But what if you don’t want to set strong usernames and passwords?
Suppose you go for a username like “admin” or “[login]”, both generic usernames for the WordPress platform. As an added bonus to the hackers, you decide to set the password of your WordPress as “Password123”. What will happen is that you’ll soon find your website riddled with malware since you’ve already made the guessing game easier for the hackers.
Delaying WordPress Updates
As we discussed above, WordPress plugins and themes are constantly updated to include new security features. Some webmasters are very vigilant in this regard since they keep them regularly updated on their site. Then there are those who tend to get lazy and avoid updating them firmly believing that “nothing could go wrong”. Well, that’s a fallacy like no other. In time, the outdated versions become nulled and are extremely vulnerable to hacks.
So, it's best that you keep your plugins and themes regularly updated to ensure security on your site.
Incorrect User Role Assignment
User roles and their permissions need to be set accordingly. By default, WordPress comes with six user roles:
All of these roles have their own set of permissions and regulations. It’s a neat way to organize users on your WordPress. What’s not neat is the fact that many webmasters fail to organize users in their respective categories. Making everyone an Admin or a Superadmin leads to disastrous results since any one of those users could either perform social engineering tactics to plant bugs into the site or in their absence, someone might gain access and do it. To avoid all this, it’s best to keep your user roles as organized as possible.
WordPress Security Best Practices
WordPress’ security is whatever you want it to be. You can make it impenetrable, or you can make it an easy target for hackers. This is the main thesis of this section.
Ideally, you should perform the former rather than the latter to ensure your site doesn’t get hacked when you’re gaining traffic. While there are in-depth tutorials on WordPress security, for this section, we would just give you a primer regarding the best security practices for your WordPress site.
Keep a security plugin like WordFence or Sucuri installed
Keep a regular check on the security of your website using tools like VirusTotal
Install an SSL certificate to give your site security credentials under search engines
Create strong login and password credentials for your site
Only install trusted themes and plugins
In this article, we talked about WordPress security, why it's secure, and how, even with all its security credentials, it still gets hacked. Later, we talked about the essential security best practices you can consider to make your site more secure against hackers.
To conclude things, we would just like to say that once you’ve done everything related to security, you need to stay proactive and vigilant. Make sure to check security reports and other considerations regularly to avoid the pitfalls of getting your site hacked.