WordPress is one of the most used PHP libraries. Its vast number of installers makes it a hotspot destination for hackers. As a result, there are frequent cases of businesses losing revenue, many personal data stolen, and a related rundown of crucial services.
This article distills the 6 most common scenarios that may land you in WordPress attacks. These include injection attacks, issues related to plugins and themes, malware infection, weak login systems, data theft, as well as DDOS vulnerability.
Then, you will find out how to evade the issues. Some of the recommendations may require (PHP) programming skills. However, this should not worry you because I shall give you more options to lock each of the WordPress hacking doors.
Let us get started.
Injection attacks take two forms. The first form of injection attacks is cross-site scripting, often summarized as XSS.
1. Cross-Site Scripting
To shed light on this point, form data entails information you send to a database for storage. For example, when creating a Facebook account, you submit details such as username, email, and password.
Likewise, when creating a blog, you type in the title and body, then click ‘Submit’ to save the blog in a database.
If a malicious user enters certain specific, unique characters then submits as if they were creating an account on your WordPress site, they may take down your website, retrieve sensitive information from the database, or refer your users to a malicious site for further manipulation.
2. MYSQL Injection
The second form of injection attack is MYSQL injection. Here, the hacker runs certain commands through forms or search boxes to grab sensitive information from an MYSQL database.
To avoid injection attacks,
- install a WordPress firewall,
- sanitize form data (requires programming skills),
- monitor and use trusted themes, as explained below.
3. Exploiting Weaknesses in WordPress Themes
Using a WordPress site involves installing the PHP framework (WordPress), plugins, and themes.
Although there are substantial amounts of tutorials to ease the successful installation — of recommended services such as SSL certificates— your choice of themes can expose you to WordPress attacks.
Here’s everything that happens under the hood:
WordPress plugins and themes are programs written by other software developers. The developers (or designers) create then sell or opensource the software.
Some of these themes reside on WordPress repository or other marketplaces. The plugins and themes developed by third-party software developers or on other marketplaces may be vulnerable to attacks. Reason(s)?
First, the themes outside the WordPress repository may not get maintenance by highly experienced developers, like those of the WordPress repository. Secondly, some of the third-party developers may have malicious intentions for creating lucrative themes.
Hence, before surrendering your WordPress site to hackers:
- Use trusted themes of WordPress repository
- Familiarize with and check your plugins regularly. Then, delete unnecessary or unfamiliar ones. A hacker may have pushed the unfamiliar plugin to accomplish attack missions
- Avoid pirated themes.
4. Brute Force Attack
Hackers understand that some users don’t change the default username (from ‘admin’ to unique name) as well as the initial password when installing the themes and plugins.
For this reason, they take the weak logins, access your account, and start spreading malware.
To avoid related attacks:
- Enable 2-factor authentication,
- Use unique login credentials.
- Change initial username ‘admin’ and password ‘password123’ to something difficult to guess
A hacker can upload malicious codes on a user’s browser. In the case of unprotected vulnerabilities, the malware accesses your database and accesses the users’ sensitive information such as credit cards. They can use Trojan-DDOS to take down your site.
As a user, this calls for seeking anti-malware programs. For example, you can install the best antivirus from Norton. Alternatively:
- Avoid untrusted plugins
- Install updates
- Disable exploited APIs
- Regularly scan the website.
- Install tools to scan data and block malicious IPs
- Activate firewalls
6. Data Theft and Cookie Stealing
Commonly referred to as phishing, data theft involves hijacking sensitive users’ details such as e-commerce information as they move to the database for storage.
A related way of grabbing the sensitive files is via cookie stealing. Here, the ill-motived user scans cookies and sessions for commercial details then use them maliciously. To evade such threats:
- install SSL certificate Fast Forward
With the right practices, as explained above, your WordPress site is secure from attacks.