How to Stay Protected Against Common WordPress Vulnerabilities in 2024
Safeguard your WordPress website with our comprehensive guide on staying protected against common vulnerabilities. Learn essential security measures and best practices to fortify your site's defenses. Our blog guides you through essential security measures for robust protection.
WordPress was initially launched in the year 2003. Even today in the digital age of 2024, WordPress remains one of the most versatile content management systems(CMS) globally. It supports and acts as a backbone of countless websites. However, since WordPress is an open-source platform, vulnerability attacks are quite common. With the internet being filled with security threats, WordPress is no exception to these vulnerabilities.
In this blog, we will explore WordPress, its functions, common security vulnerabilities, and most importantly, how to safeguard your website from such attacks.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source content management system, which is known for its user-friendly interface that empowers many people to create and manage websites. WordPress was first introduced as a blogging platform, it then eventually became a tool for building virtually any kind of website. Its flexibility, vast plug-in library, and supportive community make it a top choice over other CMS platforms for both beginners and experienced users.
The current version(6.3.2) of WordPress with most security features, and the latest version comes with fixing many issues including potential disclosure of user email addresses, RCE POP Chains vulnerability, XSS issues in the post link navigation block, leaking of private post comments to other users, executing any shortcode by logged-in users, XSS vulnerability in the application password screen, XSS vulnerability in the footnotes block, and a cache poisoning DoS vulnerability. It is crucial to take appropriate measures to safeguard your WordPress website from such attacks.
Understanding the security vulnerabilities
Vulnerabilities are weak points of your website that hackers can use to exploit or compromise your website. These can range from typical code errors to configuration mistakes. WordPress vulnerabilities can be categorized into several types, they are:
1. Core vulnerabilities
Core vulnerabilities are related to the core software of WordPress. These vulnerabilities are often fixed with security patches to counter known threats.
2. Plug-in vulnerabilities
WordPress is known for its vast library of plug-ins, and almost every website uses these plug-ins to add functionality. These plug-ins sometimes may have security flaws, which can open doors to hacker attacks.
3. Theme vulnerabilities
If not updated, themes can also introduce vulnerabilities. It is important to choose themes for your website from trusted and reputable sources.
Security threats WordPress sites face
The security of a website is of paramount importance in ensuring that it operates smoothly and is not compromised by malicious attackers. To this end, website owners need to be aware of the various types of attacks that can be perpetrated against their websites and take proactive measures to prevent them.
Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks
Brute force attacks
Brute force attacks are a type of cybersecurity attack in which an attacker tries numerous combinations of usernames and passwords until the correct credentials are found. Attackers typically use bots or software to perform these attempts. If a site does not lock them out of the login screen, the attackers may try thousands of combinations. Attackers may use a variety of methods to gain access to passwords, including randomly guessing passwords or utilizing a list of commonly used passwords. More advanced techniques include utilizing lists of breached credentials obtained from other websites.
Malware and virus infections
Among the most common attacks are malware and virus infections. Malware, which is a malicious code, can harm a site or its visitors by causing damage, stealing data, or disseminating malware to visitors. Website malware acts as backdoors, which provide unauthorized access, drive-by downloads that download harmful software to a user's device automatically, and deface your website by altering the visual appearance of the website.
Cross‑Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks
Cross‑Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks take advantage of a site's trust in a user's browser to make the victim submit a malicious request. This attack exploits the victim's identity and privileges to infiltrate the site. Attackers can send an email with a link to the user or embed a link on another site to trigger a request to the web application, which then employs the user's authenticated session to execute an action, such as changing their email address to an address controlled by the attacker.
In today's digital era, cybersecurity is of utmost importance, and it is crucial to be aware of the various types of cyber attacks that can harm your website. One such attack is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), where multiple computers connect to a website simultaneously, overloading it with traffic. Attackers often use a network of compromised computers to carry out these attacks, which can result in prolonged downtime, depending on the level of protection your site has.
Malicious Redirects are another type of attack, wherein the server you are trying to access redirects you to a different address. This can happen for several reasons, such as changing domain names or avoiding pages that no longer exist. Although the server is usually considered secure, it is important to note that if attackers manage to infiltrate it, they could potentially create harmful redirects that would direct users to hazardous websites, putting them at risk.
File inclusion attacks
File inclusion attacks are a type of cyber attack that can occur when an attacker tricks your website into including files from a remote server that they control. This attack often exploits unsanitized user inputs. Preventing file inclusion attacks and other types of vulnerabilities can be achieved by properly sanitizing inputs and using a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to enhance web app security .
Remote code execution attacks
Remote code execution attacks occur when an attacker can execute harmful code remotely. Weak servers can allow attackers to run harmful scripts on your website, causing significant damage to both the website and the server. To prevent this, take steps to safeguard your website and server. If they gain access, they could potentially run any command on the server, leading to disastrous consequences.
Session hijacking and fixation attacks
Session hijacking and fixation exploit mechanisms that websites use to help users remain logged in during multiple visits. Attackers can "steal" session cookies, hijack sessions, and gain access to user accounts without going through the login process. Depending on the permissions granted to the account, the attacker can cause significant damage with a hijacked session.
SEO spam involves reusing keywords, excessively sharing the same links, and trying to play with the algorithms that determine site rankings in search engine results pages. Attackers often try to gain access to websites and use them to improve their keywords ranking by excessively linking to their sites. This can adversely affect your search engine rankings and break the trust of your users.
Phishing Attacks are a common type of cyber attack that involves pretending to be someone from an organization or website to obtain login credentials or other critical information from a specific user. Cybercriminals often send fake password reset emails to WordPress users. The emails contain links to fake reset pages that steal login credentials.
Attackers use this information for notorious purposes, such as unauthorized access to sensitive data and launching further attacks. Educating your visitors about official communications from your site can help prevent them from falling for phishing attacks.
SQL injection attacks
SQL injection is another type of attack that can tamper with the queries submitted by an application to its database, including those sent by WordPress. This attack can allow unauthorized access to information or the site itself. Attackers can modify the queries if they are not secured, leading to unauthorized data exposure, data modification, or even data deletion.
Fortifying your WordPress website
Now that you know all about the vulnerabilities and the stakes, let's explore how to protect your website from these vulnerabilities.
1. Keep everything updated: Make sure that your WordPress core, themes, and plugins are constantly updated to the latest versions available. Developers release frequent updates to patch the security vulnerabilities.
2. Use strong passwords: Always use random and strong passwords for your admin and user accounts. Using a weaker or simpler password can lead to vulnerability attacks.
3. Install security plugins: Various security plugins are available for WordPress in the market, such as Wordfence and Sucuri security. These plugins act as an extra layer of protection.
4. Regular backups: Always opt for regular backups of your website. They can help you recover your website in case of any attacks.
5. Two-factor authentication: Enabling 2FA for your login page can act as an extra layer of security in case any hackers try to access your account.
6. Web application firewall: Using a firewall can filter out malicious traffic before it reaches your site.
7. Hide the admin URL: Hiding your admin login page will make your page secure and stop attackers from finding it easily, adding an extra layer of protection.
8. Avoid using third-party plug-ins: You can minimize vulnerabilities by reducing reliance on external third-party plug-ins, if you need to use a third-party plugin buy them from the official service providers.
Recovering from a hack
Even with the best security measures in place, no website is completely secure from attacks. Unfortunately, if your WordPress website is hacked, here are a few steps you can take to recover your account
1. Analyze: Analyze your website, identify the hack, and then try to isolate your site to prevent further damage.
2. Remove malware: After finding the malware, clean your site by removing the corresponding code or files.
3. Update everything: Update all the components and passwords of your website, especially admin and FTP credentials.
4. Contact your hosting provider: Hosting providers are usually more familiar with these kinds of malware attacks and help you find the malware by running an auto scan using a tool.
As a website owner, it is essential to prioritize the security of your online presence and protect yourself against common WordPress vulnerabilities. By having a comprehensive understanding of these vulnerabilities and their impact, you can take measures to ensure that your website remains secure. WordPress developers at Webomindapps understand the importance of website security, and we follow specific procedures to ensure that our client's websites are developed with the highest level of security in mind. By partnering with us, you can have peace of mind knowing that your website is in safe hands, and we will work tirelessly to help you maintain the integrity of your online presence.
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