WordPress is the single most widely used content management system out there, being the backbone of more than 455 million websites.
WordPress is indeed the very system that has made developing a website easy for everyone.
Whether you want a portfolio to showcase your work or a full-blown online store, it is possible with WordPress.
However, like any other software resource out there, WordPress is, by no means, fully secure.
That’s not to say that it carries a huge cybersecurity risk, but some vulnerabilities can be exploited.
WordPress Security Situation in Today’s Cybersecurity Climate
WordPress is a secure platform to run websites, but there are some things that the owners need to be careful about.
At the very basic level, WordPress runs on a secure core. However, to keep your website out of the reach of hackers, there’re a lot of measures that a site owner must take.
As WordPress is such a popular platform, the benefits for the hackers are astronomical. That’s why hackers invest a lot of time and effort to find out and exploit the vulnerabilities in this system.
Once they find a loophole, millions of sites can be hacked with that information.
That is not to say that WordPress is a weak CMS. As a matter of fact, every CMS comes with its security issues.
The widespread use of WordPress might make it a prime target of hackers, but the thriving community backing it is always working to make it more and more secure.
The issues the likes of Joomla are facing now have been fixed for WordPress long ago.
WordPress Security Strong Points
If we have an honest look at the security situation of WordPress, here are some of the reasons that make it secure as compared to other CMS options:
- The WordPress core team comprises some of the most talented developers globally. These people are constantly working to make this CMS safer for everyone.
- WordPress gets constant upgrades and updates, making it more efficient, functional, and secure.
- Even if a security issue is discovered, it is only a matter of time before the core team fixes it.
- WordPress uses cutting-edge security measures to keep it out of reach of hackers.
- WordPress has a security budget of one million dollars a year.
With all that said, it must also be noted that no online asset or digital property is 100% secure. There are ways to hack WordPress.
How do WordPress websites get hacked?
Let’s look at how someone can hack this CMS and how to secure your website against such activity.
Themes and Plugins Security
Any software product is only as secure as the weakest component in it. WordPress can guarantee near foolproof security for the core, but when you use themes and plugins, you create weak points in the system.
However, it is also worth noting that themes and plugins are the very reason people love WordPress, and WordPress is of no use without them.
When you finish building a WordPress website and have installed a team and all the plugins, you can use a Website Security Scanner to detect the security issues in the final build and fix them.
A common misconception is that the service provider is the only one responsible for the security of a website.
In truth, all active users, including the admins, owners, and other people with access to the website, are equally responsible for security.
To make a WordPress site secure, it needs to be made sure that:
- All users use two-factor authentication.
- Only the relevant privileges and authority are given to any user.
- All users are briefed on the security issues and have the basic knowledge needed to secure the website.
One of the most important things any website owner needs to understand is that no website is too small or insignificant to be hacked.
You might not have a lot of money linked to the website, but it is still a treasure chest of user data, IP addresses, and other valuable resources that can land you in serious legal or financial trouble if it ends up in the wrong hands.
Brute forcing or brute force attack is the most primitive yet effective type of hacking a piece of software or a website.
The concept is simple, and a computer is used to try a large number of passwords to log into a website. Given enough time, brute force attacks can hack any website.
Here are some of the ways to prevent such an attack:
- Use long and complex usernames and passwords.
- Use two-factor authentication and use a hardware key for it.
- Limit the number of login attempts allowed from an IP address.
- Change the login page URL; never use the default one.
Using an Old Version of WordPress
When WordPress releases an update, it is meant to add new features to the website. The main purpose of these is to make the system more secure.
Updates are there to fix known security issues, and as WordPress is open-source, the known issues are common knowledge.
To prevent being a victim of a known vulnerability attack, install the latest version of WordPress as soon as it is released.
Not Using SSL
Socket Security Layer (SSL) is a system that secures the server to browser communication on a website.
If you have not installed an SSL certificate on your WordPress website, it is much more likely to be successfully attacked by hackers.
Any hacker can intercept the server requests sent by a user’s browser and gain unauthorized access to it.
It might not necessarily hack the website as a whole but makes user data theft very easy.
Install an SSL certificate to encrypt all such communication and prevent these attacks.
To put it simply, WordPress sites are secure. That can be seen from the team of experts that backs it up, the swift actions taken to fix vulnerabilities and the fact that the likes of Disney, BBC, and The New York Times use it.
However, attacks are possible, but as long as you keep the version up to date, periodically use a website security scanner, implement proper user security measures, use complex passwords, and install an SSL certificate, a website built using WordPress is as secure as websites can get.