Abacus Web Hosting Can’t Update WordPress – What’s Going on?

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world, which makes it pretty much essential to have a stable, reliable platform to host your content on. Being based on open-source technologies and boasting a large community of developers, contributors, and fans, WordPress is always one of the first CMS’s that comes to mind when you think of hosting a website.

This being said, sometimes life happens and your hosting provider drops the ball (or, in some cases, purposely sabotages your website). When this happens, you have a couple of options. One is to try and move your site to another hosting provider, which can be difficult and time-consuming. The second option is to fix the issue yourself, which, while not impossible, will likely require some technical knowledge that you may not possess.

The Importance Of Regular Updates

As we’ve established, WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world, with a whopping 35.3% of all websites globally utilizing the platform. This makes regular WordPress updates all the more relevant as they help to ensure that your website is always functioning optimally and, more importantly, that it remains secure and without vulnerabilities. While there are automated tools that can help with WordPress updates, it’s always better to hand-roll them yourself to ensure that you don’t miss any critical issues.

WordPress also regularly checks for and alerts you to any vulnerabilities in your installation, allowing you to apply the necessary patches and thus keep your website secure. Furthermore, WordPress updates can be critical for performance and functionality, so it’s important that you apply them as soon as possible.

To put this into perspective, here’s a list of some of the most significant vulnerabilities that WordPress has historically had and the patches that have been released to address them:

Infections From A Previously Unknown Virus

In April of 2019, WordPress version 4.9.8 was released to address a critical vulnerability in the previous version. The vulnerability, which was later revealed to be caused by the PoodleCrypt virus, allowed attackers to take complete control of infected websites. Infections from this new strain of malware began appearing in the wild in early May and in some cases, the infected websites were used to send out spam emails or to distribute ransomware. Luckily, the damage was somewhat limited as the PoodleCrypt virus only infects PHP scripts, which often times are behind authentication systems and thus protected from direct access.

SQL Injection Vulnerabilities

One of the most critical vulnerabilities that WordPress has ever faced and the reason why we’re holding up a giant red flag with an exclamation point here is because it’s one of the most basic types of security flaws. A SQL injection vulnerability occurs when a hacker is able to manipulate data by exploiting a software application’s poor input validation. In other words, a hacker is able to enter SQL commands into a database field that the application interprets as code, resulting in the database being manipulated in some way that the hacker desires.

SQL injection vulnerabilities in WordPress are very dangerous because they can allow an attacker to execute arbitrary SQL commands on your database with full administrative privileges. While most instances of SQL injection in WordPress are harmless, it’s still important to be aware of them and to implement the necessary fixes. Some of the most common ways that hackers can exploit SQL injection vulnerabilities are by simply entering an integer in a text field or by using a common HTML tagging issue to steal user information.

Remote File Inclusion Vulnerabilities

Last but not least, we have remote file inclusion vulnerabilities, which are a little different from typical SQL injection flaws. The difference is that a remote file inclusion vulnerability occurs when an attacker is able to include files from a remote server in a website that you’re hosting on your own server. In other words, you’re not necessarily affected by a remote file inclusion vulnerability, but if it’s not addressed promptly, it can cause significant problems for the server’s stability and performance.

The most common way that hackers can exploit remote file inclusion vulnerabilities is by simply including remote files that have the permissions set correctly to be executed by the web server. In these cases, the hacker does not necessarily need to do anything more. If a remote file is included in a way that it has the permissions set to be executed by the server, it will be automatically executed by the server when the file is accessed. The best way to prevent remote file inclusion vulnerabilities is to keep your WordPress installation up-to-date and by making sure that remote files are only included if they’re absolutely necessary.

In sum, these are some of the most significant vulnerabilities that WordPress has faced over the years and the reason why we have such high regards for this content management system is because of its incredibly widespread adoption and the tireless work of its security-focused community.

How To Check If You’re Vulnerable To A Specific Vulnerability

As mentioned, WordPress is incredibly complex and popular software, which makes it very difficult to keep abreast of all the security issues and patches that it might be vulnerable to. Fortunately, we have a helpful support team at Abacus whose job it is to stay up-to-date with all the latest WordPress security news and to provide excellent customer support when you encounter issues with our hosting services. In other words, not only do we host WordPress websites, but we also try to ensure that your experience with the platform is as pleasant and safe as possible.

So, how do you know if you’re vulnerable to a specific WordPress vulnerability? You can search our knowledge database, which contains hundreds of thousands of answers to commonly asked questions about WordPress security, for the answer to your question. In most cases, you’ll find a link to a blog post that explains the issue in depth along with a recommendation for a fix. Furthermore, you can also use our Security Checker, which is a free tool offered by Abacus that can scan your WordPress installation and flag any vulnerabilities that it finds. This way, you can be sure that you’re not susceptible to any unknown threats and apply the necessary updates quickly and easily.

WordPress Updates Are Time-Consuming

Last but not least, let’s not forget about the time that WordPress updates take. Sometimes these can be lengthy and tedious processes, especially if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of this popular CMS. In most cases, applying the necessary updates will require a bit of research into the issue and you might need to consult with a qualified professional to walk you through it.

The great thing about WordPress is that many issues can be solved by simply following the instructions that are provided in the documentation. However, this being said, sometimes it can be quite hard to find the information that you need and it takes some serious auditing to ensure that you’re not missing any vital pieces of information. In these cases, it might be faster to just hire some help from a professional services company or freelance development shop.

Dealing With A Hosting Provider That Won’t Help

So you’ve been informed of the risks posed by a lack of WordPress updates and you’d like to apply the necessary fixes. Fantastic! The problem is that not every hosting provider is created equal and some will actively try to sabotage your website, regardless of the level of service that they provide. Here are some red flags that you should look out for in order to ensure that you’re not being taken for a ride by a hosting provider whose only goal is to make a profit off of your hard work rather than to actually help you build and maintain a quality website.

Frequently Changing IP Addresses

One method that hackers often use to bypass authentication systems and gain access to restricted areas on a website is by changing the IP address of their computer. This is usually done by purchasing a dynamic DNS service from a reputable company like Cloudflare, which will automatically update your site’s IP address whenever it changes, thus ensuring that you’re always protected when accessing your site from a new location.

Unfortunately, this also means that you’re likely to encounter a lot of downtime while your site’s IP address is updated, which, as we’ve established, is bad news for everyone, especially you.

Poor Customer Support

No one likes to experience bad customer support, especially when it comes to matters concerning their website. This is why it’s critical for every host to maintain a great reputation in the market and to ensure that all of their customer’s needs are promptly and efficiently satisfied. A bad reputation can cause major damage to a business, even if it’s just one customer who has a bad experience, which is why you must always put your customers’ needs first and ensure that they’re fully satisfied with the service that you provide. If you want to keep your customers for life, you will need to constantly ensure that their needs are taken care of and that they have a wonderful experience throughout the whole process.