Is Your WordPress Site Safe? The Top 10 WordPress Security Issues to Watch For

WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) used to construct websites. It is a free and open-source software that can be easily customized to suit any need and available around the world.

When it comes to WordPress security, a number of things need to be considered before content is published on the site. This includes ensuring the right users have access, protecting the site from potential security breaches, and staying up-to-date with the latest WordPress security patches. In this article, we will discuss the top 10 security issues you should be aware of and how to resolve them to ensure the safety of your WordPress site.

Weak Password Strength

Passwords are one of the primary ways hackers can gain access to WordPress sites. It is estimated that 74% of all WordPress websites use passwords that are easy to guess or brute-force crack. To avoid hacking attempts and keep your site safe, you need to adhere to best practices when it comes to generating and using passwords.

Passwords should be a minimum of eight characters long, contain at least one numeric character and one uppercase or lowercase letter, and must be different from each other. Additionally, you should ensure passwords are not shared between websites or accounts. If you find yourself repeatedly using the same weak passwords, consider changing them or installing a password manager.

Brute-force cracking a password is when an attacker tries all possible combinations of characters, including both lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers, in an effort to guess the password. With the right equipment (lots of computing power), it is possible to crack a six-character password in under a minute. This is why the best practice for passwords is not to use easy-to-guess combinations of letters or numbers, but to generate random numbers and letters to be used as login credentials.

A good rule of thumb is to use a strong password generator such as https://www.strongpasswordgenerator.com/, which can generate random passwords with any combination of characters and then immediately insert them into your web browser. This ensures you are typing in the correct password every time, and also prevents manual input errors when entering passwords into your web browser.

Weak SSL Certificates

An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is a web security certificate that is used to ensure encrypted connection to a website. Without an SSL certificate, all of the information including login credentials and credit card data (i.e. financial information) transferred over the internet could be potentially stolen. To learn more about SSL certificates, visit https://blog.scottishwebdesign.com/how-to-create-ssl-certificates-for-websites/. 

Many WordPress websites use an unencrypted connection (i.e. HTTP) to transmit their content back and forth with their web host. Unencrypted connections are considered relatively insecure because they are easily accessible by anyone who intercepts them. To keep your site secure, you should look into getting an SSL certificate. There are also free SSL certificate generators available online.

When selecting an SSL certificate, make sure you get one that is valid for the level of security you need and has been issued by a trusted authority.

Phishing

In a nutshell, phishing is a form of online identity theft where a hacker (either a scammer or malicious software) tricks a user into giving up sensitive personal information such as login credentials. One way of doing this is through email spoofing where the email looks professional but is actually sent from a hacker.

It is a common misconception that all emails from unknown senders are spam. Lots of reputable companies send messages seeking customers¬†or conducting business online. To make sure you are not being fooled, always check the sender’s email address and call the number listed on the website. If you ever feel you have been tricked, contact the company immediately and change your password.

If you have been tricked into giving up your personal information, you can find out how easy it is to steal your identity by visiting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website at https://www.ftc.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2018/02/ftc-warns-consumers-about-carding-scams-prevention-strategy. The FTC is a government agency that investigates and police cybercrime. They can help you determine which identity theft protection service is right for you at https://ftc.gov/identityprotection.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to avoiding phishing scams is to be suspicious of any email that seems too good to be true. Also, never give up your personal information to a stranger (i.e. someone you’ve never met) via email or social media.

Missing Credentials

This one may seem obvious, but hackers can still try to break in and access your WordPress site if they don’t have the correct credentials. In most cases, this means they do not have permission to log in to your account or have forgotten their password. To protect your site, always keep your login details and other important passwords protected and hidden. Be especially careful when answering questions about your personal life in case anyone is trying to get access to your account.

If you find that your login details have been stolen, contact the website owner or contact authorities as soon as possible. Ensure they do not use any passwords that you have used or seen before, and change them immediately. In most cases, this will prevent further access to your account.

Weak Firewall

A firewall is a type of server software that prevents unauthorized access to your computer network. In most cases, a firewall is used in combination with an SSL certificate to create a secure connection between your computer and the outside world. To learn more, consult the CISCO website at https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/hw-appliances/nw-appliances/cc-ndw-nwc/index.html.

Firewalls can prevent various types of attacks including:

  • Denial of Service
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
  • Phishing
  • Identity Theft
  • Brute-force Attacks
  • Cracking
  • Scanning

If you are running a website with either a publicly visible IP (Internet Protocol) address or a domain name that can be easily found online, you should consider getting a firewall. Many web hosting plans include a firewall with decent level of protection. Additionally, you can use IP-blocking software like Cloudflare to prevent any unauthorized access from countries where hacker attacks or ransomware are prevalent.

Unauthorized Access

Once hackers have gained access to your WordPress site, they can do a number of things including but not limited to the following:

  • Restrict what content the public can access
  • Change the website’s look and feel
  • Delete content (i.e. posts)
  • Add new content (i.e. posts)
  • Rename files and folders
  • Modify or remove website’s configuration settings
  • Inject ads into webpages
  • Use the site to host malware or fraudulent activities

To keep your site safe from unauthorized access, you need to set up a strong login system that requires employees to log in with a unique user ID and password. Never give anyone permission to access your account or server. Whenever someone claims to be from the company or that they know your password, contact the website owner or contact authorities as soon as possible.

The above security issues are just some of the many that could put your site at risk. This is why it is extremely important to follow best practices when it comes to web security including using a strong password, avoiding phishing, and keeping your firewall in good condition.