7 Common Types of WordPress Security Vulnerabilities and How to Deal With Them
There’s no easier way to build, as well as customize, a website than by downloading WordPress. You can upload the open-source software to your server, after which you can configure it to run on your website. WordPress is an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) that offers all of the features you need to build a website.
When using WordPress, though, you should be on the lookout for the following security vulnerabilities. Allowing just one security vulnerability to go unresolved could result in a cyber attack.
1) Weak Admin Password
A weak admin password is a common WordPress security vulnerability. According to an infographic published by WP Clipboard, roughly one in 12 WordPress websites are hacked because they have a weak admin password. If your website’s admin password is compromised, it could get hit with a cyber attack.
For a strong and secure password, use a password generator tool. WordPress features its own password generator tool. It will generate a random 24-character password consisting of letters, numbers, and special characters.
2) Outdated WordPress Version
Failure to update WordPress to the most recent version will increase the risk of a cyber attack. New versions of the CMS are released each year. When developers want to add a new feature or remove an existing feature, for instance, they’ll have to release a new version.
With that said, developers often release new versions of WordPress to resolve security vulnerabilities as well. If there’s a new version available, you’ll need to download it. Otherwise, your website will run an outdated version that may lay out the red carpet to getting hacked and some pesky malware installed.
3) Outdated Themes and Plugins
In addition to an outdated version, outdated themes and plugins can place your website at risk. Outdated software may contain security vulnerabilities. Themes and plugins, of course, are forms of software. To protect against cyberattacks, you’ll need to update your website’s theme and plugins when new versions are released.
You can update your website’s theme and plugins manually to protect against cyberattacks, or you can enable auto-updates for them. WordPress offers auto-updates for themes and plugins. Visit wordpress.org/support/article/plugins-themes-auto-updates to learn more about this feature and how to enable it.
Whenever you update the theme, remember to thoroughly test all the features on your site since some may become inoperable due lack of compatibility with certain plugins or widgets. Please contact us if you have any issues.
4) Pirated Themes and Plugins
Pirated themes and plugins can also pose a security risk. A report published by the firewall provider Wordfence, in fact, found that pirated themes and plugins were responsible for more malware infections on WordPress websites than all other security vulnerabilities. If a theme or plugin has been pirated, it may be used to spread malware.
How do you know if a theme or plugin was pirated? Original themes and plugins typically come with an activation code. You’ll need to enter this unique code to activate them. If you purchase a theme or plugin but don’t see an activation option, it may have been pirated.
You can also download themes and plugins from the official repositories. WordPress has an official repository for plugins, and it has an official repository for themes. Only original themes and plugins that have been vetted by WordPress will appear in the repositories.
5) Unmanaged User Roles
Unmanaged user roles are a WordPress security vulnerability. If you allow visitors or other users to create accounts on your website, you’ll need to manage them. As the admin, you’ll have your own account, which you can use to log in to the dashboard. But WordPress supports the creation of other accounts with user roles.
A user role is a type of account for a WordPress website. You can check all of your website’s user roles by selecting the “User” menu in the dashboard. When allowing users to create accounts, make sure they are assigned the correct user role with the lowest level of privileges necessary.
“In regards to user roles, another potential issue is users that are no longer working with your company,” says COO, Darath Leon. “It is paramount to have their account credentials removed immediately. For example, without prompt action, that user could open up a random virus via their personal email that could work its way through their computer and install malware on your website via their WP credential.”
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a security vulnerability that can affect all websites, including those built with WordPress. Websites leverage this networking technology to communicate with visitors. HTTP is a networking technology that governs website traffic. When used alone, however, it can lead to a data breach.
To resolve the security vulnerability of HTTP, you should switch your website to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). HTTPS still uses HTTP as the base networking technology. The purpose of HTTPS is to apply an encryption algorithm to website traffic. It will encrypt the data between your website and all of its visitors so that no one else will be able to see it.
You can switch your website to HTTPS by using Really Simple SSL. It’s a free plugin that will automatically configure your website to load via HTTPS. Really Simple SSL works in conjunction with a cryptographic certificate. You’ll need to install this certificate file on your server, after which you can use Really Simple SSL to make the switch.
7) Disabled Themes and Plugins
It’s not uncommon for bloggers and webmasters to simply disable themes and plugins that they no longer use. If you’ve found a new theme, for example, you may simply disable your website’s old theme. If a plugin no longer works, you may disable it as well.
Disabled themes and plugins can have weaknesses in their code that make them a vector for cyber attacks. When you disable a theme or plugin, it will still be installed on your website. Assuming the theme or plugin has a weakness, it could be used to carry out a cyberattack, such as SQL injection, against your website.
Instead of disabling themes and plugins that you no longer use, you should delete them. Deleting themes and plugins will completely remove them from your website. None of the themes’ or plugins’ files will remain. As a result, their security vulnerabilities aren’t a concern.
WordPress might be popular, but it’s not immune to cyberattacks. The unmatched popularity of WordPress has actually made it a target for cyberattacks. Some of the most common WordPress security vulnerabilities include a weak admin password, outdated WordPress version, outdated themes and plugins, pirated themes and plugins, unmanaged user roles, HTTP, and disabled themes and plugins.