Ever since its introduction in 2003, WordPress has been the leading content management system (CMS). 810 million websites use WordPress, which is 43% of all the websites on the internet. However, the popularity of WordPress has made it a prime target for hackers seeking to launch attacks for financial gain, data theft, or other malicious purposes.
WordPress sites are often hacked due to vulnerabilities in outdated software, plugins, and themes. Hackers exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access and manipulate the site's content, steal sensitive information, or inject malicious codes into the site. Additionally, weak passwords, lack of two-factor authentication, and poor server security practices also contribute to the vulnerability of WordPress sites.
Organizations that use outdated software, plugins, or themes are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Even though updates are regularly released for popular plugins, most WordPress site operators do not install these updates owing to the fear of breaking the existing functionality.
Being one of the most common sources of security vulnerabilities, WordPress itself tried to help users address these issues with automated updates in WordPress 3.7. However, despite the availability of this feature, site maintainers often choose to disable it due to concerns about site malfunctions and plugin incompatibilities.
Plugins have nearly unrestricted access within WordPress. This allows them access to everything that WordPress can access itself. Owing to this, popular WordPress plugins like BackupBuddy have seen exploits that allow hackers to access and modify any file accessible by WordPress within the server itself. The issue tagged as CVE-2022-31474, allowed unauthorized access to files that included sensitive information like login credentials.
It is recommended to update the software, plugins, and themes on every login. Site owners can test out the new version of a plugin or theme to ensure it is compatible with their site.
Updates can be viewed directly from the WordPress admin by navigating to Dashboard → Updates.
It is also recommended to remove any unused themes or plugins. This can be done by navigating to Plugins → Installed Plugins → Inactive.
To delete inactive WordPress themes, Appearance → Themes. After selecting a theme that needs to be removed, click the Delete button in the bottom right-hand corner.
A plugin like BlogVault can also help site owners by allowing them to test a plugin on a staging site before using it on their live site.
WordPress is a widely-used open-source CMS known for its ease of allowing anyone to set up a website quickly. It is built on PHP and MySQL/MariaDB. A key feature contributing to its popularity is that it provides users with the ability to install custom plugins and themes, which enables them to tailor their websites to their specific requirements.
However, this means that anyone who knows how to code can add a plugin to the WordPress architecture. Although WordPress core is developed and maintained by a dedicated team, plugins and themes are often developed and maintained by their creators. WordPress does verify the plugins and themes available on its store, but the sheer number of them makes it difficult to guarantee complete safety.
In addition, the option to buy themes and plugins from third-party vendors raises the possibility of incorporating codes from developers who may not undergo any security checks for the themes or plugins they offer. As a result, security loopholes can be introduced into the WordPress setup with ease. According to WordPress stats compiled by Web Tribunal, there are close to 90,000 attacks per minute.
Keeping up with CVEs is another challenge as they are continuously published when new vulnerabilities are discovered. Attackers often automate their attacks based on CVEs, making it difficult to stay ahead of them. Although automated updates are considered a solution, they may not always work if plugin updates are not available.
Utilizing Open Source Intelligence(OSINT) can help WordPress site owners and administrators stay informed about the latest vulnerabilities. OSINT can help WordPress operators monitor public vulnerability databases such as the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) or the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database. These databases provide information on known vulnerabilities in WordPress. To know more about OSINT click here.
These are add-ons that protect WordPress websites from various security vulnerabilities. These plugins can scan the website for malware, viruses, and other security threats, and alert the website owner or administrator of any suspicious activity.
Popular WordPress security plugins-
Monitoring multiple updates for plugins is a tedious task. Utilizing automated scanning tools to identify vulnerable plugins and installations is crucial to stay ahead of potential attackers.
By automatically scanning and checking a WordPress site for popular misconfigurations and vulnerabilities, Attack Surface Intelligence can help organizations stay ahead of potential attacks and mitigate risks in real-time. This includes not only vulnerabilities within the WordPress core but also those in individual plugins that power the website.
The main issue that causes hackers to target a specific WordPress website is the lack of updates. External Attack Surface Management supervises all WordPress installations. Hence, it is an adequate solution for detecting critical WordPress risks from misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.
To know more about how to resolve WordPress Vulnerabilities click here.