A hacked WordPress site is just as harmful as a home hack. It can completely ruin your peace of mind and adversely affect your online business.
Why are hackers attacking WordPress sites? The answer is relatively simple: WordPress is the largest website builder right now, so it attracts the attention of internet criminals the most.
So how can hacking affect your website?
Depending on the type of attack, your website may be exposed to threats such as:
- It can be completely destroyed;
- It can charge or run very slowly on different devices;
- It can present a white screen ‘
- Visitors may be redirected to other questionable websites;
- This can result in the loss of all valuable customer data.
- These are, of course, only a handful of threats, but it makes you aware of the problems that a “burglary” can bring.
What are the main reasons why websites are hacked and how can you counter them? About it below.
1. Insecure web host
Like any website, WordPress is hosted or hosted. Unfortunately, most website owners do not pay attention to the web host of their choice and choose the cheapest one that they can find. For example, it’s much cheaper to host a website on a shared hosting plan – one that shares server resources with many other websites like yours.
This can definitely make your site more vulnerable to hacker attacks, as successfully hacking any site on a shared server can be dangerous. One website attacked by a hacker may consume all the server bandwidth and affect the performance of all other websites.
The only way to solve this problem is to choose a reliable virtual or dedicated server for a specific website.
Pro tip: If you’re already on a shared hosting plan, check with your hosts to see if they offer VPS hosting and make a change that will benefit your security.
2. Use of weak passwords
Weak passwords are the main reason for successful brute force attacks on your account. Even today, users continue to use weak and common passwords such as “password” or “123456”; if you are one of them, your site might get in trouble!
Guessing weak passwords allows hackers to enter administrator accounts where they can do great damage.
How to solve this problem? It’s simple, make sure all users of your account (including administrators) set up strong passwords for their login credentials. Passwords that are at least 8 characters long must be a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
For added security, install a password management tool that can automatically generate and store strong passwords.
Tip: You can use a plugin to reset passwords for all users.
3. Obsolete version of WP
Obsolete software is one of the most common reasons for hacking websites. Even though the download is free, most website users postpone updating their site to the latest version for fear that the updates will crash the site.
Hackers take advantage of every legacy vulnerability or bug and cause problems like SQL injection, WP-VCD malware, SEO spam, and other serious problems like redirecting your website to a different address.
How to solve this problem? When you see an update notification on the dashboard, update the site as soon as possible.
Pro tip: If you are concerned that the updates will crash your live site, you can test the updates first on a test site.
4. Obsolete WP plugins and themes
As in the previous point, hackers also use outdated, unused or abandoned plugins and themes installed on websites. With over 55,000 plugins and themes available, it’s nothing hard to install a plugin or theme from unsafe or untrusted websites.
In addition, many users do not update their installed plugins / themes to the latest version or do not find an updated version. This makes it easier for hackers to do their job and infect sites.
How to avoid this problem? As with the WP core version, update all installed plugins / themes on your site regularly. Collect all unused ones and remove them or replace them with better alternatives.
You can update your plugins / themes frequently from your hosting account.
Tip: We suggest reserving a time each week to run updates. Test them on a test site and then update your site.
5. Standard administrator user names
In addition to weak passwords, users also create popular usernames that are easy to guess.
This includes common user names for administrators such as “admin”, “admin1”, and “admin123”. Common administrator usernames make it easier for hackers to access accounts and control backend files in a WP installation.
How to avoid this problem? If you are using a username that is easy to guess, change them immediately to a unique username that cannot be guessed by a hacker. The easiest way to do this is with the hosting account user management tool, removing the previous administrator and creating a new administrator with a unique username.
In the first step, change the default administrator username and restrict users who have administrator rights.
Pro Tip: WordPress has 6 different user roles with limited permissions. Grant administrative access only to users who really need it.
6. Using empty plugins / themes
Coming back to the importance of plugins / themes, users have access to many websites that sell invalid or pirated copies of popular and paid plugins and themes. While they’re free, they’re often full of malware. They can compromise the overall security of your website and make it easier for hackers to take advantage of our website.
Being a pirated copy, empty plugins / themes don’t have any updates available from their development team, therefore they won’t have any security fixes.
How to solve this problem? Simple, for starters, only download original plugins and themes from trusted websites and markets.
Pro tip: If you don’t want to pay for paid or premium plugins and themes, choose the free version of the same tools, which will have limited features but still be safer to use than the zero version.
7. Insecure access to the wp-admin folder
To take control of your website, hackers often try to hack into and control the wp-admin folder in your installation. As a website owner, you must take measures to protect the wp-admin directory.
How can you protect your wp-admin folder? First, limit the number of users who have access to this critical folder. In addition, apply password protection as an additional layer of security for accessing the wp-admin folder. You can do this using special features in your hosting account.
Pro Tip: In addition to these tweaks, you can also implement two-factor authentication (or 2FA) protection for all administrator accounts.
8. Website without SSL
You can easily move your website HTTP to HTTPS by installing an SSL certificate on your website. SSL (or Secure Socket Layer) is a secure encryption mode for data transmission between the web server and the client’s browser.
Without this encryption, hackers can intercept data and steal it. In addition, an unsecured website can have many negative consequences for your business – lower SEO ranking, loss of customer trust, or a decrease in traffic.
How to solve this problem? You can get an SSL certificate quickly from your hosting company or SSL providers. It encrypts all data that is sent and received by your website.
Pro tip: You can get a free SSL certificate from places like Let’s Encrypt, which will only be sufficient for smaller websites.
9. No firewall protection
Lack of firewall protection is another common reason why hackers can bypass website security measures and infiltrate back-end resources. Firewalls are your last line of defense against hackers and act like a security alarm installed in your home. Firewalls monitor Internet requests from various IP addresses, including suspicious ones.
They can identify and block previously known malicious requests, thus preventing hackers from easily accessing your domain. Web application firewalls can thwart various attacks including brute force, XSS, etc.
Pro tip: A firewall provides much-needed security and is your first line of defense. But it’s important to have a malware scanner installed as well.
10. Lack of additional security measures for WordPress
Typically, hackers target the most vulnerable areas or weaknesses in WP installation to illegally access or damage a website. The WordPress team identified these sensitive areas and compiled a list of 12 security measures recommended for each website.
Here are a few of them:
- Disabling the file editor;
- Preventing PHP execution in untrusted folders;
- Changing security keys;
- Blocking the installation of plugins;
- Automatic logout of inactive users;
- How do you implement these reinforcement measures? While some steps are easy to understand, others require technical knowledge of how WordPress works.