With so many users on the world’s most popular leading open source CMS, what are the risks and how can you prevent them? Our guest author, Simon Keller, outlines ALL that can possibly go wrong.
There’s no denying that WordPress owns the CMS battle, flaunting 60.8% market share under its belt.
First off, though, to be clear on what WordPress is and what it does – simply check here for a more detailed explanation. And this article shares 17 stats and facts about how WordPress changed the internet.
In short, it’s a secure platform that anyone can run their websites on – and allows you to make your own updates to your website.
But, with so many users and with it being open source, is it really that secure? Do we really have to take care of it to prevent people from threatening our data and information?
Risks can come in many forms
Backed by dedicated and talented developers, WordPress is always committed to creating a safe platform their visitors can rely on.
However, to be fair, nothing on the web is 100% secure and that’s the absolute reason why we need to add an extra layer of security on our WordPress site.
On that note, let’s see some of the main threats we should all be aware of.
Outdated WordPress Core
The WordPress team regularly updates the platform to prevent any malicious threats getting through loopholes or cracks in the security.
However, as of writing, only 23% of WordPress sites are running the latest version. Considering the fact that 39.3% of hacked WordPress sites in 2017 were running an older WordPress core, it emphasizes the importance of not snoozing those updates.
The update is automated by default. Just in case it’s not, activating the feature is easy and won’t take long.
Outdated Plugins and Themes
One of the advantages of WordPress is having a large selection of plugins and themes to use. But, it will easily backfire if you use the outdated version or don’t update them regularly. Why? Simply because outdated plugins and themes could have soft spots for malware.
If your site is compromised by malware it can get bombarded with unnecessary ads, you might have your personal data leaked, or even lose your site altogether.
The idea behind a Distributed Denial of Service Attack is simple – your website will be flooded by traffic, so much so that it can’t serve any content to visitors. Even worse, the attackers tend to use multiple devices for the attack, making the culprit hard to locate.
It doesn’t really end when it’s solved either. You may need to deal with the unpleasant aftermath like getting a bad reputation for your site’s user experience or even lose SEO performance.
Brute Force Attack
An attacker using this method will try to break in by repeatedly inputting a combination of letters and numbers. This attack is commonly automated by a script written in high-level programming languages like Python and C++.
Even though you may think that your password is complex enough and safe, you should never underestimate this kind of attack. In 2017, the rate of brute force attacks increased by 400%. Obviously, the risk is still there, if not bigger.
To begin with, we should know that WordPress relies on MySQL as its database system. In Layman’s terms, a MySQL database is simply that, a database. All information that any users on your site input gets saved and stored in said database. Every time a page is loaded, WordPress will generate SQL queries to retrieve the data from the database, which is vulnerable to the so-called SQL injection.
A hacker can insert a set of code to gain access to your database, including modifying the data (adding, deleting, replacing values, etc). This normally happens in operations that include login pages, web forms, and search bars.
Unreliable Hosting Service
After all, your WordPress site is hosted on your hosting provider. If the latter is problematic, so will be the former.
The easiest example is the latest version of PHP – 7.3.0. If a hosting provider is not catching up fast enough with the updates, it may impact your WordPress site, as WordPress is written in PHP.
That being said, picking a time-tested reliable hosting provider will increase the security. Here are some of the best ones.
What’s to lose when your WordPress site is broken?
The answer to that question could vary depending on the situation.
For instance, imagine that you’re a prolific blogger. All traffic and established engagement could vanish in no time if you lose control over your site. If your financial well being depends on your blog, that’d make it even worse, wouldn’t it?
Another example is when you’re running a thriving online business. Let alone a massive attack that could bring your site down, a simple glitch on the site may affect your sales and customer satisfaction.
The fact is, a broken site can make you lose everything – data, reputation, brand power, money, along with the joy of seeing it grow over time – emphasizing that keeping your WordPress site secure is indeed crucial.
So, now what?
A secure WordPress site is a two-way effort. The 50 experts on WordPress Security Team will always try their best to eliminate any security threats. The thing is, on the user side, we can’t just do nothing while hoping that everything is going to be fine.
Based on the various threats we discussed above, here are some things you could do (and you can ask TLD for help – this service is built into their Loyalty Club):
- Regularly update your site — this applies to both the WordPress core and plugins or themes. Updates will make sure that you’re equipped with the latest support, improving your security on the web.
- Customize your login process — your password should be hard to guess. You can also set limits to how many times a person can try inputting the password on your login panel. Recommended plugins: Cerber Security, Antispam and Malware Scan.
- Pick a reliable hosting provider — your hosting provider should provide security features and regular updates for various technologies involved. For better performance, make sure that it has a high uptime scale (99% should be the standard).
- Use WordPress security plugins — plugins can help improve security standards. Some recommended plugins are WordFence (malware protection), WP-DB Manager (database), and All In One WP Security and Firewall (multi features).
- Conduct regular backups — if everything fails, you can always fallback to backing up the entirety of your data using a backup. A good hosting provider backup for your files either daily or weekly. Thus, if something goes wrong, everything can be restored to the point where your site can function.
With all that being said, I am sure you would never want anything bad to happen to your site. Therefore, act now and secure it (and as mentioned above – TLD can help!).
Who wrote this article? Simon Keller is a digital marketing entrepreneur motivated to drive tons of traffic to his customer websites. After three years of hard work as a freelancer, he decided to take up his services to the next level and co-founded digital marketing company “PRable”. Besides his desperate love for SEO, Simon is interested in ice hockey and traveling.
Update April 2020
Sholom from dovjackson.com sent us another detailed resource about web hosting which is thorough and detailed (with super helpful information and ways).
Update March 2021
Jackie from Web Hosting Professional wrote and recommended this Step by step guide to hosting your own website on their blog. She said “Hopefully you can see I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this piece and hope that you would agree that it would be a valuable link for both you and your readers”