5 Ways To Protect Yourself from WordPress Exploits

WordPress: A Hacker’s Target

wordpress hackers target

According to W3Techs, WordPress powers 43% of all the websites on the Internet, and that makes for a very large target!

It doesn’t matter how small or large the site is. If you don’t take steps to secure your site, a hacker could exploit WordPress and take over your website. The consequences of which could be detrimental to a business.

A WordPress Exploitation or “Hack” Could come with Dire Consequences

A website hack can have a number of negative consequences for a business. First and foremost, it can damage the business’s reputation if sensitive customer data is compromised or if the site is used to disseminate malicious content.

A hack can also result in financial losses, as customers may be reluctant to do business with a company whose website has been hacked. In addition, a website hack can lead to downtime and lost productivity, as businesses may need to take their websites offline in order to fix the security breach.

Finally, a hack can also put a strain on IT resources, as businesses may need to invest in new security measures in order to prevent future attacks.

How to Protect Yourself from WordPress Exploits, Bots, and Hackers

protection against wordpress exploits

With some regular maintenance and security upgrades, it’s possible to protect yourself against this frustrating fate. Remember, a strong defense is your best option against your site being taken over by someone else and maintaining WordPress security.

wordpress exploits 1. Outdated WordPress Installation

Keeping up with the latest version of WordPress is just too much work and could wreak havoc on a site. At least, those are common reasons why site owners often stick with an outdated version. However, one of the main purposes of these version updates is to fix security flaws.

This means hackers are on the lookout for sites running outdated versions. All you have to do is keep WordPress updated with the latest version.

If you can’t because your theme or plugins aren’t compatible, adding a stronger firewall and antivirus software is a good start. Having your theme and plugins updated or replaced to be compatible is your best option though.

Modern versions of WordPress allow for automatic updating of security patches and unless you have a solid reason not to allow this, it’s advisable to keep such automation active.

2. Unsecure Themes And Plugins

theme or plugin wordpress exploits Updating the WordPress core isn’t going to save you completely. A WordPress theme or plugin can leave your site just as vulnerable. In fact, plugins and commercial themes are often the points of many WordPress exploits.

An unsecured plugin could give a hacker unlimited access to your site, users, and/or database. They could then inject malicious files, launch cross-scripting attacks, perform remote code execution attacks, and more.

Check your themes and plugins for updates regularly. Ensure you’ve optimized any settings to be as secure as possible. Also, it’s a good idea to clean your site and purge any plugins or themes you no longer use. The fewer entry points you have, the better.

hacking username and password 3. Simple Username And Passwords

It’s so much easier to remember the default admin username and a simple password, we know. Hackers actually count on this too and exploit the fact that humans are lazy and keep simple usernames and passwords.

A simple password only takes a few hours (sometimes minutes or even seconds) to crack. If you make it easy for hackers to simply log in to your site, they don’t even have to work hard to get in.

The best security plugins or services aren’t going to protect you if you’re leaving your front door open.

Use a username that isn’t obvious, such as User, Guest, or Admin. Make your password as complex as possible by using a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.

Using a password manager will help you remember those complex, but more secure passwords.

4. Access To WP-Login

brute force attacks on wordpress
One common entry point for these attacks is using the wp-login page. Brute force WordPress login attacks don’t care about discretion. They just keep attacking the login page until a username/password combination works.

Utilizing security services or plugins will allow you to change which IP addresses have access to. Such services can automatically block any IPs which try to force their way in.

A final solution is to limit login attempts. After a set number, such as three, further attempts are blocked. This prevents hackers from trying repeatedly. Too many failed attempts and they’re out. Many WordPress security plugins offer this and other methods to harden WP-Login access.

wordpress file permissions 5. Open Access To Files

Leaving your files with open permissions is like inviting trouble. Changing file permissions to limit access to items in your wp-content and wp-admin folders helps prevent unauthorized access. Users only need access to a few file types, such as images, CSS, XML, and Javascript.

Talk to your host about running a default permissions reset on your site, some hosts even provide this option within their control panel.

Bonus WordPress Exploit Protection

wordpress web application firewall

The above 5 tips are your standard security steps that any good developer or host should be recommending. However, I believe there is one more important step you can take.

Get a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A real-time Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a service whereby you route all incoming traffic through a security service that scans traffic for malicious intent. It then blocks all bad traffic while allowing good traffic to pass through.

At FatLab we consider a WAF critical and mandatory. All sites hosted with us not only follow the above 5 points of WordPress security and exploit protection but also utilize a WAF.

These services can cost money but it’s an invaluable insurance policy! The three services we like are Cloudflare, Stackpath, and Sucuri.

Lots of website owners utilize WordPress plugins for security but I don’t like these because in order for them to protect the site the malicious traffic has to already be hitting your server and website. A WAF blocks the bad traffic before it even gets to your website.