Technology

11 Top Reasons Why WordPress Sites Get Hacked

Hacked

We have seen brands use the online medium more to communicate with their audience. And why not! Visitors try to do online research before zeroing on their buying decision. Businesses prefer open-source platforms like WordPress for their websites to optimize costs. However, handling the security aspect is equally necessary. Statistics from over 40,000 WordPress sites in the Alexa Top 1 Million, show that more than 70% of websites are susceptible to attacks by hackers. In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons why WordPress sites get hacked.

WordPress-Free themes can lead to an attack.

Most webmasters opt for free themes as they reduce the total cost for creating the website. But little do webmasters realize that they are taking a considerable risk. The free themes rarely come up with updates and may have several vulnerabilities. Studies show that 29% of vulnerabilities exist due to an insecure theme. You must check the credentials of the theme owners along with the number of downloads for that theme. It is in your interest that you choose a paid theme after checking the credentials of the developer.

Unencrypted websites

Despite Google marking non-HTTPS as “Not Secure”, there are several websites that are yet to shift to a secure platform. Businesses must protect the website back-end by installing an SSL certificate that will encrypt the communication between the visitor and the webserver. It will also prevent any unauthorized third-party from gaining any access. Moving to the HTTPS protocol will also ensure that the site gains important brownie points during keyword search rankings.

 Vulnerable web hosting

Did you check the credentials of the web host before handing out the contract? Or did you bother to check their security certificates? Most often, webmasters forget to undertake mandatory checks before selecting their web host. It would help if you only choose from among the best in the business who have a robust network as well as security infrastructure that ensures your website is in safe hands. You may also include a clause in the agreement that allows you to undertake security audits of the web host at predetermined intervals.

Not updating the WordPress

You must keep the WordPress updated. The updates ensure that the vulnerabilities in the earlier versions are addressed. You must ensure that the notifications are turned on so that you are notified whenever such updates are available. If you are not updating your site, you may be unnecessarily exposing it to cyberattack. You may create a backup of the site before updating the WordPress.

Weak password policies

Businesses need to have a robust password policy that can thwart the risks of a cyberattack. Still, studies show that at least 8% of WordPress sites are broken into due to weak passwords. The webmaster must ensure that WordPress user credentials are created using robust password practices. The passwords of all the users must also be changed at regular intervals. The use of WordPress plug-ins may be taken to enforce strong passwords.

Not updating the theme and plug-ins.

It is equally essential to keep the theme and underlying plug-ins updated. One of the reasons that you must not choose any free themes and plug-ins is that they are rarely updated. Research also shows that 98% of WordPress vulnerabilities have some relation to plug-ins. There is rarely any code analysis done on the plug-ins when it is out in the world. You must stay away from the free themes and plug-ins as they are seldom updated. 

Falling prey to freebies

There are a few websites that provide premium plug-ins and themes for free. Most of you may fall prey to such freebies, without understanding the underlying risks. It can compromise website security and can be used by hackers to attack your site. It is suggested that webmasters only download themes and plug-ins only from reliable sites. It is better to choose from the free ones available than opt for these freebies.

Unchanged table prefix

Various small factors can enhance the security of your site and changing the table prefix could be one of them. Experts say that you must change the table prefix from the default “wp_” to something else of your choice. The prefix should be a bit complicated. But always rename it in such a way that it is easier for the personnel to identify it later.

Using simple FTP

The FTP connection is used to upload files into the web server, and most service providers allow different protocols. An FTP connection makes the user credentials sent to the server without any encryption. It becomes liable to be accessed by unauthorized people. The webmaster is free to use SFTP, SSH or the simple FTP. Webmasters must ensure that the users always do the transactions over SSH or SFTP. It may not need changing the FTP client, as most will also support the security protocols.

Insecure wp-config file

You must pay heed to the finer nuances of WordPress security. Most webmasters do not pay heed to the protection of the wp-config file. It contains the credentials of the database access. In an unfortunate circumstance, if any third-party gets access, they may wreak havoc on your site. Webmasters must add a security layer using .htaccess by adding a simple piece of code.

Check the file permissions.

The file permissions allow the webserver to control the users who can access the files on your site. You must take necessary steps that the permissions are allocated with proper care; else hackers may break into very quickly and take control of the site. You can go through various guides that provide details about how you can allocate file permissions safely.

Conclusion

It is critical to take the necessary steps to ensure that your WordPress site is safe from being attacked by hackers. You must procure and install an SSL certificate to protect against unauthorized access. You must also take periodic back-ups of the site to ensure the least downtime in the event of a successful attack. We have discussed some of the top reasons why your site could be prone to an attack. It would help if you took these precautions to thwart any data breach.

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