WordPress hacks are a real threat for website owners. One minute your site is humming along, bringing in traffic and, hopefully, revenue. And then, next thing you know, you discover your WordPress site has been hacked.
What are WordPress Hacks?
WordPress hacks refer to the methods by which someone gains unauthorized access to a website.
Getting hacked is probably a lot more common than you might think. An average of 30,000 sites are hacked every day.
In this post, we discuss why WordPress sites get hacked, the most common methods used and how to prevent it from happening to you.
Why would someone want to hack into your WordPress website?
What do hackers have to gain from “breaking into” your site? In most cases, the motivation to hack a site is to obtain user information – both basic and financial.
Nearly all WordPress attacks are done automatically using scripts or bots. Although unpleasant, getting hacked is usually not personal.
Hopefully, knowing there are steps you can take to prevent attacks will give you some relief. Before we jump into preventative measures you can take to secure your WordPress website, let’s look at the common methods used to hack into WordPress sites.
Common Methods Used to Hack into WordPress Websites
Hackers use vulnerable entry points to gain access to websites. These entry points include weak hosting servers, backdoors and even the WordPress login page via brute force attacks.
- Weak Hosting & Poor Server Security – Weak hosting providers can usher in unwanted attention by not implementing a security protocol. Server security is something you should be mindful of when choosing a hosting provider.
- Backdoors – Hackers can also create a backdoor entry to your WordPress site. This means they create an entry point without needing to go through the standard WordPress login page. There are various ways to create a backdoor entry to gain unauthorized access to a WordPress site.
- Brute force attacks – This form of attack exploits the simplest method of gaining access to a site: by trying to guess usernames and passwords, over and over again, until they’re successful. WordPress sites are especially susceptible to brute force attacks by default because the system allows unlimited login attempts.
In an effort to communicate how important security is, this article on attacking WordPress provides more insight into all the methods used to hack into WordPress sites.
Insecure Plugins & Themes
According to this infographic by WP Template on WordPress safety, insecure WordPress themes and plugins contribute to over 50% of all successful WordPress hacks.
Plugins and themes have to go through a screening process before they are released for public use from the WordPress.org plugin repository, so it is important to download your plugins and themes from trustworthy sources and always keep active themes and plugins update to the latest version.
How to Prevent WordPress Hacks
Here are a few WordPress security tips that will help harden WordPress:
- Keep your WordPress site updated. Keep WordPress core, plugins and themes updated to the latest version. Using a WordPress maintenance tool like iThemes Sync can help make this important task easier.
- Uninstall and delete unused plugins or themes. Unused plugins and themes can pose a security risk, so just get rid of them.
- Use strong passwords for user accounts. Use WordPress password security best practices.
- Enable WordPress two-factor authentication. Secure your logins with this added layer of protection and greatly reduce the risk of brute force attacks.
- Don’t use the default ‘admin’ username. WordPress assigns ‘admin’ as the default user name every time a new site is created. Hackers know this, so it’s important to change your username to anything besides ‘admin.’
- Choose a reputable WordPress hosting provider. Check out our recommendations and more tips on choosing the best WordPress host for your needs.
- Only download plugins and themes from trusted, reputable sources. Only use plugins and themes on your site downloaded directly from WordPress.org or from a premium plugin or theme company with a solid reputation. Using untrustworthy code is risky.
Use a WordPress Security Plugin to Help Avoid WordPress Hacks
Installing a WordPress security plugin such as iThemes Security is another way you can protect your WordPress site from hacks. Using a plugin can help provide security measures that might otherwise be difficult to accomplish on your own, especially if you’re comfortable editing code on your site.
iThemes Security allows you to run a WordPress security check to help you know the security status of your site. This feature also activates all the recommended WordPress security settings so you don’t have to manually configure everything yourself.
Lockdown WordPress with Away Mode
One of the best WordPress security settings options within the iThemes Security plugin is Away Mode, which allows you to lockdown your WordPress admin area during certain times of day. With Away Mode, you can set a daily restriction that turns on at a specified time and then turns off at a specified time.
WordPress Malware Scan
The iThemes Security plugin also utilizes Sucuri Sitecheck’s 10-point check to provide a WordPress malware scan. This scan checks blacklist status, website errors and out-of-date software, and will scan themes and plugins for the backdoors we discussed earlier. Once the scan runs, you’ll immediately be able to see the results of your malware scan.
WordPress Security Logs
With iThemes Security, you can also keep tabs on activities on your site that may be impacting your security. Enable the User Logging feature to see a WordPress user log that displays user actions such as login, saving content and others.