WordPress has now become the most popular content management system for operating websites. Installed on almost 20% of all websites on the World Wide Web, this has led hackers to develop malware which is specific to getting into WordPress systems and attacking. It is extremely important to protect yourself against hackers who want to compromise your information.
One of the great things about WordPress is that it is easily customizable. With the click of a button, you can install any functionality you want to your website. Unfortunately, this also makes WordPress vulnerable to outside attacks. You do not always know what kinds of plugins or themes you are installing, if they are properly secure, if they are updated regularly, who has developed them, etc.
Therefore, there are some main ways your website can become compromised: through your plugins, through your theme, and through your WordPress installation.
WordPress is constantly updating to new versions. With each new version, the team at WordPress comes up with new security patches, bug fixes, and features that you need to add to your website for it to work properly. There is rarely a malware problem within WordPress itself.
On your WordPress dashboard, you will see a message urging you to update your version of WordPress. Many people choose to ignore this – and do so at their own peril. Not updating could cause plugins and themes to not work properly, and, of course, it could lead you vulnerable to an attack by a hacker.
Plugins and Themes
There are more than 36,000 plugins available in the WordPress Plugin Directory and hundreds of thousands of themes created by developers. Before you install a plugin or theme, you need to ask: Who developed this? Is it safe, is it secure? When was the last time they updated it? Is this a safety concern for my website? There are a lot of great plugins and themes, but some have been developed by people who do not know a thing about security.
Once you have a theme and plugins installed, you need to make sure you update them regularly. Otherwise, you are leaving your website open to an attack.
Common Security Threats
Let’s discuss some of the methods through which a hacker can gain access to your website. These include the following:
- Backdoors. A hacker gains entry through the backside of your website using an FTP client, through your WordPress administrative panel, or some other method. Due to out of date software or bad security, they have somehow gained access to personal information to enter into your website and now can cause all sorts of destructive things to happen.
- Spam Hacks. These are very interesting because the hack is not visible to the human eye, only to the crawlers of a search engine. A hacker will fill your website with spam about some random topic – Viagra, women’s purses, sports, anything. This is all in an attempt to use your website to redirect traffic to the hacker’s website.
- Malicious Redirects. A hacker will set up a redirect on your website, so that when visitors go to your website, they are automatically sent to another website. That website could have viruses, spyware, malware, and other security threats installed on it.
Keeping your plugins and themes updated will prevent you from having to deal with any security threats on your website. Have fun and be safe!