Cyber threats are permanent, it’s just that the nature and type of attacks keep changing and therefore cyber security is a perennial topic to discuss and think about. Whatever type of website you have, it is always vulnerable to attacks and malicious activities if you don’t take the right steps at the right time. this holds true for the WordPress websites as well!
If you are a WordPress website owner it is very important for you to think and plan about enhanced security and you need to give your best shot to safeguard your website from any type of attack now or in the future.
WordPress is originally a highly secured content management system to work with. The WordPress security team works hard to deal with the security concerns before rolling out new updates. However, like mentioned earlier, we have to live with the fact that no website is completely safe and there are vulnerabilities that you need to protect your website from.
Here is an insight on the 5 most common WordPress security attacks and the best practices for preventing them:
Broken Authentication Process
A broken authentication takes place when there is some vulnerability in the execution of session and identity controls. The capacity of any website’s authentication control completely depends on the session management.
If session management is not executed perfectly, hackers get the ability to compromise your passwords, keys and session tokens. In most of the situations, you might end up bearing the brunt of identity theft, social security fraud and disclosure of highly critical information.
If you wish to reduce the risk of broken authentication, it is crucial to implement the multi-factor authentication process for your website. You must think about replacing the default credentials that you gave while creating the new WordPress website. Weak passwords should also not be encouraged, especially for the admin accounts.
The most prominent vulnerability that you might encounter on your WordPress website is a code injection defect. You can mostly encounter an injection when your website allows the users to enter data through an entry point that is vulnerable like the login form or the contact form.
When the data entered is not properly authenticated, you can be vulnerable to an attack. SQL injection is the most common reason however other types include NoSQL, LDAP injections and OS.
The injection flaws usually result in access denial, corruption and data loss, reporting to some unauthorized entities and even complete host takeover.
The most recommended approach towards preventing injection includes separating the commands from the queries on your website. WordPress users can make use of some SQL controls like ‘LIMIT’ for preventing this. Website owners can use security plugins for protecting their websites.
XSS (Cross-Site Scripting) Attacks
Just like the injection attacks, you might encounter XSS attacks at entry points of the website like user input fields. These attacks might occur when the automated applications discover any type of XSS on your website. The website can be exploited to sneak in the unauthorized data into a new page that does not consist of proper authentication process.
The process of cross-site scripting enables the attacker to implement the code remotely within the person’s browser. In this way, the attacker can either steal the credentials of the user or deliver malware. You can safeguard yourself from an XSS attack with the below mentioned strategies:
The first strategy is to make sure that the network requests that are created through one page do not gain access to the data on any other page. Similarly, your website should have the capability to distinguish between regular input and malicious code. The frameworks like React JS have the capacity to escape this attack with its design.
The XSS attacks can be prevented by following the ideal website development strategies and it is especially important to select a secure theme for your website.
Critical Data Exposure
Exposure of critical data is considered as a data breach. When some critical information is being transferred or stored on your website, you must make sure that all the necessary measures are in place for ensuring that the hackers don’t get to this information. Otherwise, if this data is exposed, it becomes vulnerable and the attackers are able to steal the passwords, credit card information, session tokens and much more.
Apart from risking your own sensitive information, there are also possibilities of your website visitors to be the victims. This is why it is important to ensure that all the security measures are in place. For instance, even if you have a blog, you can secure it by having an SSL certificate installed, and this will encrypt all the information within your website; this is a small step that goes a long way. All your sensitive data is encrypted through an HTTPS connection across all networks.
XML External Entities (XXE)
This type of attack happens because of poor or badly managed eXtensible Markup Language Processors (XML), these processors appraise the references to the external entities present within the XML documents. In his process, the attacker has the capacity to harm a wrongly configured XML parser that directly accepts XML through XML upload. In other words, the attackers get the access to any XML input that creates references to the external entities.
XXE can be utilized for executing a DDOS (denial of service) attack for extracting your data or even for creating and executing a remote request through your server. The experience and expertise of a developer is a crucial aspect for detecting and dealing with the XML external entities.
As an end user if you want to safeguard your website against this attack, it is crucial to keep your WordPress installation updated always. All the XXE issues usually occur at the main code level and they are patched and fixed during the updates.
The core WordPress platform is updated continuously for mitigating the main security concerns. It is true that plugins and themes might create issues for the users especially when they are not coded perfectly. The fact is that the more attention you pay to the security aspects of your website, the safer it will be from all the malicious activities and online threats.