If you are one of the millions who’ve decided to migrate their business online, you’ll probably know about WordPress. It’s the most comprehensive content management system (CMS) and the most popular one too, used by more than 75 million people. 62.5% of all websites in the world run on WordPress. Industry leaders like The New York Times and Forbes are built on it. It’s safe to say, WordPress is an extremely popular software, endorsed by stalwarts.
However, it can also act as a magnet for cyber-criminals. With so much data associated with WordPress, it’s a treasure trove for hackers.
With the incidences of cyber-crime increasing, and astronomical costs involved, here are some of the reasons why WordPress sites get hacked:
No SSL certificates
Not having SSL is one of the most common reasons for getting hacked. A Secure Socket layer (SSL) certificate encrypts the connection between your website and the client-server, making it virtually immune to cyber-attacks and data sniffing.
For business authentication, data integrity, website security, installing the right kind of SSL certificate is a non-negotiable pre-requisite for the website. You may choose to buy premium SSL certificates from reliable Certificate Authorities like Comodo SSL certificate, GlobalSign SSL, RapidSSL, GeoTrust SSL certificate, Thawte certificate, DigiCert SSL, etc. at a reasonable cost.
Using the same password for all your accounts and using a password that’s easy to remember are potential chinks in your armor against cyber-crime. If you use a single password, the hacker can access your entire WordPress account simply by cracking one account.
It would help if you also went for a password mixed with alphabets, symbols, and numbers, which are difficult to break through. Also, avoid easy passwords like your name, address, birth date, or graduation year.
WordPress regularly provides software updates when they identify a missing feature or weakness in the current version of the theme or plug-ins being used. Once updated, the system gets rid of all the vulnerabilities identified.
If you don’t regularly update your version, the flaw in the themes and plug-ins remain and don’t get corrected, which, in turn, could open glaring opportunities for cyber-attacks. That’s why software updates should never be missed when it comes to WordPress.
You’ve got to be very careful about who you’re giving permission for file modification. It may have serious consequences. File permissions are nothing but a set of permissions that your web server needs to grant and deny access controls to others.
As demonstrated here, the WordPress files should have 644 values as the file permission. The numeric value above ‘744’ is wrong and could potentially lead to cyber-crime.
Also, folders on WordPress sites must have ‘755’ as the correct permission code. Not meeting those values could again have bad consequences.
Themes and plug-ins update
Just like you need to update your software when the system says so, there’ll also be alerts to update your themes and plug-ins. There are plenty of instances where you won’t need to update the WordPress version, and a simple plug-in or theme update would suffice.
If you don’t patch them up, potential flaws could remain unaddressed, which could pose a big security risk soon.
Lack of a 2-factor authentication system could be a reason to get hacked. While it doesn’t directly protect your account, it does pose a considerable problem for hackers with malicious intent.
Whenever someone tries to log into your account, you get an access alert to a device of your choice (phone, tablet, iPad) for your consent. This is called the 2-factor authentication process. Without it, the account can’t be opened. 2FA could be a PIN, fingerprint, iris scan, etc. In such a scenario, if anyone other than you is trying to break-in, you’ll immediately know and decline access.
Previously, WordPress software came with an inbuilt and pre-configured username, ‘admin.’ It started to have some problems since the username and password usually come as a combination, and it’s easy to guess the other when you know one of them. There were complaints and security breaches after that.
Therefore, it’s a mandatory practice to change your username from ‘admin’ to something else, so that it can’t be easily guessed and hence hacked.
Lack of whitelisting could be a reason for WordPress accounts getting hacked. When there are too many users, it’s easy to keep track of everyone. In many cases, there won’t even be an alarm in case an unauthorized person manages to log in. That’s where whitelisting comes in.
Here, only ‘whitelisted’ people can access the WordPress account, no matter the exigency. Unless they are whitelisted, no one can log into the account. Despite some of the problems it’ll create, you’ll be at ease knowing you’ve made your account extensively secure.
Too many admins
Just like, ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth,’ problems could creep up for your WordPress account with too many admin users.
In such scenarios, employees can take the liberty to make any changes they deem fit, which they can since they are admins.
Some of the things like disabling the firewall to get a job done and forgetting to put it back and creating IT access for someone who doesn’t need it can open fatal flaws in your security system. That’s why the number of admins should be kept as minimal as possible, and job deliverables described in detail.
Web Hosting Insecure
You think your WordPress account is safe, and you’ll never be hacked, so you use the cheapest web host. It’s one of the most typical mistakes.
Data breaches in the US, on average, cost companies more than $8 million in 2019, which is way more expensive than getting a secure and reputed web host, which can act as your insurance.
Ideally, you should budget around $300 per year on web hosting. That’s because a good host will be able to hire better experts, who can, in turn, protect your WordPress account better.
Although there are a lot of other reasons for WordPress websites getting hacked, these are some of the most important. Taking care of these flaws could drastically reduce your chances of getting hacked, though not 100%.