An in-depth-insight to manage your WordPress website secure. Learn who is attacking your website, how they attack your site and possible measure to keep your website secure.
If you run a WordPress website, then you must be concerned about possible security threats, which may lead to a loss of investment and energy to run a site at the same time. This guide will provide you a thorough-knowledge about WordPress security and how to tackle all the loopholes in your website manually and with a WordPress security plugin.
For your convenience we have summarized the key-points as follows:
- What are the different types of attackers?
- How can they attack/ hack my WordPress website?
- The stages of the hacking process
- The process of Reconnaissance
- The process of Exploitation
- How to keep your website secure?
- Final verdict
Let’s dive into detailed information on the above-mentioned contents.
What are the different types of attackers on the WordPress website?
Basically, WordPress is open-source, and we know that it runs through codes, which it uses to run multiple websites and power them with these codes. These codes are visible to everyone; that’s why it is a fun game for hackers to infect WordPress websites through these codes. These hackers target to find a ‘zero-day’ security hole, which enables them to hack as many sites as possible and empower them to reign over a large number of sites.
Now the question is, who these spammers / attackers are?
- These can be, i.e.,
- An individual attacking through a computer.
- A Botnet.
Infographic from passionwp.com
An individual attacking through computer
Although this is a rare kind of hacking technique, yet it can be more disastrous than any robot attack. These hackers can fool your security system by monitoring the speed of the hacking process, and they can control the number of attacks without tripping the security system. Mostly, only those websites receive this kind of hacking, which are either financially lucrative or possess any sensitive data or are related to any defense contractors.
Bots and Botnets
Bots are security programs designed by hackers, which can infect various websites at the same time once it finds out any security hole in the running WordPress website version.
Bots can consist of a single program run by a single computer or multiple versions of the same program run by a large number of computers to target a massive number of WordPress websites. These programs run speedily and can cause fatal infection to your site.
These bots and botnets are operated through a machine and work aggressively. To keep yourself on the safer side, you must thoroughly inspect your website for any possible security hole and turn it off instantly if you find any.
How can they attack/hack my WordPress website?
The primary target of the hackers is to access your administration level, and once they gain access to your admin account, they can control and change database files and content settings.
Infographic from wpwhitesecurity.com
They do these changes to get the following benefits
Send spam email:
Hackers can use your website to target other sites by sending bulk emails full of spam to infect their targets.
Host illegal content and spam:
They target to send spam and malicious content based on pornography, drug deals, or anything that comes under illegal trade. They need a host website to complete their target as these targeted websites do not come under bad reputation and Google search engines will not detect them as a domain that violates Google terms and conditions.
Sneak around your web data:
The hackers can steal your members’ data and use it for their malicious spam targets. Your website contains information about your members like their names, email addresses, and once the hackers get control on your site, they can target them as well and can use their identity as a hacking tool.
Hackers can redirect your website links to spam websites. Hackers use this method to avoid spam filters, and they can easily deceive these spam filters by providing your web address as a link; hence, your website reputation will be deteriorated if they redirect to malicious content linked by these spammers.
Hack other websites:
After compromising your site, hackers can use your website to target other websites for sending malicious content. They can use bots or botnets to send spam bulk by using your website link.
Google’s safe browsing list and Google Chrome will block your website once your website is compromised for sending spam and malware content; hence, your website reputation will be ruined, and Google can penalize in search engine ranking. Therefore, serious measures should be taken to secure your website.
The stages of attacks on a website
The hacking process consists of two phases, generally.
- The reconnaissance ( or ‘recon’)
- The exploitation
The first phase starts with reconnaissance, where a hacker or a Bot sort out all the vital information about the target website. The second phase begins with exploitation, where they implement the strategy to gain access to your site.
The process of reconnaissance:
This process involves collecting information about your website. It will start by searching for possible vulnerabilities that can be exploited later on. It focuses on finding;
- The software running your website.
- The software version currently installed on the website.
It is precious to determine which WordPress software is running your website, and the software version is equally important to know. Several databases enlist the WordPress software and their versions, along with the possible vulnerabilities. So, once the hacker finds out which software is installed on your website, he can quickly locate the vulnerability attached to it and later on use it to exploit your site.
Other than knowing which software and version are running on your website, the second method can be by finding out which themes and plugins are installed on your website along with the versions. So, once they get their hands on the list of installed WordPress plugins and ideas, they can tally with their list of exploitable plugins and themes to make a decision whether to exploit these themes and plugins or not.
Another way of gathering information about your website is from your backup directory folder, where you put all the essential data information for backup but if you forget to update it occasionally, this becomes a super tool to exploit your website later on. So, utilize WordPress security fix measures of these subdirectories as well to avoid any vulnerability.
Thus, it is crucial to know which WordPress software and version is running your website because the hackers can exploit your site by targeting these two quickly. A best in class WordPress security plugin can ease this problem for you by hiding the software version, and the hackers would find it difficult to exploit the website. But, things are not done yet by installing WordPress security plugins only; a regular well-maintained website is the prerequisite to guarantee your WordPress security.
The process of exploitation
The process of reconnaissance ends once the hackers get full information regarding the WordPress software and version running your website. Now the phase of exploitation starts by locating vulnerabilities in this WordPress software and software versions. The exploitation process is the actual process of hacking a targeted website by getting technical knowledge of vulnerabilities in the software, and for this purpose, the hacker collects information from different databases that provide in-depth technical details about these vulnerabilities and how to exploit them.
Infographic from wpwhitesecurity.com
The hackers can use any of these methods, which are known as ‘vectors’ to attack your website.
1. Your admin login:
To gain control over your admin panel, the hackers use the brute-force method by decoding or encrypting a login password. This method is based on a trial and error technique where the hackers try to guess the password by applying arbitrary passwords. To imply these passwords they can use automated scripts or a group of automated scripts.
2. The PHP codes:
The hackers can use PHP codes to exploit your website. The PHP codes can be anywhere on your website, and mostly, they are in themes, plugins and in WordPress core. There are several ways to exploit these PHP codes available on databases.
3. A disadvantage of a registered member:
If you allow registration as a member on your website, then this can provide an advantage of escalation to these hackers. The hackers can exploit your site by registering with a fake member account and later on try to get a higher access level of admin by finding any vulnerability in your website or in themes or plugins.
4. Using older or unprotected applications:
Maybe, you have taken all the essential steps to secure your website over time, but, still, there can be loopholes in these security steps. The hackers can target those applications which you didn’t use for ages, and they are resting in your web directory without any notice. In case they find these old and un-updated application they can use these vulnerabilities to infect your website.
5. XML-RPC services:
This XML-RPC service is used to connect computers through calls to other networks. This service is essential and if you disable this service, you may lose important information. This service is also a favorite tool by hackers, and they can infect your site by exploiting this service.
6. Login access via temporary files:
If you use a vim tool to edit files on your website, this can be exploited as well by the hackers. Because, when we edit files using this tool it creates a temporary file ‘wp-config.php’ which may have login information, if you leave this file open publically, the hackers can find it and use it to get control on your admin acc.
7. The exploitation of source codes in a repository:
Most of the website owners use online repository hub for storage of their source code files, these can be GitHub or any other publically accessible repository. These source code files contain insightful information, and they control tools to create directories and files, so if hackers break into these source codes, they can infect your website with spam.
8. Shared hosting shortcomings:
Many WordPress websites use shared hosting to lower their cost of investment. A reputable secured web hosting is well managed, and there are rarely any chances of getting compromised. But if the shared hosting server is not secured enough, then chances are that the hackers can get access to your wp-config.php. File and then they can reach to your database and also members’ information. They can send malicious codes and files after getting ‘write’ permission; they can accomplish the attack by gaining full access to your data and site.
9. Web server vulnerabilities:
Your website security can be under threat if the webserver you choose to host does not patch the system very well. If your web server has a vulnerability like ‘HeartBleed,’ then you may face exploitation. If you are using shared hosting or managed WordPress hosting then it’s their responsibility to keep the system patched, and you might not have access to patch the system, but if you are using a self-host environment then it’s your responsibility to keep your operating system patched and in toting up the PHP files and web applications.
Hackers have numerous ways to attack your website, and you may perplex to find out how precisely they can attack your website. However, you can keep your site on the safe side by knowing software installed on your website and also keep on updating to the latest version. Stay yourself well-aware of the newest WordPress security techniques and implement them on your website security to keep it well-maintained.
How to keep your website secure?
When it comes to keeping your website secure from hackers, you must be looking for some WordPress security plugins to do wonders for you. However, if you want to choose the best in class WordPress plugin, then these plugins must have the ability to recover WordPress site from viruses and malware spam.
To secure your website from spammers, you have to take these steps accordingly.
- You should choose a strong password with at least 8 digits and a combination of upper and lower case letters and special characters.
- Failed login attempts should not be allowed more than a fixed number.
- You can enforce Captcha to avoid bots and botnets attack.
- To avoid spamvertising, the best WordPress malware removal plugin should do regular scanning and clean the WordPress site from malware regularly.
- Keep all the software and versions running your WordPress site up-to-date and keep abreast of yourself with the latest versions and security alerts.
- Make sure that temporary files are not holding in your website.
- Do not keep unwanted or old web applications on your website, as these can be a more significant cause of vulnerabilities.
- Always prefer a well-reputed website host provider that endows with separate servers to their websites.
So, we hope that you enjoyed this article regarding WordPress security and how to secure your website from spammers attack. To keep your site secure, we recommend using best WordPress malware removal plugins, which keeps you hassle-free to clean your website from malware.
Our team here at AirFlour provides best WordPress malware removal service for any kind of WordPress security threats. We will keep your WordPress security utmost and possesses an incredible ability to cure your website virus-free. Contact us today!