Top 7 Most Common WordPress Vulnerabilities (And How To Fix Them)

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WordPress was originally launched as a blogging platform which much later became the complete web solution it is today for eCommerce stores, blogs, news sites, and enterprise-level applications. This evolution of WordPress brought many changes to its core and made it more stable and secure than its previous versions. In this post, we’ll cover the most common WordPress security vulnerabilities, along with steps you can take to secure and protect your WordPress site.

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Key Takeaways:

Understanding and addressing the most common vulnerabilities in WordPress is crucial for site owners to protect their websites from potential threats.

The article highlights six common WordPress vulnerabilities: brute force attacks, SQL injections, malware, cross-site scripting, DDoS attacks, and outdated WordPress/PHP versions.

WordPress security is an ongoing process. Regularly updating WordPress core, themes, and plugins is essential to ensure that security patches are applied promptly.

wordpress vulnerabilities

Because WordPress is an open-source platform which means anybody can contribute to its core functionalities. This flexibility benefited both the developers who developed themes and plugins and the end-user who utilize them to add functionality to their WordPress sites.

This openness, however, raises some serious questions regarding the security of the platform which cannot be ignored.

This is not a flaw in the system itself but rather the structure it’s built on and considering how important that is, the WordPress security team works day and night to keep the platform secured for its end users.

Having said that as end-user we cannot simply rely on its default security mechanism as we do make a lot of changes by installing various plugins and themes to our WordPress site that can create loopholes to get exploited by hackers.

In this article, we will explore various WordPress security vulnerabilities and will learn how to avoid, and fix, them to stay secure!

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WordPress Vulnerabilities & Security Issues

WordPress security is a vital concern for site owners and website owners. Understanding and addressing WordPress security issues and vulnerabilities is crucial in maintaining a secure online presence. As a site owner, it is important to be aware of potential security problems and take appropriate security measures to protect your website.

One of the common security issues revolves around the login page, which can be targeted by malicious actors attempting unauthorized access using login details obtained through various means. Implementing security features such as two-factor authentication and enforcing strong password combinations can significantly enhance website security.

Regularly updating the WordPress core, plugins, and themes is also essential to ensure that security patches are applied promptly. Additionally, site owners should consider implementing security plugins and configuring the WordPress configuration file to strengthen security measures further.

By adopting these best practices and leveraging the built-in security features of WordPress, site owners can fortify their websites against potential security vulnerabilities and ensure a robust website security framework.

We will see each issue and its solution one by one.

  1. Brute Force Attack
  2. SQL Injection
  3. Malware
  4. Cross-Site Scripting
  5. DDoS Attack
  6. Open Source CMS
  7. Old WordPress and PHP versions

1. Brute Force Attack

In Layman’s terms, Brute Force Attack involves a multiple try-and-error approach using hundreds of combinations to guess the right username or password. This is done using powerful algorithms and dictionaries which guess the password using some kind of context.

This kind of attack is difficult to execute but it still is one of the popular attacks executed on WordPress sites. By default, WordPress does not block a user from trying multiple failed attempts which let a human or bot try thousands of combinations per second.

How to Prevent, and Fix Brute Force Attacks

Avoiding Brute Force is fairly simple. All you have to do is create a strong password that includes Upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters as each character has different ASCII values and it would be difficult to guess a long and complex password. Avoid using a password like johnny123 or whatsmypassword.

Also, integrate Two Factor Authentication to authenticate the users logging into your site twice. Two Factor Authentication is a great plugin to use.

You can also make an extra effort to keep your website behind a web application firewall (WAF). You can use industry leaders like Sucuri to set up the complete firewall protection of your website.

2. SQL Injection

One of the oldest hacks in the book of web hacking is injecting SQL queries to affect or completely destroy the database using any web form or input field.

Upon successful intrusion, a hacker can manipulate the MySQL database and quite possibly gain access to your WordPress admin or simply change its credentials for further damage.

This attack is usually executed by amateur to mediocre hackers who are mostly testing their hacking capabilities.

How to prevent, and fix SQL Injection

By using a plugin you can identify if your site has been a victim of SQL Injection or not. You may use WPScan or Sucuri SiteCheck to check that.

Also, update your WordPress as well as any theme or plugin which you think can be causing issues. Check their documentation and visit their support forums to report such issues so they can develop a patch.

3. Malware

Malicious code is injected into WordPress through an infected theme, outdated plugin, or script. This code can extract data from your site as well as insert malicious content that might go unnoticed due to its discreet nature.

Malware can cause mild to serious damage if not handled on time. Sometimes the whole WordPress site needs to be re-installed as it has affected the core. This can also add cost to your hosting expense as a large amount of data is transferred or is being hosted using your site.

How to prevent, and fix Malware

Usually, the malware makes its way through infected plugins and null themes. It is recommended to download themes only from trusted resources that are free from malicious content.

Security plugins like Succuri or WordFence can be used to run a full scan and fix malware. In the worst-case scenario consult with a WordPress expert.

4. Cross-Site Scripting

One of the most common attacks is Cross-Site Scripting also known as XSS attack. In this type of attack, the attacker loads a malicious JavaScript code which when loaded on the client side starts collecting data and possibly redirecting it to other malicious sites affecting the user experience.

How to prevent, and fix Cross Site Scripting XSS

To avoid this type of attack uses proper data validation across the WordPress site. Use output sanitization to ensure the right type of data is being inserted. Plugins such as Prevent XSS Vulnerability can also be used.

5. Open Source Content Management System

As a CMS, WordPress allows site owners to easily publish, organize, and modify content, making it an attractive choice for website owners across various industries. However, it’s important to be aware of potential vulnerabilities that can arise when using WordPress.

One such vulnerability involves the source code and PHP code used to build WordPress websites. Malicious actors may attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in the code to gain unauthorized access to websites or sensitive information. To mitigate these risks, it’s crucial to implement strong security measures, such as using secure login credentials and robust password combinations.

Additionally, protecting against SQL injections is essential. These attacks target user input fields, attempting to manipulate database queries and gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. Regularly updating and patching WordPress core, plugins, and themes is another crucial step in maintaining a secure WordPress environment. Security plugins can provide an extra layer of protection by actively monitoring and blocking potential threats.

Site owners should also pay attention to the configuration file, ensuring that appropriate security settings are in place. By taking these precautions and staying vigilant, site owners can protect user accounts, media files, and the overall security of their WordPress CMS.

6. DDoS Attack

Anybody who has browsed the net or manages a website may have come across the infamous DDoS attack.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is the enhanced version of Denial of Service (DoS) in which a large volume of requests are made to a web server which makes it slow and ultimately crashes.

DDoS is executed using a single source while DDoS is an organized attack executed via multiple machines across the globe. Every year millions of dollars are wasted due to this notorious web security attack.

How to Prevent, and Fix DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks are difficult to prevent using conventional techniques. Web hosts play an important part in shielding your WordPress site from such attacks.

For example, Cloudways managed cloud hosting provider manages server security and flags anything suspicious before it can cause any damage to the customer’s website.

7. Outdated WordPress & PHP Versions

Outdated WordPress versions are more prone to get affected by a security threat. Over time hackers find their way to exploit its core and ultimately execute the attack on the sites still using outdated versions.

For the same reason, the WordPress team releases patches and newer versions with updated security mechanisms. Running older versions of PHP can cause incompatibility issues. As WordPress runs on PHP, it requires an updated version to operate properly.

As per WordPress’s official statistics, 42.6% of users are still using various older versions of WordPress.

wordpress version stats

Whereas only 2.3% of WordPress sites are running on the latest PHP version.

php version stats

How to prevent, and fix Outdated WordPress & PHP Versions

This one is an easy one. You should always update your WordPress installation to the latest version.

Make sure you always use the latest version (remember to always do a backup before upgrading). As for upgrading PHP, once you have tested your WordPress site for compatibility, you can change the version of PHP.

Pro-Tip: Using a security plugin like Sucuri can prevent the vulnerabilities mentioned above. I highly recommend it.


How does WordPress security relate to search engine optimization (SEO)?

Search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on improving a website’s visibility and rankings in search engine results. However, if a website falls victim to common WordPress vulnerabilities, it can have a detrimental impact on its SEO efforts.

Security issues such as malware infections, hacking attempts, or compromised user accounts can lead to poor website performance, increased downtime, and even blacklisting by search engines. This directly affects the website’s visibility and ranking.

What are some security best practices to protect against common WordPress vulnerabilities?

Implementing security best practices is crucial to safeguard your WordPress website against common vulnerabilities. First and foremost, it is essential to follow best practices for securing login credentials and password combinations. Using strong, unique passwords and regularly updating them significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access.

Protecting against file inclusion exploits is another important measure. By sanitizing and validating user input, you can prevent attackers from executing malicious code through file uploads. Additionally, being vigilant about potential URL hacking attempts and implementing measures like input validation and output encoding can mitigate the risk of attacks targeting URLs.

Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks can be countered by utilizing anti-CSRF tokens and verifying the integrity of requests. To combat credit card skimming, employing secure payment gateways and adhering to PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) guidelines is essential.

Remember, adhering to security best practices not only protects your website and user data but also promotes a safer online environment.

How can malware and browser data vulnerabilities impact a WordPress website, and what steps can be taken to mitigate these risks?

Malware can be injected into a website through compromised plugins or insecure code, potentially leading to unauthorized access, data breaches, or even defacement.

Furthermore, browser data, including sensitive user information and browsing history, can be targeted by malicious actors for identity theft or unauthorized tracking. To mitigate these risks, several steps should be taken.

Regularly updating plugins and themes to their latest versions is crucial, as it helps patch known vulnerabilities and strengthens security. Implementing reputable security plugins can provide active monitoring, malware scanning, and protection against malicious activities.

Additionally, ensuring secure coding practices and conducting routine security audits can help identify and address potential vulnerabilities. Encrypting sensitive browser data through the use of SSL/TLS certificates is also essential to protect user privacy.

How do query language vulnerabilities and supply chain attacks impact WordPress websites, and what can be done to mitigate these risks?

Query language vulnerabilities, such as SQL injections, allow attackers to manipulate database queries and potentially gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. It is crucial to implement proper input sanitization and use prepared statements or parameterized queries to prevent SQL injections.

On the other hand, supply chain attacks target the software supply chain, exploiting vulnerabilities in third-party plugins or themes used in WordPress websites. To mitigate these risks, it is essential to be vigilant about the sources and security of plugins and themes. Regularly update and patch all software components, ensuring they come from trusted and reputable sources.

Engaging in code reviews and maintaining an active relationship with plugin developers can also help detect and prevent supply chain attacks. By prioritizing secure coding practices, conducting regular vulnerability assessments, and staying updated with security patches, WordPress website owners can significantly reduce the risks associated with query language vulnerabilities and supply chain attacks.

Final Thoughts

We got ourselves familiar with various WordPress vulnerabilities and their possible solutions. It is worth noticing that update plays an essential role in keeping the WordPress security intact.

And when you notice any unusual activity, get on your toes and start digging until you find the problem as these security risks can cause damages in thousands of $$.

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