WordPress was mainly a content-rich platform, that wasn’t intended for eCommerce. It is one of the most powerful & flexible Content Management Systems (CMS). Over the years, with the help of eCommerce plugins, WordPress was given selling capabilities.
So, if you are already high on content, all you’d have to do is download a free eCommerce plugin & acquire the power to sell online. But, every eCommerce store runs into security risks, which is why WordPress too needs proper security measures to keep sensitive data safe.
The vulnerabilities on your website can be exploited to gain access to the vital data. A potential breach will not only see you lose data, but it’d also risk some form of a lawsuit from the customers.
41% of WP sites are hacked due to security flaws on the hosting platform - WPWhiteSecurity
The WordPress code being open source means unauthorized access is likely. But, it’s not all that bad, as we can, in various ways, prevent such an attack & safeguard your store.
Why is WordPress Safety Important?
A hacked WordPress site can cause critical damage to your business sales, revenue, profits & reputation. Hackers can steal user information, passwords, install malicious software, & even distribute malware to users.
Worst, you may find yourself paying the hackers to regain access to your website. If you are running an enterprise-level business, then you need to be extra vigilant about such threats. Come what may, the business owners cannot allow lapses in their WordPress security.
What Compromises WordPress Safety?
The WordPress core is entirely secure in itself, yet plenty of WordPress websites are hacked every year & easily exploited by malicious users. A lot of it comes down to the recklessness of the webmaster.
Let’s look at some everyday things that WordPress site owners do that diminishes its security:
- Have weak administrator passwords & other login requirements
- Themes & Plugins that are not updated often - making it insecure
- The internet connection itself is compromised & greatly exposes your WordPress store
- Poor Hosting environment with an insecure host control panel
- The computer causing interference as it was pre-loaded with malware
- Using outdated technologies like PHP 5 over PHP 7
Various WordPress Attacks
Let’s list some frequent attacks that can gravely compromise the quality of your WordPress site -
SQL injection– This is the oldest technique in the book, where a hacker manipulates the MySQL database & gains access to the admin panel. To access the database, hackers use a form page/input field.
Backdoor Attack – This one is a little more advanced, where a hacker will bypass security encryption to gain access to the WordPress site. Once they control the whole system on the hosting servers, it’ll compromise the multiple sites hosted on the same server. To prevent this, use two-factor authentication, restrict admin access, & unauthorized execution of PHP files.
Pharma Hacks – These are also referred to as Blackhat SEO Spam & compromise the site to the extent where it stays like that for months. The spam that appears is generally about Viagra, Nexium, or any other Pharma drug. Use a secure hosting provider to prevent this kind of mishap.
Brute-Force Attack – Hackers use an automated script to run a trial & error style of hacking on your WordPress site. Malicious users attempt several times & end up on the right combination of username/password. Brute-Force capitalizes on websites with weak passwords. Despite the difficulty, hackers use context/research to guesstimate the correct credentials.
DDOS – Distributed Denial of Service is used to create a large volume of requests, to slow down the server & cause it to crash. The biggest problem with such attacks is it creates considerable downtime for your site – something that’d last even days. It is otherwise harmless & most sites can easily handle this. Invest in some premium web hosting providers to prevent any DDOS.
Remote File Inclusion (RFI) Exploits – RFI is the most common threat to any WordPress site. The PHP that makes up your WordPress site is exploited to close this attack. Via this hackers access various files, including the “wp-config.php” file that is used for WordPress installation. To prevent this, save the file paths with an ID in a secure database.
WordPress Security Measures
Let’s list the several precautions that every store owner must take to secure their WordPress site.
Core Software – Most websites get hacked because the core WordPress software wasn’t updated on time. Now, let’s be honest here, WordPress doesn’t just release an update for the heck of it.The update is meant to tell the world that the earlier version is obsolete & it’s time for an upgrade. Not updating on time – leaves your website vulnerable to interference. It takes only a couple of clicks to update WordPress - may even turn on Auto Update.
With Auto Update, you are promptly updated to the next version. The WordPress team identifies & addresses security issues with each update. On your side, all you need to do is apply this update at the earliest – before your site gets defaced!
Hosting – Hosting is another major problem. Always use a Hosting company that is compatible with an eCommerce website. With this, you’d be offered your own hosting plan rather than a shared one which increases the safety of your site.
The web-server level security is the most vital aspect, something that is the responsibility of the Hosting provider. There are various kinds of hosting options – Shared, Dedicated, VPS, Cloud & managed. When it comes to eCommerce stores, always opt for Dedicated Servers.
- SSL certificates - Besides, a web host your eCommerce site needs additional security features like SSL/TLS certificates. SSL certificates, or HTTPS, ensure that the data that is transferred is secure & encrypted. SSL encrypts data between the website & the browser.SSL makes it harder on those sniffing to steal information. SSL certificate is used to provide an extra layer of support from the usual HTTP for all the transactions that occur on your eCommerce site. The Padlock sign next to website addresses is the SSL – it’ll cost around $80-100/year.
Login Credentials – Store owners make it a lot easier on hackers when they use weak passwords. Believe it or not, the most common hacking attempts are using stolen passwords. Do this on the WordPress admin side, FTP accounts, database, hosting & email address.Often the inability to remember hard passwords is what tempts them to use “12345,” “ABCD” “Admin” or their names. In such instances, you can use an encrypted password manager. Even consider adding a security question to your WordPress login screen.
WordPress does a good job, by automatically generating secure/strong passwords. All you have to do is enforce these passwords. Also never store your FTP passwords in plaintext. May be avoid FTP altogether and opt for SFTP, which ensures no text passwords/file data is ever transferred.
PCI Compliance – PCI stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The use of PCI will protect customer’s information while they pay with a debit or credit card. However, this isn’t applicable on stores/buyers that don’t use the above mode of payment.
PCI encrypts cardholder data across open & public networks. Beyond this, it also tracks & monitors all access to network resources & cardholder data. The cardholder’s data is accessed on a need-to-know basis.
Security Plugins - Use one of these to protect your site from security threats & attacks. Plugins like WordFence & Sucuri are the best gatekeepers for your store. You could also opt for a free security plugin, but it’d only give you limited functionalities.Such plugins keep track of everything that happens on your website – from installing a firewall, managing anti-malware & checking for spam. Beyond this, they look for failed login attempts; Audit logs, file integrity monitoring, locking down sensitive areas & much more.
Update Plugins – Archaic plugins are a potential gateway for a malicious file. Despite the abundance of plugins and all the extra possibilities they bring to an eCommerce store – there lies a good amount of threat from not updating them on time.All the updates are meant to serve a specific purpose. Therefore do not overlook these best practices. Use the latest version of WordPress themes & plugins – and only install extensions from reliable sources.
Plugins are in fact the most common ways for a hacker to gain access to your site. Despite the vulnerabilities of the plugin getting patched up by the plugin developer, the site owners did not bother to update the plugins. Ignoring updates puts their businesses at risk!
Limit Login – Malicious users to intend to gain access will not stop at anything. They make numerous attempts to enter your site. Thus, it is important that you download a plugin that restricts the number of failed attempts. This will act as another security layer for your site.
Latest PHP – Since WordPress is entirely made out of PHP, it is important to always use the latest version of PHP. All the bugs & security issues are sorted on every update. WordPress sites running on version 7.0 or below will have no security support.
57% of WordPress users are still using PHP version 5.6 or below - WordPress
Consult your developers and upgrade to the latest version at the earliest. There is no reason to use a dated-compromised PHP for your site. It is also advised to remove the current version of WordPress – knowing the version tells the hackers about its vulnerabilities.
2 Factor Authentication – A 2 step process, that requires you to login via username & password combo, plus another level of verification via an app/device. Install a plugin for this purpose & activate the same. Google Authenticator is an excellent plugin to achieve this purpose.
Upon successful password entry, you need to access the app. Open the authenticator app & enter the OTP from there into the Login Terminal of your WordPress site. 2 Factor Authentication is one of the most reliable ways to prevent a Brute-Force attack.
If your business is running on WordPress, then you can’t overlook the security aspect of the same. Your brand relies on this to generate leads, conversions, revenue & profit. A disfigured/crashed site will ultimately cancel your earnings – besides affecting your reputation.
Hence, take WordPress security measurements & implement the above-mentioned security best practices. Your WordPress site is only as secure as you make it out to be. Don’t be reckless – use strong passwords, update periodically, use reliable hosting to protect your WordPress site.
Beyond this, if you’d like an expert to handle your WordPress website’s security concerns, then speak to the tech-savvy WordPress professionals in Virtina. We possess a holistic familiarity with WordPress & would love to assist you in any aspect of it.
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