WordPress, the most commonly used website content management system, regularly releases maintenance and security updates that include everything from bug fixes to platform improvements and themes. 1The updates also add new features and functionality that improve the overall stability and performance of WordPress installations.
Although WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) on the web today with 62 percent market share, WordPress security if often overlooked by website owners.2
Roughly 90,000 WordPress sites are hacked every day. Moreover, an analysis of 84,508 WordPress plugins by Spanish security researchers found more than 5,000 vulnerabilities, including 4,500 SQL injection (SQL) flaws alone.3
Compromised WordPress websites and plugins can be used for malicious activities including takeovers that deface sites with propaganda, launching attacks on bigger sites, selling illegal drugs or products, installing zero-day exploits in plugins, and redirecting visitors to hacker-owned sites that may contain malware.
Hackers can also use WordPress sites to launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on other networks. Pipdig, a blog theme and plugin company, was recently accused of using obfuscated code to gain backdoor access to customer blogs and launch low-level DDoS attacks on rivals, for instance.4
Securing and maintaining WordPress is a continuous process that is about risk reduction and performance optimization, not risk elimination as there will always be new and evolving attack vectors against WordPress, it’s plugins and developer ecosystem. WordPress software security and maintenance best practices include the following:
New WordPress features, performance improvements and security updates are added to the core platform on a regular basis. If the WordPress core is not up to date, your website gradually becomes less secure and stable, and will not perform at the level it should. Not only can this cause a poor user experience for your visitors, it can also have a negative impact on search engine rankings and is a security risk. Updating WordPress’ core software is critical.
Plugins are independent pieces of software designed by developers beyond the core WordPress team. When WordPress releases updates to its core software, it’s the developer’s responsibility to keep their plugins up to date. Therefore, before installing a new plugin, it’s important to research the plugin, read reviews and check the last updates performed. Once installed, continue updating all plugins via the WordPress dashboard.
Themes are the graphical front-end or user interface that are frequently improved and updated for security, performance and user experience enhancements. Using an out of date theme can limit the functionality and security and of your site, therefore, themes should be updated regularly.
The WordPress platform is stable, but that does not mean it is invincible. If your website is hacked or becomes inaccessible, having a backup off-site on a remote server will save site rebuilding time and money. Offsite backups of your website should be done regularly.
Understanding WordPress vulnerabilities and taking the necessary precautions is vital to protect your website and possibly the reputation of your brand. Hacked websites are a security risk to site owners, users, and other websites as they can spread malware and launch DDoS attacks against other web sites or targets, for instance. Ensuring that WordPress security functions are up to date is a critical practice.
WordPress monitoring and alerting services help minimize the damage caused by website downtime and allows IT administrators to quickly bring your website back online. Monitoring and alerting WordPress plugins should be installed and maintained to ensure site uptime.
Broken web links can damage your brand reputation and may also hurt your site’s search rankings. Scanning and resolving broken links regularly helps ensure that your visitors can easily navigate your content.
Having inactive or unused WordPress plugin software on your site should be avoided as it can become a security risk. Removing unused plugins helps reduce the risk of a site takeover or breach due to flaws in outdated plugins.
Comments on your WordPress blog can provide additional information and generate discussions on topics important to your visitors. Unfortunately, spam comment postings can be used as a vehicle for malicious content and links to malware sites. Spending time to delete spam comments will keep your visitors engaged and helps reduce security risks.
Tactical Web Media offers WordPress maintenance plans to keep websites running smoothly and to reduce security risks. Learn more about our full array of services at TacticalWebMedia.com.