WordPress is still the number one CMS in the world. And it is so for a good reason (more than one, in fact). It has a strong, robust interface that’s user-friendly and gets the job done, and you don’t have to be an IT expert to learn the ins and outs of it. Then, there is plenty of room for customization through themes and plugins, both premium and free, so users can transform their website into whatever they want without knowing how to write a single line of code.
Unfortunately, its popularity also has a notable downside to it.
The more popular something is, the more people are going to use it. That’s just the way it works. Obviously, hackers know this all too well, and since popularity means more potential users to victimize, WordPress pays off to target.
To illustrate an example, here are a couple of ways attackers can penetrate your WordPress defenses:
A hacker needs 2 things to access your account – a username and a password. Are you using ‘Admin’ as the username? Don’t make their job too easy and mix it up a little bit. Anything works fine, as long as it’s not easily guessable.
As for the password, it should contain at least 8 characters, some of which should be numbers and special symbols, so brute forcing the login page would consume way more resources on their end than it’s worth.
Finally, be careful where you log in. Even if you got the first 2 things right, your password can be intercepted while you’re trying to log in from an unsecured network like public WiFi you can find in a hotel or coffee shop. Using a VPN is the simplest and most straightforward solution since it puts all the information you transfer from your device in an encrypted tunnel.
Everyone is out to save money, and webmasters are no exception. As such, it’s easy to fall prey to temptation and download a nulled WordPress plugin or theme. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch in this world, and you’ll probably have to pay in another way. In other words, the pirated plugins or themes often contain dangerous malware that could ruin your website at the snap of a finger.
Whether it be installing a backdoor, stealing sensitive information, or plainly vandalizing the content on your website, trying to save money by pirating is never worth it in the end.
FTP is one of the most common ways to upload files to a server. However, a regular FTP does not feature any kind of encryption, so anything you send to it can get intercepted on the way there. The solution? Use either SFTP or SSH, both of which come with built-in encryption. Alternatively, you can also use a VPN.
Some web hosting companies don’t take the measures necessary to ensure proper security of their servers. That way, your WordPress-powered website can get hacked through no fault of your own. So make sure to go with a trusted provider and make no exceptions.
As robust as it may be, hackers are discovering new vulnerabilities in WordPress all the time. Therefore, regular updates are necessary to avoid getting hacked through a loophole that has already been patched. While you’re at it, don’t forget to update your themes and plugins, too.
So what does the future of WordPress security have in store for us?
Now that you know the most common cybersecurity pitfalls of the platform as it is today let’s look at how things might change as we move forward.
GDPR will pressure the plugin developers into making their products more secure and compliant when it comes to respecting the users’ privacy.
As two-factor authentication becomes the norm, hackers will have a harder time sticking their hands where they don’t belong.
More APIs mean more third-party solutions. While this is good in terms of usability and functionality, unfortunately, the exact opposite applies to the platform’s security.
If automatic updates become the enforceable standard, there’s one less thing for webmasters to worry about.
Right now, webmasters can choose whether to enable SSL or not. If this changes in the future, it’s great news for the security of the world wide web in general.
PHP5 is slowly becoming an outdated technology, and it’s vulnerable to being hacked. As such, it would be a good idea to part ways with it and terminate the support, which is what’s likely to happen at a certain point in the future.
No one knows exactly what the future of WordPress security will bring, but considering the above, it sure does look bright in more ways than one. But the bottom line is that you shouldn’t count on others to do the work for you. Take the steps needed to ensure your online security today.