WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world. And as of 2023, nearly 810 million websites all over the internet are using WordPress CMS. That’s 43% of all sites on the internet right now. It’s no wonder that WordPress sites have become one of the biggest targets for hackers and cybercriminals.
Hackers often use the small vulnerabilities available in your WordPress CMS to hack into your site and steal precious information. While there is no way to make any website 100% hack-proof, taking proper precautions can significantly reduce the chances of being hacked.
In this article, we will talk about the top seven reasons why WordPress sites get hacked and how you can prevent that.
Insecure web hosting
Many WordPress website owners rarely pay attention to the web hosting services they are picking. And if you are doing the same thing, you might end up putting your site at risk of being hacked.
Just like any other website on the internet, your WordPress site also needs a web hosting service to work. To lower the operation cost, many website owners often pick cheap web hosting services. Some even straight-up choose free hosting services.
However, these hosting services usually don’t provide any security measures, making the websites hosted by them vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
You can easily avoid this problem by moving away from free or cheap web hosting services. Make sure you pick the best web hosting services available in the market that have best-in-class security measures.
This makes your website way less vulnerable to cyber-attacks and your website’s performance improves by leaps and bounds too. For additional security, you can also pick a managed WordPress hosting provider.
Password is an important security measure for any WordPress site. So, you need to ensure that you are using strong, long, and unique alphanumeric passwords that can keep the following accounts safe from hackers:
- The WordPress admin accounts
- FTP accounts
- MySQL databases connected to your WordPress sites
- Web hosting accounts
- The email accounts that you use for WordPress admin and web hosting accounts
All of these accounts should have strong passwords. If you’re using weak passwords in these accounts, you’re only making it easier for cybercriminals to hack into them using some very basic hacking tools.
Use strong and long passwords for all the accounts mentioned above. You should:
- Avoid weak and obvious passwords like “123456” or “password.”
- Make sure all your passwords are at least 8 characters long.
- Try to use a mix of alphabets, numbers, and symbols to make your password as strong as possible.
- Use a secure password management application to keep all your passwords safe to avoid forgetting your passwords.
Unprotected access to WordPress admin
With the WordPress admin area, users gain the ability to perform different actions on their WordPress sites. Obviously, it means a lot of sensitive information and files related to your website. Because of this, the admin area of a WordPress site is one of the most commonly targeted regions.
Once the hackers crack into the unprotected WordPress admin area, they will be able to access the sensitive information related to your sites.
The easiest way to protect WordPress admin is to use multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor or two-factor authentication will provide additional layers of protection to the WordPress admin apart from the initial password.
This way, you can make it difficult for cyber crooks from hacking into your WordPress site. Additionally, you can also restrict access to the WordPress admin area.
Outdated WordPress version
Creating and managing a WordPress site is far from a one-time job. WordPress releases new updates and security patches with additional features on a regular basis. These updates and bug fixes make using WordPress easier while making your site more secure.
On the flip side, failing to download and install these upgrades will leave your site with multiple bugs and vulnerabilities, making it easier for hackers to exploit them.
Still, many people continue to use the older versions of WordPress. Many website owners fear the possibility of severe website crashes once they update WordPress, losing tons of precious data.
Hackers will take advantage of this and use things like SQL injections and malware to sneak into your site.
The best tip we can give you is to update your WordPress as soon as the new security patches and software updates are available. If you’re worried about site crashes, you can back up your whole WordPress site before installing and running the new updates.
This way, even if your site crashes after the update, your website data will be safe. You can restore the website data later to the updated WordPress, preventing hackers from breaking into your site.
Outdated WP plugins and themes
Just like outdated WordPress versions, not updating the WordPress plugins and themes can also make your site vulnerable to cyber attacks. Outdated WP plugins and themes have many known bugs and cracks that hackers can use to infect your website with malicious viruses and malware.
In fact, if you have WP plugins that you no longer use but are still keeping them around, they can quickly become the freshest targets for hackers.
To prevent hackers from targeting your WordPress site using outdated WP plugins and themes, you should:
- Update your WordPress plugins and themes on a regular basis.
- Remove unused WordPress plugins.
- If you have a WordPress plugin or theme that is no longer receiving timely updates, look for alternative plugins and themes to prevent security flaws and bugs.
- Check your WordPress plugins and themes at least once a fortnight to make sure there are no problems with them.
Using FTP instead of SFTP/SSH
Any WordPress user can use the FTP accounts to upload important files to their website’s server using an FTP client. While web hosting providers support both FTP and SFTP – SSH protocols, many people still use plain FTP protocols for file transfer.
Now, if you use FTP protocols, the passwords that you send to your web server will stay unencrypted. It gives the hackers a golden opportunity to intercept the transmitted data, spy on them, and steal them as they want.
Fortunately, you don’t need to change your FTP client to solve this. Just switch the FTP protocols to the SFTP – SSH protocols on your WordPress site. With this change, every file and password transmitted to your web hosting provider will be encrypted, making it difficult for hackers to intercept the transmitted data and take advantage of them.
Unsecure WordPress config file
wp-config.php is a very important WordPress configuration file that has multiple vital information. This WP config file contains critical data like user data, login details, WordPress database login credentials, and much more.
As the WP sites need this particular file to run smoothly, cyber crooks often target this file to break into your site. If hackers get access to this file’s information in any way, they can easily get complete access to your WordPress site.
The best way to nullify the risks is to deny all access to the wp-config.php file using .htaccess. Just go to the .htaccess file of your WordPress site and add this code in the exact sequence:
<files wp-config.php> order allow,deny deny from all </files>