Hacking is the process of finding flaws in a computer system. Then exploiting those weaknesses, usually to bypass security. Your website is just like any other computer and is vulnerable to hacking.

Malicious or ‘black hat’ hacking is common and is often used to break into websites for malicious reasons.

There are a lot of reasons why hackers target WordPress sites. One of them is the platform’s sheer popularity; it powers nearly 1/3 of the world’s websites.

So, why do people hack websites?

Every day, thousands of websites get hacked. WordPress sites make up a large percentage of those sites, since it powers over 30% of the web.

A lot of people may think that their websites are safe from attacks because they don’t contain valuable and sensitive business information. They don’t sell anything on it, take money, link to banks; it’s just a kind of online brochure. However, there are plenty of other reasons why websites get hacked:

  • To spread other malware and viruses to other computers
  • To add bandwidth to bot networks, which are often used for Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
  • To store files in your website for other uses
  • Black-hat Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Just for practice, fun and or to show off to their hacker mates.

No website is exempt from the possibility of being targeted. Once it is online, it may be attacked.

4 reasons why WordPress websites get targeted

As if the reasons above aren’t enough, WordPress sites get some extra attention from attackers for various reasons.

1. WordPress is the most popular CMS

As we’ve mentioned before, WordPress powers over 30% of the web. As of 2020, there were over 1.8 billion websites on the internet (although not all of them active). This means a little less than a third of those use WordPress.

This is excellent news in some respects. It means WordPress development isn’t likely to halt soon and you’ll always have a great community to help you out. The problem is that this same popularity also means WordPress is an obvious target for hackers.

Imagine though, for a second, that someone discovers a vulnerability in a popular WordPress plugin. As has already happened in the past, such activities could affect millions of websites. Of course, plugins themselves aren’t the only issue, which brings us to the next point.

2. Many WordPress websites lack basic security

There are lots of things you can do to protect your website from attacks. The good news is that many security best practices aren’t as hard to implement as you’d imagine.

No two-factor authentication

Take Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). Using a WordPress two-factor authentication plugin, it can be implemented in minutes. Plus, it drastically reduces the chances of attackers gaining access to your website, even if they’ve stolen user credentials.

No security hardening and protection

Likewise, it doesn’t take long to install and configure a WordPress security plugin to provide another level of protection.

No records and activity logs

Another simple WordPress security best practice is to keep a WordPress activity log. This lets you track practically everything that happens on your website, from unsuccessful login attempts to changes in your site’s files.

The problem is, most people don’t take the time to learn about basic WordPress security measures. They don’t consider their website to be at risk. If you don’t want your website to be a part of the prominent hacking statistics, implementing the security best practices above.

3. Weak password use is widespread

When it comes to maintaining a secure WordPress website, your WordPress users’ passwords are the first line of defence. If someone guesses your administration credentials, they gain full administrative privileges on your website – That’s really not a good place for any hacker to be.

The situation is more forthcoming than you think – users always use weak passwords. Educate your users on what makes a strong password. For example, focus on password length rather than complex mix of characters. Lengthy passwords are much harder to guess and crack. And always use a password manager so you and your users do not have to remember the long passwords.

Implement strong WordPress passwords policies

Make sure that you change your password often. Using a password manager will help you to do this and can remind you when to change it and even generate those long complex passwords for you.

Strong password policies are an effective way to keep your website safe and teach your visitors to use secure passwords.

4. Use of outdated WordPress core, plugins and themes

Quite often, outdated software has vulnerabilities. So, when WordPress administrators use outdated core, plugins, themes, and other software they expose security holes for hackers to exploit. Unfortunately, they do so quite often; outdated / vulnerable software is one of the most common causes of hacked WordPress websites.

Attackers know this. They have an abundance of scanning tools and scripts which they often use to bulk identify and exploit vulnerable WordPress websites.

In conclusion

WordPress is incredibly popular. It’s easy to use, highly versatile, and you can create amazing websites with it. However, the downside is that because of these positives, WordPress becomes a target for malicious hackers.

However, if you take the normal, basic security practices, you can mitigate against this potential negative.

How can you stop it?

To close on a more positive note, here are a few tips you should follow to better ensure that your website is maintained and secure:

  1. Make sure that the WordPress core, themes and plugins are ALWAYS as up to date as they can be.
  2. Backup your WordPress website regularly, just in case.
  3. Change your password regularly.
  4. Implement some additional security, firewall or defence plugins.

Clarke Design can do this all automatically for you

We can monitor your website for you and implement these updates to make sure that you always have the latest software running your business website.

These updates may give you additional features, provide bug fixes or implement vital security patches – so it’s very important to always be as up to date as you can.

Find out more online at https://www.clarkedesign.co.uk/websites-wordpress-maintenance.asp