In a nutshell, hacking is about finding flaws in a system and exploiting them in order to bypass any security measures. Those who hack for ethical reasons use this exact process in order to help strengthen security measures. Malicious hackers, on the other hand, use this method to gain access to confidential and sensitive data. Hackers access WordPress websites mainly because it’s so popular. 

In this article, we aim to give you a better understanding of how hackers access WordPress websites, so that you can take steps to make your sites more secure.

Why Hackers Love to Access WordPress Websites

Thousands of websites get hacked every day, never mind every year. Since WordPress powers well over 40% of all self-hosted websites, it makes sense that they’ve become a prime target.

You might think that because your website doesn’t contain any sensitive information you’re not vulnerable to attack, but you would be mistaken. Websites get hacked for a number of different reasons, including:

  • Spreading malware
  • Implementation of black-hat search engine optimisation tactics
  • To prove they can do it
  • Hacktivism purposes (AKA activism for hackers)
  • Adding bandwidth to bot networks

The above reasons apply to all websites, but why do hackers have a love for WordPress sites in particular?

  • WordPress is the Most Popular Content Management System (CMS)

According to WhoIs, 455,000,000 websites are using WordPress right now. The good news is that this means WordPress development and updates are going to be around for quite some time. However, easy access to this CMS means hackers can easily find ways to access more and more sites every year. For example, there are millions of WordPress plugins. A hacker who manages to identify one vulnerability with a popular plugin could potentially affect millions of sites.

  • Not All WordPress Sites are Secure Enough

WordPress might be a popular platform, but this doesn’t mean all sites are secure. The reality is it’s very easy to secure a WordPress site, but very few site owners take the time to do so. Sucuri is one plugin that offers all kinds of security functionality and can easily be installed.

Two-factor authentication is another step that can easily be implemented to reduce the risks of hacks. Even if a hacker gets hold of a user’s credentials, two-factor authentication makes it much harder for them to gain access to your site.

Keeping a WordPress activity log is another tactic that can be used to increase website security. This way, you know exactly what’s happening on your site, including unsuccessful login attempts.

It doesn’t take much to learn about basic WordPress security measures and it saves you a lot of time and frustration in the long run. You might not think your website is at risk, but nobody’s immune to a hacker’s attempts.

  • Weak Passwords Are All Too Common

Your password is your first line of defence. If someone is able to guess your admin credentials, you give them immediate and full access to your entire site. And, it only takes minutes for a hacker to wreak havoc on your site and data.

When you first set up a WordPress site, those password recommendations should not be ignored. The length and mix of characters make for a strong password that is much harder to crack. Using a password manager is also recommended – this way nobody has to remember long passwords.

If multiple users have access to your site, it’s time to review all credentials and implement strong password policies. There are a number of password plugins that focus on password complexity and history. Plus, there’s the option to configure password expiry too. Having a password policy also teaches other users about the importance of website and online security.

  • Website Owners Use Outdated Plugins and Core Software

Outdated plugins and versions of WordPress leave your site vulnerable. When you keep putting off important updates, you continue leaving loopholes for hackers. Outdated software and plugins are one of the main causes of WordPress hacks. There are even a number of scanning tools and scripts that can be used to identify these vulnerabilities.

Recommended Read: How to Prevent WordPress Updates from Breaking Your Site

How to Block a Hacker’s Access to a WordPress Site

The fact that WordPress is such a popular target for hackers shouldn’t stop you from taking advantage of this powerful CMS. Here are just a few of the ways that you can prevent hacks going forward:

  • Use reliable and secure hosting from companies like WP Support Specialists
  • Install a reputable firewall or security plugin such as Sucuri
  • Install a plugin that implements two-factor authentication
  • Activate WordPress activity logs, so that you’re immediately notified of unsuccessful login attempts
  • Draw up a strong password policy and make sure that every user has a copy
  • Regularly update core WordPress software and any plugins. Plugins that aren’t updated on a regular basis should rather be uninstalled. There are lots of alternatives out there
  • If you don’t have the time to monitor the health of your site on a regular basis, rather hire a WordPress expert who can assist you

In Summary

WordPress is popular for a reason. It’s one of the most versatile website CMS systems around today, mainly because it’s open-source software. While this popularity does make it a prime target for malicious intent, there are steps that every WordPress website owner can take to minimise any risks.

If you’d like WP Support Specialists to help secure, protect and update your site on a regular basis, send us a message here.