Coming across a hacked WordPress site is one of the biggest nightmares that any website owner can have. One moment it’s running fine and the next, you find it completely shut down. Right from plummeting traffic to the efforts and energy invested into putting the website together can be lost with a blink of an eye.
In such a scenario, discovering and fixing the core problem can be a tough task. However, it’s all worth it as it might get your audiences’ trust back and help you get the website off spam blacklists.
According to Sucuri’s report, almost 90% of hacked websites in 2018 were built on WordPress. Also, only 56% of them had updated their platform, and the rest of them were running on an outdated CMS.
Sure, getting a website hacked isn’t a pleasant thing. However, one thing that you must keep in mind is that WordPress is always in the hot-shot list of hackers. So, why do only WordPress sites get hacked and how can you prevent yours from getting attacked? Read everything about it in this post.
Why Is WordPress Targeted by Hackers?
The reason is quite the same as why Windows running computers get more viruses in comparison with Linux or Mac. Generally, hackers try to focus on the most used systems. And, considering the popularity that WordPress has, it’s easier for them to get inside this system than to find something else.
It has nothing to do with PHP or WordPress itself. However, a majority of website owners don’t take enough corrective measures and abandon their sites just like that, which makes it an easy attack for hackers. A hacked website has a lot to do with the truth that the site wasn’t maintained properly.
So, when it comes to protecting the website, here are the preventive measurements that you can take. Read on.
Causes of Hacked WordPress site and Preventing Measures:
1. Insecure Web Hosting
Similar to every other website, even the ones developed on WordPress require a website hosting service. Many hosting companies don’t keep their platform secure enough to prevent any damage to your website.
Thus, if your website is running on their server, it can make your site vulnerable and can expose to hackers. This situation can be avoided if you use nothing but the best hosting provider for your website. It’ll ensure the security of your site and will keep it away from attacks.
2. Using Weak Passwords for WordPress Security
Another possible cause behind your website getting attacked is the usage of weak and guessable passwords. You’d have to ensure that you’re using nothing but strong and unique passwords for every account. Be it:
- WordPress admin account.
- FTP accounts.
- Web hosting control panel accounts.
- Email accounts used for hosting or WordPress admin panel.
- MySQL databased used for the site.
If you’re using simple passwords, hackers won’t take more than a second to crack it and get inside your data, thanks to the advanced tools that they have. So, to avoid this problem, use a combination of alphabets, numbers, and characters. Also, keep changing your passwords from time-to-time.
3. Unprotected Access to WordPress Admin
Through the WordPress admin area, you can get access to execute various actions and tasks on your website. It’s also one of the most commonly attacked areas of WordPress. Therefore, leaving it defenseless can push you inside a dig of hackers’ arena.
Cracking your unprotected WordPress admin area wouldn’t be a tough task for them. The only preventive measure would be adding different authentication layers to the admin directory of your website to ensure proper WordPress admin protection.
To begin with, you must add password protection to the admin area. And then, you can also use two-factor authentication if you run a multi-user or multi-author WordPress website.
4. Incorrect File Permissions Leads to WordPress Hacked
File permissions are rules that the web server uses to regulate files access available on your website. If this file permission goes incorrect, hackers might get access to change and write these files.
Thus, you must ensure that all of your files have 644 value as the file permission. And, all the folders on the site should have 755 as the file permission. It will help keep hackers at bay.
5. Not Updating WordPress
There might be a variety of reasons behind users not updating their WordPress websites periodically, be it being afraid of it or just being lazy. There are so many users who fear of breaking down something if they update the site.
However, one thing that you must keep in mind is that every update comes with fixed security vulnerabilities and bugs. If you aren’t updating the website from time-to-time, it’ll be vulnerable to hackers. If you’re distressed about losing data or breaking up something, you can take a complete backup before installing the update. In this way, you can get back your previous version if things go wrong.
6. Not Uploading Plugins & Themes
Similar to the WordPress core, updating plugins and theme is essential as well. Again, using an outdated plugin or theme can bring your website into the vulnerable zone. Often, security bugs and flaws can be found in these tools.
If you’re using premium themes or plugins, developers might fix the issue as soon as it’s discovered. However, when it comes to using free theme or plugins, things might become adverse for you. So, the only recommended way would be to either keep plugins and theme updated or uninstall the ones you don’t use anymore.
7. Using Plain FTP Instead of SFTP/SSH
Usually, FTP accounts are used to upload different files to a web server through an FTP client. Almost a majority of hosting providers do support FTP connections by using various protocols. Therefore, you can connect using plain FTP, SSH, or SFTP.
When you use plain FTP to connect your website, the password sent to the server remains unencrypted. This way, it can be easily stolen by hackers. Hence, instead of FTP, it’s recommended to use SFTP or SSH.
With this, you wouldn’t have to change or alter your FTP client. Most clients can connect to your site on SSH as well as SFTP. All you’d have to do is change the protocol while connecting the website.
8. Using Admin as WordPress Username
One of the significant mistakes that users commit is using Admin as their WordPress username. This is the most common reason behind hacked WordPress sites. This is one such activity that’s not at all recommended. If you’ve kept your administrator username as admin, you must immediately change it to something else.
It’s quite a common name and can be cracked by any of the hackers within seconds. If that happens, your website might get under an attack. So, keep a username that’s difficult to predict for others and easy to remember for yourself.
9. Nulled Premium WordPress Themes & Plugins
You can easily find such platforms on the internet that offer premium WordPress themes and plugins without charging any penny. Although it might seem a tempting offer, however, downloading these tools from unreliable sources can prove out to be dangerous for your website.
Not just they compromise with your website’s security but can also steal sensitive users’ information. Therefore, make sure that you’re always downloading themes and plugins from a popular platform or directly from the developers’ official website. You can also use the WordPress repository to download free plugins and themes.
10. Not Securing WordPress Configuration wp-config.php File
The configuration file – wp-config.php – of WordPress comprises your database login credentials. If it’s compromised, it can reveal all of the sensitive information and hackers can have complete access to your database.
It wouldn’t only spoil your database completely but also put your website’s credibility under question. To protect this file, you can add an extra protection layer through .htaccess. All you’d have to do is add this code to your .htaccess file, and you’re done:
order allow, deny
deny from all
11. Not Changing WordPress Table Prefix
A lot of WordPress experts recommend changing the default table prefix of WordPress. By default, this platform makes use of wp_ as their prefix to create tables in your database. During installation, you get an option to alter this prefix.
It’d be better if you can use a bit complicated prefix. It will make it difficult for hackers to predict table names of your WordPress database.
While it’s easy to take your website for granted, when it comes to recovering a hacked website, then you might understand the gravity of the situation. So, why to dig your own grave when you can take corrective measures beforehand and ensure adequate safety of your website?
In case, even if your WordPress sites get hacked, it’s best to keep calm and find a solution by looking out for how to recover a hacked WordPress site. If you already have a backup, things can become more comfortable for you.
Therefore, irrespective of the situation, never forget taking a backup of your entire website, including files, content, and media. Who knows you may encounter a bad situation?
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