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WordPress is currently the most popular and famous platform to build a website. It is a CMS or Content Management System which is also open-source, meaning the core files and their codes are available for everyone to see. You can read Craft CMS vs WordPress to know more.
WordPress has millions of users worldwide. With this vast customer base, it has to be rock solid when it comes to security. We need to investigate deep into the security aspect of WordPress and deduce the answer to an age-old question – Is WordPress secure?
WordPress is the most preferred Content Management System that you already know. It occupies 60.8% of the CMS market. It has the most widespread user base among the rest of its competition.
According to a study, there are more than 500 new sites built each day on WordPress. You can see the live activity of those millions of users on this link.
But with great power comes even greater responsibility. Since it is the most widely used platform for website building, so it carries the most crucial responsibility.
WordPress must provide the security that is expected by its users. And its widespread usage is also prevalent amongst hackers and malicious actors. Hackers and malicious users can exploit even a single vulnerability. This is why it is more essential for users. They should ensure that the website they built using WordPress has rock-solid security.
WordPress is a high-profile target for attackers. And the fact that it is open-sourced that doesn’t help prevent attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities. But this is not surprising. Being the biggest and the most famous CMS, it is entirely reasonable to have a few issues here and there.
The security aspect of WordPress has been on the radar of the WordPress community since the beginning, so It is for a good reason. They have been facing and solving a lot of issues over the years. You can learn about their security system and the team from WordPress official security page. There were multiple points in time when the threat level was high. Also, the WordPress community was forced to address those threats transparently and quickly.
During late ‘07, WordPress was getting the spotlight for being a great CMS. This growing popularity was a contributing factor for causing & increasing threats. Most hackers focused on AdSense and SEO blogs throughout 2007 and the following year. Also, WordPress’ servers had been compromised during that time. That lead to a potential backdoor in the whole system.
Is WordPress Secure?
WordPress is not insecure. But it’s not a hundred percent secure either. But, to be honest, you can’t expect any software or system to be 100% safe and cannot be exploited upon release. That kind of system can only exist if it has no access to the outside.
Any software can protect itself from exploits after it has been discovered. You can’t protect yourself from things you don’t know. If WordPress releases a version today, which means it can only defend itself from exploits found, tested, and solved until yesterday.
WordPress has been going through continual hardening since 2003. So, its core software can identify and protect itself against common security threats. That includes the top 10 threats pointed out by The Open Web Application Security Project or OWASP. The WordPress Security Team works to detect and mitigate security issues. Then they make it available for distribution. They also offer recommendations and documentation for best practices. The clients should follow these when using third-party plugins and theme editors.
How do WordPress websites get hacked?
There are multiple reasons for getting hacked. Some of which are as follows,
Outdated Core Software
This report from Securi’s Hacked Website Report suggests that WordPress was exploited the most during the hacks of 2017. The most common CMS platforms affected were WordPress with 83% attacks, Joomla with 13.1% attacks, and Magento with 6.5% attacks.
But most of the compromises were a result of outdated versions of WordPress. During mid-2016, 61% of hacked websites reported obsolete versions of WordPress. This number has been decreasing ever since. Only 39.3% of websites outdated by the year 2017. That was a significant improvement.
All the users who had enabled automatic updates were safe from those and recent attacks. The system automatically updated its security version. Those who didn’t update their core software were not that safe comparatively.
The Security Team of WordPress does quite a decent job at fixing issues quickly. If you apply all the security updates provided by WordPress, you are highly unlikely to be exploited by hackers. But if you are willing to risk it, then you might be affected once that vulnerability is exploited.
Outdated Plugins and Themes
The primary reason for getting hack is outdated or vulnerable plugins or themes.
WordPress is the favorite platform for a majority. That’s because it allows anyone to build and maintain their website without any technical experience in web development. But one of the main selling points for WordPress is its abundance of plugins and themes. Users can get plugins and themes to make their website look very professional.
But plugins and themes are the main reason for WordPress websites getting hacked. These are provided by a third-party. Not by the WordPress team. Most of the developers are passionate about their products. And so, they take utmost care of their product and its security.
Most professional developers try to keep up the pace and enhance their plugin and theme to best suit the latest WordPress version. But those are just one type of developers. They also charge a premium price for those efforts. Indeed, they are proud of their work.
However, while racing to the top, sometimes they overlook the security aspects. The security checks are bypassed. Usually, they fix any security flaws that they discover and release another patch in their product version. They suggest their users apply those updates as soon as possible. So it’s a good point.
There is another type of developers who develop plugins and themes for free. They do it to develop their coding skills or just as a hobby. The trouble arrives when the product goes unchecked for a long time. This happens because the developer cannot invest time or effort into the product. Or it becomes too costly to maintain. So during all this time, their website is vulnerable to any hacker.
Neglect of Admins and Users
Although, the majority of the software security concerns lie in the developer’s hands. But there are some on the hands of the users too. Many users consider themselves too small a target to be concerned with security. However, hackers don’t discriminate based on size or popularity.
The users tend to be a bit relaxed with security measures. Which makes them a viable victim of hacks. The most significant security flaws on the users’ side could be
– Weak Login Credentials
– Unsecure admin login
– SSL not installed
– Using pirated plugins and themes
– Ignoring WordPress updates
– Incorrect user roles assigned
How to protect websites from hackers
There are some practices and disciplines. These might help you lower the chance of getting hacked.
Installing firewall plugin
A firewall plugin is your first line of defense. This plugin will protect and scan your website for any malware. It will also detect any malicious activity of a user.
Update your site regularly
As mentioned before, security patches are critical. They can protect you from most of the hackers.
Use trusted plugins and themes
Use plugins and themes that meet the security requirements. WordPress repositories can help you with that. Never use any kind of pirated plugins or themes.
Use strong credentials
If your login credentials are weak, the rest of the security cannot do anything to protect you. So, choose your credentials wisely. Use a unique username and password that cannot be guessed.
Use SSL certificate
When you use an SSL certificate, your website shows a green lock on the address bar. This indicates that your website is secure. You should get an SSL certificate from your web host provider.
These are some of the best practices to protect your website from any kinds of hacks. But you can rest assured if you follow these practices. The majority of hacks can be prevented by these common but neglected steps. If you do not have SSL on your site, you can buy from the NameCheap SSL with the lowest cost.
Is WordPress Secure? Conclusion
When you consider all the arguments presented above, one thing is clear that you did not find any system or software that is 100% secure. WordPress has a pretty good track record in its security aspects. They have a stable core software, which is solid enough to consider safe from hackers, for now. And most of the hacks that have devastated most users were not because of the core software’s vulnerabilities. It was because of a lack of security practices and insecure third-party plugins on the users’ part. So, is WordPress secure? Now you know the answer to that question!
Wild and Interesting WordPress Statistics and Facts (2020).” 11 Dec. 2020, WordPress statistics. Accessed 22 Dec. 2020.