Whether you have a massive eCommerce website or a tiny knitting blog, your website is vulnerable to hacking. Sometimes that’s because hackers were targeting your website in particular (which usually happens to bigger websites), but sometimes, it’s not as personal as that. Sometimes, hackers spread a wide net and simply capture all websites with specific WordPress vulnerabilities. It’s these target-indifferent attacks that usually hurt small websites.
In this guide, you’ll learn how hackers attack your website, how to protect it, and why converting your WordPress website to a static site might be the best decision you ever make.
7 ways hackers exploit WordPress vulnerabilities
1. Using brute force attacks to target weak passwords
A brute force attack is the hacking equivalent of using a battering ram against your website until it splinters wide open. Thanks to sophisticated coding, hackers don’t need to sit down and guess hundreds of passwords to any one website. Instead, they’ll run a piece of code that’s designed to attempt millions of passwords in quick succession until it cracks your website open.
2. SQL database injections and XSS (Cross-Site Scripting)
With SQL database injections, a hacker inputs code that can destroy your database, and with XSS attacks, hackers inject malicious script into your website, which they can then use to steal your data and to redirect your visitors to other webpages.
We’ve lumped SQL database injections with XSS attacks, because they both exploit a WordPress vulnerability that doesn’t even seem to be a vulnerability: WordPress uses a database.
WordPress’s database is what makes the platform so much fun to use, but when left exposed, it’s also a prime target for hackers.
3. Malware injections
Malware is the generic term given to adware, spyware, viruses, and any other kind of malicious software that hackers inject into a website.
4. Website defacement
This is the hacking version of drawing crude, obscene graffiti all over your website so that your visitors no longer think it’s safe to stay on your website or to leave their sensitive information (like their credit card information) on it. When hackers deface your website, they change the visual appearance of your website, so it’s practically unusable.
5. Exploiting outdated themes and plugins
WordPress themes and plugins can develop vulnerabilities just like any other software. Developers usually patch these WordPress vulnerabilities in the form of an update. So, when users don’t update their themes and plugins, their website retains these vulnerabilities, and hackers can gain access to their website.
6. Exploiting the fact that you have too many admins
Lots of website owners make people admins because they want to have a more collaborative website. But more admins also means more possible points of entry into your website, and hackers take advantage of this.
7. DDoS attacks
Hackers carry out a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack by flooding the websites on your server with so much traffic that there aren’t enough resources to power your website. When this happens, your site crashes.
Now that you know seven ways hackers exploit WordPress vulnerabilities, here are some ways to protect your website:
How to reduce WordPress vulnerabilities
1. Keep your website up-to-date
Themes and plugins are some of the most exploited WordPress vulnerabilities, so it’s crucial that you keep these up-to-date.
2. Scan your website for malware
A good web host will offer frequent malware scans. Take advantage of this service to keep your website malware-free.
3. Choose a host with a good DDoS protection plan
Good hosts also anticipate DDoS attacks and have plans in place to mitigate them. Before you choose a web host, ask about their plan to protect your website from a DDoS attack.
4. Choose strong passwords
Spend time carefully coming up with a strong password, so that your password is practically un-guessable.
5. Restrict admin privileges
Don’t make too many people admins on your website. Try not to choose more than three or four admins unless you have a very good reason.
6. Convert your WordPress website to a static site
Using a static generator like FLATsite is the best step you can take to prevent hackers from exploiting WordPress vulnerabilities on your website.
How FLATsite helps to eliminate WordPress vulnerabilities
No longer will you have to worry about keeping your WordPress website up-to-date. We’ll automatically update your website for you!
When your website is converted to a static website, your database will no longer be vulnerable to hackers, because static websites don’t have a database. This means that SQL injections and XSS attacks will be rendered completely useless.
Static websites can’t be changed automatically. They can only be changed on the backend. This means that any kind of attack which involves changing the website simply won’t work on a static website.
Static websites are so lightweight that you can save tons of money on web hosting. You can invest some of the money you save into securing your website, and even this won’t be a great expense, because static websites are inherently more secure than dynamic websites.
(As a bonus, here’s a cheat sheet to help you keep your website lightning fast once you’ve joined thousands of WordPress users who’ve beefed up their site’s security by converting to a static website.)
Hackers are constantly finding creative ways to exploit WordPress vulnerabilities, so it’s important to stay on top of your WordPress maintenance and security. But if you want to make things easier for yourself, you might want to consider converting your WordPress website to a static site, so that your database will be completely hidden from hackers.
If you liked this guide, you’ll love our post on how to keep and boost SEO after migrating your website.