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Common WordPress security issues and how to solve them

Having your website up and running is one thing. Keeping it secure for both yourself and visitors is another matter altogether. Here are some frequent WordPress security concerns and how you can resolve them.

1. Poor quality WordPress hosting

The WordPress hosting provider you use has significant implications on your website’s security. Poor quality hosting characterised by limited protections could easily make your site susceptible to attacks from hackers who actively exploit these vulnerabilities.

In particular, shared hosting can put your website at risk. While many website owners prefer this option due its cost benefit, it carries a risk since all the websites hosted on a shared server share their resources. It’s a ‘one bad apple ruins the barrel’ scenario in the event that one website gets compromised. Shared hosting itself isn’t inherently bad, but to be on the safe side, choose a reliable hosting provider that takes security seriously. 

2. Malware infections

Depending on the nature of your operations, security on your website could be compromised by hackers through malware. Websites that handle a lot of personal data or financial transactions are more likely to be targets of malware attacks. 

Hackers could use malware to infect your website with malicious code. In such a case, WordPress security could be affected by issues such as backdoor attacks where malware uses normal authentication procedures to gain access to system resources that would otherwise only be accessible to the website administrator.

There are both preventive and corrective measures you can take to boost WordPress security on your website. A preventive course of action would be to install and activate a plugin to run security scans such as Wordfence or All in One WP Security. Both plugins can also help with malware removal and site restoration.

3. Phishing

Phishing involves attackers using fraudulent tactics designed to mislead unsuspecting users to reveal sensitive information under a false guise of authenticity. One way this could manifest on your WordPress website is attackers prompting users to take certain action such as updating passwords. If a user acts on the malicious information e.g. by clicking on a link, they could be directed to a seemingly legitimate site from where an attacker can remotely access any information they share. Detention of phishing activity on your website could result in its blacklisting

4. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

DDos attacks are becoming one of the more prevalent WordPress security issues, with millions of such attacks affecting sites every year. A Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack happens when a compromised network sends or requests an overwhelming amount of data from a targeted server. As a result, the server slows down or crashes causing sites hosted on it to go offline.

Consequently, your site could suffer from downtime, negatively impacting the user experience of visitors to your site. 

Quality hosting should protect your site from DDoS attacks. Another way to address the issue is through the use of the WP Activity Log plugin which helps keep tabs on every change made on your website. 

5. Cross-site scripting (XSS) and other plugin vulnerabilities

Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities enable attackers to compromise user interactions. On WordPress this is a prevalent problem with many plugins. Attackers load insecure JavaScript scripts onto the website such that subsequent user visits could result in data theft for instance when users fill in forms. To secure your site, ensure you keep WordPress up to date.

WordPress plugins can also compromise your website when they are out of date. Attackers exploit bugs and vulnerabilities present in older plugin versions, while plugin developers tend to address these through updates. You can choose whether to manually update WordPress, themes, and plugins or configure automatic updates as a way to boost security.


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