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Loopholes in WordPress’ Security System

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The internet is one of the most unsafe virtual space to exist as behind every platform is a user or software with malicious intent to either hack or steal your data. It only takes these corrupt people one shot to get it right while you have to be cautious every step of the way to ensure your safety every single day.

WordPress tries to ensure its users about content safety through strong content management security system but there are still flaws which need to be fixed to make the site safer. In order to contribute to this cause, you first need to made aware of the threats that your content might face due to these loopholes. Once you are aware of the threats, you can understand how and when they can affect you and even take safety precautions to ensure safety of not only yourself but your contemporaries too.

How Brute Force works

Your login details, which are your username and password, works as an identification code for you and helps the server know which individual has logged in as they are private and unique for every user. In case your login details get exposed, your account will be under major threat as anyone who knows them have the same access and authority as you. Even worse, if they have login details of administrator account, they will have full control of everything under it.

Brute Force Attacks and dictionary attacks use the common technique of trying to login using different combinations of users and passwords. One of the reasons why this technique works is because of how predictable everyone’s passwords are.

Cross-Site Scripting Attacks

WordPress themes make use of JavaScript, a programming language that works in web browsers to make them more interactive and provide enhancements that are not available in many other languages. Basically, JavaScript files are run by the browser when a certain WordPress website is booted/loaded onto that browser. But not all JavaScript scripts are safe. This is where hackers can get in. Hackers can use the faults in JavaScript files to breach into the browser of the user, and then steal important data or make the computer system run a certain command. This is why you see the red screen error when you’re trying to access an “insecure” website.

Web Browsers usually use the Single-origin policy which allow certain scripts loaded from one origin to use resources from another region. Though this is meant to be a security, if a potentially unsafe script is loaded and trusted by the browser, this can result in a catastrophe. That script will be able to access most of the browser’s content, potentially stealing sensitive information like credit card information and your cookie data. This kind of attack is also known by the name “Cross-Site Scripting Attack”, and is one of the most dangerous WordPress security and vulnerabilities issues ever known.

If we were to get into more technical terms, we could say that a potentially dangerous script can be deliberately injected into a WordPress website, by the developer themselves or by a hacker that might have hacked into the server of that certain website. Another way a potentially dangerous script can be injected onto the WordPress website is by adding a comment which is a hidden code that only the browser runs. When the browser runs that program, it opens itself to the hacker’s claws, resulting in a big-time crisis.

Similarly, some hackers don’t target the user browsers, but the plugins that certain WordPress developers use. The result is the same, but the method to do the hacking is different. A very popular recent example of such a dangerous hack running amok is the MageCart credit card scraper, which has infected dozens of eCommerce websites.

For developers who are looking for keeping their WordPress sites safe, it is recommended that they start using less and less plugins as possible, even the security ones. Only use plugins that you trust will definitely work.

Server-side Vulnerabilities

All WordPress websites have a server that is running them, which is known as a web server. The web server works in co-ordination with a PHP interpreter, an OS, a database, and several utility software to make the WordPress server work properly. There could be an error or a loophole in any of these things. In the world of IT, the more the applications you use, the more you run into the risk of getting exposed to hacker attacks.

The Spectre & Meltdown issues that became very popular and have just recently been fixed and patched by Intel was an issue where hackers could potentially exploit a vulnerability in performance optimizations and get access to all the data owned by both the users and the system itself.

Spectre & Meltdown affects a lot of servers where WordPress server hosting vulnerabilities are common.

Be sure to check if the web server you are running your WordPress server on, is properly updated when it comes to the OS. Plus, some people state that AMD Zen 2 or Threadripper processors are less likely to run into Meltdown or Spectre exploits.

Malware in general

Malware infects computers of all types and sizes. Criminals use malware to do a lot of stuff, and you can only protect yourself against this content if you know what you’re installing on your WordPress server. Everyone is bound to get hit by a malware attack at least once in their lifetimes though, from our genius calculations. WordPress and Malware are two things that have had a long history, because many people prefer pirating premium plugins which are infected with malware, instead of buying them.

How to keep WordPress websites safe?

Here are some tips you can use to keep your WordPress website safe:
Be quirky when it comes to passwords – Don’t use easy to guess passwords for your keeping your website and your server safe. Choose passwords that are very difficult to guess. Using 2FA in conjunction with a hard-to-guess password helps increase security.
Update your WordPress – Keep your WordPress website up-to-date with the latest updates. Since the project is open-source, it will be better if you keep your website as up-to-date as possible.
Choose a secure host – Choose a server that you can really invest your money in, and don’t have to worry about running into Meltdown/Spectre issues.
Use only verified plugins – Download plugins and themes only from reputed websites. Don’t even try installing pirated premium plugins. You don’t want to risk yourself and your readers into getting into a lot of trouble just because you tried to save a few bucks.

Following these four security examples will help you keep common WordPress security vulnerabilities away from you. It is only the owner’s job to ensure that they are keeping their WordPress sites safe from hackers.

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anthony

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