22 Apr , 2024

WordPress Vulnerabilities in 2023 - A Recap for Website Owners

Explore our recap on the WordPress vulnerabilities discovered in 2023 and the steps you can take to ensure your website remains protected.
Another year of frustrating statistics shows that cyber threat agents continue to attempt to undermine any vulnerabilities in websites they can find. Because WordPress websites are easily accessible and abundant, hackers use these vulnerabilities by launching attacks designed to deliver malware or steal information. The news isn't all dismal though, as new tools and automated alert systems are keeping pace with the threats and can help you stay one step ahead of your website protection.

What WordPress vulnerabilities should website owners be alert to? And what proactive steps can you take to avoid WordPress malware?

Statistics for WordPress Vulnerabilities

Of the 1745 vulnerabilities discovered and reported among WordPress and WordPress plugins in 2023, the areas of concern include the following:

937 "Stored Cross-Site Scripting" Vulnerabilities
Stored cross-site scripting (or XSS) vulnerabilities identify locations within the website code where a threat agent could potentially insert new code. This can allow hackers to manipulate your website or users' information and steal digital assets.

382 "Unauthenticated Access" Vulnerabilities
Anytime unauthenticated users or AI agents access your website, they can abuse your brand and website.

181 "Cross-Site Request Forgery" Vulnerabilities
When malware is installed and used to send your information to a second-lookalike website, the cookies that store your data may become exposed through a cross-site request forgery.

140 "SQL Injection" Vulnerabilities
An SQL injection occurs when a malicious agent inserts code into a website's otherwise sound database. These vulnerabilities become apparent through code not sufficiently protected by web application firewalls.

23 "Arbitrary File Upload" Vulnerabilities
A hacker can also use an arbitrary file upload (AFU) vulnerability to upload an inferior module to your WordPress website. This infector grants access to malware to move through your code behind your firewall with potentially devastating effects.

16 "Local File Inclusion" Vulnerabilities
Websites that allow files to be uploaded allow for a vibrant and involved web community but also become vulnerable to malware uploads through a local file inclusion.

Potential Repercussions of an Unpatched Security Vulnerability

If you allow a security vulnerability to remain unpatched, your website could be hacked, duplicated, abused, or destroyed. If your site is blacklisted, or marked as unsafe due to malware or other harmful content being identified, it can be a hassle to get back on track.

A few examples of specific vulnerabilities abused recently include:

  • Phishing as a Service (PhaaS) schemes have made a business out of exploiting vulnerabilities acquired through phishing techniques. As this popular cyberattack becomes increasingly accessible to persons with nefarious intent, any unpatched or insecure code offers hackers an opportunity.
  • In 2023, multiple malware were discovered in WordPress plugins and themes. These malicious programs gained access through downloads and unsafe links that were not flagged because of missing defenses in WordPress website security.

How to Protect Your Website From WordPress Vulnerabilities

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your website from WordPress vulnerabilities designed to infiltrate your valuable data.

Firewalls are the ideal first step to keep your important data and code safe from online threats. Advances in cybersecurity science have also led to the evolution of a WAF or web application firewall. This type of firewall protects against vulnerabilities not easily mitigated through safe cyber practices.

A WAF can identify and block attacks that emerge through hackers or AI threats such as:
  • Repeated login attempts
  • SQL injections
  • Requests from suspicious files
  • Requests from IP addresses identified as unsafe
Install a trusted WAF to ensure that your site has its first line of defense against WordPress malware in place.

Keep CMS and Plugins Updated
Bolster website security by always keeping your CMS and all plugins you use or have installed up to date. Service providers are also constantly responding to online threats by adding security to their program codes and patching vulnerabilities, and you can take advantage of the benefits by remaining in step with the protective patches offered in regular updates.

Practice Cyber Safety
Some WordPress vulnerabilities may also arise from authorized administrators' unsafe choices. Protect your website by following basic cyber safety and mitigate the risks

Limit Authorized Users
Only allow administrator privileges to persons who are competent at avoiding unsafe cyber practices. Keep your front-end user-facing website features protected and create logins that have limited access for anyone who accesses your site.

Use Two-Factor Authentication When Possible
Use and require two-factor authentication anytime you offer login features. This also creates an additional barrier to unauthorized access to any of your website's features to cyber threats.

Stay Alert to Cyberattacks
Beware of phishing schemes or any communication that may contain malware. Never give an unauthenticated agent access to your website's internal features or coding, and practice caution when navigating the web. When possible, avoid websites infected with malware, such as dark web or insecure websites.

Invest in Proactive Cybersecurity Features
Even with conscientious cybersecurity measures, your site could become the target of WordPress vulnerabilities. Investing in cybersecurity measures can provide the additional security your WordPress website needs to remain functional and secure.

How ThreatSign! and Quttera WAF Can Protect Your WordPress Website

Quttera has designed an effective WAF system that provides an excellent defense against the constant possibility of an onslaught of online attacks. To enhance your WordPress website's security, we also have crafted a system of monitoring using our ThreatSign! software.

ThreatSign! is unique because our malware scanning technology is hyper-aware of the threats used to move against websites designed using WordPress. You can receive updates and reports on your website features at regular intervals and on-demand monitoring and scanning of threats. Our online ticketing system also gives you 24/7 access to a team of cybersecurity professionals who can ensure your website is secure for both you and your users.

Sign up for ThreatSign! service today and start protecting your website from WordPress vulnerabilities!