For most organizations, online content can be the lifeblood of their business. It can help educate, inform, and persuade prospective customers into either doing business with your company or remaining a customer. To ensure you can reliably publish engaging content, you'll want to have a robust, comprehensive content management system (CMS) in place. Of course, every CMS has its drawbacks, and having to protect against WordPress security vulnerabilities is one. Here's what you should know about making WordPress the secure, reliable CMS you need.
The most popular CMS remains WordPress. WordPress enables users to easily develop, publish, and customize both its content and website. One of the system's best features is the staggering number of plugins offered that can help optimize your website. WordPress's massive open source community provides users with a plethora of free plugins that can improve your site and user experience exponentially. Ultimately, that's a positive. But there are also risks involved in using WordPress as a CMS.
An open community with a multitude of free plugins also increases the number of potential vulnerabilities a site may face. For example, during the first quarter of 2021 alone, the WPScan team detected multiple WordPress security vulnerabilities in 106 WordPress plugins.
These plugins varied in type. They included:
- Contact forms
- Data backups
- Ecommerce and payment tools
- Theme editors
- And many more
That means that any number of WordPress plugins you install on your site could potentially make your site vulnerable. But exactly what is a security vulnerability, and how does it make your site weaker?
What is a security vulnerability?
Whether you have a single device or a network, your hardware and software operate on an information system. Those systems have security requirements and procedures in place that block malicious actors from interfering. A security vulnerability is any kind of weakness within your system that provides an opening for those malicious actors. There is a multitude of ways in which those threats can become major problems. But the vulnerability itself is what makes that possible.
Security vulnerabilities can have a variety of sources. Perhaps they come in the form of faulty infrastructure - poorly written code that provides the smallest of openings for hackers to infiltrate. Or they could come from a newly developed virus or malware that your site has yet to be protected from.
A security vulnerability can be exploited by a malicious actor who installed it. Or it can cause the user to unwittingly expose the vulnerability themselves. There's no telling how a security vulnerability can be exposed - and seemingly no limit to the damage that can be done once it has been.
What damage can WordPress security vulnerabilities do?
If you've ever suffered a cyber attack, you know firsthand exactly how damaging it can be. In the case of a WordPress plugin, a plugin with a vulnerability can allow your website to be taken advantage of. So what kind of damage can that do? Here are a few hypothetical examples:
- Your site's data may be compromised. A malicious actor could gain access to your site's code, altering it so that your site is unable to be updated or significantly impacted.
- If you have customer data stored on your site, a vulnerability can lead to someone else accessing that data. In the case of personally identifiable information, this can be a severe breach of your customers' security.
- You may have your customers' credit card information stored as well. If a cyberattack exposes a vulnerability, it can lead to this information being taken by hackers online. They then use the information to make fraudulent purchases.
- Cyberattacks and data breaches can lead to a loss of consumer trust even if your customers' information isn't directly stolen. The mere thought of an attack can lead to your users not feeling comfortable using your site.
WordPress plugins can provide you with valuable features that make your site more user-friendly and convenient. That's why installing plugins with inherent vulnerabilities can be so damaging: you need these plugins to make your site function more effectively, but you run the risk of compromising your security. So what's the solution?
How to protect your website from WordPress security vulnerabilities
Safeguarding your systems against WordPress security vulnerabilities may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. There are actually multiple measures you can take to make your WordPress site much more secure, no matter what kind of plugins you install.
The first step should be to use tools that both protect your system from malware and detect its presence. Installing protection software can lead to better prevention. Of course, if your site does become overrun by malware, detection becomes critical. In the unfortunate event that a corruption does occur, you'll want to at least know where the malware is so you can pinpoint the problem. With the right tool in place, you can perform regular scans to find it.
Another step to take is to make periodic updates to your malware protection and detection software. Ensuring you have the most up-to-date software in place ensures you won't miss any patches that account for newly discovered viruses or cyber threats.
Finally, be sure to regularly back up your files in the event that both protection and detection fail you. In the event your system becomes compromised beyond recognition, having reliable backup data enables you to pick up right where you left off. Keep in mind that you'll have to perform these backups fairly often to ensure you have all needed files backed up.
Understanding what actions to take is one thing. But actually possessing the fundamental knowledge needed to implement these steps is another one altogether. By partnering with an effective, trusted platform, you can help your site maintain optimal security. That's why you should use Quttera's malware protection and scanning tools to keep your sites malware-free. Quttera's comprehensive and thorough malware prevention and detection services will help you play both offense and defense when it comes to your site's security. The ThreatSign! web application firewall provides your website with both external and server-side monitoring.
If you want to find out how to take your WordPress site's security to the next level, sign up for ThreatSign! today.