“This site is hacked by ****,” you certainly don’t want to see this type of messages in the front page of your website. No site owner want to get their site hacked. Still, thousands of WordPress websites get hacked every month and the number is increasing gradually. As the most popular platform for making websites, WordPress is a very attractive target for the hackers. There are some major scenarios which are used by these hackers. Along with discussing about them, we will discuss about the ways of preventing them too.
Managing Brute-Force Login Attempts
Most hackers use automated scripts for finding out the log in pages of various WordPress websites. Once they find the pages, they try to submit random usernames and different passwords continuously to find out a potential combination which could be used to enter into the website. Lots of WordPress-powered sites were hacked recently because all of them used ‘admin’ as one of their administrator accounts. When hackers confirmed the fact that those sites have an administrator account with the name of ‘admin,’ they used random variations of passwords to gain access into the dashboard of the site.
An administrator account that includes any common word which is found in the dictionaries is considered vulnerable. If your setup has any admin accounts with ‘admin’ or any other easily identifiable usernames, delete the accounts at once and set up new accounts for them with unpredictable usernames. Use long usernames and passwords and include special characters, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters in your passwords. You can also move the login panel to a custom URL. Other popular methods of preventing these would be to limit the number of login attempts and condemning IP addresses that perform too many unsuccessful login attempts.
Using Default Prefix in WordPress
The database of your website includes lots of tables. If you have left the default settings, then these tables probably have the default prefix of ‘wp-.’ Being a common information, hackers know it too. When they can guess the default prefix for the tables, they will try to exploit the vulnerability. Therefore, you should be careful about this while installing WordPress for the first time. It is recommended to use a hardly predictable word as the prefix. If you have installed WordPress with the default settings, then you can change the prefix either from the database interface or by installing security plugins. Smart hackers may still be able to find out the table prefix, but changing the default value will keep automated scripts at bay.
SQL Injection Issue
SQL injections occur when hackers try to force commands by embedding them into URLs. These actions can lead to changes in the database or extort valuable information from the database. This information could be used to find out further vulnerabilities of the website. URL hacks could also perform PHP actions which may lead to installing malware and reveal other weak points of the site. Your best bet to defeat this is to change the .htaccess file. This file defines the settings of the hosting environment. With this file, it is possible to prevent most of the common URL hacks and SQL injections.
Getting Access to the Important Files
WordPress sites have some very important files. If a hacker can get access to these files, they can modify or change the files and bring unexpected results to the website. You can change the .htaccess file for denying access to these pages. Some important files like the readme.html, wp-config.php, license.txt, error_log, install.php etc. should be kept well-protected.
Keeping WordPress, Themes and Plugins Updated
You should update the core WordPress along with all the installed themes and plugins whenever a new version of them is available. If you don’t update them, chances are hackers will try to take advantage of the loopholes. As the new versions boldly declare the new updates, the security flaws of the old versions become evident. Therefore, websites using the old themes, plugins or the WordPress itself become easy to exploit.
Deny Access to Search Engines
Another way hackers can exploit your website is to find the admin page and other necessary details from the search engines. Therefore, it is necessary to suggest the search engines that the admin area and the WordPress folder of your installation should not be included in the search results. Preventing the search engines from indexing these details is easier than it sounds. You just have to add some code into a robots file and then upload it into the root directory.
Other than these, you should also be careful about downloading unofficial themes and plugins from torrents, forums or other unverified sources. These files could contain malicious files and could hamper the security of your website. Last but not the least, it is not possible to provide hundred percent guarantee that your website could be saved from attackers by following these steps. Nonetheless, it is wise to follow them and to ensure that your website could not be hacked within hours.
If all this is a little bit too over whelming, you can get a professional WordPress web hosting company that will manage, prevent and fix your hacked website.