As we have previously discussed, securing your WordPress website is critical for your business. Protecting your website from hacks, spam, and malware gives you and your customers the confidence to communicate and conduct transactions online. A secure website improves your authority for search engines like Google, meaning your site’s ranking in search results will improve, resulting in more visitors, and more opportunities to win new business.
You must understand who is behind website attacks, why they want to attack, and how to protect your website.
Who is attacking your WordPress website?
There are three types of attackers who are responsible for nearly all website hacks.
- Humans: a person or group of people manually attempting to gain access to a website.
- Bots: a single program or script that a hacker is using to attack many sites in an automated way.
- Botnets: a group of machines running programs that are coordinated from a central command and control server (C&C server) that are attacking many sites in an automated way.
Human attackers are the rarest type because the lack of automation increases the amount of labour required to gain access. As such, human attackers tend to target high-value websites (i.e., those handling confidential or intrinsically valuable data) over simple websites to improve their return on investment. For the hacker, the major benefit of a manual approach is the ability to evade intrusion detection systems that can more easily detect bot activity.
Bots and botnets target millions of websites, seeking vulnerabilities in software like WordPress. Bots automatically check for known security exploits and then attack the vulnerable websites. Most attacks on WordPress websites are performed by bots. As noted above, bots are easier to detect than humans, but they can attack much quicker and seize on even the smallest security flaw.
Why are they attacking your WordPress website?
The goal of an attacker is to gain control of your WordPress website at an administrative level. They want access to all files and data associated with your website, the ability to modify files and databases, and ultimately change the way your website operates to the following ends:
- Theft: By accessing your website’s data, hackers can uncover personal information about your staff and customers that can be sold, used for identity theft, or held as ransom.
- Spam: Hackers can use your website as a tool to send spam email. As your website is not known as a sender of spam, hackers use it to send messages that will not be blocked by email filters. Of course, your website will eventually be categorized as a sender of spam, which can destroy your domain’s reputation and require that you find a new website address and email addresses for your company.
- Hosting Malicious Content: As with the spam attacks, hackers use your website’s good reputation to host content like pornography and facilitate the sale of illegal materials.
- Launch Attacks: Hackers can commandeer your website and make it a part of their botnet to perpetrate new attacks on other websites.
How can security plug-ins add protection to your WordPress website?
If your website is built using WordPress, security plug-ins are integral to building a secure site. A WordPress security plug-in such as WordFence will allow your cybersecurity team and web hosting company to block incoming threats, prevent bots from spamming your contact forms and comments sections, and provide a dashboard where they can monitor all the activity and alerts for your website.
WordFence can provide firewall protection, malware scanning, brute force attack protection, IP blocking, and WordPress login security features like strong password enforcement and two-factor authentication. Like all WordPress plug-ins, security updates to the plug-in must be applied, and alerts must be monitored so that you can take meaningful action.
At NeuStyle, we deploy WordFence on the WordPress websites we develop, host, and maintain. Our mission is to keep client websites secure so that they can enjoy the benefits that the internet can deliver. Augmenting and enhancing your website’s security through DDoS protection, private cloud hosting, and improving cybersecurity habits. Working with a cybersecurity partner who can implement and manage your website security strategy is the best option for small to mid-sized businesses.