As a business, one of your chief goals (beyond growing your business) is to keep your website secure and your customer data safe. However, security breaches do happen and not every platform or CMS is entirely bulletproof.
Some of the recent WordPress vulnerability issues remind us of the constant need to keep our sites updated and secure while having a plan just in case the unfortunate data breach does occur. For the sake of focus, we’re going to dive into some of the most common WordPress security risks, and why hiring a developer who understands these risks is crucial to your website’s success.
Common WooCommerce Security Flaws You Can Prevent
Photo via: Sai Kiran Anagani
A recent analysis by Enable Security found that out of the 42,106 WordPress sites that were within the top 1 million Alexa ranked websites, 73.2% of these were at risk for an attack.
Below we highlight some of the main things that can lead to a security breach on your WordPress site, and show you how you can minimize these unfortunates events from occurring in the first place.
1. Failing to Upgrade CMS, Themes, and Plugins
The WordPress core is updated on a regular basis to help protect against newly discovered security flaws. The associated themes and plugins also need to be updated on a regular basis. Failing to update your WordPress site on a regular basis will simply “leave the door open” for potential security issues.
Once the security flaws are known, there’s no reason you shouldn’t update your site to the most secure level of software available. Sadly, most programs and content management systems are actually a step behind hackers. It’ll only become patched after a security flaw is noticed.
If you’re afraid of your plugins breaking when you update the WordPress core, then you should give a second thought to the plugins you’re installing. Make sure when you’re adding additional features to your site via plugins, you’re only installing those that get updated regularly and have a dedicated support team.
Also, if you have any older themes or plugins that you no longer use, make sure that you deactivate and delete them. Having them exist on your site without being updated is asking for a security breach. However, no plugin or theme is bulletproof. Even one of the most popular plugins, SEO by Yoast, was exposed as having a major security flaw, which has now been fixed.
Having a regular maintenance schedule will ensure your site is updated as soon as the latest patches, plugins, and theme updates become available.
2. Unauthorized Data Access Through Brute Force Attacks
One of the most common ways for a hacker to force their way into your site is through a brute force attack. This is done through repeated tries at guessing your username and password. Often, these passwords are weak and can be “guessed” after a number of tries.
Once the hacker has access to your dashboard they can effectively do whatever they wish.
To limit the chances of your password being compromised you should make sure your password is very strong. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase, numbers, and other special characters. It can also be useful to change your password once a month. This goes for every user on your site who has admin access.
To further limit the chances of a brute force attack install a plugin like WP Limit Login Attempts, which cuts off access to your site after a certain number of failed password attempts have been reached.
3. WordPress Injection Hacks
Common WordPress injection hacks take advantage of the databases within WordPress. A lot of these filenames are easy enough to guess (if you’re using basic file names), which then gives the hacker full access to your website database.
Injection hacks are considered particularly critical, because they expose confidential data that could be stored in your databases, such as user information, email addresses, and location information. This information can usually only be accessed by those who are given the proper admin login details and have been given sufficient security access.
Cleaning up and maintaining your database will make it easier to find any potential security holes and will have the beneficial side effect of increasing your site’s performance. A plugin like WP-Optimize will help to clean up your existing database and allow you to rename certain files.
In order to improve your WordPress database security, you could install a plugin like Bulletproof Security, which will allow you to change the name of your database and utilize additional database protection measures.
4. Viruses and Malware
Just like your computer is susceptible to viruses and malware, so is your website; especially if it isn’t properly protected. Sometimes malware is embedded into low-quality plugins and themes or can occur when you obtain plugins and themes from sources that haven’t been properly vetted.
For this reason, you should only use themes and plugins that have been tested and approved via a trusted third-party. You can usually tell the quality of a theme from the total number of downloads and reviews. Or, check out the themes and plugins that have been recommended by WordPress.
Why Hire a Developer Who’s Fluent in Security Protocols?
Photo via: Luis Llerena
Unfortunately, website and web application security is a serious threat, but it happens to be one that a lot of developers neglect. Failure to code an app or website that actually protects the data it collects can result in your information landing in the wrong hands. This not only compromises customer trust but also makes your company vulnerable.
There’s no point in launching an app or website if you’re going to have to constantly hire out for help in fixing your site after it’s broken. Take the time to find the proper developer, so you don’t waste time and money trying to defend against security risks yourself.
Beyond initial website security measures, if a data breach does happen, you need a protocol for assessing the level of the threat and having a plan to notify all of the affected parties. Part of maintaining good customer and client relationships following an attack depends on how you notify them about what happened to their data.
Get in touch with the necessary parties as soon as possible and inform them about that plan you have in effect to minimize the potential damages of the data loss.
Website security shouldn’t be something that’s done after the fact. It needs to be a part of the initial development process, both with your initial codebase, theme selection, maintenance, and future development.
Any WooCommerce security tips we missed? Please share how you keep your site secure in the comments below.