Your WordPress website is going to have lots of enemies, both known and unknown who are going to try and exploit the vulnerabilities of WordPress, to get at the sensitive data. One of its biggest advantages, its extensibility, makes it more vulnerable.
As a developer, if you are unaware of these weaknesses, the results can be devastating to say the least. You will need to plug the gaps and tide over the loopholes to ensure that your WordPress site is as secure as Fort Knox. Having said that, I believe the only way you can make sure that your site is secure, is by knowing the reasons behind these WordPress vulnerabilities.
Let’s take a look at them:
Using Outdated Versions of WordPress
Every new WordPress version has its own security issues, if it’s outdated. There are certain core vulnerabilities that are a part and parcel of every new version, but security patches are rolled out pretty quickly; the idea is to keep the installation updated. Now, you might think this is the logical thing to do, but WordPress users loathe updating their system. Sometimes, they go for the core WordPress installation, but don’t install the updated themes, plugins etc. The whole point of installing an updated version is that each new version comes with its own set of bug fixes, security patches and with lesser vulnerabilities. What’s more, new versions allow developers to tackle the newer challenges of developing for the web, which in turn helps make their websites more secure.
Problems with Plugins and Themes
One of the common reasons why the use of WordPress keeps gaining traction is the number of available plugins. But, this is something else that makes WordPress vulnerable. There is very little, if any quality control on the plugins available. Now, you can either get your plugins from the WordPress repository or you can just use Google to search free/paid WordPress plugins/themes. The problem remains the same – you don’t really know whether a plugin that you have chosen is a quality plugin or not.
The trick is to ask around the WordPress community to zero in on the less vulnerable of the plugins/themes. There are plenty of forums that you could join and get an idea about the same. Over time, you will be able to identify those websites that usually offer plugins and themes with very few security loopholes.
Popularity makes it Vulnerable
WordPress is a playground for hackers. With millions of websites built on this platform, a hacker just has to get into one site, and he will be able to find his way into most of the million websites out there (that is if he wants to do that).
Let me go back to the fact that you will need to install the latest version of WordPress and build sites with it. That’s because newer versions make it a little more difficult for hackers to get into the website; another thing, why would they bother with such websites when there are websites that are built on older, less secure versions.
Lack of Web Knowledge
WordPress is pretty simple to use and a newbie might believe that he’s become an expert at it, even if he’s got just one site to back that claim. But, the problem here is that, like any web development platform, even WordPress has its own twists and turns and these can only be managed after getting some experience under the belt. Also, there are plenty of developers who lack basic web development skills, but start building WordPress websites, just because it’s relatively simple to do so. This means they are unaware of the various security issues in this software and are clueless about managing them.
A Temptation to Cut Corners
A surprising tendency in some WordPress developers is to cut corners while designing a site using WordPress. This is surprising because as such WordPress is a cost effective alternative to proprietary platforms, so why cut corners.
This usually happens when converting PSD designs to WordPress. The idea is to design the WordPress site at bottom-of-the-barrel rates. This is where the mistakes happen, as the wrong choices are made in terms of plugins and themes.
WordPress for all its ease of use must be treated with respect and not be taken for granted. You must first know everything there is to know about WordPress before you get started on it, otherwise you will burn your fingers. To get a website up and running on WordPress is simplicity itself, but to ensure that this website has very few if any vulnerabilities is a difficult task. You mustn’t take this platform for granted, and put in every ounce of effort in developing WordPress sites that you would have otherwise put while developing websites on some other platform.
Another thing, you will only acquire knowledge if you put in place a continuous system of learning. Trust your own skill sets, but also trust the knowledge of other expert developers. Connect with them, talk with them, know how they think and try getting as much of an understanding of WordPress as you can. This will help you design a website that gags these vulnerabilities.