malicious wordpress plugins

How to Mitigate the Risks Posed by Malicious WordPress Plugins

It’s no secret that WordPress plugins have been causing some problems for website owners as of late. Despite that, doing away with plugins isn’t a feasible option. So take a look at these security solutions and keep the attacks at bay.

Setting up a website has become a breeze thanks to online tools that take on the brunt of the work. Keeping it functional is just as easy, thanks to the impressive array of plugins on website creation tools like WordPress. Making sure all of that stays safe from hackers, however, has proven to be a challenge. Mainly thanks to all of those helpful plugins and their tagalong throng of security holes.

Unfortunately, these holes aren’t getting plugged as easily as people might hope – but the boat isn’t close to sinking just yet, thankfully. Most plugin creators try their best to write secure code and respond quickly to any new threats. That’s very important and a trait that website owners should look for when installing a plugin. However, it’s not enough to keep those internet baddies from finding their way in.

Now, there isn’t much people can do to change this. But they can make sure that their websites stay as secure as possible by following a few simple guidelines. Have a look at these below.

The Hackers Are Plugging In

There’s no way for plugin creators to protect against every possible form of attack. They can put restrictions and security measures in place that will protect against known threats. Entirely preventing new types of attacks is impossible, though.

On top of that is the fact that many website owners neglect to look into the security measures a plugin has in place. They assume that these plugins are safe to use because they’re available on a reputable platform like WordPress. Be that as it may, this isn’t always true.

Taking Charge in Matters Of Security

Research Before Downloading

Try to limit downloads to popular plugins from reputable WordPress partners or the official directory. These plugins aren’t infallible, as has been established. However, they’re much less likely to contain malware or allow hackers to slip through.

Reputable plugins will also receive regular updates and support the current version of WordPress.

Only Use Plugins That Are Necessary

WordPress owes its prevalence to the plugin system it uses, so there’s no reason to abstain from using any whatsoever. Using too many plugins, on the other hand, isn’t the best idea either.

Website owners should, instead, ask themselves whether they need the plugins they currently have installed. If any of these aren’t being used then they’re just a security risk and nothing more. Similarly, a plugin shouldn’t be installed if there isn’t an absolute justification for it.

Install a VPN (But Not a Free VPN, Please)

Virtual private networks are a brilliant additional layer of security that any site or blog owner should utilize. This security tool helps by encrypting any and all data, making it incomprehensible to anyone who’s trying to snoop in. This is important for overall site security and not just possible threats from plugins. A VPN (download it) also protects against man-in-the-middle attacks, for instance, that aim to steal login credentials while data is in transit.

That said, please veer away from the promise of fast and secure services from free VPNs. These are often malware themselves and those few that aren’t needed to get their payday somehow, which is often done by selling their clients’ user data.

Remove Plugins That No Longer Receive Updates

Security updates are often the only thing standing between a WordPress website owner and the hungry pack of wolves on the other side. In fact, many hackers don’t try coming up with new exploits. They look for website owners who haven’t updated their plugins for a while and profit from that. (Although the same goes for WordPress itself).

That’s why it’s important to always keep plugins up to date. Also, remove any plugins that haven’t received any updates for a while. It most likely means that these have been abandoned by the creators, making them more vulnerable.

Get a Web Application Firewall

Security updates are massively important, but can’t protect against everything. Take zero-day exploits, for instance. These are new threats that developers haven’t discovered yet and thus do not have any protection in place for.

In this case, it’s important to have a web application firewall installed. They protect a website by filtering out any malicious requests from incoming traffic. Having one of these installed will protect against the most common types of WordPress attacks. Firewall developers are usually also quick to jump on any new types of attack. So having another layer of website security never hurts.

Final Thoughts

A WordPress site owner/manager has to wear many hats. Making sure that the plugins their website has installed is one of the more important functions they have to perform. Not only to protect themselves but also to protect their business’s reputation because users who get malware from infected sites are very unlikely to return.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at 85ideas is a team of WordPress experts led by Brian Harris. Here to share amazing tuts, guides and collections.

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