Top 7 WordPress Security Threats and How to Fix Them

By Ben Eaton
Updated on August 24, 2023
Top 7 WordPress Security Threats and How to Fix Them

As a content delivery network (CDN) provider, we understand the importance of website security. One of the most popular content management systems (CMS) out there is WordPress, and unfortunately, it is also one of the most targeted platforms for cyber attacks. In this blog, we will be discussing the different security threats that WordPress websites face and how to fix them.

WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) on the Internet today. There are around 810 million sites running on WordPress, and around half of those are hosted on the free site. The rest are hosted on private servers.

There is a reason so many CMS-based sites use WP. WordPress is a smart and intuitive platform that nearly anyone can learn to use. There are numerous plugins and themes available to help website owners customize the look and features of a site. Plus, those who understand coding can easily customize their sites even further.

However, WP is also susceptible to a few security threats. Hackers love to go in through the backdoor of your WP site and attempt to set up residence there. Fortunately, if you are aware of the most common security threats, then you can easily fix them and prevent hackers from taking over your site.

Below are the top 7 WordPress security threats and how to fix them.

1. Password hacking

You've probably noticed that most sites requiring a password now require you to create a strong password with capitals, lower case, numbers and special characters. The more complicated you can make the password (but still remember what it is), the less chance hackers have of breaking into your site.

Understand that hackers often use bots and can try dozens of passwords in seconds. If your password is easy to crack, you can be certain they can and will crack your password. Creating a strong password includes tips such as:

  • Not using the same password for everything
  • Making the password at least 12 characters long
  • Making sure all your devices used to sign in are secure (two-factor authentication helps)

2. SQL injections

Because WordPress runs on a database, it also uses PHP server side scripts. While this works well to deliver content quickly and create a WYSIWYG environment, it also makes your WP site open to URL insertions.

SQL injection attacks occur when an attacker inserts malicious SQL code into a website's database. The malicious code can be used to access sensitive information or even take control of the website. SQL injection attacks can occur when websites use outdated software, poorly written code, or if user input is not validated properly.

A few methods to help prevent SQL injections include:

  • Update to the latest version of WordPress. Any versions below the most current may be vulnerable to SQL injections.
  • Use a site such as WordPress Security Scan to find vulnerabilities in your site and then fix them. The basic scan is free and will identify common errors, but you can also upgrade to a premium scan to check for lesser-known vulnerabilities.
  • Update to the latest version of PHP that your web hosting server allows. The more up to date the PHP, the less vulnerable your WordPress site will be to hacking.
  • Update plugins. Many vulnerabilities are found in plugins and themes, so make sure you update to the latest version. Also, pay attention to the last time the creator updated the plugin or theme. If they no longer offer updates, switch to a different plugin that does.

3. Database attacks

Because MySQL is the most common database used, it is also a target for hackers. When you use your server's one-click or easy install features, the default database prefix is wp_. Using this prefix means that the hacker knows the prefix of your database.

If you are just setting up your WP site, it is simply a matter of changing the database prefix. However, if you already have an established WP site, you'll need to go in and make some changes to use a different prefix. You can change the prefix to your database fairly easily, though, by following these steps.

  • Backup your database in case there is an issue when making changes. This allows you to easily restore the site if there is an error.
  • Go to your root directory for your WordPress installation (you can use PHP or some servers allow access to files via the control panel) and open the wp-config.php file. Look for a line that reads: $table_prefix = 'wp_';
  • Replace wp_ with wp_78398 (Use numbers of your choice and make them random. You can also use letters). Save and close the file.
  • Open your database through phpMyAdmin or similar program. If your server uses cPanel, then look for the phpMyAdmin button.
  • Click on the tab that says SQL and use the following query (see below). You also can simply change each prefix manually, but if you have a lot of tables this is time-consuming. Note that you need to change 78398 to the numbers or letters or combination of that you personally used.
RENAME table `wp_commentmeta` TO `wp_78398_commentmeta`;
RENAME table `wp_comments` TO `wp_78398_comments`;
RENAME table `wp_links` TO `wp_78398_links`;
RENAME table `wp_options` TO `wp_78398_options`;
RENAME table `wp_postmeta` TO `wp_78398_postmeta`;
RENAME table `wp_posts` TO `wp_78398_posts`;
RENAME table `wp_terms` TO `wp_78398_terms`;
RENAME table `wp_termmeta` TO `wp_78398_termmeta`;
RENAME table `wp_term_relationships` TO `wp_78398_term_relationships`;
RENAME table `wp_term_taxonomy` TO `wp_78398_term_taxonomy`;
RENAME table `wp_usermeta` TO `wp_78398_usermeta`;
RENAME table `wp_users` TO `wp_78398_users`;

You now need to fix any options. Use this query and fix any lines that pop up by changing to the new prefix you've chosen:

SELECT * FROM `wp_78398_options` WHERE `option_name` LIKE '%wp_%'

Finally, search usermeta for wp_ prefixes. Use this query:

SELECT * FROM `wp_78398_usermeta` WHERE `meta_key` LIKE '%wp_%'

Remember that you need to plug in what numbers or letters you chose in place of 78398.

Save the changes and check to make sure everything is working. You should create a second backup of the site with the new prefixes in place, but don't discard the original in case something breaks. It's always a good idea to keep a backup anytime you make any type of major change to your site.

4. Brute force attacks

A brute force attack is when an attacker uses automated tools to try to guess the correct username and password combination to gain access to a website. Hackers use dictionaries of commonly used passwords or try every possible combination of characters until they get the right one. Brute force attacks can cause a website to crash, allow attackers to steal sensitive information, or even take control of the website.

Fortunately, this is a pretty easy security threat to stop.

  • Install the plugin Limit Login Attempts Reloaded. This plugin not only stops someone from a brute force attack, which can also slow down your website and eat up bandwidth, but it will completely lock an IP out of your site for attempting too many passwords in a short amount of time.
  • Install a security plugin. Many of today's security plugins come with a firewall that blocks anyone attempting suspicious activity on your site. One good one is All in One WordPress Security and another is Wordfence. However, there are a number of options, so choose the one that works best for you and is affordable.
  • There are some more advanced tactics you can use, such as .htaccess password protection, but start with the plugins and if that doesn't stop the attacks you can get more in-depth with your protection levels. You can also change the default admin name to better protect your site.
  • You can also change your username using the tutorial at Hostinger.

5. Hijacking an open user

If multiple people work on your site, there is a security risk for each one. If the person logs in and then walks away from their computer, it is vulnerable to anyone in the vicinity. This could be a problem in a shared workspace, for example. If that person's computer gets hijacked, your site could be vulnerable as well.

  • Install the Inactive Logout plugin.
  • Choose the settings that make sense for your site. You can set the length of time the person is inactive before you log them out and even the message they receive when being logged out.

6. Cross-site scripting (XSS)

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks occur when an attacker injects malicious code into a website, which is then executed in a user's browser. The malicious code can be used to steal sensitive information or take control of the website. XSS attacks can occur when websites use outdated software, poorly written code, or if user input is not validated properly.

To fix this issue, you should always use the latest version of WordPress and all plugins, and ensure that all code used on the website is properly written and validated. Additionally, you can use plugins like Anti-Malware Security and Brute-Force Firewall to scan your website for any vulnerabilities.

7. DDoS Attacks

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is when an attacker floods a website with traffic, causing it to crash or become unavailable. DDoS attacks can be carried out by using a network of infected computers, also known as a botnet. These botnets can be used to overwhelm a website with traffic, making it inaccessible to users.

You can protect yourself from this type of attack by using CDN services like ours to mitigate DDoS attacks. We have a global network of servers that can absorb and distribute traffic, ensuring that your website remains online even during an attack. Additionally, website owners can use plugins like Wordfence Security to block malicious traffic and reduce the risk of DDoS attacks.

Keeping your site secure

Now that we have discussed the most common security threats to WordPress websites let's highlight the most important measures on how to fix them.

Keep your WordPress website up to date

Currently, almost 61% of WordPress users use the latest version. The statistics also show, for example, that over 3% (this corresponds to about 26,730,000 users!) use a version that has been outdated for about five years.

As we mentioned earlier, one of the most common reasons for WordPress websites to be hacked is the use of outdated software.

To prevent this, it is essential to keep your WordPress website and all plugins up to date. WordPress updates often contain security patches, and plugin updates often fix security vulnerabilities. By keeping everything up to date, you reduce the risk of your website being hacked.

Use strong passwords

Using strong passwords is essential to protect your WordPress website from brute force attacks. Strong passwords should be at least 12 characters long, and should include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using easy-to-guess passwords like "password" or "123456". You can use password managers like LastPass or Dashlane to generate and store strong passwords.

Install security plugins

There are many security plugins available for WordPress that can help you protect your website from various types of attacks. Some of the most popular security plugins include Wordfence Security, iThemes Security, Sucuri Security, and Anti-Malware Security and Brute-Force Firewall. These plugins can scan your website for malware, block malicious traffic, and enforce strong passwords.

Use a content delivery network (CDN)

Using a CDN can help protect your WordPress website from DDoS attacks. The global network of servers can absorb and distribute traffic, ensuring that your website remains online even during an attack. Additionally, using a CDN can improve your website's performance, as it caches content and serves it from a server closer to the user.

Backup your website regularly

Backing up your website regularly is essential in case of a security breach or other catastrophic event. If your website is hacked, you can restore it from a backup to minimize downtime. Most hosting providers offer backup services, but you can also use plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy to back up your website to a cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox.


WordPress websites are vulnerable to various types of security threats, including brute force attacks, SQL injection attacks, Hijacking, XSS attacks, Database attacks, and DDoS attacks. To protect your WordPress website, you should keep everything up to date, use strong passwords, install security plugins, use a CDN, and backup your website regularly.

By following these best practices, you can reduce the risk of your website being hacked and ensure that your users' data remains secure. As a CDN provider, we are committed to helping you protect your website and provide a fast, secure, and reliable user experience.

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