Is WordPress secure: Worried about your WordPress site’s security? You are not alone. WordPress is the world’s preferred website building platform, and it’s targeted by hackers more than any other CMS. Case in point, back in 2017, a WordPress security vulnerability enabled hackers to deface more than 1.5 million pages. In early 2018, with the rise of Meltdown and Spectre attacks, nearly all computer chips manufactured in the last 20 years are vulnerable.
News of WordPress sites being compromised has become common. The WordPress community is large and ever growing but news like that embeds fear into the hearts of website owners. It’s not surprising that many people wonder if WordPress is a safe platform. To answer this question we are writing the following blog post. The goal of this post is to discuss what measures WordPress takes with regards to website security and how its ecosystem affects its security.
Is WordPress Secure?
It’s natural to think that when a service is popular, is it safe. Is WordPress secure? But WordPress security breaches in the past shows us that’s not entirely true. WordPress is secure; at the core, it is a secure platform. There’s a large workforce working day and night to keep the platform safe to use. But the security of a WP site is not dependant on the platform alone. One of the biggest reasons WordPress is the world preferred platform is that it allows the use of plugins. Today anyone can build a WordPress website as per their needs without having to resort to technical assistance.
This is because of plugins and themes that make website building easy. Ideally, website owners should keep their themes and plugins up to date. But outdated plugins and themes that you use to create a site are the one number cause behind WP sites getting hacked.
Therefore the ecosystem that makes WordPress so popular is also responsible for the compromise of sites. So is WordPress secure? Let’s try and understand this.
Security of WordPress sites is interdependent on three key factors: people, finance and time. Let’s take these factors one by one and see how they affect WordPress security.
1. People Involved in Creating and Maintaining WordPress and Its Ecosystem
People are the first line of defense of any product. They build the product and are responsible for finding ways to keep the product safe.
The WordPress Team has the onus of following the best security practices to keep the platform safe to use. They are also responsible for developing new defense mechanisms. These will help reduce the risk of a security compromise. To this end, they work tirelessly pushing out regular security updates and upgrading the technology with time. And even releasing new WordPress versions.
WordPress has a large workforce that consists of the world’s leading web developers and programmers. They have a difficult-to-crack hiring process that involves weeks spent on projects and assessments. Only after completing these can they become a part of the company. Becoming a WordPress developer is no cake-walk. But does that mean your WordPress site is secure? Is WordPress secure? Let’s look at the developers of WordPress plugins and themes.
WordPress Themes and Plugins Builders
The WordPress repository is full of themes and plugins some of which are completely free, some paid. And then there are others that come with an option to upgrade to a higher plan. While paid plugins are commonly business ventures, free ones are developed as a side project or hobby. This is why free plugins are often not as well maintained as the paid ones. Programmers developing free plugins most likely have a day job that pays their bills. They have no time to maintain their side project. Therefore many free plugins are abandoned that are left vulnerable. These vulnerable plugins act as a gateway to hackers.
Unlike popular belief, money does not guarantee security. Many websites owners tend to believe that once they pay for a service, security will automatically be taken care of. Therefore they discount their role in the maintenance of their site’s security. Security is never absolute, and also dependent on several factors discussed in this post. For instance, updating regularly (core, plugins, and themes) are significant but often overlooked by site owners. Outdated sites are most likely to become a victim of hack attacks. Also, a lot of time, after hacking a site hackers go to length to hide the fact that your site has been compromised. Unnoticed, they keep using your website resources. Therefore keeping an eye out for sudden changes in your site could save yours from a big disaster. The role of a website owner in keeping your site safe is significant and mandatory.
2. Finance Often Dictates the Quality of Security
To answer the question: is WordPress secure, we need to take finances into consideration. Majority of the time, the budget dictates the quality of the product or service. Let’s find out how finance contributes to making either WordPress stronger or vulnerable.
WordPress powers some of the biggest websites on the planet like BBC, SONY, CNN to name a few. Each year millions of dollars are invested in the growth of the platform as a business. More brilliant people are hired, and steps are taken towards expanding the user base. The financial freedom bestowed upon the company guarantees the best service to over 60 million WordPress websites.
Paid and Free WordPress Plugins and Themes
We mentioned earlier that paid themes and plugins are business ventures and are therefore often well-maintained. The funding makes it possible to build a dedicated team and buy resources to improve the product. This is why we always recommend using a paid plugin for a free one. Free WordPress plugins and themes are developed as a side project that runs its course and is abandoned. And we know that when themes and plugins are left unmaintained, they develop vulnerabilities that can end up getting a site hacked.
There are two types of WordPress hosting providers that people tend to prefer: managed hosting and shared hosting. Shared hosting environment has made it easier for people to host a site at much low cost. WordPress is a free platform that offers a range of free plugins which can help you build a website. All these tend to develop a mindset in website owner where they are reluctant to invest good money to build a good website. This mindset is a security threat. They are ready to compromise the quality and are surprised when their websites get hacked. Buying a good WordPress hosting package along with paid plugins reduces the risk of a WordPress security breach.
3. Time Dedicated to Building a Site is Significant
Like finance, time to dictates the quality of a product. And to answer the question: is WordPress secure, we need to dig into that. A website created in a hurry will skip necessary security audits than the one built with deliberation.
WordPress Security Team
WordPress was first launched over a decade ago. Since then they have managed to become the world’s best CMS. WordPress is constantly evolving to build a safer and more efficient platform. WordPress with its large workforce is dedicated to taking care of the platform 24/7. Which is why they follow a planned calendar for the release of security patches, reviews, beta releases, and other maintenance work. And these plans span for months on end. WordPress core team spends hundreds of thousands of hours trying to improve the platform. They develop new technologies and provide support to users. They have both the finance and time required to put these efforts.
WordPress Themes and Plugins
There are thousands of free or paid themes or plugins available on the market. To stay on top of the game, plugins developers often feel the pressure to add new features to their product. And this too, in the minimal time possible. As a result, the quality control process is overlooked leaving the theme or the plugin vulnerable. A plugins dazzling array of features may look attractive but of many of them can prove to be harmful to your site. Moreover, if the theme or plugin is offered for free, it’s unlikely that the WordPress developers are going to spend enough time maintaining the product. Lack of maintenance will cause the products to become vulnerable to malicious attacks. And this will compromise your site’s security.
We mentioned before that if you want affordable and quick service, you might have to compromise on the quality. Limited time and resource would force the website developer you hired to skip mandatory security analysis. Which is why one should invest reasonable time to build a WordPress site. The more times is invested in developing a site; higher are the chances of detecting existing or possibilities of a problem. Limited time could result in a bad job and a hacked site.
Over to You
We inevitably come back to the question: is WordPress secure? As you can see, there is no easy “yes” and “no” answer to this. Moreover, security is never absolute, and therefore one can never take security for granted. Keeping a WordPress site safe is a huge task, one that needs combined effort. Using a good WordPress security plugin like MalCare is the first step towards building a secure website or keeping WordPress safe. Take a look at this complete guide to WordPress security to learn further on how to secure your WordPress site.