WooCommerce Security Issues: A Complete Guide

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WooCommerce security is important for every store…even the small ones. 

Hackers have evolved to find different ways to exploit different types of websites for their own gain. Thankfully, website security has kept up and we have the tools to fight back. 

We’ve waded through the security tips and made a list of the most effective ones. This article will help you understand how to best secure your WooCommerce store. 

TL;DR: Securing your WooCommerce site involves essentials like malware scanning, firewall protection, and automated real-time backups. MalCare handles all of this for you, simplifying security and saving you time.

WooCommerce is a top choice for businesses of all sizes, powering over 25% of online stores globally. But with its convenience and popularity comes the need for strong cybersecurity. As online shopping grows, so do the cyber threats targeting WooCommerce stores. This article covers essential WooCommerce security tips and practical steps to protect your business. 

Let’s start with the security measures you can take to protect your WooCommerce site.

Install a security plugin

A comprehensive security plugin is your first line of defense. You need a tool that can do three essential things – scan for malware, clean the malware it finds and protect from any future attacks with a firewall. MalCare offers an all-in-one solution that includes all three. 

For starters, the malware scanner is intelligent and can find zero day malware. It is constantly learning from the sites that it protects. If you’re installing MalCare for the first time, it will scan for the malware automatically. 

Next, it offers a one-click malware cleaner.  So, if the malware scanner finds anything, you can upgrade to one of the paid subscription plans to clean it in mere minutes.

A security plugin is also only as good as its firewall. Firewalls are the most effective proactive way to find and block malware before it reaches your site. MalCare’s firewall is specifically designed for WordPress and can also block zero day malware. It can also help with bot protection and geoblocking to stop all types of attacks.

Install a secure form plugin

Secure WooCommerce forms can protect you from a variety of threats. Forms like registration, login, and checkout forms, are critical touchpoints for customers. This makes them a prime target for malicious activities. Personal details like names, addresses, phone numbers, and payment information can be harvested by hackers if your forms are not adequately secured. More often than not, they use bots to brute force your forms or insert malicious code to hack the data, 

We recommend that you use WPForms or Fluent Forms to do just that. They offer features like reCAPTCHA to protect against bots. They also have intelligent data validation to ensure that the data being inputted is correct. 

Maintain login security

Implementing strong login security measures is crucial. Much like a checkout form or contact form, the login form is also vulnerable. Most people use bad passwords and hackers are able to use bots to find out those credentials. 

The most effective way to stop an attack is to lock out the bots after a few failed attempts. MalCare’s limit logins feature can block bots after a handful of failed attempts. But, legitimate users that have just forgotten their passwords can just solve a reCAPTCHA to regain access. 

On that note, a reCAPTCHA is a puzzle that is designed to stop bots. It’s not fool proof but it very helpful. Like we mentioned earlier, some form plugins help you insert a reCAPTCHA to a form. 

Other options are to enable two factor authentication (2FA). It is very easy to setup because there are 2FA plugins that can help you do so. They require you to use an additional form of authentication before you can login, apart from the password. 

Keep everything updated 

Keeping your WooCommerce site updated is essential for several reasons. First and foremost, updates often include security patches that protect your site from vulnerabilities and potential attacks. Regularly updating WooCommerce, along with its themes and plugins, ensures that your store remains secure against the latest threats.

Updates also bring performance improvements, making your site faster and more efficient. Enhanced performance leads to a better user experience, which can increase customer satisfaction and boost sales. Moreover, updates often introduce new features and functionalities that can help you manage your store more effectively and stay competitive in the market.

However, it is a little risky. Incompatibilities or bugs can reduce your store’s functionality. This is why we recommend you do your research and use tools like UpdateLens that can help you identify if an update is safe or not. 

Use secure hosting

SSL certificates are essential for encrypting data transmitted between a user’s browser and a web server. It ensures that sensitive information, such as personal details, credit card numbers, and login credentials, remains confidential and protected from potential cyber threats. An SSL certificate also validates the authenticity of a website, indicating to users that they are interacting with a legitimate entity and not a malicious imposter. The presence of an SSL certificate is often visually indicated by a padlock icon and the “https://” prefix in the browser’s address bar. This visual reassurance builds trust and confidence.

A good web host will be able to provide SSL ceritificate without you having to go through much trouble. 

Schedule regular backups

Regular backups are essential for data recovery in case of a cyber attack, especially with a WooCommerce store. Products, inventory, order details and much more changes rapidly on an online store. It is therefore critical to back up each change as it happens with real-time backups. 

MalCare provides automated backups, giving you peace of mind knowing your data is always safe and can be quickly restored. They store the backups offsite as well, safely and without loading your servers. Backups are also taken in increments so that your server resources aren’t depleted. 

Disable file editing in the WordPress dashboard

Preventing unauthorized changes to your website is crucial for maintaining its integrity and security. By default, WordPress allows administrators to edit theme and plugin files directly from the dashboard. This feature is found under the “Appearance” and “Plugins” sections, respectively. While convenient, it poses a security risk if unauthorized users gain access to the admin area, as they could potentially modify or inject malicious code into the site’s files. Therefore, disabling file editing manually or through security plugins is a recommended practice to enhance your website’s security.

For MalCare customers, this feature can be easily managed from the MalCare dashboard. Alternatively, for those who have a bit of technical know-how, this security measure can be implemented by adding the line `define(‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true);` to your wp-config.php file. This simple, yet powerful line of code will disable the file editor in WordPress, thereby reducing the risk of malicious modifications to your site’s files.

Regularly audit and remove unused plugins and themes

nused plugins and themes that linger on your site serve as potential backdoors for malicious actors. Each plugin and theme represents additional code that can harbor vulnerabilities, especially if they are outdated or no longer supported by their developers. Cyber attackers frequently exploit such vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to websites, steal data, inject malicious scripts, or even commandeer the entire site. By regularly auditing your site’s plugins and themes, you can identify and mitigate these risks before they become serious threats.

For those who use comprehensive security services like MalCare, the task becomes considerably easier. MalCare performs regular scans of your site and can identify inactive or redundant components. These scans provide prompts and recommendations, making it simple for you to recognize what needs to be cleaned up. By leveraging such tools, you automate a crucial aspect of site maintenance and keep your WordPress environment lean and secure.

Enable activity monitoring and logging

Activity monitoring involves keeping a detailed log of all user actions, including login attempts, content modifications, plugin installations, theme changes, and other critical operations. By maintaining a comprehensive record of these activities, you can quickly identify unusual patterns or unauthorized actions that could indicate a security breach. This real-time surveillance is invaluable for maintaining the integrity and security of your website.

MalCare, a robust security solution, offers an advanced activity log feature designed to provide detailed records of all actions performed on your site. This includes who made the changes, what specific changes were made, and when these actions occurred. The meticulous logs generated by MalCare help you trace any suspicious activities back to their origins, enabling you to address security issues before they escalate into major problems.

MalCare activity log

Install anti-spam plugins

Spam is a pervasive issue that affects nearly every website at some point. An excessive amount of spam can place undue stress on your website’s resources, slowing down performance and increasing load times. This can adversely affect the user experience and even hurt your search engine rankings. Anti-spam plugins work to keep spam at bay, ensuring your site remains fast and efficient. Manually sorting through and deleting spam can be a tedious and time-consuming task, diverting your attention from more critical aspects of site management and content creation. 

Anti-spam plugins automate this process, saving you valuable time and resources. This allows you to focus on creating meaningful content and engaging with your audience rather than getting bogged down by spam-related issues. They not only enhance user experience and maintain your site’s professional image, but they also provide crucial security benefits and help optimize overall performance. Whether you’re running a blog, an e-commerce site, or a corporate website, investing in a reliable anti-spam solution is a prudent and necessary measure for long-term success.

Educate users and admins on security best practices

Ensuring that everyone with access to your site is aware of security best practices is a fundamental aspect of maintaining a secure online presence. It’s not enough to implement robust technical solutions; the human element must also be addressed. Conducting regular training sessions is an effective way to achieve this. These sessions should cover essential topics such as recognizing phishing attempts, using strong and unique passwords, and understanding the importance of two-factor authentication. By educating your team on these and other security measures, you significantly reduce the risk of accidental breaches caused by human error.

Building a security-conscious culture goes beyond mere awareness. Encouraging open communication about security concerns and incidents can lead to quicker identification and resolution of potential issues. When everyone feels responsible for security, the entire team works together to protect the site more effectively. This collective effort is invaluable for maintaining a secure, reliable, and trustworthy online presence. By investing in both education and resources, you create a resilient defense mechanism that significantly enhances your site’s security.

Potential WooCommerce security issues

When running a WooCommerce store, you must be aware of various security risks that could threaten your online business. Recognizing these vulnerabilities will help you take proactive measures to avoid potential damage. Here are some common WooCommerce security issues you should watch out for:

  • Malware on your WooCommerce site: Attacks such as credit card skimming are caused by malicious code that has been injected into your site. Malicious scripts can infiltrate your website, stealing sensitive information like credit card details. 
  • Out-of-date plugins and themes: Keeping your plugins and themes up to date is crucial for security. Outdated software may have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Regular updates often include patches and fixes to known security issues. Security plugins like MalCare are also constantly reporting on what vulnerabilities are cropping up. We recommend that you regularly review forums and blogs for such information. 
  • Weak login security: Weak passwords and inadequate authentication practices make it easier for hackers to gain access to your site. Utilize strong, complex passwords and consider implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) to enhance login security.
  • Brute force attacks: Brute force attacks involve hackers trying numerous username and password combinations to gain access to your site. It can also include attacks like card testing where bots are used to test which stolen cards are still valid. 
  • Insecure checkout form: An insecure checkout process can expose sensitive customer information like credit card details. Always use encrypted connections (HTTPS) and secure payment gateways to ensure safe transactions.
  • Phishing scams: Phishing scams trick users into providing sensitive information via fraudulent emails or websites. Educate your customers about verifying the legitimacy of emails and always use secure communication methods.

Nulled software: Nulled themes and plugins—pirated versions of premium software—often contain malicious code. Always purchase software from reputable sources to avoid introducing vulnerabilities to your site.

Spam emails sent from WooCommerce: Hackers may exploit vulnerabilities in your site to send spam emails, damaging your reputation and causing your domain to be blacklisted. 

Backdoors: Backdoors are malicious scripts that allow attackers to bypass normal authentication. Regularly monitor your site’s files and use security plugins to detect and remove such scripts to keep your site secure.

What to do if your WooCommerce site has security issues?

If you suspect or confirm that your WooCommerce site’s security has been compromised, the steps in this section will help. They will prevent further tampering or data theft and also address the security issues.

Step 1: Put your site in maintenance mode

If you’re facing financial hacks like skimming attacks or card testing, put your site in maintenance mode. For other hacks, this is not necessary. In fact, a good malware cleaner like MalCare will remove all malware in mere minutes 

Step 2: Scan your site for malware

This is important to identify what malware is on your site and where it is located. We tested all the top malware scanners on the WooCommerce market and MalCare came out on top by a large margin. MalCare scans the entire site—databases and files—and can find even zero-day malware. 

Step 3: Remove all the malware

If you find malware using MalCare, upgrade to one of the paid subscriptions to clean your site automatically. MalCare offers a one-click cleaner that reliably removes all the malware on the store. 

Step 4: Change all passwords

A security breach often means that your current passwords are compromised. It’s crucial to update all credentials immediately. We’re talking about cPanel, phpMyAdmin, admin panel, etc.

Step 5: Remove your site from the Google blacklist

Now that the malware has been removed. You can start to regain some normalcy. First, get your site off the Google blacklist. You will have to reach out to their team to review the site. 

Step 6: Reach out to the web host if you’ve been suspended

Web hosts often suspend accounts if they’ve identified malware. This is especially true if you’re on shared hosting. Much like Google, you will have to reach out to them to remove the suspension. 

Step 7: Be transparent with your customers

Your customers may be worried about their sensitive data being leaked. They may have lost all their trust in you. Be honest and transparent about what happened. 

Step 8: Install a firewall

Now that the malware has been removed, you must ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself. One of the most effective ways to do so is to install a firewall. If you’ve installed MalCare, this will be done automatically, with the free version.

Why is WooCommerce security important?

Ensuring the security of your WooCommerce store is not just a technical necessity; it’s a critical aspect of running a successful online business. Here are some key reasons why WooCommerce security is paramount:

  • Preventing business shutdowns: As we mentioned earlier, some attacks like skimming require your site to be temporarily shut down. This is a crucial step for protecting your customers, but it’s not great for business. 
  • Protecting revenue: A shut-down site means no revenue. Additionally, compromised customer data can lead to legal liabilities and potential fines, further draining your financial resources.
  • Mitigating risks of attacks: Apart from attacks like SQL injection or DDoS, WooCommerce stores are vulnerable to eCommerce-specific attacks. Card skimming, for example, involves malware that steals financial data. Card testing is a brute force attack that is designed to test the validity of cards that a hacker has gained access to. Fraud orders are also a very popular form of attack on your resources. 
  • Maintaining customer trust: Customers provide a lot of personal data like credit card information, home addresses, names, etc. You have to make sure that your site is secure enough to protect the data that they trust you with.
  • Compliance with regulations: Many regions have stringent data protection regulations, such as GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California. Failing to secure your WooCommerce store can result in non-compliance, leading to hefty fines and legal repercussions.

Final thoughts

Securing a WooCommerce store can feel overwhelming. There are so many things to keep in mind and so many tasks to juggle. There is also no vacation time because your site security needs to be maintained 24/7. If you had to do daily tasks like malware scanning and cleaning manually, you’d be spending more time on it than actually building your business. 

Thankfully, MalCare simplifies the process and automates several of those tasks for you. By offering automatic daily scans using advanced algorithms, MalCare identifies all kinds of simple and complex malware. Its one-click malware removal feature then successfully cleans the site instantly. MalCare also integrates a robust firewall that filters harmful traffic and protects against cyber threats like SQL injections and brute force attacks, ensuring your WooCommerce store remains secure and performant. Additionally, its advanced firewall also comes with bot protection that stops brute force attacks. 

With MalCare, managing WooCommerce security becomes straightforward, allowing you to focus on running your business.

FAQs

How secure is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce, as a plugin built on top of WordPress, inherits several security features from its parent platform. Here are some aspects of its security:

  • It is regularly updated to patch any security vulnerabilities and improve overall security.
  • It adheres to WordPress’s high standards for security and coding best practices and can help merchants achieve PCI compliance.
  • It’s only as secure as the plugins and themes that you use. It’s vital to use trustworthy plugins and themes with WooCommerce, as third-party integrations can introduce vulnerabilities.

The overall security of a WooCommerce store also depends on the broader security practices employed by the website owner. This includes regular updates, strong passwords, and security plugins.

Is WooCommerce trustworthy?

Yes, WooCommerce is considered trustworthy for several reasons:

  • WooCommerce is developed by Automattic, the same company behind WordPress.com, which has a strong reputation in the web development community.
  • Being open-source means that its code is continuously scrutinized and improved by a global community of developers, adding layers of transparency and security.
  • WooCommerce powers a large number of eCommerce sites worldwide, indicating widespread trust and reliability.
  • A vast community and professional support options add to its credibility, offering readily available help and resources.

How can I secure my WooCommerce store?

Securing your WooCommerce store involves several proactive measures to protect your site and customer data:

  • Ensure WordPress core, WooCommerce, themes, and all plugins are up-to-date to patch vulnerabilities.
  • Use strong, unique passwords and limit user permissions based on their role. Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for added security.
  • Use an SSL certificate to encrypt data transferred between your server and customers, safeguarding sensitive information.
  • Install security plugins like MalCare to monitor threats, perform malware scans, and provide firewall protection.
  • Regularly back up your WooCommerce site. Using both automated and manual backups can ensure data recovery in case of a breach.
  • Choose a reputable hosting provider known for strong security measures like automatic backups, DDoS protection, and server-level firewalls.

What are common security threats WooCommerce stores face?

WooCommerce stores, like any online platform, face various security threats. Some common ones include:

  • Brute-force attacks: Hackers attempt to gain access by trying multiple usernames and password combinations.
  • Malware and viruses: Malicious software can infect your site, steal data, or deface content.
  • SQL injections: Attackers insert malicious SQL queries into input fields, potentially gaining unauthorized access to your database.
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS): Malicious scripts are injected into trusted websites, affecting users who visit the compromised site.
  • Phishing: Users are tricked into revealing sensitive information through fraudulent emails or websites designed to look legitimate.

DDoS attacks: Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks overload your server with traffic, causing your site to crash and become unavailable.

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