If you currently run a website with WordPress, then it’s important for you to be aware of the potential security vulnerabilities that exist on the platform, especially when it comes to using its plugins.
Just like the way you keep your home safe by locking the doors when you leave, a little bit of effort can go a long way in keeping your WordPress website safe.
In the following article, we’re going to take a look at the top 3 vulnerabilities associated with WordPress plugins and what you can to do protect against them, such as using one of these top rated VPN services.
1. Downloading Plugins from Untrustworthy Sources
One of the biggest vulnerabilities when installing WordPress plugins is the source that they are being downloaded from.
It’s extremely easy to type something like “WordPress plugins” on Google and be met with thousands of websites claiming to offer high-quality plugins. The problem is that you don’t really have any way of knowing how trustworthy a random website truly is.
So, with that said, it’s important to only install plugins from sources that you know and trust. No matter how well you’ve locked down your website, it won’t matter if you’re the one who installs the malware onto it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that every website offering plugins for WordPress is trying to scam you.
But if a plugin isn’t being distributed by WordPress, it’s vital to do a bit of research before downloading it. If at all possible, you might want to try reaching out to the plugin’s developers to see if they are affiliated with the website that’s offering their product.
2. Corrupted PHP Codes
There are a number of different ways that hackers and criminals can tamper with WordPress plugins. This includes arbitrary file viewing or uploading, privilege escalation, SQL injection, and remote code execution (RCE).
Regardless, all of these vulnerabilities are created by the attacker infiltrating the plugin’s PHP code, allowing it to go unnoticed by the user until it’s too late. By the time the threat is identified, the hacker could have already gained access to your information.
3. Downloading Nulled Plugins
You’ve more than likely heard of a “null” or “nulled” plugin at some point while using WordPress. The term “nulled” is used to describe plugins that are available for free, although not legally. Instead, nulled plugins are found on websites and other non-official marketplaces where plugins can be downloaded.
At all costs, it’s important to avoid downloading nulled or free plugins. Most of the time, these nulled plugins will have been modified in some ways, either to remove the original author’s credentials, to infect it with malware, or to redirect you or your website users to another website.
However, if you have already accidentally downloaded a nulled plugin and want to make sure that it’s safe to use, there are several online tools, such as RIPS, which can be used to scan and check PHP files for potential vulnerabilities.
Protecting Yourself from WordPress Plugin Vulnerabilities
If you’ve been downloading and installing WordPress plugins, check this list to see if the versions you’re using have any known vulnerabilities. If you find that any of the plugins you’ve been using are on the list, make sure to deactivate and delete them immediately.
Aside from that, here are a couple more security tips when using WordPress plugins.
Use Antivirus Software
Although installing antivirus software isn’t likely going to be enough to stop a determined cybercriminal, it’s still an extremely effective first-line defense that can protect yours from potential threats.
Just make sure that the software you’re using is updated regularly to ensure that it’s aware of all the latest malware threats. And don’t forget to run regular scans on your computer or devices to ensure that they are kept free from malware at all times.
Consider Using a VPN
Using a VPN or Virtual Private Network is one of the safest ways to keep your devices, as well as your online identity safe when using WordPress plugins.
A VPN service works by allowing its users to connect to the internet via their safe network of dedicated servers located around the globe. These servers encrypt the data being sent or received by your computer and ensure that no one is able to intercept and read it.
By using a VPN, even if you were to accidentally install an unsafe plugin, your device would still be kept safe from any type of unauthorized access.
Always Use Caution
The last piece of advice that we want to share is that it’s vital to always use caution when downloading and installing any type of applications from the internet.
In fact, this extends far beyond downloading and installing WordPress plugins as a web developer. It is an extremely valuable tip for any of your online activities and caution should be used at all times when connected to the internet.
Today, more people than ever have access to the world wide web. And while this can be extremely convenient and beneficial for most of us, it has also made it easier than ever for hackers and cybercriminals to target individual internet users.
Therefore, no matter what you’re doing online, make sure that you’re well-informed about the risks of using the internet and above all, always be cautious of the type of websites you visit and what you do online.