These are the biggest threats facing WordPress sites today

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Wordfence has released its 2020 report outlining the biggest threats to WordPress users. Based on the company’s raw data from WordPress attacks and infection trends, malicious login attempts, vulnerability exploit attacks, and nulled plugin malware made up the top three threats.

Malicious login attempts were the biggest attack vector by far targeting WordPress sites last year, with Wordfence blocking over 90 billion such attempts from more than 57 million unique IP addresses.  These attempts, which occurred at an average rate of 2,800 attacks per second, included both credential stuffing and brute-force attacks.

Wordfence advises users to employ multi-factor authentication (MFA) to provide added security against malicious login attempts. Although WordPress itself provides effective brute-force mitigation, MFA can prevent attackers from using automated login attempts, even when credentials have been disclosed via a data breach.

Education is key

In addition, Wordfence confirmed that there were 4.3 billion attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in 2020, with SQL injections, remote code execution attempts, and cross-site scripting among the most popular methods. Interestingly, malware originating from a nulled plugin or theme was also common last year, affecting 206,000 sites.

“In our review, we identified the three most widespread threats faced by WordPress sites in 2020: malicious login attempts, attempts to exploit vulnerabilities, and malware originating from nulled plugins and themes,” Ram Gall, a threat analyst at Wordfence, wrote.

“We also explored key takeaways from these threats and how to most effectively mitigate them. While technical controls such as Wordfence can dramatically improve your WordPress site security posture, the human element is always the weakest link in any organization. Education is the best way to make sure your site is secure.”

As Wordfence confirms, although security solutions can make a big difference in preventing cyberattacks, the human element should never be underestimated when individuals or businesses are looking to shore up their cyberdefences.

Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.