WordPress Web-Site’s Protection and Performance


There is a reality check for everyone who does ethical Cyber-attack for living no matter what the scope, size or age of your Word-Press site, your site is at risk! It is not that much certain that Cyber-Criminals don’t concentrate or feel to target only mainstream websites; however, they also target small and venerable sites as well, as they can easily exploit the common vulnerabilities of such websites. Normally, most of these Cyber-Attacks are smartly conducted via programmed bots to automatically find certain soft spots in websites. At times, they do not differentiate between your site and a popular one. Smaller sites are more prone to get compromised since they generally have lower website security measures in place. So, the next time you think your site is too insignificant for a Cyber-Criminals, think again. The odds are high that your website can be used by the Cyber-Criminal to send spam, do SEO spam or perform a malicious redirect. Once the Cyber-Criminals manage to find a loophole in your site, they can gain access to a plethora of opportunities to take their ‘spammy’ intentions for a spin. Cyber-Criminals can pull off many different types of Cyber-attacks. For instance DDoS attacks, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attack, injection attacks, SQL injection attacks, session hijacking, clickjacking attacks, etc. Luckily, most of the threats that can damage your Word-Press site can be prevented. But first, we need to arm you with the right knowledge of these common types of Cyber-Attack, so that you can take the right measures to address it.

If you have ever worked on Word-Press projects, then you might be aware of the fact that the plugins play a significant role in Word-Press website development. As a matter of fact, Word-Press is designed for non-developers and developers alike. The one who is in need of a quick online presence, then the plugin proves to be a reliable solution that bridges the gaps and integrates various functionalities to the website.

Unfortunately, plugins are considered to be the most vulnerable to Cyber-attack when it comes to the Word-Press ecosystem. However, one can’t blame the developers who created that plugin. Cyber-Criminals manage to find vulnerabilities within the plugin’s code and use them to access sensitive information.

Lack of login security is another entry point for Cyber-Criminals to target Word-Press sites. Cyber-Criminals tend to leverage readily available software tools to generate the password and force their way into your system. Malicious Cyber-Criminals employ software tools such as Wires-hark (sniffer) or Fiddler (proxy) to capture your Word-Press login details and steal your personal information and other sensitive information. In addition to that, the brute force attacks can create devastating seniors for users who have a weak credential management system. By way of such attacks, the Cyber-Criminals can generate 1000s of password guesses to gain entry. So, you know what to do if your password is 12345678 or admin123, right?

Nothing is perfect in this world. It often takes time to discover vulnerabilities within the Word-Press ecosystem, and this delay can put thousands of Word-Press users at grave risk of data breaches. Fortunately, the Word-Press team releases security patches and updates on a regular basis. 

At times, you can give in to temptation and install a free theme from your favorite search engines. However, how one can determine whether that theme us safe or not, especially when it is free? Honestly, most of these free themes available on internet are vulnerable to Cyber-Attack just like an outdated plugin would. However, this does not mean that all free themes are a strict no-no. There are plenty of efficient and reliable free themes uploaded by developers who provide regular update and actively support the project.

Another popular entry point for Cyber-Criminals is through your own hosting system. Normally, most of the Word-Press websites are hosted on the SQL server and this is how the Word-Press website becomes a potential target of Cyber-Criminals. In addition to that, if one uses poor-quality or shared hosting services, then it makes their website more venerable to Cyber-Attack. In such cases, the attacker can gain unauthorized access to other websites on the same server.

Cyber-Menace, or simply menace, refers to creating certain circumstances or events that result in developing potential issues for cyber-protection. A few common examples of such Menaces include a social-engineering or phishing invasion that helps a Cyber-Criminal in installing a Trojan-Virus in your system and steal private information, political activists DDoS-ing your Web-Site, an administrator accidentally leaving data unprotected on a production system can result in a data breach, or a storm flooding your ISP’s data center.

Cyber-Protection Menaces are actualized by Cyber-Criminals. These Cyber-criminals usually refer to persons or entities who may potentially initiate a Cyber-Invasion. While natural disasters, as well as other environmental and political events, do constitute Menaces, they are not generally regarded as being Cyber-Criminal, it does not mean that such Menace activists should be disregarded or given less importance. Examples of common Cyber-criminals include financially motivated politically motivated activists for Cyber-Invasion, nation-state Cyber-Infiltrators, disgruntled employees, Cyber-Criminals, competitors, careless employees.

Cyber-Menaces can also become more catastrophic if Cyber-Criminal leverages one or more vulnerabilities to gain access to a system, often including the operating system.

Cyber-Liabilities simply refer to weaknesses in a system. They make Cyber-Menace possible and potentially even more hazardous. A system could be exploited through a single Liability, for example, a single SQL Injection infiltration technique could give a Cyber-Criminal full control over sensitive data. A Cyber-Criminal could also bind several exploiting techniques and take advantage of various Liabilities of your system. For instance: The most common vulnerabilities are Cross-Web-Site Scripting, server misconfigurations, and SQL Injections.

Cyber-Perils are usually misinterpreted with Cyber-Menace. However, there is a subtle difference, as a Cyber-Protection Peril refers to a combination of probability and end results of a Cyber-Menace and it is usually in the monetary terms but quantifying a breach is extremely complex. Therefore, a Cyber-Peril is a scenario that should be avoided combined with the likely losses to result from that scenario. The following is a hypothetical example of how Cyber-Perils can be constructed:

SQL Injection is a Liability
Sensitive data theft is one of the biggest Cyber-Menace that SQL Injection enables
Financially motivated Cyber-Criminals are one of the examples of Cyber-Menace activists
When sensitive data is compromised then is it extremely complex to bear the significance of such financial loss to the business
The probability of such a Cyber-Invasion is high, given that SQL Injection is easy-access, widely exploited Liability and the Web-Site is externally facing

Therefore, the SQL Injection Liability in this scenario should be considered as extremely hazardous liability for Cyber-Protection.

The difference between a Liability and a Cyber-Peril are usually easily understood. However, understanding the difference in terminology allows for clearer communication between security teams and other parties and a better understanding of how Cyber-Menace influences Cyber-Peril. This, in turn, may help prevent and mitigate security breaches. A good understanding is also needed for effective Cyber-Peril assessment and Cyber-Peril management, for designing efficient security solutions based on Cyber-Menace intelligence, as well as for building an effective security policy and a Cyber-Protection strategy.

If you have been reading about Word-Press security and looking for ways in which your Word-Press security can be compromise and techniques that can be employed to protect your WordPress Web-Site from Cyber-Criminals, you will notice that there are two types of Cyber-Invasion, targeted and non-targeted Word-Press Cyber-Invasion.

What is the difference between a targeted and non-targeted WordPress Cyber-Invasion and how can you protect your Word-Press from both of these Cyber-Invasion? This article explains the difference between these two types of Cyber-Infiltration and explains why some or the WordPress infiltration techniques can be implemented to protect your Web-Site from one type of Cyber-Invasion.

Non-targeted WordPress Cyber-Invasion is an automated invasion and it is not specifically launched against WordPress Websites only. For example, if Cyber-Criminals are trying to exploit a known Liability in an old version of Word-Press, they do not manually look for Word-PressWeb-Sites, check their version and see if they are vulnerable to such Liabilities.

Instead, they employ automated tools to send a specific HTTP request that is exercised to exploit the Liability to a number of Web-Sites, typically a range of IP addresses. Depending on the HTTP responses received back, the tool determines if the target Web-Site is a vulnerable Word-Press installation or not.

Therefore if you hide your version of Word-Press, or even hide the fact that you are using Word-Press for your Web-Sites you won’t be protecting your Web-Site from non-targeted Word-Press Cyber-Invasion. To protect Word-Press from non-targeted Cyber-Invasions follow the below recommendations:

One must always keep all their Programs up to date and always install the latest and most secure version of Word-Press, plugins, and themes. This also applies to MySQL, Apache and any other programs that are running on your web environment.
Always uninstall and remove any unnecessary plugins, themes and any other components and files which are not being frequently employed.
Do not employ typical login credentials such as admin, administrator, and root for your Word-Press administrator account. If you do rename the Word-Press administrator account.
One must always properly protect the Word-Press Login and admin pages by developing an additional layer of authentication, which involves read protection for Word-Press Login Page with HTTP Authentication.
One must always try to develop strong login credentials and this does not apply only to Word-Press but to any other service or Web-Site. If you have multiple clients for your Word-Press, then employ a Plugin to create policies forward-Press credentials, in order to ensure the safety.

Targeted Cyber-Invasions are specifically targeted towards your Web-Site and blogs. There are several reasons why your Word-PressWeb-Site might be a victim of a targeted Cyber-Invasion and the reason why your Word-Press is a victim of a targeted Cyber-Invasion is not of importance. What is important is to understand what happens in a targeted Cyber-Invasion so you can protect your Word-PressWeb-Sites and blogs better.

Targeted Cyber-Invasions are more catastrophic than non-targeted ones simply because rather than having a number of automated tools scanning Web-Sites randomly, there is a human being analyzing every detail about your Web-Site in the hope of finding something that could be exploited.

At first, the Cyber-Criminals will employ automated tools to check if your version of Word-Press is vulnerable to any known vulnerabilities. Since automated tools are employed to hide the version of your Word-Press.The Cyber-Criminals will also try to determine what plugins are running on your Word-Press and if any of them are vulnerable to a particular Liability. In addition to that most of these tasks are executed employing automated tools.

One of the most venerable links in the Word-Press security is credentials and by employing these automated tools the Cyber-Criminals will try to enumerate all the Word-Pressclients and even launch a password dictionary Cyber-Invasion against Word-Press.

There are many other ways and means how to infiltrate a Word-Press blog or Web-Site and targeted Cyber-Invasions do not specifically take advantage of a security weakness in Word-Press or one of its components. It could also be a security hole in the webserver Programs or configuration etc, but the above three are the most common Cyber-Invasion entry points.

There are many WordPress Cyber-Invasion and techniques you can employ to protect your WordPress from a targeted Cyber-Invasion as highlighted in the below list:

To start off with, all that applies to protect your WordPress from non-targeted Word-Press Cyber-Invasions applies also to targeted Cyber-Invasions

Secure and Protect your WordPress Administrator Account

Enable Word-Press SSL to access your WordPress login page and admin pages over an encrypted communication layer to avoid having your WordPress login credentials being hijacked.

Always employ a WordPress security monitoring and auditing plugin to keep track of everything that is happening on your WordPress and identify any suspicious activity before it becomes a security issue

Practice WordPress client roles to improve the security of WordPress by ensuring every client only has the minimum required privileges to do the job

One must always employ a WP-Scan WordPress security black box scanner and other tools to frequently scan and audit their WordPress Website.

From time to time you might read about a particular WordPress security tweak that some people say it works while some others say it doesn’t, such as hiding your WordPress version. In such scenarios we often witness that secrecy of the WordPress version has minimum effect on the overall security of the WordPress design, then we think why bother?  If you are dubious about a particular tweak if the tweak does not impact the performance of your Word-Press and is easy to implement go ahead and implement it. Better to be safe than sorry!

Apart from the above tips, there are many other ways how to improve the security of your WordPress blogs and Websites and protect them from both targeted and non-targeted WordPress Cyber-Invasions. Ideally, you should keep yourself updated by subscribing to a WordPress security blog where frequent WordPress security tips and infiltration techniques are published.

DNS spoofing occurs when a particular DNS server’s records of “spoofed” or altered Infection to redirect traffic to the Cyber-Criminals. This redirection of traffic allows the Cyber-Criminals to spread viruses, steal data, etc. For example, if a DNS record is spoofed, then the Cyber-Criminals can manage to redirect all the traffic that relied on the correct DNS record to visit a fake Website that the Cyber-Criminals has created to resemble the real Website or a completely different Website.

A DNS server is normally employed for the purpose of resolving a domain name (such as keycdn.com) into the associated IP address that it maps to. Once the DNS server finds the appropriate IP address, data transfer can begin between the client and Web-Site’s server. The given below visualization will display how this process will take place at a larger scale. Once the DNS server locates domain-to-IP translation, then it has to cache subsequent requests for the domain. As a result, the DNS lookup will happen much faster. However, this is where DNS spoofing can act as a great trouble creator, as a false DNS lookup can be injected into the DNS server’s cache. This can result in an alteration of the visitors’ destination.

DNS spoofing is an overarching term and can be carried out using various techniques such as:

DNS cache poisoning
Compromising a DNS server
Implementing a Man in the Middle Cyber-Invasions

However, the Cyber-Criminal’s end goal is usually the same no matter which method they practice. Either they want to steal information, re-route you to a Web-Site that benefits them, or spread Virus. The most argued technique of DNS spoofing is employing Cache-Poisoning.

Since DNS servers cache the DNS translation for faster, more efficient browsing, Cyber-Criminals can take advantage of this to perform DNS spoofing. If a Cyber-Criminal is able to inject a forged DNS entry into the DNS server, all clients will now be using that forged DNS entry until the cache expires. The moment the cache expires, the DNS entry has to return to the normal state, as again the DNS server has to go through the complete DNS lookup. However, if the DNS server’s Programs still hasn’t been updated, then the Cyber-Criminal can replicate this error and continue funneling visitors to their Web-Site.

DNS cache poisoning can also sometimes be quite complex to spot. If the InfectedWeb-Site is very similar to the Web-Site it is trying to impersonate, some clients’ may not even notice the difference. Additionally, if the Cyber-Criminal is using DNS cache poisoning to compromise one company’s DNS records in order to have access to their emails for example, then this may also be extremely complex to detect.

As a Website visitor, there’s not much you can do to prevent DNS spoofing. Rather, this falls more in the hands of the actual DNS provider that is handling a Web-Site’s DNS lookups as well as the Web-Site owner. Therefore, a few tips for Web-Site owners and DNS providers include:

Implement DNS spoofing detection mechanisms – it’s important to implement DNS spoofing detection Programs. Products such as XArp help product against ARP cache poisoning by inspecting the data that comes through before transmitting it.
One must always employ encrypted data transfer protocols with end-to-end encryption via SSL/TLS will help decrease the chance that a Web-Site / its visitors are compromised by DNS spoofing. This type of encryption that allows the clients’ to verify whether the server’s digital certificate is valid and belongs to the Web-Site’s expected owner.

One must employ DNSSEC – DNSSEC, or Domain Name System Security Extensions, as it exercises digitally signed DNS records to help determine data authenticity. DNSSEC is still a work in progress as far as deployment goes, however, it was implemented in the Internet root level in 2010.

DNS spoofing can result in making quite a bit of trouble both for Web-Site visitors and Web-Site owners. The Cyber-Criminal’s main motive to carry out a DNS spoofing Cyber-Invasion is either for their own personal gain or to spread Virus. Therefore, as a Web-Site owner, it’s important to choose a DNS hosting provider that is reliable and clients’ up-to-date security mechanisms.

Furthermore, as a Web-Site visitor it’s just as important that you “be aware of your surroundings” in a sense that if you notice any discrepancies between the Web-Site that you were expecting to visit and the Web-Site that you are currently browsing, you should immediately leave that Web-Site and try to alert the real Web-Site owner.

There are many different techniques that Cyber-Criminals practice to carry out DoS Cyber-Invasion. The most common method of Cyber-Invasion occurs when a Cyber-Thieves floods a network server with traffic. In this type of DoS Cyber-Invasion, the Cyber-Thievessends several requests to the target server, overloading it with traffic. These services that request can be illegal and with mostly fabricated return addresses. This results in a scenario where the server is overwhelmed, due to the constant process of shooting junk requests. This ultimately misleads the server in its attempt to authenticate the requestor and helps the Cyber-Thieves to exploit the vulnerabilities of the server.

In a Smurf Cyber-Invasion, the Cyber-Thief delivers Internet Control Message Protocol broadcast packets to a number of hosts with a spoofed source Internet Protocol (IP) address that belongs to the target machine. The clients of these infected packets will then respond and the victim’s host will be overwhelmed with those responses.

A SYN flood occurs when a Cyber-Thief sends a request to connect to the victim’s server but never completes the connection through what is known as a three-way handshake. This is the method employed in a TCP/IP network to develop a connection between a local host/client and the server. The improper handshake leaves the connected port in an occupied status and it then lacks the ability to process further requests. A Cyber-Thief will continue to send requests, saturating all open ports, so that legitimate clients’ cannot connect.

Individual networks may be affected by DoS Cyber-Invasions without being directly targeted. If the network’s internet service provider (ISP) or cloud service provider has been targeted and compromised, the network will also experience a loss of service.

Cross-Web-Site Request Forgery, also known as session riding or sea surf. It is a widely known Cyber-Invasion against authenticated web applications by employing cookies. The Cyber-Criminal is able to trick the victim into making a request that the victim did not intend to make. Therefore, the Cyber-Criminal exploits the trust that a web application has for the victim’s browser. While Cross-Web-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) Cyber-Invasions do not provide a Cyber-Criminal with the response returned from the server, a smart Cyber-Criminal has the ability to create disastrous scenarios that can have a catastrophic effect on your Web-Site, especially when paired with well-crafted social engineering Cyber-Invasion.

Cross-Web-Site Request Forgery is a kind of Cyber-Invasion conduct by Cyber-Criminals that involves authentication and authorization of the victim’s network. In this technique first of all the Cyber-Criminals has to send a forged request to the webserver. On top of that, the CSRF Liabilities affect highly privileged clients, such as administrators, which could result in a full application compromise. During a successful CSRF Cyber-Invasion, the victim’s web browser is tricked by InfectedWeb-Site into unwanted action. It will then send HTTP requests to the web application as intended by the Cyber-Criminals. In addition to that, such a request could involve submitting forms present on the web-application to modify data-archives and once the HTTP request is successfully delivered, then the victim’s browser will include the cookie header. Cookies are typically employed to store the client’s session identifier so that the client does not have to enter their login credentials for each request, which would obviously be impractical. If the victim’s session of authentication is safely archived in a session cookie or if the application is vulnerable to Cross- Web-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), then the Cyber-Criminal can leverage CSRF to launch any desired infected requests against the Web-Site and the server-side code is unable to distinguish whether these are legitimate requests.

CSRF Cyber-Invasion can be employed to compromise online banking by forcing the victim to make an operation involving their bank account. CSRF can also facilitate Cross- Web-Site Scripting (XSS). Hence it is extremely important that you treat CSRF as extremely serious issues for your web application security issue.

The CSRF Cyber-Invasionnormally employs an HTTP GET request. If the victim visits a web page controlled by the Cyber-Criminals with the following payload, the browser will send a request containing the cookie to the URL crafted by Cyber-Criminals.

Cross- Web-Site Request Forgery in POST Requests

GET requests, however, are not the only HTTP method the Cyber-Criminals can exploit. POST requests are equally susceptible to Cross- Web-Site Request Forgery (CSRF), however, The Cyber-Criminals also has to involve a little bit of JavaScript to submit the POST request.

One can have two kind of primary approaches to deal with Cross-Web-Site Request Forgery. For starters, One has to synchronize the cookie with an anti-CSRF token that has already been given to the browser or preventing the browser from transmitting cookies to the web application.

The recommended and the most widely employed prevention technique for Cross- Web-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) Cyber-Invasion is known as an anti-CSRF token, sometimes referred to as a synchronizer token or just simply a CSRF token. When a client submits a form or makes some other authenticated request that requires a cookie, a random token should be included in the request. Now, the web-application has to verify the existence and purity of this token before processing any requests. It is extremely important that the web-application should have the ability to reject the token with a suspicious approach.

It’s highly recommended that you employ an existing, well tested and reliable anti-CSRF library. Depending on your language and framework of choice, there are several high-quality open source libraries that are ready-to-deploy. Here we have mentioned some of the characteristics of a well-designed anti-CSRF system.

It is extremely important that each client’s session should have a unique token.
For security measures, the session should expire automatically after an instructed period of time.
It is extremely essential that the Anti-CSRF token should be a cryptographically random value and it should have significant length.
It is extremely important that the Anti-CSRF token should be added within URLs or as a hidden field for forms.
It is also important that the server should have the ability to reject the requested action if the validation of the Anti-CSRF token fails.

The Same-Web-Site cookie attribute is a new attribute that can be set on cookies to instruct the browser to disable third-party usage for specific cookies. The Same-Web-Site attribute is set by the server when setting the cookie and requests the browser to only send the cookie in a first-party context. Therefore, the request has to originate from the same origin – requests made by a third-party Website will not include the Same-Web-Site cookie. This effectively eliminates Cross-Web-Site Request Forgery Invasion without the practicing synchronizer tokens.