WordPress is a Content Management System that powers at least 27% of the Internet. It is estimated that 24 posts are published on WordPress websites every single second. And it has become important to have SSL certificates for WordPress websites these days because of its vast use.
Let’s say WordPress is like a giant pillar that supports and keeps the Internet grounded and available for all with great user-friendliness. Further, WordPress offers tons of plugins and extensions which can be used to extend the functionalities and performance of a website further.
However, not all is well with WordPress. There are certain evident security flaws which make webmasters quite skeptical about working with WordPress.
Known security issues in WordPress
Broadly, there are five major security flaws in WordPress.
- Brute Force Attacks
- SQL Injections
- File Inclusion Exploits
- Cross-Site Scripting
Brute Force Attacks
In this hacking methods, hackers deploy multiple and alternating usernames and passwords with combinations and passwords until they are able to get the exact username and password that will unlock the website. This method is deployed on the login screen and is perhaps the simplest and common forms of security attack made at WordPress Websites.
The problem is that WordPress by default does not limit the number of failed login attempts a user can make. Making it easier for the hackers to overload the website login screen with multiple attempts, which might lead to system suspension, especially if a shared hosting platform is being used.
WordPress websites use MySQL databases. SQL injections are inserting rogue or malicious codes into your MySQL database thus malfunctioning the database or falsely stealing information from it without the owner’s knowledge.
File Inclusion Exploits
Like MySQL, WordPress websites also have weak PHP codes, which hackers exploit the most to gain access to the admin panel. PHP is the core foundation that pillars WordPress, its themes, plugins and almost everything else related to it. File inclusion exploits give the hacker access to the wp-config.php file which can be used to alter the configuration settings of the website entirely.
Cross-Site Scripting (CSS)
In XSS, the attacker targets a victim who loads a web page with insecure JS scripts. The user will be unaware that such scripts are being loaded into the system and is used to steal personal information. This can happen in website forms where visitors enter email addresses and add contact details which in the wrong hands can wreak havoc on the Website.
Malware, which is the slang for malicious software and is basically the virus infected programs that are planted in Websites and systems to steal vital information. WordPress is notably vulnerable to four common types of malware programs, namely:
- Malicious redirects
- Pharma hacks
- Drive-by downloads
What has WordPress done till now?
On December 1st, 2016, WordPress made a landmark announcement that is perhaps putting the security concerns surrounding the CMS platform to rest once and for all.
The announcement was that from 2017 onwards all WordPress websites would have to migrate to HTTPS. Matt Mullenweg stated in the blog that, “early in 2017, we will only promote hosting partners that provide an SSL certificate by default in their accounts.”
This made it mandatory for almost every WordPress website to have an SSL certificate configured.
What is an SSL Certificate?
An SSL certificate is a small sized file that encrypts and decrypts data that is sent across the Internet. It creates a tunnel between the web server and the user browser thus ensuring the safe passage of data. HTTPS prevents all possible stealing of data through eavesdropping, malicious software planting, etc.
SSL certificates are used to secure web site by preventing data sniffing attacks, Mainly Domain Validated SSL certificate for Single Domain, and Wildcard SSL certificate used to secure unlimited sub domains. Even SAN/UCC SSL certificates help to secure your multiple domains or sub domains with HTTPS.
Benefits of having SSL certificates for WordPress websites
While security is the primary reason why SSL certificates are associated with WordPress Websites, several other reasons warrant the investment in an SSL certificate.
Boosts SEO ranking
Google, the world’s most popular search engine has included HTTPS and security as a major ranking signal. The search engine flags off websites without HTTPS as insecure and ranks them below others which have HTTPS for every search query. Thus, having SSL certificate on a WordPress Website is literally the best way to ensure that the website gets maximum organic traffic by getting placed top in the search results.
Reduces cart abandonment
Some customers shy away from parting with their credit card numbers because they are skeptical of the website’ security provision. SSL certificate enables HTTPS toolbar with the green bar and padlock symbol which inspires confidence in the minds of people. Consequently, it helps boost conversion.
Secondly, for WordPress eCommerce websites, PCI DSS compliance standards demand to have SSL certificate if their business volumes exceed a particular limit. So SSL certificate just contributes to fitting that needs perfectly.
Establishes Brand identity
The problem with the Internet is that anyone can purchase a domain and start a website of their own. Comodo SSL certificates and the likes ensure that only the legitimate owner of the Website can procure the domain and use it commercially.
For instance, in the case of banks, customers can verify and ensure that they are logging into the official website of the bank itself and no other fake website where their credentials can be stolen.
Wrapping it up
WordPress is an awesome way to set up a website. It gives tremendous features for webmasters to fine tune their website for maximum performance.
However, it is also riddled with several security flaws which give nightmares for Website owners. The most common types of security flaws and how they are exploited by hackers to jack up a website are described above.
In the end, an SSL certificate can be rightly called an ultimate solution for all the security woes of a website owner. It also gives the added benefits of search engine friendliness, better cart conversions and complete compliance with PCI standards. Applying SSL with other WordPress security practices can save your WordPress website being hacked.
Don’t think of having an SSL certificate as an expense. Instead, it is an investment that will reap great benefits in terms of peace of mind and customer confidence in your website. Moreover, it is better to stay secure than remain prone to vulnerabilities.