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Common WordPress Security Breaches: How to Identify and Resolve Them

WordPress powers a majority of the web, making it a prime target for security breaches, with WordPress sites experiencing 90,000 attacks per minute

Ensuring the security of your WordPress site is crucial, especially for small to medium-sized businesses and individual site owners. In this article, we’ll tackle common security breaches and provide actionable solutions to safeguard your sites.

Common WordPress Security Breaches

Brute Force Attacks

Definition: Brute force attacks involve automated attempts to guess login credentials by trying numerous combinations until the correct one is found. This method exploits weak passwords (81% of WordPress attacks exploit weak or stolen passwords​) and is one of the most common types of attacks on WordPress sites.

Signs of Breach:

  • Unusual login attempts: Multiple failed login attempts from various IP addresses.
  • Slow website performance: The continuous login attempts can significantly slow down your site.


  • Strong Passwords: Use complex and unique passwords that include a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Add an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification.
  • Limit Login Attempts: Restrict the number of login attempts per user to prevent repeated guessing.
  • CAPTCHA: Implement CAPTCHA on your login page to differentiate between human users and bots.

Malware Injections

Definition: Malware refers to malicious software designed to harm your website or steal data. It can be injected into your site through vulnerabilities in plugins, themes, or outdated software.

Signs of Breach:

  • Unexpected pop-ups: Ads or warnings appearing without your authorization.
  • Slow site performance: The presence of malware can slow down your website.
  • Unfamiliar code in files: Unauthorized changes or new code in your WordPress files.


  • Regular Malware Scanning: Use security plugins to scan for and remove malware.
  • Updates: Keep WordPress core, themes, and plugins updated to the latest versions.
  • Backups: Regularly back up your site to restore it in case of an infection.
  • Cleaning Infected Files: Remove or repair infected files and consider professional help if needed.

SQL Injection

Definition: SQL injection attacks exploit vulnerabilities in your site’s code to execute malicious SQL commands. This can compromise your database, leading to data theft or loss.

Signs of Breach:

  • Data breaches: Unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  • Unauthorized changes to content: Changes in your website’s content without your knowledge.
  • Errors in database interactions: Unusual errors or disruptions in database operations.


  • Prepared Statements and Parameterized Queries: Use these coding practices to prevent attackers from manipulating SQL queries.
  • Security Plugins: Install plugins that monitor and protect against SQL injection attempts.
  • Updates: Regularly update your WordPress core, themes, and plugins to fix known vulnerabilities.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Definition: XSS attacks involve injecting malicious scripts into your website, which can then be executed in the browsers of your visitors, leading to data theft or other malicious activities.

Signs of Breach:

  • Suspicious input fields: Fields that behave unexpectedly or show unusual content.
  • Unauthorized script executions: Scripts running without your permission or knowledge.


  • Input Validation and Sanitization: Ensure all user inputs are validated and sanitized to prevent malicious code from being executed.
  • Content Security Policies (CSP): Implement CSP to restrict the sources from which scripts can be executed.
  • Security Plugins: Use plugins that detect and block XSS attempts.

Backdoor Exploits

Definition: Backdoor exploits allow attackers to bypass normal authentication and gain unauthorized access to your site, often through hidden files or code.

Signs of Breach:

  • Unusual server activity: Unexpected traffic or resource usage.
  • Unknown files in directories: Files or scripts that you did not upload.


  • Scanning for Backdoor Files: Use security plugins to scan for and remove backdoor files.
  • Strengthening Server Security: Ensure your server is properly configured with secure file permissions.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of your website and server to detect any anomalies.

Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

Definition: DoS attacks aim to make your website unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic, leading to server overload.

Signs of Breach:

  • Sudden site unavailability: Your website becomes inaccessible without prior warning.
  • High server load: Unusual spikes in resource usage.


  • Web Application Firewalls (WAF): Implement WAF to filter and block malicious traffic.
  • Content Delivery Networks (CDN): Use CDN services to distribute traffic and reduce the load on your server.
  • Traffic Monitoring: Monitor traffic patterns and block suspicious IP addresses.

Proactive Security Measures

Regular Updates and Patching

Importance: Keeping your WordPress core, themes, and plugins updated is vital to protect against known vulnerabilities. Developers regularly release updates to fix security issues and enhance functionality.

Best Practices:

  • Staging Environment: Test updates in a staging environment before applying them to your live site.
  • Backup Before Updating: Always back up your site before performing updates to ensure you can restore it if something goes wrong.

Security Plugins and Tools


  • Wordfence: Offers comprehensive security features, including firewall protection, malware scanning, and login security.
  • Sucuri: Provides website monitoring, malware cleanup, and performance optimization.


  • Regular Scans: Schedule regular scans to detect vulnerabilities and malware.
  • Alerts: Configure alerts for suspicious activities to respond promptly.

Regular Backups

Importance: Regular backups are crucial for recovery in case of a security breach or data loss. They ensure you can restore your site to its previous state with minimal downtime.

Tools and Plugins:

  • UpdraftPlus: Allows for automated backups to various cloud storage services.
  • BackupBuddy: Provides complete site backups and easy restoration.

Secure Hosting Environment

Choosing a Provider: Select a hosting provider that prioritizes security, offering features like automatic updates, regular backups, and robust server security measures.

Managed WordPress Hosting: Consider managed hosting services that handle updates, security, and performance optimization, freeing you to focus on your content.

User Roles and Permissions

Setting Appropriate Roles: Assign user roles based on the principle of least privilege, giving users only the access they need to perform their tasks.

Best Practices:

  • Regular Review: Periodically review user accounts and permissions to ensure they are up-to-date.
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Implement two-factor authentication for added security.

Incorporating employee training and development can also enhance security awareness among your team. Encouraging staff to pursue further education, such as the cheapest online bachelor’s degree programs, can improve their skills and understanding of cybersecurity. 

Strengthening Your WordPress Security

WordPress security is an ongoing challenge due to the platform’s popularity and the diverse threats targeting it. By staying informed and adopting best practices, website owners can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches and ensure the reliability and safety of their online presence​.

WPMissionControl is a comprehensive website monitoring solution designed to enhance security, performance, and reliability for WordPress websites.

Protect your website with WPMissionControl's vigilant monitoring. Be informed of issues instantly, ensuring a secure and smooth online experience. Ready to safeguard your digital space?

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