As one of the most used websites in the world, WordPress has mostly been trusted by people for many purposes; however, many web developers are still wondering about whether or not WordPress is secure, since it surely has its flaws too. It is definitely not only the WordPress team’s responsibility to protect the underlying core of WordPress, but the responsibility also ultimately falls on your shoulders too.
Since WordPress is generally discussed online, consequently, the weaknesses of the platform are widely known. This is why hackers can easily target WordPress websites. Therefore, it is important to learn about how secure a WordPress is. Let’s figure out the explanation below.
What You Need to Know About the WordPress Project and Security
Below are things that you may need to know, regarding the WordPress Project and what they are doing to maintain the security of the core.
The WordPress Security Team
The WordPress security team is responsible for identifying security risks in the core. Aside from that, they are also good at reviewing potential issues with the third-party-submitted themes or plugins and then making recommendations on how they can harden their tools or patch known breaches. They also work on their own to identify and resolve issues, even though they may need some other experts in the field sometimes.
How WordPress identifies Security Risks
There are several ways that are used by the security risks to identify and resolute process work.
- An issue can be identified by anyone. It can be someone from the security team or from outside of the team. For non-project members, you can communicate these detected issues by emailing security @wordpress.org.
- A report is logged and the security team acknowledges receipt of it.
- To verify that the threat is valid, team members need to work together on a walled-off and private server.
- Then, they can track, test, and repair any security flaws detected.
- After that, the security patch then gets added to the next minor WordPress release.
- If you have a mild problem, WordPress will notify you within the WordPress dashboard whenever an automatic release occurs.
- On the other hand, the release will go out immediately and WordPress.org will announce it on the News page of the website in more urgent issues.
Even though WordPress doesn’t always announce these security patches immediately, they will always take immediate action to resolve problems.
A Note about Automatic Updates
WordPress is able to push minor updates automatically to all websites, since version 3.7. In this way, the WordPress security team can get urgent patches out as timely as possible without having to wait for users to accept and make the update on each of their websites.
However, as a WordPress user, you can opt out of these automatic core updates. In fact, if this happens to you, please keep in mind that this may put your site at additional risk, especially when you don’t have time to monitor all your sites all the time for the latest and greatest update.
WordPress Plugins and Themes Security
Even though it may sound impossible to manage the tens of thousands of plugins and themes out there, at least WordPress can keep a close eye on them to ensure nothing seriously insecure slips through the cracks.
When a security issue is detected, the WordPress Project is the team, responsible for working with developers. However, before that, there is a team of volunteers assigned to review each and every theme or plugin submitted to WordPress. This team is specially formed to work with developers and ensure that best practices are followed.
Nevertheless, there will always be security vulnerabilities found and that’s why we need security team to step in to:
- Provide documentation for WordPress developers on plugin and theme development and security best practices.
- Monitor plugins and themes for potential security flaws. Any issues detected will then be brought to the attention of the developer.
- Remove harmful plugins or themes from the directory if the developers are unresponsive or uncooperative.
Later, when those security patches are available, WordPress will then notify its users via the WordPress admin.
OWASP’s Top 10
With the purpose of protecting organizations from software and programs that could potentially do harm, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Foundation was created back in 2001. What you may be surprised to learn is that the WordPress Project aims to abide by OWASP’s Top at all times.
Below are the top 10 list comprised by the OWASP of known and very serious security risks. By using the list, the WordPress security team uses those trends to define their own top 10 list of ways to defend the core. Basically, their goal is to protect the core from the following risks:
- User account management abuse
- Unauthenticated access requests to the WordPress admin
- Unwanted or unauthorized redirects
- Exposing users’ private data
- Requests for access to direct object reference
- Server misconfiguration
- Unauthorized code injection
- Cross-site scripting from unauthorized users
- Cross-site request forgeries whereby hackers misuse WordPress nonces
- Corrupted third-party plugins, themes, frameworks, libraries, etc.
Knowing that there is a dedicated team working that keeps the WordPress core secure at all times will surely let WordPress users feel at ease. Still, we have to do what we can do to secure it from every angle, since no matter how good the WordPress Project is at monitoring and securing the platform, hackers will find a way in.