Why do Cybercriminals Attack WordPress Sites?

Matthias Treuberg

Why do cybercriminals attack WordPress sites? Read on for the top reasons and what you can do to prevent an attack.

Why do Cybercriminals Attack WordPress Sites?

Why Cybercrime?

Why Cybercrime? - Why do Cybercriminals Attack WordPress Sites

So why would anyone want to hack or have control of your WordPress site? The answer is of course for money! While some do hack for fun, to learn or simply for sport, the majority are in it for a payday. According to Bromimum, an entry-level cybercriminal can make more money than the average university graduate

Small businesses are often targeted as they are least likely to afford the best security measures and they are doing more business online than ever before.

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Most Common Attack Methods

These are the two most common methods of reaping financial reward from WordPress sites:

1. Ransomware

Currently one of the most popular ways for a cybercriminal to reap financial gains. A hacker adds malicious code to your site that allows them to infect your visitors local devices (Tablet, Phone or PC) with a Remote Access Trojan (RAT). A RAT will then encrypt files on the device and the Cyber Criminal can demand a financial ransom in order to decrypt the files.

2. Keyloggers

Keyloggers - Why do Cybercriminals Attack WordPress Sites

Keylogging attacks are also particularly effective for e-commerce WordPress sites. Once again cybercriminals embed malicious code into your site to allow them to install keyboard logger software onto a local computer

Not only can a keylogger record a user’s login details and password, but can also record banking credentials. A cybercriminal could use those credentials to steal from an individual or sell the credentials for a hefty price

Who Are The Targets?

Who Are The Targets? - Why do Cybercriminals Attack WordPress Sites

Cybercriminals are crafty and take advantage of the fact that WordPress has been designed with simplicity in mind that allows those of limited technical competency to build a great site.

Cybercriminals prey on small businesses that either have enough knowledge to build a site without properly protecting it or those that are aware of threats but simply cannot afford advanced security measures.

Most Susceptible to Cybercriminals

  • Sites that are hosted on poorly secured web servers. A managed WordPress Host is always the best option.
  • Users who do not update plugins and their core WordPress software. Not updating your software and plugins is like intentionally leaving your site open for attack! Always remember if a plugin or theme has not received a developer update in many months it may be time to drop it and make a change to stay current
  • Users with weak passwords and obvious usernames such as admin. Common usernames and easy to guess passwords make it too easy for a cybercriminal to break into your WordPress site. Defend yourself by choosing a unique and strong credentials.
  • Lack of basic security makes a user an easy target for cybercriminals. Basic practice including the use of a firewall, malware detection and some common sense will go a long way. Be smart about what you download and always conduct research on chosen plugins and themes.

Where Are The Vulnerabilities?

Where Are The Vulnerabilities? - Why do Cybercriminals Attack WordPress Sites

However, it is not necessarily WordPress itself that makes its users a target. One of the greatest features of WordPress is the extensive number of third-party plugins that allow a user to extend the platforms functionality

While this feature allows for greater control and creativity over your WordPress site, it is unfortunately the biggest target for cybercriminals with most WordPress vulnerabilities being related to plugins.

Cross-Site Scripting and SQL Injection attacks are the most popular choice of vulnerability for cybercriminals. Since WordPress is open source, anyone can create and publish a plugin. However, with no required security standards, vulnerabilities are easily exploited

It is not just vulnerable plugins that are of concern with security researchers identifying fake plugins built by cybercriminals disguised to appear like legitimate plugins based on already popular plugins. These fake plugins have been used to act as a backdoor into WordPress sites whereby a variety of attacks can be launched

Plugin Defence

Where Are The Vulnerabilities? - Why do Cybercriminals Attack WordPress Sites

There are many WordPress plugins available to enhance the security of your WordPress site. The best plugins for security maintain their service with regular updates to combat the most recent threats and exploits available to a cybercriminal

  • Use the CreativeMinds Content Restriction plugin and Secure Two-Factor Authentication plugin to control who can view content on your page and prevent brute force password attacks with one of the most secure forms of authentication.
  • A quality malware scanning plugin can scan all file types of your core WordPress software as well as Themes and Plugins. The ability to scan posts to your site is crucial to discovering malicious code hidden within comments posted to your site.
  • Firewall security is another fantastic layer of defence offered by quality security plugins. For the highest level of security consider an Endpoint firewall over cloud firewalls. Endpoint firewalls will not break end to end encryption and has proven to not leak data.
  • Live traffic tracking can monitor users and identify the source of attack attempts in the form of information such as IP addresses. Another useful feature to use with analytics is country and manual blocking where you can block suspicious activity from your WordPress site.


As the most popular Content Management System in the world, WordPress is an extensive source of targets for cybercriminals to cause damage and make money. There are many ways a hacker can attack your WordPress site but there are security measures and plugins you can install to identify and defend yourself from threats.

Always update your software, plugins and themes and make sure to keep up to date with current WordPress trends at Creative Minds.

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