If you are a WordPress developer, designer, or blogger, new or old, one area of concern is that wordpress has many loop holes for spam bots and hackers to get a hold of personal data. Recently while developing another site I encountered such an issue. Security is one area that should not be over looked when starting or managing your wordpress site. Plugins are a major component to wordpress, with hundreds available at no cost, you can easily download hundreds of plugins without any real knowledge of the developer or the possible loop holes or back doors to those plugins that can potentially allow hackers to access your data. Plugin Developers can have the best of intentions when creating apps that can maximize the functionality of your web site but also not every developer has the time, or has been paid, to fool proof those plugins. Leaving weaknesses in the structure and creating a soft spot in the shell of you're website.
One problem I detected was an unwelcome Iframe on the site I was working on. It was hidden within the index file in the root folder of the site, but thankfully it was detectable using the firefox web developer plugin for the firefox browser. Again I say it was detectable, but I had no idea where it was within the theme I used for this site. The iframe itself was 1 pixel in height and 4 pixels in width, located at the top left corner of the browser. The developer tool merely pointed it out, but did not let me know where the foreign script was hidden. From my research online, thankfully I found some helpful tools that can actually help detect where hidden iframes are hidden within your site.
Now this is only part of the problem, when you encounter hidden scripts or code that is malicious in nature you will have a second issue to address. This is where getting blacklisted comes into play. This term refers to searching engines basically putting you on a blacklist and sighting your web site as a malicious site with faulty code or harmful coding. This may possibly lead to a MalWare warning when visiting your site. This is one of the warning signs I noticed when dealing with this code. The more research I did, the more aware I became of how large the issue is. WordPress is one of the most widely used blogging apps for websites, and its security weaknesses have been exploited because of its popularity.
The strongest advice I have to offer is to update whenever possible, and updating wordpress has become impressively easier. WordPress now handles updates internally with little effort, so there is no excuse for not being up to date with the latest version. These updates address security patches and have aggressively tackled weaknesses in the framework, but its not perfect and certainly not hack proof. Here are some helpful plugins for your blog, that can help you sleep at night after reading this. If your are lucky enough to find where the invasion is coming from, that should help you get off the endangered species list, once the scripts are removed from your site search engines will remove you from the blacklist and you will be able to regain any lost ground. Hopes this helps, Happy Hunting!http://www.ilfilosofo.com/blog/wp-db-backup/.
Description: This plugin does exactly what it says, it backs up your entire WP installation. This has got to be one of the first plugins you install upon first installation. You can back it up to your hard drive, on a server or even to a specified email address. Whether it be a rogue plugin or a hacker (or yourself) that crashes WP, WP Database Backup will reinstate everything as it should be. I like to think of it as my “WP system restore“.http://jamesmallen.net/2007/09/16/semisecure-login/.
Description: This will secure your WP Admin with a very powerful htaccess password protection, preventing all unwanted bots from entering your site.http://almosteffortless.com/wordpress/force-ssl/.
Description: For those will an SSL certificate, the Force SSL plugin for WordPress forces for an HTTPS connection for security purposes. This is useful for those who with to enforce a higher level of security regarding the delivery of WordPress content to the browser.http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-security-scan/.
Description: I love this plugin, it scans your site for security issues and checks passwords, file permissions, database security, WP version hiding and WordPress admin protection/security. It also makes me a little paranoid.http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/secure-files/#post-271.
Description: This plugin allows you to upload and download files from outside of your web document root for security purposes. When used in conjunction with a plugin that requires a user to be logged in to see your site, you can restrict file downloads to users that are logged in.http://www.hybrid6.com/webgeek/plugins/wp-spamfree.
Description: I had heard a lot about this plugin before I tried it, it said it is better than Akismet. To be honest I never noticed much difference (I get 500+ spam a day at the moment) between the two. User choice I suppose. I wish there was a way to stop the spammers instead.http://wordpress.designpraxis.at/plugins/backupwordpress/.
Description: Almost identical as the first plugin, just not as straight forward. The list of features goes on and on, this is for the WP Pro. Some features: Database backup including uploaded files, plugins, etc.; EMail notofication on new backups; Trigger backup manually; Set schedules for your backups; restore backups; Staggered SQL import; Automatically continue unfinished backups in background; Language Support. (And thats just the Easy Mode, wait until you see the advanced).http://f00f.de/blog/2007/10/02/plugin-anonymous-wordpress-plugin-updates.html.
Description: Anonymizes the plugin update checking system which is a new feature in WordPress 2.3. The plugin prevents WordPress from transmitting a list of active plugins, the blog url and WordPress version. Ideal for privacy-aware administrators of WordPress installation.http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/replace-wp-version/#post-2859.
Description: (We have all read about the security issue of showing your WP version, this resolves it). If you’re running an older version of WordPress, anyone can view source to see what attacks might work against your blog. This plugin replace the WP-version with a random string < WP 2.4 and eliminate WP-version > WP 2.4
These are only Ten great plugins to look into when trying to secure your site, thanks to Specky Boy for compiling this list. You can also search wordpress plugins for more security options, and always keep in mind that you should cross reference all plugins to be added to your blog.