I wrote in the post Do you really know who’s visiting your website? about how often hackers probe my websites.
IT Security News has of today this:
- 5,914 blocked malicious login attempts / was 2092 on May 8th
- 2,182 spam comments blocked by Akismet. / was 2115 on May 8th
The login attempts more than doubled in just 5 weeks. Of course, they are all automated attacks, so we can’t really speak of an effort from anyone’s site.
If a hacker “owns” a website he is able to do a few things:
- Change content and possible deliver malware to your readers
Host individual “sub-pages” or “sub-websites” in your blog and reference them from email campaigns or post spams.
Send mail from your blog to just anyone, but the worst is when it sends to your subscribers.
All are very bad things as they ruin your website’s reputation and drives your visitors away. And they can happen all together or just any combination of them.
What can you do?
It turns out that you can do quite a lot of things:
- don’t user the default admin account (WordPress: admin)
set a hard to guess password
keep your blog and its extensions/plugins up to date
don’t install just any plugin you find in your productive blog
update your themes as they very often are vulnerable to XSS and other web vulnerabilities
if you run WordPress, install a plugin that implements an application firewall. It filters these login attempts, blocks IPs and a lot more.
However, I have to be frank here, all plugins I tried fail miserably after a few weeks of good functioning and I lose access to my own website. The solution is always the same: erase the plugin files via FTP or restore WordPress from backup. Not nice, but I don’t know any other solution. Maybe I just had bad luck but I tried 3 and all failed. This is actually why I add this option just as last one.
You can block malicious login attempts with little effort and almost zero maintenance.
Here are more tips how to harden WordPress. More or less the same applies to other blogging platforms.
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