What Are WordPress Zero Day Exploits?

What Are WordPress Zero Day Exploits?

With the advent of the digital age, more and more people are shifting towards the Internet for their daily needs. The rise of people using the Internet has grown substantially in the last few years thus making it the new global marketplace.

WordPress Zero Day Exploits

Many business owners have taken to the Internet to introduce their products to a new larger audience. While most major corporations and brands have websites that are built by professionals and are hard coded, many small businesses have also put up their products on display using the popular website builder, WordPress.

WordPress is a platform which allows even the most naïve user to build a website easily. This is possible due to the in-depth guides and plugins that are made available on the platform. However, it would be a fair assessment to say that most of these resources are provided by the community which support and nurture this WordPress ecosystem.

Developers build plugins that help scale a website to greater levels. As most of the plugins are easy to use and free to install business owners make use of them on their websites in hopes that it will boost their growth.

However not all people look at such plugins in a positive way. Even though they help make websites function better, they also contain bugs and flaws which can be exploited if not patched quickly. Today we will take a look at one of the most common but dangerous exploit which hackers use to target websites. The Zero Day Exploit.

WordPress Zero Day Exploits

This exploit borrows its name from the 1990’s ‘warez’ scene where hackers would pirate and share commercial software illegally through modems. However transmission speeds on modems were slow back then and therefore transferring such pirated softwares took a long time.

Such activities are still happening today, but instead of modems, torrents are used to transfer pirate softwares as they are faster and more reliable. These softwares would be then uploaded to forums and bulletin boards where it would be categorised in to ‘Days’ which corresponded to how long the software has been made available to the public. In today’s scenario however the term ‘Days’ is equivalent to how many days the software vendor is oblivious to the vulnerabilities present in their software.

There are a variety of ways that WordPress websites can be targeted such as but not limited to DDoS attacks, malware, spyware, brute force attacks. A zero day exploit can consist of any one of these exploits and can be used to cause mayhem on a business.

Let us begin by explaining what exactly is a zero day exploit in WordPress websites. Put simply, it is a vulnerability that hasn’t been discovered or patched by a software vendor. With a growing number of plugins and resources being deployed on WordPress websites every day, it has become harder to keep track of all the possible ways hackers might infiltrate a website.

website security

Vulnerabilities exist not because software vendors intended them to be but simply because of human error. These vulnerabilities can exist in operating systems, WordPress plugins, WordPress themes etc.

This provides hackers with a variety of access points to choose from to try and launch a cyber attack in hopes of stealing your website data for their own malicious gain. The major problem with zero day exploits are as the vulnerabilities are yet unknown it’s a race against time as to who discovers the exploit first.

Either the software vendors themselves work on making their product more secure by constantly being on the lookout for such vulnerabilities or third party security researchers independently assess softwares to find such errors or in the worst case scenario, these vulnerabilities are discovered by hackers who use it with malicious intent.

Recently a popular WordPress plugin used by over 17,000 websites by the name of Fancy Product Designer was found to have a major security threat. This plugin allowed users to customise any type of product on their website by uploading pictures for the product as well as PDFs.

payments security

The website had a few security checks so as to discourage hackers but apparently they were not adequate. If an attacker was targeting the vulnerability, they could upload executable PHP files to any website which used that plugin. That allowed them to run the code of their choice and possibly hijacking the owner’s websites and gaining access to confidential data. This process is known as Remote Code Execution.

Three IP addresses were tracked down from where most of the cyber attacks were launched. The hackers mainly targeted commercial websites with hopes of laying their hands on Personally Identifiable Information that they could extract from the databases of these websites. This is against the PCI DSS guidelines and could result in hefty fines if website owners were non-complaint in taking immediate action.

However there are some simple solutions to keeping your WordPress website secure and thus keeping malicious hackers at bay. First and foremost, you should update your installed plugins and themes as soon as a new patch is released.

However most website owners often overlook this simple advice which can later prove to be fatal if not rectified immediately. It is also important to safeguard yourself from such attacks because as a website owner you have access to the admin control of your website.

WordPress Zero Day Exploits

If hackers manage to gain access to your credentials then there’s a high chance of your website being permanently lost. It is also important to download your software from trusted vendors.

Always check the reviews for the plugin or theme that you are going to install as the community leaves comments on a software vendor’s work. Have your security settings in check, right from your computer, browser to your own website. Lastly you have the option to install a security plugin which can monitor your site 24*7 so as to get immediate notification whenever your site is under attack.

We hope that this article helped you be informed on your website’s security and also shed a little light on how zero day exploits work.

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