top of page

The underlying security risks in WordPress

WordPress, originally created as a blogging platform, now dominates more than 40% of all websites on the internet and has established itself as a cornerstone of website development. However, its popularity also exposes a significant concern - the inherent security vulnerabilities that lie beneath its surface.

A significant contributor to WordPress security issues lies in the failure to keep installations up to date. Outdated core software, themes, and plugins create exploitable vulnerabilities, opening the door for malicious actors.

The vast theme library, while offering aesthetic diversity, poses a risk; poorly coded or vulnerable themes can become an entry point for hackers.

Equally perilous is the persisting use of weak passwords and the absence of two-factor authentication.

Adding to this challenge, inadequate backup practices expose websites to the risk of data loss following security breaches. The threat of Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks loom over WordPress sites, especially those with inadequately coded plugins.

Brute force attacks prey on weak login credentials, urging the need for robust password policies and login attempt limitations. Hosting security is often overlooked but crucial; shared hosting environments can expose websites to vulnerabilities from neighbouring sites.

Security-conscious choices in hosting providers, ones that prioritise features such as firewalls and malware scanning, become imperative.

The allure of plugins, though enhancing functionality, introduces their own set of vulnerabilities. Users must cautiously select and limit plugins, favouring those from reputable sources.

The power and popularity of WordPress must be met with a commitment to security.

Some of the more recent vulnerabilities that have been identified include:

  • The Royal Elementor Addons and Templates vulnerability which allows unauthenticated attackers to upload files, potentially leading to remote code execution and site compromise. Actively exploited since August 30, 2023, it has been used to create rogue admin accounts.

  • A denial-of-service (DoS) vulnerability in the HTTP/2 protocol, known as Rapid Reset, is affecting WordPress sites offering HTTP/2 services. Exploited in the wild from August 2023 to October 2023, this flaw enables attackers to send crafted HTTP/2 requests, forcing the server to reset connections and exhaust resources.

  • Another vulnerability affects the User Submitted Posts WordPress plugin (versions 20230902 and below). Discovered by the Patchstack team and disclosed on October 10, 2023, this vulnerability allows unauthenticated users to upload arbitrary files to the server, posing risks of remote code execution or information disclosure.

These security threats underscore the dynamic landscape of WordPress vulnerabilities. The urgency for website administrators to stay vigilant is paramount. Immediate updates, cautious plugin usage, and adherence to robust security practices are essential to ensuring a safer and more resilient online presence.



Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).



The contents of blog posts on this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of East Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre (EMCRC) is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. EMCRC provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us by email.


EMCRC does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this blog. EMCRC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

bottom of page