My WordPress blog has been live for about 30 days and I’m shocked at the malicious attempts to gain access to it. Not quite sure what exactly the motivation is but it can be daunting for non-IT bloggers to see Brute Force attacks from IP addresses on the other side of the world.
I figured I would take some time to write about some of the activities going on in the last 30 days. Let’s take a peek behind the curtains.
The Activities on My WordPress Blog
In the last 30 days, my firewalls have blocked more than 35 IP addresses who attempted to breach my blog. The majority of the attempts have originated from Asian countries including Indonesia, China, South Korea and Hong Kong to name a few.
What I find most fascinating is the attack vector or method they are using to gain access. Based on the timestamps and frequency of the attacks, the attackers are likely using a brute force attack or automated scripts to gain a foothold into the website. This means that they are not actually visiting my website but using a program that automatically enters in the username and password based on a common or collective list of passwords.
Furthermore, the user is adapting by changing their IP address after they get locked out. This would also mean that the origin of the attack by country may not be the true location of the attacker. Talk about covering your tracks.
Lastly, I want to point out that I notice the user names they are attempting to use are very generic. Not complaining. Just seems they are common things like part of the domain URL, words scraped from the website or admin. This leads me to believe that there may be a significant number of WordPress users that do not change their default user names or passwords after signing up.
Why Is My WordPress Blog Being Attacked?
It is hard to pinpoint the exact motivation of threat actors. I recall listening to a highly popular security podcast 3-5 years ago called Paul Security Weekly where it was suggested that WordPress (self-hosted) was among the top platforms attacked daily due to the wide variety of plug-in vulnerabilities. This could be because more than a third of self-hosted websites are using WordPress as their content management system.
As to the motivation of these activities, no one knows for sure unless they make a public statement. It has been my professional experience that these activities fall under 5 motives including financial, political (hacktivist), malicious, clout-based or accidental. Perhaps in another post we can explore these more.
Despite the attacks, I do not believe this blog or myself are being targeted per se. I believe this is all just part of the attacker’s philosophy. The mindset is to go where the fat is; that’s to say, you have a better chance of success where everyone is rather than where a select few are: Windows over Macs, Facebook over the now defunct Google+ and yes, Android over iPhones (although iPhones seem to have the more high profiled breaches). You get the gist.
Security is typically an afterthought for the uninformed and only relevant when the user has been directly impacted. That is to say, it’s more reactionary than precautionary for the majority of content creators. This lack of dedication is the reason why attackers are so successful. The only way to curve the attack surface is to take security seriously.
What Can I Do To Protect My WordPress Blog?
There are many things you can do to protect your blog and next week I will recommend 4 action steps you can take to secure your blog. Here is sneak peek on passwords:
If there is a default password to get into your blog, change it and change it now. As I alluded to in the last section, there are many password lists that consist of usernames and passwords from known breaches, but they also include default passwords like admin, password or password123.
Remember to use best practices when it comes to creating a password. Passwords should be a minimum of 8 characters long with uppercase, lowercase, alphanumeric and symbols. Avoid using personal information in your passwords like the name of your family members or pets.
In these times, I think reflection is important. As stated previously, I don’t think this WordPress blog is being targeted but in order to catch as many fish as possible, you have to go to the ocean and not your local pond and I believe that is what the attackers are doing.
I know that I cannot get rid of the threats or attacks but taking precautionary steps instead of reactionary steps should help the longevity of the blog.
Next week, I will be releasing a few tips and tricks that I hope you find useful to help protect your WordPress Blog from being compromised. Feel free to drop your own tips and tricks in the comment section below.