Common types of malware affecting WordPress websites

Posted on April 20, 2023 at 12:00 am

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In this article, we will explore the most common types of malware that can harm a WordPress website, including backdoor malware, Trojan malware, file inclusion exploit malware, SQL injection malware, phishing malware, brute force login malware, cross-site scripting (XSS) malware, and cryptojacking malware. We will take a close look at how each type of malware works and the specific damages they can cause.

Backdoor malware is a type of malware that allows remote access to a website by creating a "back door" or a secret passage that bypasses normal authentication methods. Trojan malware infiltrates a website through a seemingly legitimate installation or update, but it carries with it hidden malware that can harm the website. File inclusion exploit malware targets websites that allow users to upload files or use user-generated content. SQL injection malware is an attack that exploits vulnerabilities in a website's backend database. Phishing malware targets users by disguising itself as a legitimate website to steal user information.

Brute force login malware works by using automated tools to try thousands of username and password combinations, hoping to find the right combination to access the website. Cross-site scripting (XSS) malware involves adding malicious scripts to a website that trick users into giving away sensitive information. The cryptojacking malware hijacks a visitor's computer to mine cryptocurrency without the user’s knowledge.

With the increasing sophistication of malware attacks, it is crucial to understand the types of malware that can affect your WordPress website and how to identify and prevent them. In the following sections, we will delve into each of the common types of malware affecting WordPress websites, learn how they operate, and get tips on how to protect your website from these attacks.

Backdoor Malware

Backdoor malware is a type of malware that creates a security vulnerability in an infected system by providing a way for a remote attacker to gain unauthorized access. A backdoor is typically installed without the user's knowledge, allowing an attacker to gain access to sensitive data and take control of the device.

Backdoor malware is commonly used in cyber espionage, as it allows attackers to steal valuable data, including financial information, intellectual property, and trade secrets. According to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, backdoors were present in 16% of all breaches.

Examples of backdoor malware include the infamous Trojan.Horse.Backdoor.Generic14.AVBQ, which affected over 200,000 computers worldwide in 2013, and the Mirai botnet, a backdoor malware that infected IoT devices and used them to launch DDoS attacks.

To protect yourself from backdoor malware, it is important to keep your software up-to-date and to practice good cybersecurity hygiene. This includes using strong passwords, avoiding suspicious links and downloads, and regularly backing up your data.

If you suspect that your device has been infected with backdoor malware, it is important to take immediate action to limit the damage. This may include disconnecting from the internet, running a malware scan, and seeking professional help.


Trojan Malware

Trojan malware, also known as Trojan horses, are malicious programs that disguise themselves as legitimate software and, once installed, allow attackers to gain access to the victim's system. They often carry out diverse malicious activities such as stealing sensitive information, downloading additional malware, and providing a backdoor for attackers to access and control the victim's device.

According to a study conducted by Verizon, 36% of data breaches involving malware were attributed to Trojan malware. This highlights the severity of the problem and the grave threats that Trojan malware poses to system security. Attackers embed Trojan malware within seemingly legitimate software, which can be downloaded from shady or untrusted sites, or through email attachments, making it difficult to detect and avoid.

One prevalent example of Trojan malware is the banking Trojan. Banking Trojans infect the victim's computer, steal login credentials, and obtain unauthorized access to bank accounts. Once attackers have access to the account, they can empty the account or transfer funds to their account, leaving the victim with nothing. Another example is the Remote Access Trojan (RAT), which gives an attacker complete control over the victim's system. With RAT, attackers can install additional malware, monitor online activities, record keystrokes, and access confidential information.

To protect yourself from Trojan malware, you should follow best cybersecurity practices, such as:

  1. Install and regularly update an antivirus software.

  2. Avoid downloading software from untrusted sources.

  3. Be cautious of unknown email attachments or links.

  4. Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access.

  5. Regularly backup your data to minimize the impact of data loss consequent to Trojan malware.

Trojan malware remains a significant security threat to individuals and organizations. For more in-depth guidance, consult resources like the National Cyber Security Centre or visit the US Department of Homeland Security’s website.

File Inclusion Exploit Malware

File inclusion exploit malware is a type of malware that takes advantage of a vulnerability in a web application to execute arbitrary code or download malicious files to a user's device. This type of malware is often used by attackers to gain access to sensitive data or to take control of a website or server.

One popular type of file inclusion exploit is the Remote File Inclusion (RFI) attack. This attack involves exploiting a vulnerability in a web application to inject code that allows the attacker to execute arbitrary commands from a remote server. RFI attacks can be devastating, as they allow attackers to gain full control over a compromised system.

Another type of file inclusion exploit is the Local File Inclusion (LFI) attack. LFI attacks involve exploiting a vulnerability in a web application to include and execute files that are stored locally on the compromised system. This type of attack is often used by attackers to gain access to sensitive data, such as configuration files or user data.

According to a report by Imperva, file inclusion exploits were responsible for over 20% of all web application attacks in 2019. This highlights the importance of protecting your web applications against this type of malware.

To protect your web application against file inclusion exploit malware, it is important to ensure that your code is written securely and that you follow best practices for web application development. This includes using input validation and sanitization to prevent attackers from injecting malicious code into your application.

Additionally, regularly scanning your web application for vulnerabilities and implementing security patches as soon as they become available can help protect your application against file inclusion exploits.

Overall, file inclusion exploit malware is a serious threat to web application security. By taking proactive steps to secure your web application, you can help protect against these types of attacks and keep your data safe.

SQL injection malware

SQL injection is a type of web application vulnerability that can lead to a security breach. It allows an attacker to enter unexpected SQL statements into a web application's input fields, which can result in the attacker obtaining access to sensitive information or even taking control of the application.

According to a study by Verizon, SQL injection was responsible for 20% of all web application attacks in 2019. This indicates that it is a popular target for hackers and can lead to serious consequences for businesses.

When a web application is vulnerable to SQL injection, an attacker can use it to manipulate the database in various ways. They can extract sensitive information, delete data, modify records, and more. Sometimes attackers use SQL injection to install additional malicious software or to inject commands that grant them remote access to the system.

To prevent SQL injection attacks, it is essential to include security measures in web applications. One way to do this is by using parameterized queries, which can prevent attackers from injecting unexpected SQL commands.

Another way to improve security is through user input validation, which ensures that the data entered into a web application's input fields is sanitized and validated. This is especially important for applications that store sensitive information, such as banking or healthcare systems.

As SQL injection can result in serious consequences, it is important for developers to be aware of the various techniques that attackers use to exploit web applications. They should also stay up to date on the latest security practices and frequently test the application for any vulnerabilities.

If you suspect that your web application has been compromised by SQL injection malware, it is important to take immediate action to contain and remove the malware. This can involve restoring from backups or seeking the help of cybersecurity experts.

In conclusion, SQL injection is a serious threat to web applications and can have dire consequences for businesses. By implementing security measures and staying informed of the latest security practices, developers can help prevent these attacks and protect sensitive information.

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Phishing malware

Phishing malware refers to a type of malware that's designed to steal sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and financial details through deceptive means. Cybercriminals create fake websites or emails that mimic legitimate ones, tricking users into giving away their sensitive information.

Phishing is a growing threat in today's digital world. In 2020, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received 241,342 complaints related to phishing attacks, resulting in a reported loss of $54 million. This shows the importance of being aware of phishing attacks and ways to protect ourselves.

Phishing attacks have become more sophisticated over time, with some attackers using advanced techniques like social engineering to create realistic-looking emails or websites. For instance, an attacker could craft an email that looks like it's from a bank, asking the recipient to click on a link and enter their login credentials to "verify" their account information.

There are a few ways you can protect yourself from phishing attacks. Firstly, always be cautious of emails or websites requesting sensitive information. Check the URL of the website to make sure it's legitimate. Additionally, use anti-virus software to detect and block phishing malware. If you're not sure whether an email or website is genuine, get in touch with the company or individual directly through a verified contact method.

It's also important to keep your software and operating system updated to prevent vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. Phishing attacks often exploit unpatched software.

In summary, phishing malware is a growing threat that can cause significant financial and reputational damage. By taking preventative measures like staying vigilant and keeping software updated, you can protect yourself from these attacks.

Brute force login malware

Brute force login malware is a type of malicious software that leverages automated tools to guess a user's login credentials. This type of malware is typically used by cybercriminals to obtain unauthorized access to user accounts, such as email, social media, or banking accounts.

One of the most common ways brute force login malware works is by simply trying a list of possible usernames and passwords, either through a script or by manual input. If the user has a weak password or a commonly used one, the malware can easily gain access to the account. In other cases, brute force login malware can try thousands or even millions of password combinations until it finds the correct one.

According to a study by Microsoft, brute force attacks are among the top three threats that organizations face today. These attacks can cause major damage to businesses by allowing cybercriminals to infiltrate internal systems and access sensitive data.

One recent example of brute force login malware is the Emotet Trojan. Emotet has infected millions of computers around the world and has been used to target individuals, businesses, and government agencies. The Trojan uses a sophisticated brute force technique to steal login credentials, which can then be sold on the dark web.

To protect against brute force login malware, it's important to use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Users should also avoid sharing their passwords with others and refrain from using the same password for multiple accounts.

Additionally, organizations can implement security measures such as rate limiting and account lockout policies to prevent brute force attacks. This can be done through configuring firewalls or using a security plugin like Jetpack, which will automatically lock out users who have exceeded a certain number of login attempts.

In conclusion, brute force login malware is a serious threat that can lead to financial loss, reputational damage, and identity theft. By taking proactive steps to safeguard against these attacks, individuals and organizations can protect their valuable information and assets from cybercriminals.

Cross-site scripting (XSS) malware

Cross-site scripting (XSS) malware is a type of security vulnerability commonly found in web applications. It occurs when an attacker is able to inject malicious code into a website, which is then executed on the user's web browser. This allows the attacker to steal sensitive information from users, such as login credentials and credit card details.

XSS attacks are highly prevalent and pose a significant threat to web security. According to a report by Symantec, there was a 56% increase in the number of websites compromised by XSS attacks in 2018. The same report also found that attackers often use automated tools to scan websites for vulnerabilities, highlighting the importance of regular security updates and patching.

There are several different types of XSS attacks, each with their own methods of execution. Some of the most common types include:

  • Stored XSS: This occurs when a user's input is stored on a server and then displayed on a webpage without proper validation. Attackers can inject malicious scripts into these inputs, which are then executed whenever the input is displayed on the webpage.

  • Reflected XSS: This occurs when an attacker sends a victim a link containing a malicious script. When the user clicks on the link, the script is executed on the webpage.

  • DOM-based XSS: This occurs when a web page uses dynamic HTML content and includes user input without proper validation. Attackers can use JavaScript to modify the HTML and execute malicious code on the user's browser.

Protecting against XSS attacks requires a combination of proper coding practices and user awareness. Developers should always validate and sanitize user input to prevent malicious scripts from being injected into a webpage. Additionally, users should be cautious when clicking on links or submitting personal information on untrusted websites.


Cryptojacking Malware

Cryptojacking malware is a form of malware that hijacks the processing power of a computer or mobile device without the permission or knowledge of the user. The malware runs in the background, using the device's CPU to mine cryptocurrency for the attacker.

Cryptojacking has become increasingly popular among cybercriminals, and it is estimated that cryptojacking attacks have soared by 8,500% in 2017 alone. In fact, according to a recent study by McAfee, there was a 4,000% increase in cryptocurrency mining malware detections in 2018.

One of the most common ways in which cryptojacking malware is propagated is through malicious email attachments. Attackers use phishing tactics to trick users into clicking on the attachment, which then downloads and installs the malware onto the user's device. Cryptojacking malware can also be spread through infected websites and ads.

The effects of cryptojacking can be disastrous for the user's device, causing it to slow down significantly or even crash completely. In addition, cryptojacking can cause a significant increase in electricity consumption, resulting in higher energy bills for the user.

To protect your device from cryptojacking malware, it is essential to keep your software and security systems up to date. You can also use antivirus software that includes cryptojacking protection to prevent these attacks from happening.

If you suspect that your device has been infected with cryptojacking malware, it is important to take action immediately. Use antivirus software to remove the malware, and monitor your device's performance to ensure that it is running smoothly.

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In conclusion, WordPress websites are among the most targeted by cybercriminals. They are prone to attacks due to their open-source nature and the many third-party themes and plugins used to customize and enhance functionality. The above sections highlight some of the most common types of malware affecting WordPress websites, including backdoor, Trojan, file inclusion exploit, SQL injection, phishing, brute force login, cross-site scripting, and cryptojacking malware.

As a WordPress website owner, it is important to be proactive in securing your website against malware attacks that can compromise data, confidentiality, and availability. One of the most effective ways to do this is by keeping your WordPress software, themes, and plugins up-to-date, as well as investing in a quality security plugin that can detect and remove malware. Regular website backups can also help mitigate the impact of successful malware attacks.

Furthermore, it is crucial to educate yourself and your team about the signs of malware infections such as suspicious files, emails, and login attempts, as well as suspicious website activity. Whenever in doubt, seek the services of a qualified cybersecurity professional to evaluate your website and advise on the best course of action.

In conclusion, malware attacks on WordPress websites can be costly and damaging, both to the website owner and the website visitors. By being proactive and vigilant in securing your website against malware, you can minimize the risks to your business and visitors' confidential and sensitive data. Remember, prevention is better than cure, and investing in website security should be a top priority for all WordPress website owners.

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