WordPress DDoS Vulnerability: How to Protect your Website

Certainly, a website takes a lot of effort to build!!

But, some uncertainty makes everything worthless. Though, you might not have expected your website to be instantly overwhelmed by several simultaneous requests, causing it to crash.  And, this is what happens when the WordPress website gets prone to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. 

The DDoS attack just takes some minutes to bring down the website.  Unexpectedly, at one minute, the hackers target the website and then, overload the network and server.  And at the second minute, the WordPress website becomes inaccessible, unresponsive, and gets offline.

Therefore, your business comes to a standstill. With the loss of visitors and customers, your revenue will decline.  Improving DDoS is not easy- it costs more than hundreds and thousands of dollars.   So, what better is to be ready for such an attack and does not make it destroy anything.  Considering this, we have decided to help you in this difficult matter and give some short, trivial and not universal tips for protecting your site from DDoS attacks.  

So, stay with us to know more!!

What is a DDoS Attack?

What is a DDoS Attack

A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is an attempt to do harm by rendering a target system, such as a WordPress website, inaccessible to ordinary end users. Typically, attackers generate a large number of packets or requests, which ultimately overload the work of the target system. To implement a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) type of attack, an attacker uses many hacked or controlled sources.

In general, DDoS attacks can be divided into types depending on what level of the open system interaction model (OSI) attack occurs. Attacks at the network level (level 3), transport level (level 4), presentation level (level 6), and application-level (level 7) are the most common.

Classification of DDoS Attacks

When considering the issue of prevention from DDoS attacks, it is useful to look up its two classifications:  infrastructure-level attacks (levels 3 and 4) and application-level attacks (levels 6 and 7).

  • Infrastructure Level Attacks

Infrastructure-level attacks usually include attacks at levels 3 and 4. This is the most common type of DDoS attack, which includes vectors such as SYN flood, and other reflection attacks such as UDP flood. Such attacks are usually massive and are aimed at overloading the network bandwidth or application servers. However, this type of attack has certain signs, therefore it is easier to detect.

  • Application-Level Attacks

Attacks at the application level usually include attacks at levels 6 and 7. These attacks are less common, but at the same time, they are more complex. As a rule, they are not as massive as infrastructure-level attacks, but are aimed at certain expensive parts of the application and lead to the fact that it becomes inaccessible to real users. Examples include an HTTP request stream to the login page, and expensive search API, or even WordPress XML-RPC streams (also known as WordPress Pingback attacks).

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Working of DDoS Attack

To know how the DDoS attack functions, you must know how the website responds when the visitor visits your website. 

Actually, there is a process  that happens which is defined below:

  • When the visitor visits the website, the browser, like, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome sends the request to the website server.
  • The server processes the request to obtain the fundamental data and assigns it back to the browser.
  • The browser then accepts this data to show the content of the WordPress website to the visitor.

working of ddos attack

Each server has some restricted resources to run the website. The range is generally granted by the web hosting providers according to the hosting plan. Every request from the visitor secures some amount of server resources. If your server resources are less then it will manage merely some browser requests. 

Do not exhaust the resources with too many requests. Otherwise, your website will turn out to be unresponsive and slow. Even there are chances that if there will be much burden on the server, then the website can crash and go offline. As of now, you know how the origin servers and browsers communicate. To get it more clear, find out how a DDoS attack takes place.

How Do DDoS Attacks Occur?

Each server has some restricted resources to run the website. The range is generally granted by the web hosting providers according to the hosting plan. 

Of course, if your website suddenly gets prone to DDoS attacks, then it only means that hackers have planned it all in advance. You can take it as the hackers preparing an army for attacking your WordPress website.

  • Hackers Create a Pool of Devices

Generally, hackers target mobile phones and computers and affect them with malware.

** Some examples are there that show DDoS attacks have DVR and CCTV cameras for launching the DDoS attacks on the WordPress websites.

Later, the malware acknowledges them to forward the requests from the affected device to the targeted website. This machine network can be termed as Botnet. Even the hackers can hire the botnet which is accessible on the dark web.

  • They Send Many Fake Requests

The hackers consider the malware on each device on the botnet and control the machines to send the fake requests on the web server.

  • Bottleneck Requests are Send 

Even with a single request, the resources get exhausted. With one request after another, the chances of exhaustion become more.  This makes the website to get offline and higher the chances of crashing.

Bottleneck requests are send

If the hacker cannot drive the successful flood attack and take the website offline, then the attack will influence the website’s performance and website speed. The visitors cannot check or navigate the website. And, if the website is infected with the DDoS attack then, you have to reply in prompt.  The more you wait, the more you lose the revenue and potential customers. 

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How to Find the DDoS Vulnerability on the WordPress Website?

How to Find the DDoS Vulnerability on the WordPress Website

Why is detecting DDoS attacks tough? Because it does not show any warnings. The hacker can force many attacks on the website at any time. As many WordPress website owners are not browsing the websites regularly, it is tough to know if the website is under attack or not.

In most cases, the website owners do not have any idea until the visitors or customers complain that they cannot get access to the WordPress website. Just at that time, you will understand that there is something wrong with the web host or web server. You can monitor if there is any theme or plugin which is creating an issue. 

And, then you will realize that there is a presence of DDoS attacks on your website. That is a big loss in terms of revenue, potential visitors, etc. What best for mitigating DDoS attacks is to know the sign prior. Several hints are there that you can look up and know the presence of DDoS attacks.

  • Monitor the Website Traffic

Hackers send many requests to the WordPress website in DDoS attacks. This implies that an expected hike can be seen in traffic. The website traffic can be measured from Google Analytics. Generally, it does not show the real-time data, but, you can turn on the settings, for that, you need to:

  • Sign in to Google Analytics
  • Move to the view
  • Select reports and open it
  • Choose Real-Time

 

Google analytics report

On the contrary, you can even use the website security plugin, such as, MalCare for checking the traffic requests that are coming to the website. 

So, install the plugin on the WordPress website, use the dashboard to move to Security->Traffic requests.

Checking traffic report

If you will notice a pool of requests merely in some time, then this is also an indication of DDoS attack, particularly, when the website does not experience the legitimate traffic. 

  • Review the Website Data Usage

The aim of a DDoS attack is to drain the website resources. So, it is better to look after the resources and find out the proportion of used resources. 

Many hosting providers show website analytics on the dashboard. So, it is better to visit the hosting account and navigate to “Manage hosting”- this is where you will notice the usage analytics.

Review the website data usage

In general, the website cannot drain the resources easily. A lot of traffic is required on the website to exceed the limit. If the CPU bandwidth and usage limit have reached then there are chances of DDoS attack presence. Here, our advice to you is to act fast to protect the website.

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Proven Ways to Protect DDoS Attack on the WordPress Website

Ways to Protect DDoS Attack on the WordPress Website

Several methods are there that can be used to protect the WordPress website. Disabling some features and security plugins are some of these. Employing an accurate protection plan, you can increase the ability to bounce back from DDoS attacks. Here, we are defining the best ways to protect the WordPress website from DDoS attack:

  • Disable REST API and XML RPC in WordPress

With the announcement of WordPress’s recent version, the users can enable the XML-RPC option by default. This can be used for trackbacks and pingbacks. Though, it does not apply to all websites. It is not required if you are not dependent on mobile apps for WordPress website management.

XML-RPC can be compromised easily, that implies that it can be exposed to vulnerabilities that hackers can get exploited to DDoS attack. Hence, it is better to disable it. This can be achieved by updating the .htaccess file. You need to open from the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), like FileZilla or hosting account file manager. Paste the below code after that.

# Block WordPress xmlrpc.php requests

<Files xmlrpc.php>

order deny,allow

deny from all

</Files>

In the same fashion, it is better to disable the REST API in WordPress. It is one of the channels that authorizes the access of third-party apps to the WordPress website. The best manner to disable the WordPress API on the website is by WP Security and Hide Enhancer.

This plugin does not require you to have any configuration and the best part, it is free to use. After the installation and activation phase, you can disable the REST API by navigating to WP Hide->JSON API.

Disable REST API

This plugin can even be used after disabling the XML-RPC functionality. Its option is placed in the XML-RPC tab.

  • WAF Installation on the WordPress Website

If you are using WordPress for a long time, then you must be aware of WAF.  Precisely, it is the security software that integrates the protection layer on the website and malicious traffic.  Also, it assists in the prevention of the DDoS attack by restricting the filtering out bots and user access. Though, there are several WAFs that you can choose for protecting the WordPress website.  Here, our recommendation is Sucuri. 

The Sucuri Intrusion Prevent System (IPS) and WAF save your website from any malware, brute force attack, etc.  This blocks different types of DDoS attacks and malicious traffic. Sucuri presents many plans that you can pick accordingly. 

  • Secure a Secure Hosting Provider

We cannot underestimate the hosting quality on the WordPress website. The server affects the performance and speed of the website.  Undeniably, it also has a major role to play in website security, it influences your capability to protect and improve from DDoS attacks.

The main reason that most of the users prefer to select the web host lies in cost. But, when it is about website protection, then it is better to invest in better hosting.  It is especially true when you prefer to opt for the cheap plan that can cost you in means of losing the essential business assets.

Employing the DDoS attack detrimental effect on the WordPress website in regards to uptime and performance, it is important to select the hosting plan and provider. These help you to know and handle the overwhelming traffic.  

There is hope that you are employing a reliable and premium hosting provider.   If it is not, we advise you to switch to the one that considers security as preference.  It might have some plans that have features, like, 24X7 monitoring and support, free CDN service, and malware scanning.

  • Employ Content Delivery Network

CDN offers extra network servers that provide support to the WordPress website speed and handles the server load effectively. Considering the performance optimization, it also gives full justice to security.

In general, the CDN prevents DDoS attacks and does not cause severe damage. It also detects unexpected traffic patterns and works as a reverse proxy.

Several CDN service providers are there. But, we advise you to get the best one, such as Stackpath. The Stackpath CDN considers the layered security layered approach for the protection and mitigation of DDoS attack. It encompasses many premium plans. The other benefit is that it allows you to integrate the website with the WordPress Plugin.

  • Download the WordPress DDoS Protection Plugin 

Most of the DDoS protection plugins save a lot of energy and time by streamlining the cumbersome tasks.  Many have features that are important for DDoS attacks on the WordPress website. 

It is mentioned above that WAFs can be extremely useful for website safeguarding.  Installation of the security plugin includes one-built quickly to integrate the protection of WordPress installation.  In addition, the functionality such as bad URL, login attempts, bot blocking, and malicious IP address eliminates the attack mitigation.  Hence, we advised you to download the WordPress DDoS protection plugin, like, Wordfence.

Wordfence can carry out several prominent functions. The WordPress security Plugin also integrates tools for examining live visits and traffic and activity surges.  You can use and download several plugins for free. 

Though, it also provides the premium version that allows access to the overall suite of the security features, like, a real-time threat defense feed.

  • Prefer WordPress Maintenance and Monitoring

When it is about website management,  prevention is better.  For minimizing the DDoS attack chances in the WordPress website, it is best to make regular monitoring and maintenance a priority.

Executing the website regular maintenance will keep the website secure and therefore, lessens the vulnerabilities for the hackers.  The regular examination can find a susceptible activity before notable damage.   Several essential tasks are included in the proper monitoring and maintenance, such as:

 

  • Uptime monitoring
  • Automated backups
  • Speed optimization
  • Malware scanning and removal
  • Updates to WordPress, plugins, and themes

 

Yes, executing all is a time-consuming task, but it is evident. We advise you to make it seamless by signing-up for the WordPress Care Plan. The professional WordPress maintenance services providers assures you peacefulness and guarantees that your website is fully cared for. In addition, with this serenity, you can focus more on different valuable and productive tasks.

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Wrapping Up

With the presence of extensive security threats out there, thinking to stand out is tough. But, letting these attacks damage your hard-earned website is not acceptable. The one attack which is more severe is DDoS attack (in terms of severity and frequency).

Hence, it is essential to assure that you have followed all measures to protect your WordPress website from this attack.

Here, in this guide, we have given you a comprehensive view of DDoS attack, significantly with the prevention steps.  Follow them and prevent your WordPress website from the attacks.

We hope this article is helpful for you. In case, you are unsure about the tips and tactics of the same, then contact us. We will help you out and provide you with effective results.

Thanks for reading!!