What is an exploit?
An exploit is a process through which an attacker takes advantage of a vulnerability or a bug to gain access or cause damage to a system or a number of systems. The exploit is totally dependent on the vulnerability or security hole that is being taken advantage of. As such, exploits can vary a lot from one exploit to another.
How do exploits work?
Exploits can work in several different ways, depending on where the system is being exploited from and what is being exploited.
Exploits can be either remote or local. Remote exploits work through a network, with the attacker not having any prior access to the system. Local exploits, on the other hand, require access to the system that is being exploited, which is often done through privilege escalation. Such escalation can start from the lowest rungs until root-level access is ultimately reached.
Exploits are often used for pivoting.- the practice of using an exploited machine to pivot an attack on other machines in the network.
WordPress can be exploited through bugs and vulnerabilities that might be available in the code of WordPress core, plugins, and themes. Some of the more common vulnerabilities that can lead to exploits are cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and local file include among others.
Why are exploits dangerous?
Exploits are dangerous because they can ultimately provide attackers with full administrative/root control of the machine as well as other machines on the network. In a WordPress environment, an exploit can lead to full control of the WordPress website as well as underlying systems such as the web server and MySQL/MariaDB database.
How to protect your WordPress website from exploits
Since exploits can come in different shapes and sizes, the best way to protect your WordPress website from them is to incorporate a 360-degree approach to WordPress security and access policies.
One crucial thing not to be overlooked is the frequent updates of all applications. Through updates, developers address bugs and vulnerabilities, thereby closing the door on potential vulnerabilities that could lead to exploiting your WordPress website.