Astra Theme Vulnerability Puts Over 1 Million of WordPress Sites At Risk

April 16, 2024 Astra Theme Vulnerability Puts Over 1 Million of WordPress Sites At Risk By Gaurav Madan

Did you know nearly 90,000 WordPress websites are hacked every minute worldwide? Yes, that is the fact. And there are three main reasons for this: weak passwords, outdated plugins, and outdated websites.

We all know the importance of WordPress if you run an online store or any other business. It’s the first choice for people for its easy operation and flexibility.

But do you know the recent Astra theme vulnerability has exposed more than a million WordPress websites to potential risks?

This is like a wake-up call for all website owners, and they need to gear up now to protect their WordPress websites. Search Engine Journal’s latest revelation has shaken up the entire WordPress community.

For the unversed, Astra is one of the most popular WordPress themes in the world. , in late March 2024, a major security vulnerability was identified in the Astra theme. This has impacted 1 plus million websites to the risk of possible attacks, but it also outlines the risks of using pre-built themes.

In this blog, we will dig into the Astra theme vulnerability, the risks of pre-made themes, and how choosing bespoke WordPress themes can protect you from becoming a victim of this threat.

Understanding the Astra Theme Vulnerability

Search Engine Journal has published a detailed analysis regarding the Astra theme vulnerability. It claims that this can invite attackers to implement some malicious scripts on a WordPress website.

The technical term for such vulnerability is Cross-Site Scripting flaw (XSS) which can result in data theft, unauthorized access, and a number of other such activities that can risk not just your business but also customers’ privacy.

Wordfence Security Alert

Wordfence, a popular WordPress firewall and security scanner, has also published security guidelines for WordPress websites. It has been stated that WordPress’s Astra theme is susceptible to stored cross-site scripting with a user’s name. This vulnerability is in all versions, including the latest released 4.6.8, because of a lack of input data checking and filtering as well as output escaping.

This allows attackers with at least contributor-level access to inject web scripts in pages that will be implemented when a user goes to that page.

What is Script Injection?

Script injection is a serious security threat that allows attackers to inject malignant code into your web pages’ user interface elements.

What Are The Risks Of Using WordPress-Premade Themes Like Astra?

We know that prebuilt themes are convenient and affordable for website design. However, using them can expose your website to potential threats.

Attackers target popular themes because of their extensive use. So, when a vulnerability is identified, it can immediately put a massive number of websites at risk.

Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability (XSS)

It is one of the most common types of WordPress vulnerabilities. It typically occurs when in third-party plugins and themes.

This vulnerability arises when there’s a window to input data but the plugin or theme fails to filter and check the data that is being input or output. This allows attackers to inject malicious scripts into pages. This vulnerability is also called a stored XSS as it includes uploading the payload to the site’s server and stored.

How Do Attackers Exploit XSS Vulnerabilities?

To attack store cross-site scripting, the attacker will first identify a vulnerability in a WordPress website and then inject harmful scripts into its database. It then leads to data theft as when a visitor accesses the website, these scripts get activated and pass the information to the attacker.

Websites that enable visitors to share content such as social media platforms, blogs, and other such platforms are more susceptible to such attacks. The dangerous scripts transmit to the browser every time visitors access the attacked page.

Impact of WordPress Vulnerabilities on Website Owners

  • Data Theft and Unauthorized Access

One of the biggest impacts of WordPress vulnerabilities is data breaches and unauthorized access. This can result in the leakage of confidential and sensitive information and compromised user accounts, which can invite more cyberattacks.

Hence, website owners need to buckle up and take important measures to boost their website security.

  • Website Defacement

Hacked WordPress websites will also impact your website’s reputation online. Cyberattacks not only change a website’s appearance but also risk its authenticity and credibility.

Defaced websites lose their online reputation as their useful content is replaced with irrelevant material. So, users lose their trust in such websites for useful information. Besides, such websites also fail to take precautionary measures to protect the data of both their existing and prospective customers.

Also Read: How Customized Themes Can Protect Your WordPress Website From Attackers?

  • Blacklisting

Attackers may use WordPress SEO strategies to rank the affected websites in the SERPs. They input spam and irrelevant content, harmful keywords, and secret links to abuse Google algorithms.

These hacked websites can eventually rank, but this is black hat SEO practice and isn’t safe for users’ online security. Google can blacklist your website as a result of such malicious practices which violate its policies. It will also decrease your conversion rate. So, take your website security seriously and keep it protected from perpetrators.

How Customized Themes Can Protect Your WordPress Website From Attackers?

  • Uniqueness: Bespoke themes are specially developed to meet your business’s specific requirements and brand identity. This provides a unique online presence that sets you apart from your competitors.
  • Optimization: When you get themes customized as per your business requirements, it will optimize your website performance while also improving its loading speed.
  • Improved Security: Bespoke themes reduce the risk of vulnerabilities that are most likely to be seen in other popular pre-made themes. Autus Digital Agency has a dedicated team that can ensure that your website is developed using secure and updated code and proper security measures to protect it from potential threats.

Tips To Mitigate Risks Associated with Premade WordPress Themes

  • Be Careful with Plugins and Themes: Just like we act wisely while downloading any application from suspected sources, website owners and marketers also need to be extremely careful about WordPress themes and plugins. Choose a developer who works regularly on identifying bugs and fixing them with regular updates. This will ensure maximum protection for your site.
  • Update Themes and Plugins Regularly: The way you store the site’s data, such as blogs, themes, plugins, etc., determines its security. So, make sure to update them regularly to ensure that your website is free from any potential risks. If you’re confused about when to update your website, don’t worry—WordPress will send you a notification. If updating the entire website seems like a difficult task, make sure you at least update the necessary plugins and themes.
  • Data Validation: Websites with contact forms or any other forms are more susceptible to harmful script injection. So, make sure that forms on your site don’t accept input without validating them. You can find this feature on the WordPress site, but make sure to customize it to use data validation.
  • Uninstall Unused Plugins and Themes: Having too many plugins and themes might look attractive, but it can cause chaos when choosing the most efficient one for your job. This becomes an even bigger problem when they are free. But you need to get rid of the themes and plugins that you don’t want or use anymore. Unwanted themes and plugins can impose security risks on your WordPress website. You must either deactivate or uninstall them. This will also free up space that you can use for other things.
  • Disable Plugin and Theme Editor: Please remember that you need to act more responsibly if you have some convenient advanced features on your site. This is because they impose more threats. For example, if you have a pre-built theme editor available in your WordPress dashboard, it will definitely be easier to change and edit the code. However, it also increases the risks, especially when you share the admin panel access with multiple people. Disabling plugins and theme editors can help you mitigate such risks.
  • Use WordPress Firewall: Zero-day vulnerabilities make a plugin more susceptible to attacks. As soon as hackers identify vulnerabilities, they will attack your site. We suggest using a WordPress firewall to protect your website from such risks.
  • Cut-Off Plugin Directory Access: Restricting access to the plugin directory can help you protect your plugins and theme. Even if you have multiple users, don’t share its access with anyone.
  • Acquire Themes and Plugin From a Credible Source: This is one of the most important things you cannot ignore. As mentioned, you must choose plugins and themes wisely. Free themes and plugins may seem more affordable, but your first priority is to ensure that they come from a reliable source. You can also choose to develop bespoke themes to maximize your site’s security.

Speak to the Experts for Complete WordPress Support

If you’re a business owner who currently uses the Astra theme or other such premade themes, please note that Autus Digital Agency can provide comprehensive WordPress support to minimize vulnerabilities. Contact us today or check our website for more information.

Also Read: The Best WordPress SEO Guide for Beginners



Gaurav Madan

About Author

Gaurav is working on various verticals like IT & Software Solutions | Digital Marketing | E-Commerce | BPO | Outsourcing | Offshoring | Global Deliveries | Exports | Education. Gaurav believes in CHANGE, which is constant throughout the LIFE so be with the CHANGE Gaurav is having, In-depth experience in IT Solutions, Offshoring, Internet Branding, Sales & Marketing, Managing New Projects & Processes, Solution Designing and Transitioning of New International and Domestic business engagements. Proficient at managing & leading teams to run successful operations & experienced in developing procedures, service standards, client satisfaction using standard frameworks for business excellence.

bodr_line bodr_line

Related Posts