Security Audit

How to Conduct a WooCommerce Security Audit?

Updated on: May 20, 2022

How to Conduct a WooCommerce Security Audit?

WooCommerce is an e-commerce platform built on WordPress. It’s being used by over 27% of all online stores which hints at the huge popularity WooCommerce enjoys when it comes to e-commerce. However, as was the case with all WordPress websites, WooCommerce websites also attracted unwanted attention from hackers.

In fact, stats show that out of all hacked CMS sites, 90% belonged to WordPress. On top of that were the clueless and ill-prepared web owners, who did little to secure their website. According to WordPress hacking statistics, 56 % of the hacked websites were running a vulnerable plugin. 15 % had vulnerable file rules and weak passwords. Another study shows that two-thirds of the hacked sites had backdoors installed in them.

If you own an online store that is powered by WooCommerce, then you need to stay aware of your security status. This includes analyzing your security measures for loopholes and patching them. But, how to do that? By conducting a WooCommerce security audit.

Why your WooCommerce site needs a security audit?

Cybersecurity should be a priority for any company. This is particularly true for websites that do business online. Ecommerce websites see a lot of traffic and also come across information such as personal details and payment details. With such sensitive data at hand, websites have to ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Knowing how to secure your website does not only mean protection from attackers but also means a safe and easy way to shop for your customers. Hence, erecting an effective and manageable security system is crucial for any e-commerce including your WooCommerce website.

That said, you should also take into account that your security system does not interfere with your user interface. While pursuing powerful security standards for your website, some web owners cause inconveniences to their customers. This shouldn’t be the case at all. Having a balance between overall security and user interface is essential to attract more traffic and keep the hackers at bay at the same time. Hence, always account for your website’s performance and ways to strengthen security without having to compromise on usability.

A WooCommerce security audit prods all the necessary places and areas on a website and lets you know of all weak spots and gaps in your website security. In a recent survey, more than 73% of WordPress installations were found susceptible to attacks.

Hence, conducting a security audit of your WooCommerce becomes all the more necessary for your site. It helps you detect these missing security measures on the site and lets you strengthen it before a disaster takes place.

Also Read: Plugin Security Audit

The basics of conducting a WooCommerce Security Audit

A security audit must look into four major areas:

  1. Administrator rights and files:

    Administrator rights protect the core files from being accessed by others. If the file permissions are not set correctly, attackers can gain access to the core files. Core files contain all information about the website and using those backdoors and malware can be installed. Thus, appropriate file permissions will protect your website from unwanted access

  2. Login methods and user access:

    Logging through a username and password is easy to compromise. Also, users should not be able to access important files and controls on your website. Login methods can have vulnerabilities such as accepting special characters allowing for SQL Injection attacks. Also, login fields may be susceptible to code injection leading to users being able to access website databases. Such gaps in security need to be caught and fixed

  3. WordPress versions and themes/plugins:

    Most of the hacked WordPress sites had either an older version of WordPress or an outdated theme or plugin. Third-party plugins can change alter the security settings of your website and make it more vulnerable. Also, outdated plugins have known security flaws that can be exploited. For strong security, scrutinizing all plugins and themes is important to find out nay vulnerability in the website

  4. Backup:

    A complete backup always comes in handy in case the website is compromised. Ensure that all your important and core files are properly and securely backed up. In case, these files are corrupted or altered, the backup will make sure that you can quickly restore all original files. Some servers offer automatic periodic backups

Step-by-Step WooCommerce Security Audit

The best way to start a WooCommerce security audit on your website is to create a checklist including basic as well as in-depth checks. Below are some steps for an effective security audit:

  1. Basic CMS checks:

    Let’s begin with some basic checks. Check if the default admin accounts are properly secured. Change the default passwords and disable any unwanted user access to your website. If your website has a comment section, check if it is vulnerable to spam flooding by bots or code injections. Your website should not post any details regarding the platform or backend data. Any fields that users use to enter details should have strong input validation rules to avoid any SQL injection or code injection attacks

  2. User access permissions:

    Each user type of your website must have different user access permission depending on their categories. Visitors should only have access to those features that enhance their experience since they do not need to concern themselves with the backend files. Only authorized users or owners should have access to administrative files and settings

  3. Platform and plugin updates:

    Older versions of CMS platforms have known security gaps that are fixed in newer versions. Those who use an outdated version run the risk of getting hacked. Outdated plugins also carry the same risks. Check if all plugins are updated with the latest security patches. Also, to add another layer of security, try using some security plugins. In case you are not confident about a new update, create a test environment and test it out

  4. Backups:

    Having backups is always recommended. Check if you have multiple locations for backups so that during emergencies you have multiple options to get your data back. Manually backing up your data all the time might become tedious and time-consuming. You can automate data backups using plugins or tools. This will make sure that your latest data is properly backed up. Always test your backups and check if they are working or not

Get the ultimate WordPress security checklist with 300+ test parameters

Tools to Perform a WooCommerce Security Audit

To do the above checks you will need tools. Thankfully, for testing your website there are a couple of free testing tools that are widely used and are effective. Below are some tools that you can use to conduct a WooCommerce security audit:

  1. Zed attack proxy:

    This is a free and open-source audit tool developed by OWASP. You can use this tool on Windows, Mac or Linux platforms. This tool is capable of finding a number of vulnerabilities and is also very easy to use. This tool has numerous features such as an automatic scanner, web socket support, authentication support, dynamic SSL certificates, REST-based API, etc.

    woocommerce security audit tool

  2. Wapiti:

    This tool is one of the most efficient testing tools for a WooCommerce security audit. To find vulnerabilities, this tool does “black box testing”. If you are an expert, this tool will be easy to use since it is based on the command line prompt. By using this tool you can identify vulnerabilities such as CRLF Injection, database injection, file disclosure, weak ‘.htaccess’ configurations, command execution detection, among several others.

  3. W3af:

    Built on Python, this tool is an effective and popular web testing framework. This tool is capable of detecting more than 200 types of vulnerabilities such as buffer overflow vulnerability, blind SQL Injection, insecure DAV configurations, CSRF vulnerabilities and more.

    woocommerce security audit

Or Get a Professional From Astra Do It!

WooCommerce security audits are necessary to ensure the safety of your customers as well as to protect your website. You can either do it on your own or leave the entire audit to an expert from Astra who will make sure that your entire website is checked thoroughly for any vulnerability without you having to face any hassle.

Doing a WooCommerce security audit on your own allows you to do a basic check of your security system. However, it comes nowhere near to a professional security audit done using sophisticated in-built tools. Astra security experts have their own state of the art security testing tools and experienced professionals who will look into every nook and corner of your website.

You just have to sign up for the program and rest assured that Astra will find all vulnerabilities that exist on your website.

Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing by Astra
Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing by Astra

Have questions to ask, schedule a call with a security expert using the above link!

Ananda Krishna

Ananda Krishna is the co-founder & CTO of Astra Security, a SaaS suite that secures businesses from cyber threats. He has been acknowledged by the Indian Navy, Microsoft, United Airlines, etc. for finding critical security vulnerabilities in their systems. Winner of the Best Security Product at Global Conference on Cyberspace 2017 (awarded by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India) & French Tech Ticket, Paris (awarded by François Hollande, former President of France). At Astra he's building an intelligent security ecosystem - web application firewall (WAF), malware detection & analysis, large scale SaaS applications, APIs & more. He's actively involved in the cybersecurity community and shared his knowledge at various forums & invited talks.
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