WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems, powering millions of websites around the world. However, popularity comes with a price, as it also makes WordPress a target for hackers. One of the first steps in a hacker’s process is to identify valid usernames on a WordPress site. In this blog post, we will discuss how to enumerate WordPress usernames and the steps you can take to protect your site.
Why do hackers enumerate WordPress usernames?
Before we dive into the process of enumerating WordPress usernames, let’s understand why hackers do it in the first place. By knowing valid usernames, hackers can launch targeted attacks, such as brute force attacks or password guessing, to gain unauthorized access to a WordPress site. Once they have access, they can steal sensitive information, deface your website, or even use it to distribute malware.
Methods to enumerate WordPress usernames
Now that we understand the importance of protecting your WordPress usernames, let’s look at the different methods hackers use to enumerate them:
Using the author archives: By default, WordPress creates author archives for each user, which can be accessed by appending the username or user ID to the website URL. For example, if the username is ‘admin‘, the author archive URL would be ‘https://example.com/author/admin‘. By trying different usernames, hackers can determine which ones exist on your site.
Brute force attacks: Hackers can use automated tools to systematically guess usernames and passwords until they find a valid combination. This method is time-consuming but can be effective if weak usernames and passwords are used.
Using login error messages: When a user tries to log in with an invalid username, WordPress displays an error message. By analyzing these error messages, hackers can determine which usernames are valid and which are not.
Using user registration: Hackers can attempt to create a new user account on your WordPress site using different usernames. If an error message indicates that the username is already taken, they know it exists.
WPUsersScan Tool: WPUsersScan is a powerful GitHub tool designed to help WordPress developers and administrators identify potential vulnerabilities in their websites.
Install WPUsersScan Tool
WPUsersScan uses various scanning techniques to analyze your WordPress installation and identify potential security risks. It scans your entire database, including user accounts, plugins, and themes, to pinpoint any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
Step 1: The first step is to clone the wpUsersScan repository from GitHub. To do this, open your terminal or command prompt and navigate to the directory where you want to clone the repository. Then, run the following command:
git clone https://github.com/R3K1NG/wpUsersScan.git
Step 2: After cloning the repository, navigate to the wpUsersScan directory and install the required dependencies by running the following command:
cd wpUsersScan pip install -r requirements.txt
Step 3: Once you have installed the Requirements, you can now run the scanner. Simply run the following command:
python2 wpUsersScan.py ( Target Website address)
By following these steps, you can easily install and use wpUsersScan to enhance the security of your WordPress site. Remember to regularly run scans and keep your site up to date to stay protected against potential threats.
Protecting your WordPress site from username enumeration
Now that you are aware of the methods hackers use to enumerate WordPress usernames, let’s discuss some steps you can take to protect your site:
Disable author archives: By disabling author archives, you can prevent hackers from easily accessing a list of valid usernames. This can be done by adding a code snippet to your theme’s functions.php file or by using a security plugin.
Implement strong username and password policies: Encourage your users to choose unique and strong usernames and passwords. This can greatly reduce the success rate of brute force attacks.
Limit login attempts: Use a plugin or a security tool that limits the number of login attempts from a single IP address. This can prevent brute force attacks by blocking IP addresses after a certain number of failed login attempts.
Customize login error messages: Modify the default login error messages to display generic error messages instead of specific ones that indicate whether the username or password is incorrect.
By implementing these measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of your WordPress usernames being enumerated by hackers. Remember, it’s always better to be proactive when it comes to website security.