Pingback Vulnerability: How to Protect Your WordPress Site –

Pingback Vulnerability: How to Protect Your WordPress Site - ManageWP

Pingbacks can give you a heads-up when other people are talking about your posts. They can also provide a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) boost through valuable backlinks, and improve your site’s visitor experience. However, pingbacks can also help hackers launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against your website.

Fortunately, if you decide that the risks far outweigh the benefits, it’s possible to disable pingbacks. By blocking the XML-RPC procedure that powers this controversial WordPress feature, you can protect your site against DDoS attacks and avoid downtime.

In this article, we’ll look at why pingbacks may be putting your site at risk, and how you can check whether XML-RPC is enabled for your particular WordPress website. We’ll then share three methods for disabling this potentially-dangerous functionality. Let’s get started!

An introduction to WordPress pingbacks

Pingbacks are notifications that appear in your website’s comments section. They indicate that another site has linked back to your content:

In WordPress, pingbacks are enabled by default. This helps you monitor inbound links. You can then respond to each pingback accordingly. For example, you might take this opportunity to engage with the source of the backlink in the comments section of one of their posts. This can help build your reputation as a friendly, approachable content creator.

Additionally, if another site mentions your content positively, you may want others to know about it. You can amplify their post by sharing it via your own social networks.

Sadly, there’s no guarantee that all mentions will be positive. However, you can often improve your public profile by responding to negative mentions, rather than simply ignoring them.

Pingbacks can also drive traffic to your website, as people follow these inbound links to your content. In addition, backlinks are a ranking factor for many search engines. If you manage to secure a large number of pingbacks, it may boost your rankings and organic traffic.

Unfortunately, pingbacks have a dark side. WordPress uses the XML-RPC interface to enable them, which hackers can, in turn, exploit to mount a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against your website.

As part of this attack, a hacker uses XML-RPC to send lots of pingbacks to your site in a short period of time. This overloads your server and may knock your website offline. The results may include expensive downtime and lower conversion rates.

Hackers can also use pingbacks to reveal the public IP address of a protected WordPress installation and bypass any Domain Name System (DNS)-level security. Some malicious parties even use pingbacks to scan for vulnerable open ports. With all this in mind, you may want to consider disabling this feature for your WordPress website.

How to check XML-RPC on your site to see if pingbacks are enabled

Since WordPress 3.5, the XML-RPC interface has been enabled by default. However, there’s no

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This article was written by Will Morris and originally published on ManageWP.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the product, We may receive an affiliate commission.

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