The Risk of Neglect: How Quickly Can an Unmaintained WordPress Website Get Hacked?

We all know that maintaining a WordPress website involves regular updates, security checks, and constant vigilance. But what happens when we slack off on these tasks? How quickly can an unmaintained WordPress website get hacked? Let’s dive into the factors and scenarios that determine just how safe—or unsafe—your neglected site might be.

Factors Influencing the Time to Compromise

  1. Popularity of the Website – The more popular your website, the higher the chances of it being targeted. High-traffic sites attract not just legitimate visitors but also hackers looking to exploit vulnerabilities.

  2. Presence of Vulnerabilities – If your WordPress core, themes, or plugins have known vulnerabilities, the risk of getting hacked skyrockets. Hackers often use automated tools to scan for and exploit these weaknesses.

  3. Existing Security Measures – Even if a site is unmaintained, it might still have some leftover security measures. Strong passwords, security plugins, and firewalls can delay or even prevent certain types of attacks.

  4. Automated Attacks – Many hacking attempts are automated. Bots continuously scan the internet for vulnerable websites, and an unmaintained WordPress site can be an easy target for these automated exploits.

Scenarios of Unmaintained WordPress Sites

Let’s look at some scenarios to understand the timeline better:

Critical Vulnerabilities

Websites with critical vulnerabilities—such as a well-known exploit in a widely used plugin—can be compromised within hours or days. Hackers often have bots ready to exploit these weaknesses as soon as they are disclosed.

Moderate Vulnerabilities

If your site has moderate vulnerabilities, it might take a few weeks before it gets hacked. During this time, automated bots and opportunistic hackers are likely to find and exploit these weaknesses.

Minimal Exposure

A site with minimal exposure and fewer known vulnerabilities might take longer to get hacked. However, this doesn’t mean it’s safe. Without regular updates and security checks, even the most obscure vulnerabilities can be exploited eventually.

Real-World Data and Reports

Security companies have conducted various studies and reported on the risks of unmaintained websites. These reports consistently show that unmaintained WordPress sites are at significant risk of being compromised quickly.

For instance, Sucuri’s website security reports often highlight how quickly vulnerabilities are exploited after being disclosed. Similarly, Wordfence frequently publishes insights on the types and frequency of attacks targeting WordPress sites.

Mitigating the Risks

To protect your WordPress website from being hacked, it’s crucial to:

  • Keep Everything Updated: Regularly update the WordPress core, themes, and plugins to patch any known vulnerabilities.
  • Use Strong Passwords: Ensure all user accounts use strong, unique passwords.
  • Implement Security Measures: Use security plugins, firewalls, and other security measures to add layers of protection.
  • Regular Backups: Maintain regular backups of your website to quickly restore it in case of a security breach.

Treefrog Care Does All The Risk Mitigation For You!

Monitoring your website for malware, keeping everything updated, and performing regular backups are daily tasks that must be performed in order to keep your website safe and secure from hackers. Normally a dedicated IT specialist employed by your company (at a cost of $60K – $120K per year) is necessary to perform these tasks. Treefrog Care is a WordPress website maintenance service that performs all of the above security measures starting at only $500 per month. Visit and take a look at everything that the service has to offer. It will save you untold amounts of stress and time and keep your mind free to focus on other aspects of your business.