What Is Xmlrpc.php in WordPress and Why Should You Disable It?

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What Is Xmlrpc.php in WordPress and Why Should You Disable It?

WordPress is a unique CMS that comes with built-in features which allows you to interact with your website remotely. Have you ever wanted to access your site only to realize your website is not near? The solution was the xmlrpc.php file. However, for some years now, this file has turned out to be a pest rather than a solution.

In this article, we shall define what is xmlrpc.php, and the reason it was made. Further, we shall highlight some common problems caused by this file and, how to fix them on your WP website.

1. What is Xmlrpc.php file? 

In simple terms, XML-RPC is a WordPress feature which powers data transmission. HTTP acts as the transport medium, while XML acts as the encoding channel. This was to perform the task, because WordPress is not a self-enclosed system, yet it requires to communicate with the rest of the systems.

For instance, what would you do if you wanted to post an article on your website using your mobile device as your computer is not around? You can do so using the remote access feature powered by xmlrpc.php.

If you enable xmlrpc wordpress main features, it let you access your website through the smartphone, and execute trackbacks and ping backs of other websites.

2. Why was Xmlrpc.php made, and what was its use?

XML-RPC was started at the earlier days of WordPress. In the earlier days of the internet, connections were slower. And, writing and publishing on the web was both time-consuming and problematic. Rather than writing in the web browser, many people were writing offline, then copy and paste their writing on the web. Even so, this procedure was inappropriate.

At that time, the solution was creating an offline blogging client. Here, you would compose your content offline, then publish it by connecting to your blog. XML-RPC was used in the connection. Because of the XML-RPC basic framework, earlier apps were using this connection to let people log in their WordPress websites using other devices.

3. Present XML-RPC

The release of WordPress version 2.6 in 2008 came with an option of either activating or deactivating XML-RPC. But, XML-RPC support was enabled by default in the WordPress iPhone app. The setting did not have an option of turning off. To date, this remains.

Nonetheless, the functionality of this file has decreased with time. Basically, the size of this file has reduced from 83kb to 3kb. Therefore, the role of XML-RPC is not as big as it was.

4. The Future of XML-RPC

Following the creation of a new WordPress API, our expectation is the complete elimination of XML-RPC. However, this API is in the trial stage, and action is only possible when using a plugin.

Even so, the future expectation is that the WordPress Xml rpc API will get coded directly in the WordPress core. In turn, there is a higher chance this will remove the need for the xmlrpc.php file.

Although the recent API is not perfect, it offers a strong and safe solution to the issue that the xmlrpc php was solving.

5. Why Should You Disable Xmlrpc.php?

Security concerns are the major problems with XML-RPC. These problems are not direct from XML-RPC. Rather, with how this file can get utilized to activate a brute force attack on your website.

Without a doubt, it is possible to protect your site using strong passwords, as well as WordPress security plugins. However, disabling this file is the best means of protection.

In the past, hackers were exploiting two significant weaknesses of XML-RPC. These are:

 First, you can utilize brute force attacks to access your website. A hacker can gain entry to your site with the use of xmlrpc.php, using a different password and username combinations.

With a single command, hackers can examine hundreds of different passwords. As a result, this enables them to bypass security tools which detect and blocks brute force attacks. You can protect your website from hackers with our WordPress Security services.

Second, the use of a DDoS attack to take websites offline. With this, hackers were using the pingback feature in WordPress for sending pingbacks to thousands of sites at once. This xmlrpc.php feature offers hackers with numerous IP addresses to send their DDoS attacks.

Do you want to examine if your XML-RPC is running on your website? If so, use the XML-RPC Validator tool to run your website. If an error message is what you are getting, then XML-RPC is not enabled.

But, if the message you get says “Success,” use these methods to stop xmlrpc.php:​

Method 1: Use plugins to disable Xmlrpc.php

It is easier to disable XML-RPC on your WordPress using plugins.

Go to your WordPress Dashboard; Plugins>>Add New. After that, search for “Disable XML-RPC” and then install this plugin.

Disable XML-RPC

Once you are done, activate your plugin and you are done. This plugin inserts all vital code to turn off XML-RPC automatically. But, you should remember that some existing plugins might use parts of XML-RPC. Thus, complete deactivation may lead to a plugin conflict. Or, make some elements of your website not to work.

Do you want to turn of​​​​​f some XML-RPC elements, yet let some specific features and plugins to function? If that is the case, use these plugins:
Control XML-RPC Publishing:

This lets you to have control and use of the remote publishing choice provided by xmlrpc.php.

Stop XML-RPC Attack:

This plugin blocks all XML-RPC attacks. However, it lets plugins such as Jetpack, as well as other automatic plugins and tools to continue accessing the xmlrpc.php.

Method 2: Manual deactivation of Xmlr​​​​​pc.php

Do you prefer disabling this file manually instead of using any plugin? If so, it is possible. Doing so blocks all incoming xmlrpc.php requests.

Here is the process: 

Start by opening your .htaccess file. After that, go to your FTP client or File manager, and turn on the “show hidden files.”

Once you find this file, paste this code in your .htaccess file:

Manual deactivation of Xmlrpc.php

Conclusion

In the earlier days, XML-RPC was a great solution to issues arising from remote publishing of your WordPress website. But, this feature had some security holes which are now dangerous to some WordPress website owners.

To secure your website from attackers, make complete deactivation of xmlrpc.php. But, if you need some of these functions, use plugins such as Jetpack to block security holes, yet let these features work. You can also read the post on which plugins are best for your website's security

Use our comment section if you have any question, comment, or suggestion.​​​​​

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