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Beware of recycled capabilities risk

Vasyl MartyniukBackend AccessAbout 2 min

WordPress's roles and capabilities system is ingeniously simple, providing website administrators with the power to control user access and permissions. However, it is not uncommon for plugin and theme developers to misunderstand this system, leading them to make decisions that could pose security risks for larger organizations. In this article, we'll explore recycling existing WordPress core capabilities may cause big troubles, and how AAM can help to mitigate them.

Common pitfall

From time to time, plugin and theme developers may take shortcuts when defining access controls for their custom features. For instance, they might choose to use the edit_posts capability to grant access to functionality that defines SEO tags for posts or the edit_pages capability to manage online orders. While this may seem convenient, it can lead to significant issues, especially in large organizations.

Imagine a scenario where a large-scale website is managed by dedicated editorial and SEO teams, each with a clear set of responsibilities. The editorial team is given the edit_posts capability to manage their posts' content, which is entirely reasonable. However, this capability also grants them the ability to modify SEO-related metadata. This overlap in capabilities may result in human errors and potentially lead to lost revenue, as SEO-related settings should not be tampered with by the editorial team.

Similarly, a freelancer who is allowed to manage pages may suddenly gain access to view all online orders and sensitive customer information. Such situations are far from ideal, as they compromise security and confidentiality.

Introducing Advanced Access Manager

To address the challenges posed by these scenarios and maintain a robust security posture, Advanced Access Manager (AAM) offers a comprehensive set of tools and features. AAM is a powerful WordPress plugin designed to enhance user access control and permissions management.

For example, to ensure that your users have access only to backend pages that were explicitly allowed, you can leverage the backend menu service and enable the "Restricted Mode".

The similar approach can be taken to the admin toolbar, metaboxes, widgets and even RESTful API endpoints.


While WordPress's roles and capabilities system is simple and effective, it can be misunderstood by developers, leading to potential security vulnerabilities in larger organizations. Recycling core capabilities to grant access to custom functionalities may seem like a quick solution, but it can have dire consequences.

Advanced Access Manager offers a robust and user-friendly solution for managing user roles and capabilities effectively. With AAM, website administrators can maintain granular control over user access, create custom capabilities, protect sensitive content, and more. By using Advanced Access Manager, organizations can ensure the security, privacy, and integrity of their WordPress-powered websites, even in complex and dynamic environments.