In this article we outline the best ways to keep your WordPress website secure ans ensure no bad guys get their way inside. Security is a major issue for the large number of people that visit and own many WordPress websites. It’s important that the proper steps are taken to ensure your WordPress site is safe for all.
1. Keep your website updated
This is an important thing to do before taking any other step. Although WordPress’ latest version is more secure than the previous ones, it is better for you to keep it updated and backed up at all times. You can consider different ways of keeping your website updated like auto-updating by WordPress on adding a few lines of code.
2. Secure the administrator account
If your administrator account is compromised, it can be very difficult to get your website to follow your rules. Make sure you use a very unique username for login, one that cannot be easily guessed. Once you have set up the username, you cannot change it. If you are stuck in such a situation, just create a new user account and assign it to the role of administrator and then delete the previous admin account.
3. Protect from DDoS attacks
DDoS attacks are a very common attack by botnets where the website network is flooded with various requests, which leads to the server being overwhelmed and the website therefore inaccessible. This can simply be avoided using an Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) which not only track unusual traffic but also blocks seemingly harmful entries. Keeping the website updated and admin account secure will ensure that the hackers are not able to pull out any private folder where they can manipulate the system to use a DDoS attack. Another way to prevent this is to use a service like Cloudflare which acts as a barrier between the attacker and your website and blocks the IP addresses from the botnet.
4. Enable SSL for data transfer security
SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is encryption that protects all the data on your website and prevents any third-party person or organization from accessing or modifying the data between your users and the server. This can also help in boosting your page rank on Google. This is a highly valuable step in gaining the trust of your users. To get a SSL you can use a commercial SSL from Namecheap, Godaddy or get a free SSL from Let’s Encrypt https://letsencrypt.org
5. Use secure passwords
It is obvious that you should never use passwords that are easy to guess, but it’s amazing how often you hear of people using passwords like Kanye (video link here) Always use a combination of uppercase and lowers letters as well as digits and avoid using easily guessable words. The best thing which is preferred if you own a website is to use a password vault like LastPass, which is not only free but once you enter a super secure password for your vault, LastPass will automatically define and remember strong passwords. https://www.lastpass.com/affiliate
6. Keep the WordPress version number private
Hackers keep working on cracking websites and accounts that would benefit them. There are some known vulnerabilities about some versions of WordPress. If the hacker can easily see your version number, there are chances that he might very easily find the weak spot to attack.
Add a remove function to your website’s PHP file of functions and remove the readme.html file. This will ensure that the hackers just don’t visit and directly see the weakness of your site.
7. Limit login attempts
It might be difficult for a person to keep guessing a password but still, the problem of guessing passwords and cracking accounts is a pervasive one. This is because a bot can easily try a few hundred thousand times and get to the right password. The simple solution is by restricting login attempts after a few tries. This can be easily implemented on WordPress with plugins like Login LockDown.
8. Use a good host
A host is where your site lives. It is like the locality where your website grows up. Not only can it improve the security of your website, but it also affects how well your website grows and how high it is ranked on search engines. A good host is one which updates the software and applications regularly and provides various certified features to boost your website’s security. Plus, using a trusted and widely used host will make available to you more security options. We recommend Kinsta and WPEngine
9. Keep your machine in good condition
Not only the website and its surrounding on the internet matters but also the computer, laptop or any device that you use to access your site. FTP based bots are well aware of how to recreate passwords by copying your keystrokes. Just having a good antivirus can help ensure the implementation of this step.
10. Be on HTTPS
This step is after you have set the SSL/TLS certification for your website. HTTPS works in a similar way to HTTP to transfer data from your servers to the user’s place, but HTTPS also puts encryption over the transfer that prevents any manipulation of data in between and reduces any potential risks.
11. Enable a web application firewall
A firewall is a very common thing which most of us already know about. It prevents any kind of unwanted actions towards your website. Almost every computer has a firewall. A web application firewall is a similar thing, specifically designed for websites and protection of servers.
12. Make use of plugins
WordPress has a lot of plugins to enhance almost every function of your website. This is also true for boosting the strength and security base of your website. From virus detecting plugins to implementing a firewall on a WordPress website is as easy as adding plugins. Some of the great plugins providing good firewall security would be Wordfence or All In One WP Security and Firewall.
13. Implement two-factor authentication
As the name would imply, it is a process that requires one to verify themselves twice and is already used on many mailing and registration based services like Gmail and Discord. Generally, two passwords are needed of two different types and a third device like your mobile or tablet or some other device is also used. The Two-Factor Authentication plugin on WordPress is very easy to set up and increase the website’s security.
14. Check plugins and themes properly
There can be various plugins that are designed to hack your website and if you install them, then what is technically happening is that you are hacking your website and then transferring all your information to the hacker who made the plugin. This is also true for themes. To prevent such cases from happening, make sure the plugin provider is trusted.
15. Keep your plugins and themes updated too
Hackers are always in search of a way to get into your website. All the outdated elements of your webpage can be a way for the hacker to get access to your computer. Thus, along with your website, make sure all its elements are updated.
16. Keep a limit to the number of plugins
Other than getting plugins from trusted developers and companies, having less number of plugins also help in improving the website’s security. It does not mean that you should lose some good functions from your website, but use plugins like Jetpack that help in performing the functions of several other plugins which can be replaced by it. Also, having a lot of plugins on your website can mean slowing down of mutual functions and load time. Using plugins that perform several functions are a good choice in these cases.
17. Use .htaccess protection
.htacess is a file that helps in heavily improving your site’s security. There are several benefits of using it which include basic redirect functionality, for instance, if a 404 file not found error occurs, or for more advanced functions such as content password protection or image hotlink prevention.
18. Disable PHP error reporting
Although this is a good debug tool when building PHP websites, it can display the complete error path if any error occurs. This can be valuable to hackers and can lead them to find an easy path for getting into the basic controls of your website. You should make sure that there is no way for the hackers to find out about a disruption point for your website.
19. Keep an eye on Google Search Console
Previously known as Google Webmaster tools, this is a free tool where you can link your website and get to know if any malicious or undesired thing happens on your website. It is helpful to get a fast notification if anything goes wrong.
20. Use CAPTCHA or ReCaptcha
Using a CAPTCHA and ReCAPTCHA on the login screen can help in preventing botnets from accessing any valuable information from your website.
21. Log out inactive users automatically
If a user just wanders away in a session, it can cause a hacker to use this moment to change passwords and account information by hacking their session. This feature is very well used by financial and banking websites that automatically log one out of their account after a few minutes of idleness.
22. Hide author usernames
WordPress by default lets users find usernames easily. But this can make the work of a hacker a step shorter if the admin username is visible. You can add a few lines of functions to the PHP file to hide author usernames.
23. Disable XML-RPC
XML-RPC is used to connect blogging clients with your website. This is also a potential weak point for a DDoS attack and can be easily made with this feature enabled. So, if you are not using the blogging features, it is better you have XML-RPC disabled.
24. Configure file permissions
WordPress uses a 3-digit number to represent security of the website. According to the guidelines, setting the permission level of folders to 755 and files to 644 is the best option. Here each digit represents a security condition which needs to be very carefully updated to make sure the right people have access only to the intended information.
25. Track the admin activity
It is better to keep a check on what different users are doing and if some unusual change occurs, you can take an early step and prevent any serious damage. When a weird change is implemented or something suspicious installed, you’ll want to be able to find out who was behind the activity. Plugins got you covered.
26. Use a unique MySQL database name
You can only set it once, so don’t set it something that can be easily discoverable. Make it as complex as possible, and you can always check the wp-config.php file to recover them.
27. Use a security monitor
If an attack has happened already, your task is to make sure your audience knows about it. Use a server-side scanner like Sucuri to get information about all your affected files so that you can act on them fast.
Why does WordPress need security?
While building a website, especially for businesses, it is important that the website is well protected. A hack can cause leak of data like confidential or private documents. The infrastructure of a website in terms of the security must be given the greatest importance before publishing it.
Many WordPress users have been affected by hacks on their website. Once your website is hacked, it is difficult to figure out how to re-secure your site. Sometimes patching a few things or changing the web host can solve the problem, but it is important that we avoid any such situation from the get go.
Every now and then, there are reports of attacks and several reports illustrate the continuous rise of malicious websites. Google lists more than 50,000 websites as harmful in some or the other way every week. Users are rarely aware of the problems that they may face by accessing a certain website. It is the website’s job to ensure the safekeeping of all the information that any user provides on it.
Now, WordPress does have a lot of facilities and features that you can add or implement on your website to prevent anything as such from happening. The number of hacks in a year has reached around the mark of two hundred thousand hacks recently, which is a very concerning issue for anyone running of visiting a WordPress site.
Why would anyone hack your website?
Just because you have a small business and not a very active website does not mean you will not be targeted. These hacks are mostly performed by bots made by hackers which don’t hack just one particular website but hundreds or thousands or maybe a higher number of websites at the same time.
As soon as your website is successfully hacked, the hacker can now use your website as if you are yourself working on its back-end. The hacker receives all the information stored on your website, including personal information of your audience or customers. This can be used by them in many ways. This leads to hackers sending spam or unwanted emails or messages to your audience.
You may or may not be affected depending on what the motive of the hacker is, but ethically, logically and by the rule of law, you are not allowed to let just anyone steal data of some other person just because your protection and security systems do not work properly.
Hackers will find anything on your website that can benefit them and won’t discriminate on the fact whether you are a small business or a big resource of data. To prevent these problems, let us look at 25 options that you have to make sure your website is secure.
Secure your WordPress Website Now!
We have covered a lot of points above, and most of these can be followed casually without any much work. There exist many great plugins that can help you make your website strong. Always keep your tab on unusual occurrences on your website and use all the resources available.
WordPress is one of the finest platforms to have your website functioning and following the right steps can help you make it stand out easily.