WordPress is the most popular web content management system (CMS), powering over 35% of all websites. Sadly, this fame brings with it the risk of attack from that intent on exploiting its security flaws. So if you want to keep your WordPress site safe from potential threats, securing it should be at the top of your list. In this article, we will discuss how to secure your WordPress site by covering everything from basic measures, such as choosing strong passwords, through more advanced steps like implementing two-factor authentication and running regular scans. So let’s dive right in and begin fortifying your WordPress site against potential threats.
As this is going to be a long blog post so we are just going to outline the techniques without going into too much detail about the implementation.
Importance of WordPress security
WordPress is one of the world’s most powerful website-building platforms; as the saying goes, great responsibility comes with great power. So you must ensure your WordPress site is secure to protect yourself from malicious attacks.
Hackers have a variety of motives for attacking websites, ranging from stealing personal information to sending spam or using sites for DDoS attacks. Wordfence states over 90% of hacked WordPress sites are vulnerable due to weak passwords or outdated software. These breaches can be significant; an average breach costs companies between $1 million and $3 million.
So, to ensure your WordPress system is safeguarded from malicious intruders, it’s important to implement robust security protocols; this will help you economize and provide comfort in knowing that your data remains secure. Create a comprehensive checklist that covers all aspects discussed above so that even if something slips through the cracks, it won’t compromise the entire system’s safety hence the need to take proactive measures for securing WordPress.
Basic WordPress Security Measures
These basic measures should encounter 99% of attacks against your WordPress sites. Ensuring these basic security practices for your WordPress site is essential to preserve data and fend off malicious intrusions. To guarantee the security of your site, it is important to put these essential protective measures into place.
Use a Strong Password:
To start, ensure that all user accounts have strong passwords and limited permissions; this will help prevent unauthorized access or manipulation of your site’s content.
Use the Latest WordPress Version:
Also, always keep WordPress core files and plugins updated with the latest versions in order to patch up any potential vulnerabilities they may contain.
Use the Latest Versions of Plugins and Themes:
According to a Sucuri study, 39% of all WordPress sites get hacked due to hackers utilizing the vulnerabilities found in outdated plugins. So you can understand that developers are continuously updating plugins and themes to fix bugs, vulnerabilities, and other security issues. So it is essential to keep your website’s plugins and themes updated to protect your website against the latest security threats.
Updating the latest versions also means your site’s performance will increase, and it is compatible with the latest PHP or WordPress versions.
Just as of my writing this blog post, a vulnerability in the popular WordPress SEO plugin All-In-One-SEO (AISEO) has put 3 million plugin users at risk, and it currently affects all AISEO versions 4.2.9 and lower. The plugin makers have hastily patched the vulnerability, and all sites using a version higher than 4.2.9 should be fine.
This incident yet again highlights the importance of using the latest WordPress plugins and themes.
Never use Nulled or Pirated Themes or Plugins:
Running a Web Hosting Service since 2009, we have found out that some of the users, to save the nominal cost of the plugin or theme, resort to using nulled or pirated versions of these themes and plugins. This is one of the worst decisions you can make for your website. According to this Securi report, using vulnerable software components such as plugins and themes remains one of the top two causes of website infections.
A hacker group known as “The Shadow Brokers” released a collection of exploits and hacking tools in 2017. These tools targeted vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins. The group specifically targeted websites that used nulled plugins, which lead to a wave of website compromises.
So again, never use a nulled or pirated theme.
Only Install WordPress Themes or Plugins from Reputed Sources:
Please always download your plugins or themes from reputed sources, such as the official WordPress repository or any other well-known premium theme and plugin providers. These providers ensure that their products are regularly updated and have no hidden malware or vulnerabilities.
We understand that it can be difficult for an inexperienced user to weed out nefarious sites. Still, by following these guidelines, you should be in a much better position to find an authentic provider.
- Check the Developer’s Website: reputed developers have a site listed in the theme’s documentation where you can find documentation about the theme. If you are downloading from the same site, you can be confident to trust the theme or plugin.
Read Reviews and Ratings: Also, you can try reading reviews and checking ratings before downloading. When downloading from the official WordPress repository, read the reviews and check the rating. While if you are downloading a plugin from a third-party provider, search for reviews and feedback for that site online like a simple search in Google to see what other users say.
Use A Good Web Hosting Service Provider
One of the most critical decisions you make when ensuring the security of a WordPress site is to choose a provider who has a solid set of features to not only reduce and stop attacks against your site by the use of a firewall (WAF) but also make sure at the application level the user is following proper guidelines for keeping the site safe. A good web WordPress hosting company will also ensure sites are scanned for malware and maintain backups.
Install SSL Certificate:
Another essential measure is installing an SSL certificate on your domain; this helps encrypt sensitive information like credit card numbers as it travels between browsers and servers so hackers cannot intercept them easily.
Take Frequent Backups:
Additionally, running frequent backups of the front-end (HTML) and back-end (database) code ensures that you’ll have a recent copy saved for easy restoration if something goes wrong.
Remove inactive plugins and themes:
Even if a plugin or theme is inactive, it can still be accessed by attackers and used to gain access to the site or install malware. Significantly if the plugin or theme is not updated, it can become a security risk as it can contain vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. Removing unused plugins has the extra benefit of increased performance for your site.
Use a WordPress Security Plugin:
Finally, consider investing in a reliable security plugin such as Wordfence or Sucuri, which provides additional protection against malware infections by scanning incoming traffic for suspicious activity or malicious links before allowing them into your server space.
Basic WordPress security measures are essential for protecting your website from malicious attacks. However, to further safeguard your website, it is recommended to apply more sophisticated security measures. Moving on to intermediate-level WordPress security measures, more complex techniques are available to enhance the protection of your online presence further.
Intermediate WordPress Security Measures
Basic WordPress Security stops 99% of attacks against your site, but it’s best practice to look into more advanced security measures if you’re dealing with susceptible data. To further secure your WordPress site, consider implementing intermediate security measures such as enabling two-factor authentication when possible; disabling file editing through the dashboard; closely monitoring user activity onsite; limiting login attempts by IP address via a web application firewall like Cloudflare WAF. These steps can aid in keeping your website safe from any possible malicious activity. Website creators must take extra precautions to guarantee the highest security for their site, surpassing fundamental measures.
Never use the ‘admin’ Username:
First, never use the “admin” username for any of your accounts on WordPress or any other platform. When setting up an account, select a username that is not easily guessed and has no resemblance to the generic “admin”; this is often targeted by cybercriminals attempting to gain access.
Enabling Two-Factor Authentication:
To further secure your login page, two-factor authentication can be enabled to ensure only authorized users have access by requiring additional information, such as a code sent via text message or email. Users must input their credentials and provide a token from either an SMS or email before gaining access.
Hiding WP-Admin Login Page:
Another vital step in securing your website is hiding the WP-Admin login page from the public view. You can do this using a plugin like iThemes Security which will give you extra layers of protection against malicious attacks.
Additionally, disabling XML-RPC requests can help protect against brute force attacks and DDOS attempts which could otherwise bring down your entire website if left unchecked.
Harden the wp-config.php File:
Next up is the hardening wp-config.php file, which contains sensitive information about how your site works, including database credentials and, authentication keys & salts – all data that needs to remain safe at all times. To achieve this goal, several plugins, such as Better WP Security, provide options for setting up secure passwords and restricting access based on an IP address or user roles, etcetera…
Make Sure to Use SFTP:
Don’t overlook server-side security either; authorize access with SSH or SFTP to prevent unauthorized intrusion and encrypt data being exchanged between client/server machines, ensuring no one can intercept it. This helps prevent unauthorized access while also providing encryption of data transferred between client/server machines ensuring no one else can intercept it in transit.
Disable file editing:
Disabling the file editing feature in WP can help prevent attackers from gaining access to the site’s files and making unauthorized changes.
The purpose of the built-in file editor is to allow admins to modify plugin and theme files directly from the site’s admin section. But, this feature is exploited by hackers to insert malicious code into the site. Once a site has been hacked, it can be challenging to remediate the issue, as there are many code files to search through.
Removing the built-in file editors can be a simple process and can be done by adding the following line in the wp-config file:
define (DEFINE_FILE_EDIT; true);
Advanced WordPress Security Measures
To maximize the security of your WordPress site, it is essential to take advanced measures. Taking the necessary security measures is essential to ensure your site remains secure from malicious attacks. Advanced security measures involve shoring up defenses by installing malware scanning tools such as WordFence Security Suite or iThemes Security Pro; reinforcing SSL/TLS encryption protocols on all pages served over HTTPS protocol to thwart man-in-the-middle attacks; regularly conducting scans for vulnerabilities in both core files and plugin codebases using WPScan Vulnerability Database Scanner; fortifying server configurations by blocking suspicious traffic sources and requests, and instituting proper log rotation policies, so logs don’t fill the disk space like a balloon.
Harden your PHP installation:
Hardening the PHP to stop exploits is essential to preventing attacks against your site. However, if you are on a shared server, it may not be in your control to update the PHP settings. Still, it’s worthwhile to know these settings and ask your service provider to ensure they are implemented at the server end.
Disable functions that are not needed: Functions such as exec, system, and pass-thru are commonly disabled to improve security.
Limit file uploads: Certain WordPress directories are used to upload your media files. These are usually in the ‘uploads’ directory under the wp-content directory. Unfortunately, some malicious users take advantage of this weakness and may upload a PHP file to these directories instead of what it is intended for, i.e., to upload media files—Disable PHP execution in these directories. Doing so, any PHP files will not run inside those directories.
You can do this by adding the following lines of code to the .htaccess file and saving it at /wp-content/uploads/ :
deny from all
Disable PHP error reporting: The PHP error reporting reveals sensitive information about the server configuration and the code on the site to a malicious 3rd party. So make sure to disable PHP error reporting in both wp-config.php and the PHP.ini setting for the PHP version you use for the site.
Finally, consider adding a web application firewall (WAF) such as Cloudflare’s WAF service – designed specifically with WordPress sites in mind -which adds an extra layer of defense against potential threats before they even reach your server.
At this point, it might be helpful for you to create a checklist containing all these intermediate-level measures so that you don’t miss anything when implementing them onto your WordPress installation(s). In addition, incorporating an FAQ section addressing queries related to the intermediate-level steps could be advantageous, mainly when working with customers who may not have a comprehensive technical understanding of each measure’s purpose.
Intermediate WordPress Security can be a useful starting point for safeguarding your website, yet comprehending that there are more advanced security steps to consider is essential. Advanced WordPress Security Measures provide an even higher level of protection and can help ensure the safety of your site from malicious attacks.
Limit Login Attempts:
Limiting login attempts prevents brute force attacks where someone tries thousands of combinations until they get the correct one. If multiple failed attempts are made within a specified time frame, the user will be denied access to your website.
Change The WordPress Login Page URL:
Changing the default URL for logging into WordPress (wp-admin) makes it more difficult for attackers who use automated tools to guess this address and gain entry into your system without authorization.
Log Idle Users Out Automatically:
Setting up automatic logouts after a certain amount of idle time ensures that if someone leaves their computer unattended while logged in, they won’t stay logged in indefinitely, which could lead to unauthorized access or manipulation of data on your site.
Monitor User Activity:
Keeping track of user activity on your website lets you quickly detect any suspicious behavior so that appropriate action can be taken before any damage occurs. You should also set up alerts so that when unusual activities happen, like multiple failed login attempts or changes made outside business hours, notifications are sent out immediately, alerting administrators about potential threats so they can investigate further if necessary.
Check For Malware:
Regularly scanning for malware using reliable anti-virus software helps identify any malicious files that may have been uploaded onto your server without permission which could potentially cause serious harm if left unchecked. Additionally, using plugins like Wordfence Security can help keep tabs on all activity on your site and alert admins when anything suspicious takes place so it can be addressed promptly before becoming an issue.
Disabling PHP error reporting obfuscates any issues occurring within scripts running on webpages hosted by WordPress, thus making it more difficult for attackers to exploit any weaknesses. Additionally, this helps improve performance as fewer resources are expended in debugging errors.
These advanced security measures are more than just making sure passwords are strong enough or keeping plugins updated; taking them seriously will ensure maximum protection against unwanted intrusions into sensitive areas of websites built with WordPress. In addition, these steps help obfuscate any issues occurring within scripts running on webpages hosted by WordPress, thus making it more difficult for attackers to exploit any weaknesses while also improving performance as fewer resources are being expended in debugging errors.
Implementing the advanced security measures outlined in this article guarantees that your website is as secure and protected from potential threats as possible.
Expert WordPress Security Measures Techniques:
Finally, advanced security measures involve deploying other technologies such as implementing security headers, code obfuscation, containerization, sandboxing to isolate WordPress installation, intrusion detection/prevention systems, identity management systems, penetration testing tools, and firewalls, and implementing regular security audits. All these technologies help reduce attack surfaces while providing visibility into who has access to what resources within an organization’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, this blog post is already quite long, so let’s hold off on these techniques until next time 🙂
WordPress Security FAQs
Q: What is WordPress security?
WordPress security is the practice of protecting your website from malicious attacks and unauthorized access. It involves implementing strong passwords, two-factor authentication, SSL encryption, malware scanning, and more to keep your site safe.
Q: How can I secure my WordPress site?
Securing your WordPress site requires a combination of technical measures, including installing plugins or themes that provide additional security features, setting up strong passwords, and limiting user roles. To maximize security, staying up-to-date with any vulnerabilities in plugins or themes and taking appropriate action is essential.
Q: What are some common risks associated with running a WordPress website?
Brute force attempts, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and malware infections are WordPress sites’ most prevalent security risks. However, it is also worth noting that out-of-date versions of plugins or themes can leave websites exposed to attack.
Q: Are there any tools available for monitoring my website’s security?
Yes, there are various resources to monitor the security of your website. For example, Wordfence Security provides up-to-the-minute protection against known threats; Sucuri offers comprehensive firewall defense as well as malware scanning capabilities; Jetpack Security includes automated backups and checks for any suspicious activity on your site; while iThemes Security Pro furnishes detailed reports concerning all alterations made within the dashboard so that you can remain up-to-date with what is transpiring on your website at all times.
Q: Is there anything else I should know about securing my WordPress site?
Rather than waiting for a problem to arise, taking proactive steps now can save time and money in the long run. Keep an eye out for new updates released by plugin/theme developers, too; these often contain fixes designed to address potential weaknesses identified during testing processes. Staying up-to-date will help keep you one step ahead of any would-be attackers.
Q: What is WordPress Security?
WordPress security refers to the measures taken to protect a website built with WordPress from malicious attacks, hackers, and other threats. It involves installing updates, using secure passwords, and configuring settings to prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, it can include monitoring for suspicious activity or scanning for vulnerabilities regularly.
Q: How Can I Secure My WordPress Site?
Ensure all plugins and themes are up-to-date to avoid potential security risks. Start by ensuring all plugins and themes are kept up-to-date – outdated versions may contain known vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit. You should also use strong passwords for all accounts associated with your site (including the administrator account) and limit user roles, so only trusted individuals have full access privileges. Finally, it would be best to consider adding a layer of security, such as two-factor authentication or malware scans, at least once per month.
Q: Are there any common mistakes people make regarding WordPress security?
Taking proactive measures such as implementing essential, intermediate, and advanced security techniques can help create an environment that will keep your website safe for years. Be sure to review our extensive list of security measures when securing your WordPress site, ensuring that you don’t overlook any essential steps.
Secure your WordPress site with our reliable web hosting services. Our expert team is here to help you set up the best security measures for your website.