WordPress Security Guide – How to keep your website safe in 2019
The security of your WordPress site should be the most important thing when you have one. Hence, there are many things you need to do to protect your website from any potential hacking and other security vulnerabilities WordPress has. It is crucial for your online business, whether it is an e-commerce site, blogging, technical or else. Furthermore, it is important to note that every week Google ceases and blacklists 20,000 to 50,000 sites for malware and phishing. Hence, if you are really concern about the security of your website. You should adopt best practices to protect your site against malware and cyber-hacking. Hence, you must implement WordPress security measures that are mandatory these days. Which are the shield against hackers and malware?
Is WordPress Secure?
Furthermore, even WordPress itself is a secure platform. It is examined and updated by many developers frequently. However, the potential risk of hacking attempts and malware are always there. Which can be increased by not adopting WordPress security measures. Even some industry giants are not spared by such vulnerabilities. Like the Reuters was also hacked due to not following the standard industry practice in WordPress security.
However, we believe that there is a lot you can to do not only eliminate the risks, but also reduce the chances of getting attacked by potential WordPress security risks. In this WordPress Security guide, we will help you implement simple techniques to your website. Hence, improving your site’s security even if you a WPbeginner.
Why Do You need to Secure Your WP based Website?
Moreover, most of the websites generate business as per the different online business model. So, in such a scenario, no one wants to get their website hacked. It can cause serious damage to your business, as hackers can steal valuable data and information. They do it by stealing user’s data, passwords, can install malicious software and even spread malware via posting links on your site which can seriously reduce your traffic and you lose business.
At the worst, you can get trapped by a ransomware attack, where you have to pay a hefty amount of money to the hackers to get access to your website back. Moreover, eventually, your website can be blacklisted by Google for malware and phishing.
Furthermore, as mentioned earlier Google blocks 20,000 to 50,000 websites every week for malware and phishing scams.
Hence, if you are earning from your website and it’s your business. Then you must invest in its security to protect it from hacking and malware attempts. This start with securing your website’s platform. Hence, learning and implementing crucial WordPress security tricks is what you need to do.
WordPress Security Risks
If you want to know how secure is WordPress then you are not alone. For the fact, WordPress is secure mostly, but it has a bad reputation as it has its own security vulnerabilities and it is not safe for businesses. However, you have to play your own part to eliminate security hazards and reduce risks. If you are not following and implementing the basic security methods. Which are the standard industry practice. Which includes; using updated WordPress software, using a reliable security plugin, moderate system administration, setting strong and difficult credentials and awareness of latest web and online security threats etc. Then you are a potential target for WordPress hackers.
Hence, ignoring a really important factor in your online business can bring unexpected disasters to your business.
Moreover, broadly speaking there are two major types of attacks on WordPress. Targeted and Non- Targeted. Both are equally dangerous and lead to major security risks lurking in WordPress vulnerabilities.
Here are the top security risks WordPress has are;
Brute Force Attacks
When a hacker randomly goes to any website and try to log in as admin by trying random username and password possible. This is usually done by auto-spam bots, in order to take charge of your website as admin. Hence, a hacker can get access to many of your useful information.
A successful brute force attack leads to password hacking. Where a hacker is able to know the site’s password. Which means the site is in his hands now. However, creating a strong, complex password is the key to avoid it.
In such type of attack, a hacker steals your data by entering into your database. As MySQL is the most used database for WordPress users. It is easier for hackers to start this attack. A database works with a prefix which is wp_. If you are in the process of creating a WordPress site it is best advised to use a different prefix. So, the hacker will be unable to know your database prefix.
As you know that WordPress uses MySQL as a database. SQL injections mean when a hacker get access to your database and create a new admin account. This account can further be used to steal sites data or to enter malicious data into your site. Which could include malicious links.
Malware is malicious codes which are injected and pushed into your WordPress site by a hacker during an attack. This is done to gain unauthorized access to steal the site’s data. These are found in the site files in the form of links to spam and malicious sites, backdoors to certain data fetching site etc.
Furthermore, I have recommended some ways by which you can enhance and maintain your WordPress security even if you a non-technical person or a WordPress Beginner.
How to Enhance Your WordPress Security?
After realizing how important it is to keep up with the security of your website you must take action now. Here we have listed down easy methods to enhance your WordPress security. Hence, you can check all of these below and see which one or maybe more of these you have not done yet and do it ASAP.
Additionally, I have categorized the steps into two major categories. All of these must be taken care if you have a website. However, the first one is essential for any WordPress site owner, without which it is impossible to survive in such a malicious internet environment.
Basic WordPress Security
The basics security steps of any website is listed down below. If you have a site and you have still not done with these. It is high time you take action.
Update Your WordPress Software
The very basic thing you need to keep in mind related to WordPress security is to update your software frequently. As WordPress is an open source software, it is updated and maintained on a regular basis. The small updates are installed by the software automatically. However, for a major update release, you need to manually start the updating process. Similarly, you should regularly check for all your installed plugin updates. It usually pops in the WordPress dashboard news section.
To check the updates,
- simply go to your site
- open your WordPress Dashboard
- Click on updates from the side panel
- Here you will see any new update release which you can install by clicking the button underneath it.
Passwords and Permissions Management
The most common type of WordPress hacking is password theft. Hence, the best way to avoid is to keep a strong, complex password for all of your WordPress logins. Which includes; WordPress admin area, your professional email address, FTP accounts, database, and WordPress hosting account. The biggest mistake WordPress beginners make is to set a simple password because it is easy to remember. Forget that and use password managers to not only create strong and complex passwords. It also saves it for you so you don’t have to remember it.
Importance of Web Hosting
WordPress hosting is a premium service which takes care of all technical handling of WordPress. Which includes security, WordPress updates, speed, website uptime, daily backups, and scalability. Additionally, hosting is of four types shared hosting, WordPress Dedicated Server hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), and Managed WordPress hosting. Using a shared hosting is not as secure as using a managed or dedicated WordPress hosting. As a hacker can other sites in a shared server to contaminate your site etc.
To start using any hosting service,
- simply search on Google for best WordPress hosting services
- Read reviews and select service as per your budget
- Sign up and you will be further guided in the process.
Get a WordPress Backup
Furthermore, Backup means saving your site’s data on some other source to avoid complete loss when attacked. WordPress backup is the best contingency plan against any hacking attempt. Remember you can not avoid hacking, even major tech-giants can’t. So, keeping a backup keeps you on a safer side.
To backup your WordPress site’s data,
- Simply search on Google for best WordPress backup plugins
- Read reviews and select your plugin by clicking on it website link
- Go to the site and download the file
- You can use some free versions however premium ones are better
Install a WordPress Security Plugin
A security plugin is a system which monitors and tracks all the activities going on your website. Which includes; malware scanning, file integrity monitoring, failed login attempts, spam comments etc. Luckily there is an official WordPress security plugin, Sucuri Scanner. It is available for free. Here how you can install and use it.
Role of Web Application Firewall (WAF)
A web application firewall (WAF) for WordPress is a special barrier. It blocks all malicious traffic before it even makes its way to your website. WordPress recommends its official WAFs which you can review and install.
Use a WordPress VPN- Virtual Private Network
A Virtual Private Network VPN for WordPress is an added security layer for ultimate protection. A secure WordPress VPN encrypts all your data traffic. Which is tunnelled through a VPN server. This makes your connection secure and anonymous as your real IP address is not visible to hackers. It adds a strong security layer. Hence, hackers will not be able to trap your website for attacks such as Man-in-the-Middle attacks. Additionally, using SSL is also highly recommended. When VPN and SSL are combined you have a strong protective layer for your website.
WordPress Security Enhancements (for DIY Users)
If your current WordPress security matches all of the above steps. Then you are in good shape. Furthermore, if you are keen about advanced level security for your WordPress site. However, some of the following steps need coding knowledge. If you are good then you can implement the following methods to further enhance your security.
Thankfully WordPress now allows you to change the username from ”admin” to anything custom, at the time of WordPress installation. Unlike the earlier days where ‘admin’ was used for half of the login credentials. It was easier for hackers to launch a brute-force attack. However, still, some of the easy WordPress installers keep the default username ‘admin’. If you are one of those, it’s recommended to switch your WordPress hosting. Since WordPress doesn’t allow to change the default username. You can keep a custom login username by the following ways;
- Delete the default admin username and create a new one.
- You can get username plugin for WordPress which sets it up for you.
- Or change the username from phpMyAdmin.
Keep in mind that the above methods are to be used for changing the username ‘admin’. The administrative role will still be assigned only to one user.
Turn Off File Editing
From the WordPress admin area, you can change codes to edit themes and files. If some hacker accesses it, this could be a security risk for your website. Disabling file editing would be recommended for security purposes. If you use a security plugin for your WordPress as I mentioned above. Then you can do it by a single click from there. If you are WordPress beginner you should not do it on your own. However, you can do it on your own if you know some coding. Here’s how you can do it;
- Follow the steps to edit your wp-config.php file
- Click the edit option push this code
|// Disallow file edit
define( ‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true );
WordPress Database Management
Your WordPress database is the most important part of it. As it stores all of your data. However, as WordPress mostly uses MySQL database there are chances of hackers to contaminate your data if they access any others data from the database server.
Furthermore, your database comes with a wp database prefix which is; wp_ by default. If you don’t change it, it will easier for hackers to access and mess with your data. Hence, you should always change the database prefix.
WordPress Login Page Management
To avoid any DDoS attacks by hackers, you must password protect your WP admin and login page. This would stop them from launching a random password and login attempts from login and server panel of your WordPress. Learn how to do it here.
Furthermore, WordPress let you make as many login attempts as you want by default. This makes your site vulnerable for hackers to launch a brute-force attack by trying many failed login attempts while guessing the username and password of your site.
However, you can limit the number of failed login attempts by anyone. Additionally, if you use any firewall as I mentioned above. Then it will manage this by default. Here’s how to do it;
- First, install the Login Lockdown plugin and activate it as per directions.
- After that go to the settings and set the number of tries you want from ”Login attempt limit” section and save changes.
Moreover, you can also add a two-factor authentication 2FA to your WordPress login screen. This will make it harder for any hacker to break into your site. You can do it by keeping a secret question, a secret code, a set of characters along with your password. Which will be required for login. Additionally, I personally prefer the popular Google Authenticator app, which sends a secret code to your phone. The login now is secure with a code which will only be delivered to your personal mobile number.
Auto-logout the Inactive Users
It is possible that the logged user may be away from the desk. This possesses a potential threat of hacking. Anyone can hijack their session and change the credentials. Hence, it is important to automatically log out inactive users. Here’s how to do it;
- Get the Inactive logout plugin, install it and activate it as per instructions.
- After that go to its ‘‘Settings” then click ”Idle User Logout Settings”
- Now set the duration in ”Auto logout duration” box and check the ”Disable in WP admin” box and save changes.
What to do if Your Website is Hacked?
Furthermore, if you ever find yourself in an unlucky situation of a hacked WordPress site. Then you will at least know that you have the backup of all the data of your website. However, when asked by a WordPress security official, here’s what a three-step action plan he recommended in an event of a hacked website;
- Create a Backup. This will help in analyzing what has actually happened. Don’t overwrite a previous version of your site.
- Restore your backup and change all the passwords.
- Analyze the backup, check what things are compromised and messed up. If you are hit with a malware normally it is easy to remove. However, sometimes you need professional help.
Consequently, ignoring WordPress security could lead you to risk your website and compromise your data. As a website owner, it is a nightmare for anyone generating good business online. In this security guide, we have elaborated the security steps in a manner any non-technical user can follow. Remember it is better safe than sorry.