WordPress is considered as the most popular Content Management System present in the market, empowering more than 35% of total websites over the internet. Not only that. If you take a look at the top 100 websites in the world, 14.7% is powered by WordPress. Simplicity is the main reason why the CMS (Content Management System) -WordPress became popular among the web-savvy users.
The growing popularity of WordPress has drawn the attention of the hackers, and now they are working specifically in the direction to attack these sites. You need to know that they are not affected by the kind of content that you are offering on the WordPress site. This means if you are not taking the needed precautions, you increase the chances of your website getting hacked.
Why is it Important to Secure your WordPress Site?
The business revenue can get affected in a serious manner if WordPress has been hacked. It is then possible for the hackers to install malicious software, steal important user information and send malware to the users visiting the website. It is even possible that the businesses may end up paying a ransom to the hackers to regain access to their sites after a ransomware attack.
This means if your website is related to your business, then you will have to pay in more attention to its security aspect to keep everything safe. In short, if the business owner is responsible for taking care of the physical store, then, in the same manner, the online store has to be secured by the online store owner.
There are some excellent steps which you can take to secure your WordPress site, and the same has been explained here:
Steps to Secure WordPress Website
Go for a good hosting company
Choosing to go ahead with the hosting provider who is capable of offering you multiple layers of security is the best way to keep your website secure. When it comes to controlling spending, it may seem to be wise to go with a cheap hosting provider as you will save enough money to be spent elsewhere. However, you must stay away from such temptations as they may end you up in more issues than the good things it can bring in. Your website URL may be redirected to somewhere else, and your data may get completely erased.
When you go for a quality hosting company, you will have to pay a little bit more, but then, it brings on the table some additional layers of security automatically to your website. So you will be able to increase the speed of your WordPress website significantly by choosing the best WordPress hosting services.
WPEngine is one of the highly recommended solutions in this area. It offers you daily malware scans, better security features and round the clock support. Again, it comes at reasonable rates.
Logout idle users automatically out of the site
When it comes to WordPress security threat, if the users leave the wp-admin panel of the website open on the screens of the users, it can seriously pose a big threat. Anyone who comes in front of the screen gets the chance to alter the information of the account user, change the information present on the website or even wreck the website. This situation can be avoided on your WordPress site by ensuring you log out the users from the website after they remain idle for a certain period of time.
BulletProof Security is one such plugin which is used for getting those tasks done. By using this plugin, the website admin can fix a time limit for the idle users, and so once that time passes, the users will be logged out of the site automatically.
All you had to install it and then activate it. After activation, go to Settings>>Idle User Logout and the plugin configuration page will appear. There is not much to do.
Install a WordPress security plugin
Checking for malware in your website code regularly may seem to be a time-consuming process. Now if you have no proper knowledge of the codes which are written on your website, you will not be able to know that you have found some malware in the law. Now, this issue can be resolved when you make use of WordPress security plugins as not everyone is developer and expert at coding.
A security plugin does a number of things for you like scanning your website 24*7 for issues, looking for malware and securing your website.
Some of the best well-known wordpress security plugins are
- Sucuri Security
- Wordfence Security
- All In One WP Security & Firewall
- BulletProof Security
Protect the wp-admin directory
For any WordPress website, the wp-admin directory is a very crucial element. This means your complete site can get destroyed and collapsed if it gets breached. Keeping the wp-admin directory password protected is one of the best ways to prevent this. When done that, the website owner will only get to access the dashboard of the website once; he or she enters the two passwords. Now one of these passwords protects the login page while the other one will protect the admin area in WordPress.
Usually, this process is all about making adjustments in the hosting setup through the cPanel. If you manage to follow the right steps, it will not be much difficult to accomplish.
Login to cPanel and navigate to the Security section.
Avoid using nulled themes
The premium themes from WordPress are more professional and compared to the free themes. They come with customizable options. The premium themes are developed by skilled developers and tested properly multiple times. Such themes can be customized as many times as you want and in case something goes wrong, you don’t have to worry as they offer you full support to bring your site back on track. Again, regular theme updates will be offered to the website owners.
Now, some websites offer cracked or nulled themes. Such themes are in actual the hacked version of a premium theme and are available in the market illegally. For the site, using such themes is not recommended as such themes may come with malicious codes which, when used, can destroy the website, login credentials of admin as well as the database. So it would be best you avoid such themes completely.
Make use of strong password
Around 8% of WordPress sites were hacked due to a weak password.
For any website, passwords seem to be an important element and many a time they are overlooked. In case you are making use of a plain password for your website, which consists of numbers or texts, it is time you make the change quickly. Such a password can be easy for the users to remember, but then at the same time, hackers can guess it too. Without having to put in much effort, an advanced user can easily crack the password and enter your website’s admin section. The best way to avoid such a situation is to use a strong and complex password that can be auto-generated. The password should be the one, which contains a combination of numbers, alphabets, and special characters.
Confirm WordPress security using two-factor authentication
Another good security measure that you can take in this area is the introduction of the two-factor authentication module within the login page. In such a situation, the user is supposed to address two different components by providing the right login details. The website owner can decide two of the components. One of them can be the general password, and the second one can be a secret code, a set of characters, a secret question or the Google Authenticator app. Such an app sends in a secret code to the phone, and the user can log into the website by using the same phone.
Login using the email
When you try to login to the WordPress site, you will have to insert the username on a default basis. You can go ahead with more of a secure approach by choosing an email address to be used as the username. The main reason for using such an approach is that it is possible for the hackers to predict the username but not the email addresses. Again, with the email address, it becomes easy to login into the account as the email address remains unique, so it’s easy to validate and log in. A number of WordPress security plugins come up with login pages where the users can log in using their email addresses.
Limit login attempts
In the normal case, you can log in as many times as you want on your WordPress site. Now, if you are a frequent user, this service can help you for sure. However, it also increases the chances of an attack from hackers.
Now if you have a limited number of login attempts, it will only let you try for a specific number of times and then will automatically block you on a temporary basis. This will also control the number of attempts made by the hackers, and so they will eventually get locked outside after a few wrong attempts.
You can make use of WordPress login limit attempts plugin and enable it in your project. Once you have installed the plugin, the number of login attempts can be changed and set using Settings>Login Limit Attempts. Moreover, you can also change the number of attempts without having to make use of any plugins.
Be careful while adding user accounts
In case you are using WordPress to run a blogging site where multiple authors post their blogs, then the admin panel of your website will have to deal with multiple people accessing the scene. So in terms of WordPress security threats, such a step will make your website more vulnerable. To be sure that the passwords entered by the users into the admin panel are secure enough, you can make use of Force Strong Passwords like a plugin. No doubt this is just a precautionary measure to be taken for your website, but in the end, this will help you avoid having many users with weak passwords.
Secure your WordPress site by renaming your URL
It is quite easy to change the login URL. On the default scenario, you can easily access the login page of your WordPress site by using “yoursite.com/wp-admin” or “yoursite.com/wp-login.php” added to the main URL of your site. The hackers will try to brute force into your website if they know the direct URL of your login page. They will make use of the GWDb(Guess Work Database) to attempt logins into your site. Such a database comes with millions of combinations made using different usernames and passwords.
You will receive a large number of spam registrations when you accept the users for subscription account registrations. To make sure this thing does not happen, you can come up with a security question for your login and registration page or change the admin login URL
It is at this point that the usernames have to be swapped with email IDs after the user login attempts have been restricted. Once it is done, the login URL can be replaced and so it will become possible to stop around 99% of direct brute force attacks.
This way every kind of unauthorized persons will restrict the access to the login page. For login, the person will require to provide the exact URL.
Change the database table prefix in WordPress
Whenever install your WordPress, you must have seen that the WordPress database must be having the table prefix of wp-. It is highly recommended that you change it to a unique one. If you follow the default prefix for your database present in the site, you increase the chances of SQL injection attacks.
In case you already have your WordPress site installed using the default prefix then you can anytime change it using several plugins available out there. Such plugins can help you get the work done using a few clicks.
Change the username of admin
When you are up to installing your WordPress website, you need to be clear about one thing that the main administrator account should never be “admin” as the username. Such a username is quite easy to guess, and the hackers can easily get into the website. The moment they will know the password, whole your business, and your work will be gone forever.
Set up a website lockdown feature
You can secure your website from continuous brute force attempts by choosing to go for a lockdown feature. Such a feature is used for resolving the issue of occurring failed login attempts. In case repetitively wrong passwords are used as a part of a hacking attempt, the site will get locked, and you will get a notification for such unauthorized attempts on your website.
Keep file editing disabled
While working on to set up your WordPress site, in your dashboard section, you can see a code editor function. This function can be used to edit your plugin and theme. You can follow this path to access it: Appearance>Editor. Going through Plugins>Editor can be another path you can choose to access plugin editor.
It is recommended that you disable this feature once the website goes live. The hackers can add some malicious codes into the plugin and theme if they get access to the admin panel of your WordPress site. Such codes are so simple that you will not even notice any changes in it till it is too late.
Install SSL Certificate
Today all kinds of websites can benefit from Single Sockets Layer –SSL. In the beginning, SSL was used for specific tasks, only like carrying out transactions, but things have changed today after Google recognized its importance. This means the websites which have the SSL certificate enjoys more of a prominent place in the search results of Google.
Any website which processes sensitive information seems to have SSL mandatory. In case the SSL certificate is not present, then the data moving between your web server and the browser of the user will be in plain text. Hackers can easily read such information. Any sensitive information gets encrypted before it gets moved between the server and browser when you have an SSL certificate. Such information will be secure and will be difficult to be read.
The websites need to pay the price for using SSL to pass on and accept sensitive information. If you are looking for something free, you can go for Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate and install it on your site.
Hide .htaccess files and wp-config.php
If the website security is more important to you, then you should plan to go for this advanced process. By hiding the
wp-config.php files, you will be able to build a good practice of securing your website from hackers and other security threats.
You must choose experienced developers to get this task done. This step has to be carried out with caution, and you need to take the backup of your website first. In case you end up making some big mistakes, you will lose access to your site.
You need to do two things after you take the backup to hide the files and they are:
Go to the
wp-config.php file and get this code added in there:
<Files wp-config.php> order allow, deny deny from all </Files>
Now, in the same manner, you should add in this code in your .htaccess file:
<Files .htaccess> order allow, deny deny from all </Files>
No doubt the process is easy but to be sure nothing goes wrong, you need to be sure you are taking the backup in the first place.
Monitoring the audit logs
In case you are running a multi-site or the one which has multiple authors then in such a situation, it becomes crucial to know what kind of activity the user is carrying out on the site. Chances are there that the contributors are making changes to the passwords. Now, this can be neglected, but what about the scene where they are making changes in the website theme itself. Now, this kind of change should be restricted to the admin all alone. Such kind of changes needs the approval of the admin. You can make use of a plugin like WP Security Audit Log to know the kind of all the activities carried out on the site. Apart from that, it can also be used to track any malicious activity that is taking place between the users.
Update the version of WordPress
Sucuri reported that 39% of hacked WordPress websites were using an outdated version of the software
When it comes to keeping your website secure, keeping your WordPress site updated is a good practice. A few numbers of changes are made by the developers every time a new update is made, and this also includes the ones related to security. When you keep your website updated all the time, you almost nullify the chance of getting exposed to the people who are looking for some loopholes to get into your website and destroy everything. You should also be updating themes and plugins on your website. Most of the plugins and themes for the WordPress site come from third-party developers and so such plugins and themes are regularly updated with regular releases.
By default, minor updates are done automatically on your site by WordPress. However, you will have to do manually from the admin dashboard of WordPress in major updates.
Carry out regular backups for your WordPress site
Keeping your website secure is the best thing you can do. Still, you can have some improvements made. One of the best things you can do in this direction is to have regular backups made for your site. Make sure to take backup in smarter way as there is congestion issue occur with number of backups. If you backup frequently, you will end up taking up more space in your drive.
For a website, WordPress security plays a very crucial role. Chances of hackers attacking your website and stealing your critical data can increase if you don’t maintain the safety of your WordPress site. It is not hard to maintain the security of your website and the best part is that you can get it done without spending even a single dollar.