With cyberattacks becoming all too common with increasing frequency, there’s never been a more important time to make sure your WordPress site is secure from attacks. Given the prevalence of WordPress and the likelihood of not having a secure defense system, WordPress sites can be an easy target for would-be attackers.
That being said, there is no reason a WordPress site needs to be any more vulnerable than any other CMS platform. By following a few easy guidelines, you can take major steps to ensure the security of your site.
This blog post will suggest a few measures that will go a long way in preventing unwanted intruders from accessing your site dashboard.
Keep WordPress Up To Date
One of the first and most important steps to keeping WordPress secure is making sure you are using the latest version. WordPress regularly issues updates, one of the major components being security patches and fixes. As soon as new vulnerabilities are detected, WordPress does their best to issue security updates as soon as possible.
To make sure you are using the latest version, head over to the Updates tab on the left side of the Dashboard panel. This will let you know if you are using the latest version, and if there is an update available.
Instead of immediately installing the update, though, it is highly recommended to use a staging site to make the update, or at the very least, make a new backup of your site. Depending on what plugins you are using and how recently they’ve been updated, there may be compatibility issues with the latest version of WordPress, so using a staging site will allow you to test the new version before deploying to your live site.
Regularly Update Your Plugins
Similar to the point above, it is also important to make sure you are always using the latest available version of your installed plugins. Likewise, using a staging site to test these updates first is always ideal. As there can occasionally be compatibility issues with plugin updates, it’s recommended to update each one-by-one, ensuring there are no changes in site functionality.
Use A Strong Admin Password
This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often site admins use a short and very simple password for their dashboard login.
The Users section on the WordPress dashboard allows for generating strong, random passwords, so there is no excuse for using a weak password. If you want additional security, you can check out ExpressVPN’s random password generator which can be securely downloaded for offline password generation. This way, your password is more secure since it had never been sent over the internet.
Install These WordPress Security Plugins
Without a doubt, using a WordPress security plugin to better secure private data is essential for any business. Once installed, a security plugin assists site administrators with identifying malicious online sources, recognizing risky patterns, and blocking potential data threats. While most content management systems do include some protection, these technologies do not always meet standard security expectations for most WordPress sites.
An excellent measure in securing your site is using an auditing and malware scanner plugin like Sucuri. Sucuri will detect attempted brute-force attacks, potential malware installations, blacklisting of suspicious IPs, and many more powerful security features. The basic version is available for free, so if you aren’t already using this plugin it is highly recommended.
Wordfence Security is a security plugin for WordPress users. In detail, the software offers users various features to better protect content management systems. From the list, Wordfence consists of source code-changing monitoring systems with file editing to identify and secure data at risk. Secondly, the program features two-factor authentication and anti-hack automation technologies to better secure passwords and online data. Thirdly, the system consists of real-time analytical traffic reports to monitor unusual activity.
In addition to protecting and recovering files, Wordfence also has premium features. To elaborate, premium users, gain access to up-to-date IP blocklists, malware technologies, and firewall permits. Along with subscriptions, users better understand web performances against data risks through reputation reports. Lastly, premium users gain additional features such as improved contact Wordfence support.
For data protection, the WordPress plugin iThemes assists users with securing accounts and WordPress websites from hackers. More precisely, the software excels in preventing WordPress hacks, security breaches, and malware. To list the features, iThemes includes WordPress Brute Protection which limits user login attempts. Also, the program alerts administrators during file changes, locked-out users, and potential data threats. Moreover, iThemes allows s routine backup schedules to recover lost files easier.
Install A Web Application Firewall (WAF)
For web application protection, a web application firewall performs multiple security functions for users. More specifically, the technology monitors user traffic and then filters the traffic between web applications and the internet. Commonly, web applications encounter data risks such as cross-site request forgeries, cross-site-scripting, SQL code errors, and file inclusion vulnerabilities.
Make Sure Your Site Has SSL / HTTPS
To build more trust from end-users, web administrators install SSL and HTTPS certificates onto websites. From a user perspective, navigating the web across numerous websites incites more risk. To mitigate the risk, websites with security certificates allow users to navigate without a doubt of compromising private information. To ensure that site security certificates are operational, users may view URL properties and examine which certificate is active.
Disable WP File Editing
By disabling WP file editing, WordPress administrators better protect websites from file manipulating hackers. Usually, the process to make WP file editing inactive is possible through the addition of code snippets to wp-config.php files. To explain, WordPress administrators access the control panel, open file manager files, and security folder, and enable the code snippet file. After enabling the setting, users access menu bar settings, locate the code snippet, and confirm the code label as “true.”
Disable PHP File Execution in WP Theme Directories
To mitigate hacker activity, WordPress users disable PHP file executions in WordPress directories. As an alternative to restricting content edits, the PHP execution offers users a better content management system that regulates site content. Moreover, the setting removes the necessary permissions to execute within specific site folders.
Put simply, users access the uploads folder and build a .htaccess file to disable the PHP execution. To locate, the folder is accessible when navigating to the wp-content. Users access wp-content under the public_HTML file. From this file, users save and upload the file within the upload folder.
Limit Login Attempts
Typically, data hackers rely on observing users’ passcode combinations to breach sites. As a solution, administrators limit hackers from using scripts by limiting login attempts on websites. With the use of plugins, users limit the number of failed logins, block IP addresses, and lockout invalid usernames. Moreover, users configure settings to mask invalid login usernames and passcodes to privatize user information.
Change Your WP Database Prefix
As an extra security measure, users change WordPress database prefixes on WordPress sites. Reasonably, altering the default labels on WordPress creates a more difficult hacking environment. To accomplish this, users access the tools and DB prefix settings on WordPress sites. Then, users identify and alter the database prefix to a more secure label.
Disable WordPress Directory Browsing
At times, users attempt to navigate to WordPress sites and access the directory browser of the webpage. In this scenario, users gain access to a list of files and folders that are relevant to a WordPress site. To disable, users apply code snippets within the directory browsing settings. To perform, users access the htaccess files under their site root directory. Lastly, users edit the .htaccess files to connect to WordPress sites using FTP clients.
Disable your XML-RPC In WordPress
As a feature for WordPress, XML-RPC in WordPress enables web applications to send data between both platforms. Due to this design, hackers obtain data from the requests of content transmissions between both parties. Also, online hackers manipulate the basic security settings of XML-RPC supported technologies to gain access to private information. By disabling WordPress XML-RPC settings, users limit the content functions and prevent DDoS attacks on web servers.
Auto Logout Idle WP Users
While users remain active on WordPress, IP addresses and passcodes also remain active on web servers. If not addressed, online hackers gain more opportunities to breach web servers. As a solution, administrators devise an auto-logout system for idle WordPress Users. To prepare the system, users install inactive logout plugins onto WordPress sites. From the plugin settings, users configure restrictions and permission such as time allowance for users and popup backgrounds to limit login sessions.
Regularly Scan For Malware And Vulnerabilities
Available online, users opt-into malware scanning technologies to better secure websites. Additionally, users with malware activity scanners locate less secure features within WordPress sites. With regular maintenance, users manually block potentially risky accounts, software, and user activities that lead to more frequent data threats.
To ensure site safety, WordPress users must scan for vulnerabilities within plugins, brute force attacks, cores and themes, and hosting services. Users may review and remove plugins on the site that are outdated or inactive to limit potential security vulnerabilities. Also, WordPress users generate more difficult passwords to eliminate the chances of brute force attacks online. Users may easily protect sites from hackers by reviewing and updating core and themes on WordPress sites. Lastly, users with reputable hosting services gain access to services with fewer security vulnerabilities.
Use 2-Factor Authentication
Another step to go even further in securing your WordPress site is using the Google Two Factor Authentication plugin. This will require authenticating any new login via a second device, typically a smartphone. Additionally, these features make recovering forgotten or lost access details a lot easier as users confirm changes through a single click on mobile devices. Also, 2-Factor authentication technologies support various user emails, smartphones, tablets, and accounts. Other forms of 2-factor authentification may include fingerprint and facial recognition software to limit hackers from accessing private user information.
Use A Unique Admin Username
One final suggestion is to use a different admin username other than just ‘admin’. While having a strong password takes precedence over what username you use, there’s no reason to make an attacker’s job all the easier by using a common username. Typically, WordPress users opt-into various passcode-generating software that replaces old and ineffective credentials with more secure login keys. Additionally, users also strengthen access details when combining special characters and numerical keys within passcodes. Also, login keys varying from passwords make attempting into WordPress sites more difficult for potential data hackers.
WP Engine’s Staging Area – Making security updates easy!
WP Engine has made it easier for developers to complete backups & security updates with their amazing one-click “copy to staging” tool.
Here are six ways that this feature provides more to a WordPress developer than what other hosting providers had to offer:
Troubleshooting Theming Issues
WP Engine’s staging area makes it easy to test theming issues. Now if something does go wrong on the live site, we can revert to the last backup and start troubleshooting on the staging site, all without affecting the live site.
WP Engine’s staging area allows us to create a test page and then do user testing to make sure we are making a good decision.
To conclude, WP Engine’s staging area helps our business to run more efficiently and to minimize risk to our clients’ sites. It’s just one of the reasons we recommend WP Engine to anyone who is running a WordPress site.
Simplifying Plugin Conflict Resolution
While plugins certainly have their place in the WordPress ecosystem, there are also good reasons to limit their use. With the staging area, though, we can troubleshoot conflicts and remove and/or update individual plugins, without worrying about the live site being affected.
Stop Worrying About Server-Side Caching
Server-side caching is a great tool for the end-user, but for a developer it can become a nightmare, slowing down both initial development and testing.
With the staging area, we never have to worry about caching. When a page or element is ready, we can show the client right on the staging site without worrying that they might see an older version of the page.
The ability to test import files
It’s always a scary moment when importing files such as blog posts, products, or other types of data onto a website. Now we always test file imports on the staging site first so that we don’t have any unpleasant surprises. Through the diagnostics, users better manage file storage systems by removing corrupt documents and organizing files to specified data centers.
Risk-Free PHP editing
Sometimes you just have to edit PHP files or functions in WordPress. These often file crucial to a site’s functions, and incorrect editing of them can cause severe if not permanent damage. With WP Engine’s staging site, we can work with these files without any risk of damage.
Keep Your WordPress Site Secure: Redefining Test Pages
We’re always paying attention to the analytical data of our client’s websites to see how we can improve performance. One way we do this is by looking at a client’s analytic data and then make suggestions that adding a page or editing a page’s functions could improve the way people interact with the site.
Regardless of enterprise-scale, WordPress users who follow particular security protocols benefit significantly when maintaining online accounts and growing online businesses. WordPress administrators that rely only on the default site settings to secure private information may experience more potential data threats that are hazardous for business operations.
For this reason, more user attention to site configurations, website plugins, and security protocols ensures that WordPress websites perform their essential functions while securing private information.
Angelo has been involved in the creative IT world for over 20 years. He built his first website back in 1998 using Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop. He expanded his knowledge and expertise by learning a wider range of programming skills, such as HTML/CSS, Flash ActionScript and XML.
Angelo completed formal training with the CIW (Certified Internet Webmasters) program in Sydney Australia, learning the core fundamentals of computer networking and how it relates to the infrastructure of the world wide web.
Apart from running Sunlight Media, Angelo enjoys writing informative content related to web & app development, digital marketing and other tech related topics.