9 Ways To Improve The Security Of Your WordPress Website

As a website owner, what measures have you taken to improve the security and health of your WordPress site? If you are running an online business, you must be aware that there is a dark side to the web too, and cybercriminals are always on the lookout for new ways to hack into vulnerable sites.

If your site has been hacked in the past, you surely know how infuriating it is to deal with the damage to your business revenue and reputation. Instead of wasting time having to perform repairs and make site changes after the damage has occurred, doesn’t it make more sense to take necessary steps proactively in order to make sure you have top-notch website security and prevent hacks.

Your Website is NOT Safe! Don’t Assume Otherwise

Before you start thinking that your site is too small and it will fly below the radar for hackers, the truth is that the odds are that hackers WILL target your site, too. In fact, no site is too small to be hacked because most hackers are interested in the collective sites they can then break into for database scraping, black hat SEO, and phishing attacks.

Secondly most hacks are automated and do not consider the success or quality of a site before attacking. In fact nearly 62 percent of all cyber attack victims are small and medium-sized businesses.

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the web today and the high number of users makes it a lucrative target for hackers. WordPress website security is therefore a primary concern for most webmasters and site owners. WordPress installation is intuitive and relatively secure, but as you add more plugins, themes, and code, the likelihood of of being hacked increases.

Man the Watchtowers: 9 Steps to Secure Your WordPress Site

Hardening your WordPress site is about bolstering the gates of your castle and setting up watchtowers.  Here is our list of 10 necessary precautions and security measures you should take to make sure that your website security is strong so that your site isn’t vulnerable to the most common hacks.

Secure Access To Your Login Pages

You should take some basic precautions to make it difficult for hackers to walk in through your site’s front door-

  • Don’t use the default “admin” as your username, change it to something unique.
  • Use strong, secure and unique passwords. Enforce password requirements such as use of minimum eight characters and a mix of uppercase and lower case letters, special characters and numbers. Passwords should ideally be stored as encrypted values, using algorithms like SHA-2, for comparison when authenticating users.
  • Change passwords regularly, if you have multiple users, with a plugin like Force Strong Passwords and use password managers like LastPass or 1Password to manage all of your unique passwords in order to maintain the integrity of your account.
  • Boost your website security by using 2-factor authentication with a plugin such as Google Authenticator for verification during login. You will receive a verification code on your phone for authentication, thus providing dual login protection.
  • You can also set limits to login attempts and enable the lockdown feature for failed login attempts with a plugin like WP Limit Login Attempts.
  • Enable CAPTCHAs to fight off bots

Purchase SSL Certification To Encrypt Data

Security Sockets Layer (SSL) protection is absolutely critical when hosting sensitive information on your website, including credit card details, bank account details, and other confidential information. Google now warns viewers when they’re on a page with a form that’s not secured with HTTPS. Implementing the SSL certificate ensures that all data is encrypted while it is in transit between web servers and browsers thereby, preventing hackers from getting unauthorized access into the connection. If you haven’t already, make the move to HTTPS for your WordPress site.

Restrict User Roles

Set up everyone who needs access to your site with their own user account and password to track user activity on your site and see what they did and more. This way it becomes easier to remove access when a user no longer works for you. WordPress also allows you to assign different roles for users on your website. For instance, editors can write, edit, and publish their own content as well as others posts, while the author can only manage and publish his own posts. Finally, the contributor is limited to writing and saving drafts.

Update WordPress CMS And Plugins

When a new version of WordPress is released, a log is published with all information about the latest version, including security vulnerabilities being patched.  This makes vulnerabilities addressed in the past versions of WordPress public knowledge so hackers can easily misuse them. To ensure the best website security, it is therefore a good idea to always keep your site updated with the most current version of WordPress. Studies have found that more than 58% websites were still using an outdated CMS when infected.

There are incremental WordPress updates pushed out automatically to keep vulnerabilities at bay. But major updates to WordPress need manual intervention and it is up to you to update WordPress to the latest release. You can use the easy update manager for WordPress or the SP Upgrade extension for Joomla, to help keep your WordPress platform up-to-date.

Just like your core WordPress software, you need to keep an eye on your plugins, themes and other add-ons for updates. Even though they are maintained by third-party developers, you’ll find information about updates to them from your dashboard. Before performing a plugin update, make sure that your core WordPress and themes are updated first in order to prevent a crash.

Remove Old Themes and Plugins

It’s also a good idea to delete any outdated themes or inactive plug-ins that you are not going to use again as hackers can use security holes in old code or plugins to install malware on your site. Weeding out redundant or unused themes and plugins will not only protect you from security risks but also clear up space to improve your website performance.

Install WordPress Security Plugins

Remember to install WordPress Security Hardening Plugins or WordPress Firewall Plugins, which will definitely shore up your WordPress website security. You can install and activate All In One WP Security & Firewall for added security.

Change File Permissions

From the cPanel account, you can manage permissions of files and folders that contain confidential information. Avoid using 777 permissions for your directories. For folders configure 755 or 750, instead, according to WordPress.org. And set files to 640 or 644 permissions and wp-config.php to 600, restricting access to admin only.

Backup Your WordPress Site

Whether you run into any security issues or if a change in code crashes everything, having the latest backup of your WordPress site can prove to be a huge relief. You can easily restore a clean version of your site, patch any security vulnerabilities and get back online. So, setting up a good backup solution should be an absolute priority after installing WordPress on a new site. It’s easy to do using free and premium plugins like Vault PressBackupBuddy, and UpdraftPlus.

Choose a Secure Host

Your web host can be your biggest website security threat. To protect your WordPress site, you must first select the right host. Instead of opting for the cheapest rates, go with a reputable hosting provider like HostLabs. Find out whether your web host is taking all the extra measures needed to protect your server against outside threats, such as support for the latest PHP and MySQL versions, web application firewall, intrusion detecting system, etc.

Use this checklist to take appropriate actions in order to keep your WordPress website secure and safe.