The WordPress platform is flexible and offers a wealth of options, making it a popular choice for those in need of a website. Once you get your site up and running, security should be a permanent concern because any breach could prove disastrous. The good news is that you have several methods you can employ to enhance the security of your WordPress site.
Potential Security Threats
As long as you are taking the right precautions, WordPress is a relatively secure platform. However, there are a few security threats to know about. Identifying these makes it easier to examine your site to determine if you need to make changes to enhance your security. These threats include:
- Brute force attacks
- SQL injections
- File inclusion attacks
- Cross-site scripting
Limit Login Attempts
Brute force attacks on a WordPress site typically focus on the login screen because WordPress does not automatically limit login attempts. However, you can add a plugin to restrict how many times someone can try to login. Then, once the person meets the failed login attempt threshold, their IP address is blocked. This method would stop human login attempts and bots.
Monitor Your WordPress Files
There are security plugins that make it easier to track any WordPress file changes. If you notice changes, attend to them immediately. These plugins provide intrusion detection and scanning to greatly enhance your security.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Just the first six months of 2017 showed more leaked data than all of 2016 and 2018 is not looking any safer. During the login process, two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security. This method also helps to ward off brute force attacks. You will still put in your password and username, but also a one-time passcode. This is typically sent to your cellphone via text message. The one-time passcode is different every time.
Maintain Themes and Plugins
Your themes and plugins are basically portals to your personal information. They must be secured properly since they are prone to attacks. You will know when updates are available, and you should utilize these immediately. Simply look at your admin dashboard to find the available updates. With your plugins, track those you no longer use. Inactive plugins are vulnerable to threats since most users do not update the ones they aren’t using. Just delete them. If you only deactivate them, they still allow hackers a chance to get into your website.
Strengthen and Change Your Password
A strong password is one of the easiest ways to prevent someone from gaining access to your website. Change your password a few times per year as well. When you are creating your password, you want lowercase and uppercase letters, at least one special character and a couple of numbers. Aim for at least 12 total characters. Avoid any words or phrases that you commonly use or can be attributed to you.
Insure Frequent Updates
This is one of the most necessary, yet simplest, ways to ensure optimal security on WordPress. When security issues happen and impact WordPress, they put out an updated version, allowing users to essentially patch the security flaw. Whenever you see a new version available, it is important to take the time to add the upgrade. Hackers can get information about security flaws, allowing them to launch attacks on those who have not upgraded. It is a good idea to allow for automatic updates, so that when they become available, you can take advantage right away.
Choose a Reputable Host
Your host is essentially the street where your WordPress website lives. There are many choices for WordPress hosting, so do your homework and choose one that offers the right level of security. A host that specializes in WordPress is also ideal. They will be able to better understand the potential security threats and provide features and methods to help you avoid them. When you are choosing a host, look for one that includes a firewall, up-to-date PHP, malware scanning and MySQL for optimal security.
Change Your Username
Do not stick to just using “admin” as your username as it makes you more vulnerable to brute force attacks. Before even installing WordPress, you have the opportunity to change this to something unique and difficult for a person to guess. If you have already performed the installation, go to PHPMyAdmin and put in an SQL query to change your username.
Switch to HTTPS
Compared to HTTP, HTTPS is much more secure. HTTP transfers data from your website to the browser trying to gain access. While in transit, it is possible for hackers to intercept this data. With an HTTPS connection, the data being transmitted is encrypted, making it more difficult to access by someone with nefarious intentions. WordPress is actively pushing for HTTPS to be widely implemented to ensure greater security for those who choose this platform for their website. This is important for all users and not just those handling sensitive data, such as the financial information of customers.
Backup Your Data Often
Should a security breach happen, any data that is not backed up may potentially be lost or altered for good. It is a good idea to back everything up, so that you do not have to start from scratch. When you have backups, you will also know which files are safe since you can just go back to previous versions. This prevents the risk of accidentally leaving infected files on your website. How often you need to do a backup depends on the frequency in which you add new data. There are plugins you can use to make backing up data easier.
The first step in securing a WordPress website is to determine any security risks that may be present. After that, simply implement the necessary security tips to harden your site and ward off potential threats.