The ubiquity and popularity of the WordPress CMS can often make it an easy target. Hackers are always be on the lookout for vulnerable WordPress websites. 25% of all websites on the Internet are using WordPress. Utilizing default settings and common bad practices make the platform vulnerable to attacks. But there are many practical and easy-to-implement security steps. You can implement these steps to secure your website. This blog post aims to be a complete guide to WordPress security issues. For this, we will take a look at some of the things that you can do to secure your WordPress website.
Our Top WordPress Security Tips To Protect Your Website:
1. Install the Latest Version of WordPress
There are many hack attempts made on WordPress websites each year. It’s not uncommon to wonder if WordPress is a secure website building platform. The best developers in the world shoulder the security of WordPress. There are rarely any major vulnerabilities in WordPress. None-the-less, the developers of WordPress regularly issue updates. These updates often address known security vulnerabilities. The updates are sent out quickly to mitigate any massive disaster where hundreds of thousands of WordPress websites are simultaneously affected.
Keeping your WordPress version up to date is a great first step. It’ll help you not just secure your WordPress website but also address any other bugs in the CMS. If you don’t already have auto-updates enabled for WordPress core, enable it. You can make sure you have the latest version of WordPress by going to admin Dashboard -> Updates.
In this WordPress security tips, it’s probably worth mentioning that hiding your WordPress will add another layer of protection to your site. This is what we call ‘security through obscurity’. Under this security strategy, you can also rename files and folders, hide username, change WordPress database prefix that enhances database security, etc.
2. Increase the Strength of Your Admin Password
It’s tempting to use a short, easy-to-remember password for your admin account. But this just makes it all the more susceptible to brute-force attacks. WordPress encourages the use of a strong password (by auto-generating). But it does not enforce the use of strong passwords. Meaning you can still go ahead and create a users account using a really weak password.
To enforce strong passwords, you can generate strong passwords. You can do this directly from the Users management section on the dashboard. Or use password generation websites such as passwordsgenerator.net. Want to come up with a strong password all by yourself? Take a look at this post on creating strong passwords for WordPress site. Moreover, you can maintain strong passwords by following a guide. Check out this guide on password management for WordPress users.
Do you already have a WordPress website? Then make sure that all your site users are using strong passwords. If they aren’t, then we’d suggest you update their accounts. And educate all your admins. This so that they can create user account using strong passwords.
3. Use a Custom Admin Username
Like the above point, using “admin” as the username for your WordPress admin account is another vulnerability that can easily be avoided. Using a common username like “admin” just increases the chances of someone correctly guessing your login credentials. “Admin” is the most common WordPress username and partly WordPress is at fault for this. Up until a few years ago, WordPress encouraged people to use “admin” as a username. WordPress has stopped doing this. But many WordPress site users still use “admin” as their username. With the username so easy to guess, hackers only need to find the password. In this WordPress security tips list, our suggestion is to hard to guess username. Hackers will have a hard time cracking your website credentials.
There are many other commonly used usernames beside “admin”. It’s advisable to avoid using all these. There are other admins to your website, make sure you educate them. So that can avoid creating a user account using any of the these commonly used usernames. Users are already using common usernames? Then take a look at how to change WordPress username.
4. Regularly Update WordPress Theme & Plugins
Want to know one of the biggest reason why websites are hacked? It is because users don’t update their plugins, themes or even the WordPress core. Developers issue updates not just to introduce new features. They also issue updates when there’s a vulnerability in the software. When users don’t update their theme and plugin the vulnerability remains. That vulnerability is then exploited by hackers. Any WordPress security guide will tell you to keep all your plugins and themes updated. Whether you enable automatic updates or do it manually, updating WordPress is mandatory.
There are many reasons why website owners don’t update their site. One big reason is that they think their site is too small to become a target for hack attempts. In fact, you’d be surprised to know that hackers tend to target small website more than the large ones. The reason is small websites tend to have very lenient security measures in place. Hacking small websites is easy. Hence, no matter what the size, keeping your WordPress website up-to-date is important. It is one of the greatest WordPress security tips, but updating sites has its own downsides. Take a look at the issues that can crop up while updating WordPress websites.
5. Limit User Privileges
Often user privileges are the last thing to come to your mind. Especially when you are speaking of WordPress security tips. But user privileges are directly related to the safety of your site. WordPress offers different roles to its users. Those roles are Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, Subscriber, SEO Manager, and SEO Editor. The Administrator is the most powerful user.
A common mistake is to grant administrator privileges to all users on a WordPress site. This increases chances of unintentional mistakes. For instance people can end up editing theme or core WordPress files). Or someone can just miss use administrator access. But sometimes you absolutely need to grant another user administrator privileges. This is done so that they can perform specific tasks. You can do so on a temporary basis. And then revert the user account to fewer privileges once the task is done. To change user privileges open your WordPress dashboard, got to All Users> (the user) > Edit > Role. Moreover, you can always go back and change it.
6. Disable File Editing
In a WordPress website, there is a file editing option. It can be accessed by users with high user privileges. “Administrator” has the highest user privilege. But during a hack attempt, if a hacker gets access to the “Admin” account, s/he can edit plugins and themes of your website. The attacker can access the website in future by the arrangements made in the plugins or themes. If you have no use of this particular option, then it is suggested that you disable file editing. You can disable file editing by placing the following code in the ‘wp-config’ file:
define( 'DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true );.
And that’s it!
7. Install Two-Factor Authentication
Any WordPress security tips list will be incomplete without the mention of two-factor authentication. If you haven’t implemented two-factor authentication already, you should. It’s the wave of the future. Even Facebook and Google implements two-factor authentication. Everytime a user is trying to log in, s/he need to go through the two-factor authentication process.
Using two-factor authentication to log in to the WordPress dashboard. It will go a long way in preventing unwanted logins. Requiring authentication via a second device, such as a mobile phone number is a difficult security practice for attackers to get around. It serves as a login lockdown that lifts only if you have the correct username and password. You can implement two-factor authentication on WordPress using the free Google Authenticator plugin.
Setting up two-factor authentication is like installing a gate in front. A front door to your login page. After you open your login page and enter your login credential, you are asked to insert a code. The unique code is sent to your smartphone alone. It makes it hard for a hacker to hack into your website. This is because they’ll need the code or else they won’t get access to your site.
8. Limit Login Attempts
With brute-force attacks, a hacker will try number of username and password combinations. They’ll keep doing it until they’re able to log in successfully. An easy way to circumvent this is simply by limiting the number of login attempts a user is able to try before login is disabled entirely for a specified amount of time. There are many WordPress plugins available to prevent these types of brute force attacks like MalCare, Brute Force Login Protection, etc. Plugins like MalCare Security Services offer CAPTCHA-based protection where CAPTCHA is deployed after many failed login attempts. Bots can’t read CAPTCHA. The user has to solve the image-based CAPTCHA to prove that the user is not a robot. Only after the user solves the CAPTCHA can s/he proceeds to log in to the website.
9. Add HTTP Security Headers
The HTTP security headers are very effective in preventing hack attempts like Cross Site Scripting or other such code injection attacks. Hence, adding HTTP security headers helps to harden your WordPress website. In this WordPress security tips list, we’d suggest you scan your website with this free tool. It will show you if your website already has HTTP security headers. If it doesn’t, you can ask your web host to help add security headers to your site.
10. Use a Malware Protection Service
WordPress hosts generally offer security measures. But it is not enough to protect your WordPress website from hackers, bots and the rest. One of the greatest WordPress security tips that we can give you is to use a security plugin. You can download and install one of the best WordPress security plugin called MalCare. If your website is infected with malware, MalCare will detect it immediately and help you clean it immediately.
Picking the right security service is important because different WordPress security plugins are built in different ways. For instance, iThemes utilized web servers and ends up slowing down the site. But security services like MalCare run all its processes on its own server. It does not use the website server. MalCare comes with an industry-first one-click cleaner. Other security services are ticket-based.
Generally, security plugins offer a website firewall that helps mitigate hack attempts. Security services like MalCare come with web application firewall. The firewall helps ban bad IP addresses and restricts access to our site. It also blocks malicious login attempts. As we mentioned earlier, keeping your website up-to-date is important. Some of these security services come with site management features. It allows users to update plugins or themes or core from the dashboard of the security service.
11. Keep an Activity Log of All Changes
Install a WordPress activity log plugin to keep a record of everything. Literally everything that happens on your WordPress website and multisite network. Logs are a very important aspect of security. In other WordPress security tips list, this is often overlooked. But the truth is that audit logs ease troubleshooting, allow you to keep an eye on users’ productivity. And most importantly of all, enables you to identify any suspicious behavior. That too at an early stage. This gives you enough time to take the necessary actions to thwart WordPress hack attack. Also, most compliance regulations, such as PCI DSS and GDPR legally oblige website owners to use plugins such as WP Security Audit Log. It helps keep a record of everything that happened on their website.
Besides these, there are a handful of other security measures that you can use to improve security like taking WordPress backups (here’s a handy post on how to choose backup plugins) installing SSL certificate, set file permission correctly, change WordPress security keys, using good hosting services (shared host or managed WordPress hosts), disable XMLRPC using the htaccess files, disable directory browsing, integrity monitoring, change table prefix, prevent hotlinking, and if you want to go really deep then take a look at the WordPress codex. Its an online manual for WordPress users. It tells you everything you want to know about how to use WordPress.
Besides these, you can take a few more security measures. We strongly suggest following this guide – Secure Your WordPress Site With wp-config.php.
There is one thing very clear in this WordPress security tips list. It is that WordPress comes with many vulnerabilities. Any attacker can exploit these vulnerabilities. Following some general best practices can help you avoid from being exploited. With a little forethought and planning, your WordPress blogs can become very secure. There is no way of guaranteeing 100% security against any vulnerability. But the methods mentioned above will increase the security of your WordPress website. Whether you have a hacked WordPress site or a clean one, we suggest you take these security measures.