How to make your WordPress website more secure

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Written by Stephan Hayward

This WordPress security guide will cover the following:

  • Understanding the Significance of WordPress Security
  • Choose a Reputable Hosting Company
  • Improve Your WordPress Login Information
  • Scan Your Website for Malware
  • Track Your Dashboard Activity
  • Themes and Plugins Should Be from Trusted Sources
  • Check File Permission
  • Limit the Login Attempts
  • Final Thoughts

Well done! All that hard work you put into getting your new WordPress website looking this pretty is finally about to pay off. Time for leads and sales to start pouring in once your website visitors interact with your shiny new website and are in awe by its beauty and ease-of-use.

So, what should be next on your website to-do list?

Why, take the necessary measures to keep it safe of course.

According to Forbes, every day, approximately 30,000 websites are hacked. Unfortunately, a lot of those sites are WordPress which although not that surprising considering its popularity, it does mean however, that you should follow best-practices to keep it safe.

So, what happens if your WordPress is injected will a malicious malware? The most probable outcome is losing traffic and spending a lot of time and resources in remedying the website. This downtime will mean losing customers and incurring losses since it will not be possible to make money with a malfunctioned website.

While contemplating on ways to keep your WordPress secure, it’s imperative to remember that hacking isn’t confined to countable numbers since the reasons may also be many or unknown. In some instances, it can be difficult to find what is effective in enhancing the security of your site. You may even be thinking that WordPress itself is not secure, but that is not correct! WordPress Codex offers a myriad of effective pointers on how to ensure how to make your WordPress website rock-solid in terms of security.

In addition to that, there are various steps you could also take to improve your WordPress security. This simply implies the more measures you take towards enhancing your website’s security, the stronger your WordPress defense will be against any form of attacks. You can also hire the services of a reputable website design agency to help create a bullet proof site.

Understanding the Significance of WordPress Security

Any malicious intrusion in your WordPress website means that the intruders are only there to interrupt the smooth running of your business processes. Malicious entity wants to either extort you for money or monetize the intrusion in some way. Whatever reason it may be, the outcome of malicious intrusion will not be appealing to you or your audience.

That is why you need to always ensure your website is tight and secure. Also, you need to remember that Google blacklists websites which are infected, and if yours happens to be one of them, then you’ll end up losing traffic to your website. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure your WordPress website is always secure to avoid hacking and business interruptions.

Here are some steps you need to consider to ensure your WordPress website is more secure.

Choose a Reputable Hosting Company

When it comes to ensuring your WordPress security is robust, you need more than just a good password. According to WP White Security, 8% of WordPress websites are hacked as a result of weak password or login information. So, what ways do attackers access the remaining 92% percent? Is it through themes and vulnerable plugins? Hacks of this nature account for twenty-nine and twenty-two percent respectively, but these are still not the largest culprit.

As it appears, forty-one percent of attacks on WordPress websites occur as a result of inadequate security on the side of the server. For that reason, it shouldn’t surprise you that the first step to keeping your WordPress safe is choosing a reliable hosting company that updates their infrastructure regularly.

Improve Your WordPress Login Information

Since only eight percent of website hacks occur through weak usernames and passwords, it is not an excuse to neglect this aspect. Overlooking this information is a direct invitation to brute force attacks. You can secure your login information in the following ways:

Avoid Using “Admin” as Username

In the past, ‘admin’ was a standard username for primary administrator accounts. Every WordPress installation used this term and many people never thought about changing it. This information is not exclusive to account holders since hackers are also aware of it. More often than not, attackers will target this username directly.

Therefore, when you’re installing WordPress on a different site, don’t forget to create a different username. If your site already has the name ‘admin,’ create another user with full rights as administrator (but this should have a different username). When you have done that, login with new details and delete the old account. Remember to reassign content as needed.

Use a Secure Password

WordPress, by default, creates a user called admin. Additionally, it is not surprising that people are not good at choosing strong passwords. Hackers are aware of these two facts and will always use them to their advantage when carrying out their attacks.

If you are planning on improving your login security, then you need to first create a strong password. While there are numerous online password generators you could use, password managers like LastPass or 1Password can enable you to store complex passwords without necessarily having to remember them.

After you have generated a strong password, it’s time to switch your username from admin to something else. This can be anything ranging from your email to your nickname, to something unique. Nonetheless, you still need to ensure your role as the Administrator is set. This can be an overwhelming process, but it’s not difficult. All you need to do in to log in as a new user and attribute all the content of your old account to the new one. After that, you can delete the old admin user and you’ll be secure to boot!

Scan Your Website for Malware

Malicious software or malware is something that is not foreign to WordPress, but its effects are evident on user sites each day. Malicious software is designed to enter your website and gain access to unauthorized content. In most cases, a malware is accidentally installed through a corrupted file, although some ads may also contain malicious software. A malware can steal personal information, compromise your login details, hijack your PC, or even create spam. Some attackers even utilize malicious software to launch DDoS attacks, so you should prioritize on ensuring your site is clean.

The first thing to do is to scan your website for any malware. While there are plugins that include malware scanner such as the Wordfence Security, you can also turn to dedicated services like GoDaddy’s Website Security for assistance. Once you are done with scanning, you’ll want to eliminate the malware. Fortunately, there is a myriad of options that can do just that for you. After successfully eliminating the malicious software, you can now change your passwords to avoid being compromised again.

Track Your Dashboard Activity

If your site has so many users, it’s imperative to ensure you keep track of their activities on your dashboard.  Doing so doesn’t mean that you suspect them of wrongdoing, but when there are so many people involved in a site, a single misstep could result in security risks. Logging dashboard activity is useful as it enables you to retrace the step of your user to point to any site breakage. What’s more, you can even decide to retrace your own steps.

Tracking your dashboard activity is also crucial for security since it makes it possible for you to connect dots between certain actions and reactions. Therefore, if your website broke due to an uploaded file, you can trace it further to establish if such a file contained malware. Yes, this information is automatically logged by WordPress but it is not simple to use. It’s recommended to make use of a plugin to organize all this data. That way, you can determine whether uploading a file or changing a specific code caused the problem you are dealing with. Even when you aren’t experiencing any problems, tracking what activities are taking place on your dashboard can provide some peace of mind.

One of the best plugin to check out, according to Pagely, is WP Security Audit Log. With this feature, you can maintain a log of all the activities taking place on the backend of your site, so you can see what the hackers and users are doing. The plugin tracks every aspect, from the creation of a new user name to changes made on published posts.

If you feel that this plugin does not work well for you, you can consider other options such as Simple History and Activity Log which could also help in a significant way.

Themes and Plugins Should Be from Trusted Sources

There are abundant sources of WordPress plugins and themes available over the web. If you are used to picking these features from random sources, you need to reconsider your selection process since the security of your website is at stake. Anyone without the knowledge of security best practices can develop plugins and themes and place them within your reach.

So, how then do you pick secure themes for your site? The only way to ensure you choose a theme that is safe for use is to find a reliable provider who is widely appreciated by clients such as ThemeXpert. This provider offers quality premium themes that are appreciated by thousands of users worldwide. However, if you are on a tight budget, you can use the WP themes and Plugin directory to find free themes and plugins.

Nevertheless, before you can download a plugin or theme, look for rating and review, as well as their updated record. Plugins and themes are usually reviewed by volunteers who assess security flaws in the beginning but never check for sloppy codes or malicious software when new updates are provided.

Check File Permission

The kind of server you choose can affect the security of your WordPress in a negative or positive way. There are numerous servers out there such as the managed and unmanaged servers. With a managed server, you don’t have to worry about file permission since these kinds of servers are handled by the hosting providers. On the other hand, if you are utilizing an unmanaged server, you need to do the management yourself. With the latter option, you can access your folder and have full access to file permission, which either limits or provides access depending on the settings you select.

If you unintentionally make the access level to your website folders and files too permissive, your documents can be accessed by anyone anytime. If you don’t understand the details of folder and file permission, here’s a detailed guide on file permission.

Limit the Login Attempts

It is not surprising to see how brute-force attacks have become common today. With this approach, abusive bits and hackers attempt to log into your Website by cracking down your login credentials using all possible passwords or keys until they find a correct match. If that happens to your website, chances are you never limited the login attempts of your site.

If your login credentials are strong enough, that is great! However, it’s imperative to reinforce the security of your WordPress website by ensuring you limit the number of login attempts. Nearly all security plugins have the feature to allow you to limit login attempts and avoid any form of unauthorized intrusion to your site. And although website hackers attack from different IP addresses, utilizing security plugins that restrict or limits login attempts can offer a strong defense to your site as an added precaution.

Final Thoughts

Ensuring your WordPress website is secure involves more than just installing a plugin and letting everything take care of themselves. There is so much involved and it is important to ensure your site is secure right from the start by using a different username other than the usual ‘admin.’ This aspect, in addition to the pointers highlighted in this guide, will go a long way in ensuring your WordPress website is more secure.

So, was this guide helpful to you? Do you want to make an appealing and secure business website? If that is the case, why not give Framework a try.