WordPress is one of the most popular website-building platforms, powering over 40% of all websites globally. However, with the significant capabilities it provides for WordPress website development comes to an equally significant responsibility – ensuring your website’s security. This blog post will cover everything you need to know about securing your WordPress website. From understanding the importance of WordPress security to learning how to prevent common attacks like brute force attacks and file inclusion exploits, we’ve got you covered. We’ll also share best practices for users like choosing a secure password and running regular security scans. By implementing these tips, you can avoid common security issues and protect your website from hackers so that your SEO rankings remain intact.
How to secure your WordPress website from common vulnerabilities?
The following are the few ways to secure your wordpress website from common vulnerabilities:
Implement SSL Certificates
Implementing an SSL certificate is a vital measure for enhancing the security of your WordPress website. SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, encrypts the connection between the user’s browser and your website’s server, making it much harder for attackers to steal sensitive data.
The process of setting up SSL involves the following steps:
- Purchase an SSL Certificate: Obtain an SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA) or use a free one provided by some hosting services.
- Activate the SSL Certificate: Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on your server to activate your SSL certificate.
- Install the SSL Certificate: After issuance, install the SSL certificate on your server. The process may vary depending on your hosting provider.
- Update Your WordPress URL: In the WordPress admin area, under Settings > General, change your URL to HTTPS instead of HTTP.
- Set up WordPress to Use SSL/HTTPS: Ensure WordPress uses SSL and HTTPS in links and URLs. Plugins like Really Simple SSL can help with this process.
Require & Use Strong Passwords
Passwords serve as the primary line of defense against unauthorized access to your WordPress website. Ensuring the use of strong, unique passwords across all user accounts is an essential step in safeguarding your website from common vulnerabilities, such as brute force attacks.
A strong password typically comprises a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters, making it difficult for potential intruders to guess or crack. It should be 12 characters long and not contain obvious dictionary words, phrases, or personal information.
As an administrator, it is not only important for you to have a strong password but also to enforce strong password policies for all users. WordPress provides a strength meter that can help users evaluate their password strength. However, for additional security, consider using plugins like Wordfence Security, which enforces strong passwords as a security measure.
Moreover, it is advisable to regularly update your passwords and use different ones for different sites. Password managers can be helpful tools in managing multiple strong passwords without the need to remember each one.
Remember, the strength of your passwords can significantly impact the security of your WordPress website. While they are just one part of a larger security strategy, strong passwords are an easy and effective way to improve your site’s security.
Install A Security Plugin
Security plugins play a pivotal role in fortifying your WordPress website’s security. They serve as a comprehensive security solution, offering a range of features to protect against common vulnerabilities, such as brute force attacks, malware, SQL injection threats, and more.
Security plugins function by implementing various protective measures like firewalls, regular security scanning, detecting changes to your website’s files, blocking suspicious IP addresses, and providing regular security reports.
There is a plethora of security plugins available, each with its unique set of features. Some popular options include Wordfence Security, iThemes Security, and Sucuri Security.
When choosing a plugin, consider the specific needs of your site. For instance, if your site is often targeted by brute force attacks, choose a plugin that offers login attempt limits and two-factor authentication. For sites dealing with sensitive customer data, plugins that offer robust firewall protections would be beneficial.
To install a security plugin, navigate to your WordPress dashboard, go to ‘Plugins’, click on ‘Add New’, and search for your chosen security plugin. After installing and activating the plugin, take some time to configure the settings to best match your security needs.
While security plugins significantly enhance your website’s security, they should not be seen as a standalone solution. They form part of a broader security strategy that includes regular updates, strong passwords, and proper user management. Remember, maintaining a secure WordPress site requires continuous effort and vigilance.
Keep WordPress Core Files Updated
One of the most effective ways to safeguard your WordPress website against common vulnerabilities is by keeping your WordPress core files up-to-date. These core files, which comprise your WordPress site’s backbone, often receive updates from the WordPress team to fix bugs, add new features, and, most importantly, patch security vulnerabilities.
Hackers are constantly on the lookout for websites running outdated software, as they can be easier targets for exploitation. By promptly applying updates to the WordPress core, you deny potential attackers the opportunity to exploit known vulnerabilities.
Updating your WordPress core files is typically a straightforward process. WordPress provides notifications within your dashboard whenever a new version is available. All you need to do is click on ‘Please update now’ and the system will guide you through the process.
However, before proceeding with any update, it’s crucial to back up your website. Updates, although thoroughly tested, could still lead to unexpected issues or conflicts with other elements of your website, like plugins or themes. Having a recent backup ensures you can quickly restore your site if anything goes wrong.
In addition to manual updates, WordPress also offers an automatic update feature, which can be a great way to ensure your website is always running the latest version.
Remember, keeping WordPress core files updated is a fundamental aspect of website security. It’s an easy, proactive step that plays a significant role in defending your site against potential threats. However, like all security measures, it should be part of a broader, multi-layered approach to website security.
Never Use The “Admin” Username
When setting up your WordPress website, one of the simplest yet most effective steps you can take towards securing your site from common vulnerabilities is to avoid using the default “Admin” username. This is because “Admin” is the first guess for most hackers when attempting to gain unauthorized access to your website.
By using a unique username, you instantly make it more difficult for potential attackers to guess your login details, thereby reducing the likelihood of a successful brute-force attack. A brute force attack is a standard method employed by hackers where they attempt to gain access by trying various combinations of usernames and passwords until they find one that works.
If you have already set up your site with “Admin” as the username, don’t worry, you can still change it:
- Create a New User: From your WordPress dashboard, go to ‘Users’ and ‘Add New’. Fill in the information for the new user, ensuring you give them a unique username and ‘Administrator’ role.
- Delete the Old User: Log out of the “Admin” account, log back in with the new user credentials, and then delete the old “Admin” user. WordPress will prompt you to attribute all content from the deleted account to another user – select your new user account.
Hide Your WP-Admin Login Page
One effective way to fortify your WordPress website’s security is by hiding your WP-Admin login page. By default, every WordPress website’s login page can be accessed by appending ‘/wp-admin or ‘/wp-login.php’ to the site’s base URL. Since this is widely known, it provides an easy target for potential attackers to start brute force attacks.
Hiding your WP-Admin login page essentially involves changing the URL of the login page to something less predictable, making it harder for hackers to find and target. This change can significantly reduce the risk of brute force attacks, where hackers attempt to gain access by guessing login details.
To implement this, you will need a security plugin that offers this feature. Some popular options include iThemes Security and WPS Hide Login. After installing and activating the plugin, you can navigate to its settings and specify a new login URL. Make sure to choose a unique URL that you can remember but isn’t easily guessable by others.
Remember, this change should be made carefully, as forgetting the new login URL could lock you out of your website. It’s advisable to bookmark the new URL or save it in a secure location.
While hiding your WP-Admin login page doesn’t make your site impervious to all threats, it adds another layer of security, making it harder for unauthorized users to gain access. This strategy, combined with other security practices like using strong passwords, keeping WordPress updated, and utilizing a reputable security plugin, provides a robust defense system for your website against common vulnerabilities.
XML-RPC is a feature in WordPress that allows for remote connections to your website, enabling certain functions like the ability to publish content via mobile apps or use trackbacks and pingbacks. While this can be a useful feature, it can also be exploited to launch brute-force attacks or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on your website. To minimize these vulnerabilities, it can be beneficial to disable XML-RPC, especially if you don’t require its functionalities.
Disabling XML-RPC can be done in several ways:
- Using a Security Plugin: Many WordPress security plugins, like Wordfence or iThemes Security, provide an easy option to disable XML-RPC in their settings.
- Through .htaccess: You can manually disable XML-RPC by adding specific code to your .htaccess file. This method should be approached with caution, as errors can lead to website downtime.
- Via a Dedicated Plugin: Plugins such as “Disable XML-RPC” can be installed and activated to disable the function.
Before you proceed to disable XML-RPC, it’s important to ensure that you do not actively use any features that rely on it. If you’re uncertain, it may be best to consult with a professional.
Disabling XML-RPC is a powerful way to shield your WordPress website from potential attacks. It’s a critical component of a comprehensive security strategy, serving as one of the many lines of defense to protect your digital presence from common vulnerabilities.
Install a firewall
A firewall plays a critical role in safeguarding your WordPress website against common vulnerabilities. Acting as a protective shield, a firewall filters the traffic that comes to your site, allowing only legitimate visitors while blocking suspicious or malicious requests. This is essential to thwart common threats such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and brute force attacks.
There are two main types of firewalls you can install for your WordPress website:
- Application-Level Firewall: These firewalls examine traffic once it has reached your server but before loading most WordPress scripts. This type of firewall is easy to set up as it often comes as a feature in many WordPress security plugins like Wordfence and Sucuri.
- DNS-Level Firewall: This type of firewall routes your website traffic through its cloud proxy servers. This allows them to only send genuine traffic to your web server, reducing server load and offering advanced security features.
Securing your WordPress website is an ongoing process, requiring the integration of various measures including SSL certificates, strong passwords, security plugins, updated WordPress core files, unique admin usernames, hidden login pages, XML-RPC disabling, and firewall installation. These steps, while individually effective, are most powerful when used together as part of a comprehensive, regularly updated security strategy. As cyber threats continually evolve, so should your website’s defense, ensuring a secure, trustworthy platform for your users.