10-Step Checklist To Ensure Your WordPress Website Is Secure
WordPress security is a crucial topic to consider for every website owner. According to PatchStach, a cybersecurity company focused on the WordPress environment, “Google quarantines around 10,000 suspicious websites every day and puts them on a ‘Google blacklist.’”
According to WPScan, a security scanning company that maintains a database of WordPress vulnerabilities, it identified 6,047 unique vulnerabilities until the moment of writing this article. Ninety percent of these vulnerabilities are attributed to plugins, 6% to themes, and 4% to the WordPress core files.
In this guide, I will share the top 10 WordPress security tips to help you protect your website against hackers and malware. But first, let’s talk a little bit about the importance of keeping your website secure.
Why Is Website Security Important?
A website that gets hacked can do serious damage to the revenue, reputation, and credibility of your business.
Here are several examples:
- Your website may become inaccessible, meaning your customers will not be able to place orders for your products or services.
- Your website may be marked as “unsafe” by Google, so your organic rankings and traffic will drop, taking weeks or even months to be restored.
- In the event of a data breach, all your users’ sensitive details—like passwords, financial information, and private information—could be exposed or sold on the black market.
- Hackers may send phishing emails from your hosting account, bringing complaints from authorities.
I hope these examples have clearly shown that the security of your website is not something to take lightly.
- Brute Force Protection
A brute force attack is a method used by hackers to get access to sensitive areas of your website by “guessing” the access credentials. Attackers use advanced software programs that automatically submit millions of arbitrary credentials so they can gain access to your website.
A brute force attack can make your website inaccessible, and if it’s successful, the attackers may steal your data and distribute malware to your visitors.
Protecting your website from brute force attacks is quite easy: Install a plug-in like Limit Login Attempts Reloaded, then change your default username and default login path.
- Only Use Secure Passwords
Cracked passwords are still one of the most common paths for attackers to gain access to WordPress websites. That’s why you should run an audit on all the passwords you use and ensure there are no common dictionary words, that they contain digits and special characters, and that you keep them in a safe place.
Here is a helpful tutorial on how to set up a strong password that will be difficult to crack using brute force attacks. Lastly, establish an effective procedure regarding passwords created by your users and colleagues and require all of them to use strong passwords.
- Store Daily Backups Both Locally And Remotely
If your website gets compromised by attackers, the server will crash. If an employee makes a mistake, you could lose your entire business. This is precisely why you must have a strong backup policy in place and complete regular backups saved both locally and remotely. If anything happens to your server or website, you can then easily access the backups and restore them.
- Malware Scan
If attackers successfully plant malware on your website, it has the potential to do massive damage. Even worse, they will then have access to all the sensitive data on your website and can infect all of your site’s visitors. This will be an even higher security issue, as you are now an attack vector for other websites.
The best way to protect against malware is to use a WordPress security suite like MalCare, WordFence or Sucuri that will scan your website automatically for malware, backdoors, or any form of malicious code.
- SSL Certificate
Strong encryption is critical to ensure the privacy and security of your WordPress website. That’s why you should encrypt all domain communication with a trusted and reliable SSL certificate. On top of that, your visitors will feel reassured that their data is being transferred securely.
- XML-RPC Disabling
According to CyberSecurityMag, XML-RPC is a feature of WordPress that enables a remote device like a mobile app to communicate with your website. Since API was added to WordPress, XML-RPC is no longer used by many of the most important apps.
If a hacker has already gained access to your site, they can misuse the XML-RPC pingback function to carry out DDoS attacks on other websites. Disabling XML-RPC can prevent hackers from exploiting this tool entirely.
- WordPress Core, Plug-Ins, And Themes Updates
WordPress is constantly updating its software to add new features and prevent security issues. Therefore, it’s essential to update your WordPress core, plug-ins, and themes to the latest versions as soon as updates become available.
- Database Protection
Your website’s database is incredibly important, as it stores a wealth of valuable information. On the other hand, it’s also a sweet spot for hackers.
To keep it safe, it’s crucial to secure your database from SQL injection attacks that can add unwelcome content through the DB.
- IP Tracking And Blocking
A cybersecurity solution that prevents IPs residing in specific countries or locations from accessing your site can help keep away common attackers or visitors looking to do harm to your website. Most of these solutions have lists updated in real-time with the IP addresses that are used in such attacks.
- Real-Time Monitoring
A real-time monitoring service checks your website for downtimes, hack attempts, and traffic spikes and tightens security as needed based on the individual threat level at a specific time.
A monitoring service like this will allow you to constantly know the status of your website, and in the event of any issues, you will be able to fix them before any significant damage is done.
This is my not-at-all exhaustive list of 10 steps you should take to maintain the security of your WordPress website.
If you’re not sure how to check certain settings on your site or follow any of these 10 steps, you can always ask a WordPress cybersecurity expert to set things straight.
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