WordPress security is something that you should take very seriously as a website owner, and it should be part of your thinking with every change you make to your website. Since WordPress website is the single most popular content management system (CMS) in existence, it is the one most often targeted by hackers. It stands to reason that the system which is used most often by site owners would be the one receiving the most attention from hackers.
That means that hundreds if not thousands, of criminal-minded types around the world are constantly devising new strategies for penetrating WordPress websites in an effort to make a profit for themselves. Given that fact, it is very important that you do everything possible to close off all endpoints on the Internet, and make your WordPress site as unassailable as possible.
Here are some of the most useful tactics you can implement to help safeguard your site.
The Role Of WordPress Hosting
Using WordPress hosting is especially useful and secure for maintaining your WordPress site, particularly if you are a relative newcomer to the wonderful world of WordPress sites. The reason WordPress hosting is so effective is that all servers used in the process are sized to provide optimal requirements for the hardware and software necessary to run the WordPress platform.
WordPress hosting also means that up-to-the-minute security features have been implemented, and that all known virus threats are accounted for and deterred. In effect, WordPress hosting may be the single best option available for your WordPress site, simply because performance will be optimal, and security for the software will be the best and most current which can be provided.
Keep Your WordPress Environment Updated
Keeping your WordPress environment updated is one of the best ways of maintaining security for your site. According to Sucuri’s report, an out-dated platform was the significant reason a website was hacked.
Every time a patch or an update is issued by WordPress, it is advisable to have it installed immediately, since many of these issued patches handle the newest threats on the Internet.
While many of the lesser updates are applied automatically to your WordPress site, there are still some which have to be applied manually, especially larger updates. Some of the updates issued by WordPress do have to do with things other than security, for instance new features and enhancements, fixes for bugs, and improved performance, but all files should be applied as soon as they become available, in case they do relate to security issues.
Another part of keeping your WordPress environment updated and clean is to remove old themes and plugins which aren’t being used anymore. Since you don’t use them, you won’t notice if they’re being exploited by a cyber attack, and they might provide an easy entrance into your system for a clever cyber criminal.
Because you aren’t using these software components, you probably won’t remember to update them, so they become vulnerable to attack by the criminal-minded. Even de-activated plugins and themes can serve as an invitation to cyber criminals, and can provide access to your website, so these should be removed from your site when you determine that they are no longer needed.
Prevent Directory Browsing
In order to determine if directory browsing is enabled on your WordPress website, all you have to do is create a new folder and place a simple text file inside the folder. Then, visit the directory using your standard web browser. If a link is displayed to the text file inside the folder, then directory browsing is enabled.
On the other hand, you might get a message which says ‘Forbidden’, ‘Page not Found’, or a simple blank page with no explanation, and in any of these cases, it will mean that directory browsing is not enabled on your site.
The reason this is important is because of how directory browsing works. If your web server cannot find index.html file or an index.php file, it will then show a page that displays the content of the directory. That will make available to anyone, some important information associated with your installed themes and plugins, and if a hacker gets hold of this kind of information, it can be easily exploited.
Purchase Official Themes And Plug-ins
It’s very common for a new WordPress site owner to be searching for those themes and plugins which provide just the right visual appeal and functionality to their website. During this search period, it’s very likely that you’ll come across some free plugins and themes which seem to be exactly what you want, and which provide just what you’re looking for.
While these may seem to be the perfect fit, you’re much safer to purchase the premium version of those same plugins and themes from the developing firm where they originated. This will ensure that no malicious code has been added into the software, that you’ll be entitled to support when it’s needed, and that you’ll receive security updates and fixes if any should be forthcoming from the developer.
It may cost a little more to buy the premium versions of themes and plugins, but from a security standpoint, it’s well worth the small extra cost.
Monitor Logins And Other Activities
It’s critical that you monitor logins and other activities on your WordPress website, so that you can prevent unwanted actions from occurring. There are a number of free plugins available which can help you accomplish this, and you should definitely make use of one of them.
A hacker gaining access to your website login can launch a brute force attack or a denial of service attack on your site, which will effectively make it inaccessible.
By using a monitoring plugin, you can limit the number of attempts that a user makes to login, so that unauthorized access cannot take place. You can also determine if anything on your site was updated by a specific user, and that may be something which needs to be backed out and removed.
It’s just good practice to keep an eye on activities which occur on your website, because chances are that at some point, these activities will include some undesirable actions carried out by someone with malicious intent.
Use SSL To Encrypt Data
When it comes to data encryption, you need to have an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate as an extra measure of security. This is important for any website owner, especially for WordPress users.
The reason being, an SSL certificate can help secure and encrypt any data transfer that occurs between your server and the user’s browser. When the data transfer is secured and encrypted, it makes it harder for hackers to try and disrupt that connection to steal any data.
Another big reason to get an SSL certificate is due to Google. The popular search engine will mark any website without an SSL certificate as “not secure” which makes your website appear untrustworthy. This will also affect your ranking on Google as well as less trustworthy sites tend to rank lower on the search engine results.
If you want to implement SSL on your WordPress, you check whether your hosting provider offers any SSL services. A number of web hosts sometimes offer SSL certificates as an add-on feature while a few offers them for free as part of their hosting plans.
Another way to get an SSL certificate is to purchase via sites such as SSL Comodo which offers a number of certificates and security measures for all types of sites (blogs, portfolio sites, eCommerce stores, company sites, etc.).
If you’ve been thinking that you are not a very inviting target for a hacker because you’re not a big corporation, you should immediately discard this notion.
There are a number of reasons that hackers might have for attacking ‘small potatoes’ website owners as well as the larger corporations and businesses. For instance, if you have an e-commerce website, you might be willing to pay significant money to rescue it from the clutches of a cyber-criminal. Even if you’re just a weekly blogger, your site might be valuable enough to you that you’d be willing to pay a ransom to have it released from a cyber attacker.
Granted, attacks against larger sites can be more lucrative for cybercriminals, but if a high number of attacks are carried out against smaller targets, the net result to a cybercriminal can be just as satisfying.
So, it’s your responsibility to make sure your WordPress is well-protected by implementing the tips discussed above.
| About the Guest Author:
Jason is a WordPress fan from webrevene.io. He is a marketer and at the same time manages a few WordPress websites. He blogs about topics related to WordPress, social media, SEO and many more. You can connect with him via Twitter @JasonCPF