Cybersecurity is a top-of-mind concern for businesses and individuals with an online presence. For example, the number of reported cyber attacks on small businesses increased by 39% in 2022. This is why it’s important to understand your risks as a WordPress user and take measures to protect your site. If you’re running a WordPress-powered website, you know that there are over 270 million active users who share more than one billion blog posts every single month. It’s no wonder that so many business owners have made the switch to WordPress as their CMS (content management system) of choice. With so many websites using this platform, hackers have their work cut out for them trying to find vulnerabilities in these sites and exploit them. That being said, there are still plenty of ways that your site can be compromised if you aren’t careful with security best practices and settings.
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WordPress Security Basics
The first step to securing your WordPress site is to make sure that you have a secure version of the platform installed. While WordPress is a remarkably secure platform, you’ll want to look for these specific security features in your web host’s platform.
– SSL Certificate – It’s a shame that so many people overlook the importance of having an SSL certificate. If you want people to view your site as a legitimate business, you need to be offering a secure HTTPS connection. This extra “S” in the URL indicates that your site is using SSL encryption to secure all data being sent and received.
– Automatic Updates – Another huge win for your site’s security is to make sure that automatic updates are enabled. This ensures that all of the other software running on your sites, like your CMS and any plug-ins, are always up to date with the latest security patches.
Install a Secure WordPress Platform
These days, it’s best to install a clean WordPress version on a new web host platform. This is because many host providers run a version of the open-source platform that is years old. This leaves your site’s security vulnerable to known vulnerabilities and exploits. Instead, find a new host and use a fresh installation of WordPress on your site. This way, you’ll be able to go through the initial setup and plug-in installation from scratch. This will also help you ensure that all of your settings are set up correctly and avoid any potential security issues down the line.
Use Strong User Authentication
The secret to all good website security is in how you authenticate your users’ logins. One of the biggest mistakes that WordPress site owners make is to use the same username and password combination across multiple websites and platforms. If any one of those sites is compromised, a hacker can gain access to all of your accounts. For example, many people use the same email and password combination for their WordPress accounts and their Instagram accounts. However, a few months ago, a hacker used a brute-force attack to gain access to millions of Instagram accounts. It’s believed that a vulnerability in the WordPress plug-in used by Instagram let the hacker obtain millions of login credentials via a brute-force attack.
Use SSL Encryption Whenever Possible
Along with strong authentication, you need to use SSL encryption whenever possible. Not only does this protect sensitive data from being intercepted, but it also helps to avoid issues with Google. Google has been flagging unsecured sites for years now. This is because search engine algorithms can detect when data is being shared insecurely. If your site is flagged for having SSL encryption, you’ll lose valuable SEO rankings and notice a drop in traffic. However, if you have SSL encryption in place, you’ll be able to avoid Google’s warnings. In the past, SSL certificates were incredibly expensive. However, thanks to services like Let’s Encrypt, you can now get an SSL certificate for free. Various WordPress plug-ins make setting up an SSL connection very easy.
Monitor Your Site’s Infrastructure
Finally, it’s important to monitor your site’s infrastructure. This includes looking at the availability of your server, the uptime of your site, and the speed at which your site loads. If any of these things are even slightly subpar, you could be putting your site and your visitors at risk. For example, if your server goes offline, your site will go down with it. This is especially true for sites that use WordPress. If the server hosting your site experiences a power outage or some other incident, it could take your site offline as well. It’s also important to keep an eye on the security of your server. If a hacker gains access to your server, they could do a lot of damage. This includes installing malicious software to steal login credentials or creating botnets to attack other sites.
As you can see, there are many things you can do to protect your WordPress site from hackers. However, you need to start by installing a secure WordPress platform and using strong authentication. You also need to use SSL encryption and monitor your site’s infrastructure for potential issues. If you do these things, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your WordPress site secure from threats.