WordPress is an incredibly powerful and versatile platform for creating websites, but it does come with some security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, the internet is full of malicious actors who are eager to exploit those vulnerabilities and gain access to your site, and your valuable data. That’s why it’s so important to take the necessary steps to secure your WordPress site. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through some of the best practices for ensuring that your WordPress site is as safe and secure as possible. From installing the right security plugins to setting up strong passwords and keeping your site up to date, we’ll cover everything you need to know to protect your website. So let’s get started!
Table of contents
- What is WordPress security?
- Why is WordPress security important?
- Installing WordPress Security Plugins
- Setting Up Strong Passwords
- Keeping Your WordPress Site Updated
- Backing Up Your WordPress Site
- Securing Your WordPress Database
- How to Protect Against Brute Force Attacks
- Monitoring Your WordPress Site for Changes
What is WordPress security?
Security is the state of being free from danger or risk and can apply to both people and other places. When it comes to websites, security refers to the state of the site’s protection against malicious actors and unwanted intrusions. In other words, security refers to the steps that you take to protect your site from hackers, viruses, and other harmful code, as well as the ways in which you can prevent people from accessing information that shouldn’t be available to them. The most important thing to remember about WordPress security is that it’s not a one-time thing. Keeping your site secure is an ongoing process that requires vigilance, diligence, and regular updates. You can never rest on your laurels and assume that your site is completely safe. It’s critical that you stay up to date on the latest threats, learn new security best practices, and keep up with new WordPress security plugins as they’re released.
Why is WordPress security important?
Generally speaking, the internet is a dangerous place. There are millions of people out there who would love nothing more than to gain access to your website and steal your data. If you don’t take the necessary precautions to protect your site, and the sensitive information that it contains, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up a victim of a malicious attack. At the very least, your site will be hacked and will become inaccessible. At worst, hackers may be able to gain access to your site’s database and steal sensitive data such as user names, passwords, credit card information, etc.
A security breach can not only result in the loss of valuable information, but it can also damage your company’s reputation and lead to legal liability. Additionally, a compromised website can be used to distribute malware and spread viruses, which can harm visitors to your site and other sites on the internet.
Another reason why WordPress security is important is that it ensures the stability and performance of your website. Without proper security measures in place, your website may become slow and unreliable, which can lead to a poor user experience and lost business. Additionally, if your website is hacked, the hacker may use it to send spam or launch DDoS attacks, which can cause your site to become unavailable to visitors. This can cause a major disruption to your business operations, and it can take a long time to recover from such an incident.
Furthermore, WordPress security is important for SEO purposes. Search engines like Google have started to pay more attention to the security of websites and have started to penalize sites that are not secure. A website with good security practices will have a better chance of ranking well in search engine results, which can lead to more traffic and more business.
Keeping your WordPress security on point is a continuous process. The landscape of the web is always changing, and new vulnerabilities and threats are discovered all the time. Even if you have taken steps to secure your website, it is important to keep up with the latest security trends and best practices, so that you can stay ahead of potential threats. This includes keeping your WordPress core, themes, and plugins up to date, using a web application firewall, and using a security plugin to help you detect and prevent potential attacks. You will not only save your business from potential losses but also protect your client’s data and keep your website’s reputation intact.
Installing WordPress Security Plugins
One of the best and easiest ways to implement a comprehensive security strategy for your site is to install and configure a few WordPress security plugins. These tools will help you secure your site against a wide variety of threats, including brute force attacks, server-side attacks, malicious code, and even spam. To start off, we recommend installing and configuring a brute force attack prevention plugin. While WordPress has built-in functionality that will temporarily ban IPs for a few minutes after a series of failed login attempts, a brute force attack prevention plugin will monitor your logins, and temporarily ban IPs that appear to be trying to break into your site. A security plugin can be a great way to prevent a brute force attack by blocking malicious attempts to log in to your site. Here is a list of the 5 current most popular plugins in the security section:
- Wordfence Security: Wordfence is one of the most popular and widely-used WordPress security plugins. It provides a comprehensive set of security features, including a firewall, malware scanning, and real-time traffic monitoring. The plugin also includes an option to block malicious traffic, as well as an option to block login attempts from specific IP addresses. Additionally, Wordfence offers a premium version with advanced features such as two-factor authentication, country blocking, and scheduled scanning.
- iThemes Security: iThemes Security is another popular plugin that provides a range of security features, including two-factor authentication, malware scanning, and a lockout feature that blocks login attempts from specific IP addresses. The plugin also includes an option to hide login pages and an option to change the default URLs for login and admin pages. Additionally, iThemes Security offers a premium version with advanced features such as password expiration and a security audit log.
- All In One WP Security and Firewall: All In One WP Security and Firewall is a powerful security plugin that includes features such as a firewall, malware scanning, and an option to block login attempts from specific IP addresses. The plugin also includes an option to hide login pages and an option to change the default URLs for login and admin pages. Additionally, All In One WP Security and Firewall offers a premium version with advanced features such as a security audit log and real-time monitoring.
- Sucuri Security: Sucuri Security is a comprehensive security plugin that provides a range of features, including malware scanning, a firewall, and real-time monitoring. The plugin also includes an option to block login attempts from specific IP addresses and an option to hide login pages. Additionally, Sucuri Security offers a premium version with advanced features such as remote malware scanning and a security audit log.
- Jetpack Security: Jetpack Security is a security plugin that provides a range of features, including malware scanning, a firewall, and an option to block login attempts from specific IP addresses. The plugin also includes an option to hide login pages and an option to change the default URLs for login and admin pages. Additionally, Jetpack Security offers a premium version with advanced features such as real-time traffic monitoring and a security audit log.
Setting Up Strong Passwords
Another critical component of securing your site is setting up strong passwords. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know how to create a secure password, and as a result, they end up using something like “12345” or “password”, which are incredibly easy for hackers to figure out. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your passwords contain a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and are long enough to be considered strong (8 or more characters). In addition to your WordPress login, you should set strong passwords for every user on your site, and make sure that you’re keeping your site’s admin area locked down by limiting login attempts. You can also use 2FA for an additional layer of security.
Keeping Your WordPress Site Updated
It’s important to keep your WordPress site and all of the plugins you’re using up to date. There are constant security patches being released, and while some of them are critical and warrant an immediate patch, others are just minor bug fixes. If you’re not keeping your site up to date, you’re putting yourself at risk of getting hacked. It’s also critical that you keep all of your plugins and themes (the code that runs your website and creates the functionality) up to date. A lot of people mistakenly assume that updating their WordPress core is enough to keep their site safe and secure. While it is an important part of keeping your site safe, you also need to make sure that you’re keeping all of the other elements of your site up to date as well. Before any updates, make sure that you back up your website and check the developer logs to see if the new version of the plugin is compatible with the new version of WordPress.
Backing Up Your WordPress Site
Another important aspect of securing your site is making sure that you have a backup of your site’s database. This way, if your site is ever hacked, you’ll be able to revert to a clean database that is devoid of malicious code. You can use a plugin like WP Database Backup to automatically back up your database, or you can do it manually by logging into your database server and creating a daily backup. While you should definitely be backing up your database, it’s also important to make sure that your hosting provider offers daily backups. While you can always manually create a database backup, you don’t want to rely solely on that. Ideally, your hosting provider will create a full site backup that includes all of the elements of your site, including the database, which you can use to restore your site.
Here is a list of popular backup plugins that should fit most users’ needs:
- UpdraftPlus: UpdraftPlus is one of the most popular and widely-used WordPress backup plugins. It allows you to easily create and schedule backups of your website’s files and database, and store them in a variety of remote locations, including cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Amazon S3. The plugin also includes an option to restore backups, and a premium version with added features such as incremental backups, site cloning, and migration.
- BackupBuddy: BackupBuddy is another powerful backup plugin that allows you to easily create and schedule backups of your website’s files and database, and store them in a variety of remote locations, including cloud storage services and FTP. The plugin also includes an option to restore backups and a feature to send backups to a remote destination as well as an option to email notifications on backup completion.
- VaultPress: VaultPress is a backup plugin that is developed and maintained by WordPress.com’s creators, Automattic. It provides real-time backup and security scanning for your site. It also includes a one-click restore feature and the ability to back up to a remote storage location. Additionally, it has a premium version that includes additional features such as automated malware scanning and priority support.
- BackWPup: BackWPup is another popular plugin that allows you to easily create and schedule backups of your website’s files and database. The plugin also includes an option to restore backups, and the ability to store backups in a variety of remote locations, including cloud storage services and FTP. Additionally, it has a premium version that includes additional features such as incremental backups, and the ability to backup to multiple destinations.
- WP Time Capsule: WP Time Capsule is a modern backup plugin that allows you to easily create and schedule backups of your website’s files and database, and store them in a variety of remote locations, including cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3. The plugin also includes an option to restore backups, and a feature that allows you to easily roll back to a previous version of your site with just one click. Additionally, it has a feature that allows you to compare and analyze changes on the site before and after backup.
Securing Your WordPress Database
As we just discussed, it’s important to back up your database. However, you also need to take steps to secure your database and lock down access to only the people who need to be able to access it. The best way to do this is by creating a new user account that has access to the database and no other part of your site. This will allow you to limit access to only the database, and nothing else. You can also use a security plugin that offers database security features. Another important thing to remember is to regularly run database integrity checks to make sure that your database is in good condition. Data logs that pile up with unnecessary information will slow down your website speed if left unchecked. You can use a tool like mysqladmin to check the health of your database.
How to Protect Against Brute Force Attacks
If your has an active user base, at some point, it’s likely that you’ll be the target of a brute-force attack. These types of attacks are when malicious actors will attempt to log into your site using a variety of different accounts and passwords, in an attempt to guess the right one. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to protect your site against these types of attacks. You should into a brute force attack prevention plugin. These plugins will monitor your logins and lockout IPs after a certain number of failed attempts. You can also use a CAPTCHA to prevent brute force attacks from accessing your site. The earlier security plugins mentioned will cover most of these areas. It’s also important to check with your hosting provider what security measures and in place and what might be the limits. Using a CDN such as Cloudflare can help you mitigate brute force attacks easier.
Monitoring Your WordPress Site for Changes
Monitoring your WordPress site for changes is an essential aspect of website maintenance and security. Keeping track of changes to your site can help you identify potential security vulnerabilities, ensure that your site is running optimally, and detect any errors or issues that need to be addressed.
As discussed one of the most important things you can do to monitor your WordPress site for changes is to keep your core, themes, and plugins up to date. This is important because updates often include security patches and bug fixes that can help protect your site from potential vulnerabilities. Additionally, you should also regularly review your site’s logs, such as the access log and error log, to detect any unusual or suspicious activity.
Another way to monitor your WordPress site for changes is to use a tool like Google Analytics. This tool can help you track your site’s traffic, bounce rate, and other important metrics. Additionally, you can use Google Search Console to monitor your site’s performance in search engine results and to detect any issues that may be impacting your site’s visibility.
You can also monitor your site’s uptime and response time by using a monitoring service such as Uptime Robot, which will send you an alert if your site is down or experiencing issues. This can help you quickly identify and resolve any issues that may be impacting your site’s performance.
Furthermore, you can use a version control system such as Git or SVN to keep track of changes to your site’s files. This can help you quickly identify any changes that were made, and who made them. This can also help you roll back to a previous version of your site if needed in the future.
We hope that the information displayed in the article is of use to you!