What’s better than a well-built website? A well-built website with robust security.
Stick with me as I will uncover some of the best security practices for your WordPress website. Not only are they beginner-friendly, but these practices are highly affordable if not free altogether.
By the end of this article, you’ll have an action plan to safeguard your site against all kinds of cyber threats. So, buckle up and let’s get started!
Is Your WordPress Site Secure?
While WordPress is deemed the most popular CMS to date, this reputation comes with some consequences. Used by over 35% of websites on the internet, WordPress turns into a favorite target for malware attacks. In 2018 alone, Sucuri reported that around 23,000 WordPress websites fell victim to security breaches.
Does that mean WordPress has a terrible security system?
Not at all! On the contrary, the main cause of website security breaches is users’ lack of security awareness.
As a reputable CMS, WordPress does its part by publishing security patches and software updates regularly. Despite that, those upgrades will make little difference unless you know what to make of them.
In short, you play a significant role in securing your website.
Now that you know your role and responsibility as a webmaster, it’s time to explore what you can do to improve your website’s security. Take a look at the best security practices below and try to implement them on your website.
Use Strong Usernames and Passwords
Creating strong login credentials might be the easiest security practice anyone can perform, yet many users still fail to do so. Believe it or not, 23.2 million accounts still use “123456” as their password. The same issue applies to usernames, where many users use the standard usernames like “admin” and “administrator.”
If you need help coming up with strong passwords, there are plenty of password generators out there you can use free of charge. As for usernames, you can incorporate numbers and special characters into the keywords to make them more unique.
Using weak login credentials will make your website vulnerable to brute force attacks. This type of cyber-attack uses a trial-and-error approach to guess your login credentials. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using common keywords for your login information.
If you have a habit of forgetting the password, then you may consider using LastPass to remember and use it with one click. As for usernames, you can incorporate numbers and special characters into the keywords to make them more unique.
Hide WordPress Login
This simple trick can protect your WP sites from attackers targetting brute force attacks. Use WPS Hide Login free plugin to change the login URL to something unique.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Once you’ve secured your admin login credentials, you can improve the login process even further by enabling the two-factor authentication. This security process creates an extra layer of protection that requires users to obtain a unique code from an authentication app. By implementing it on your website, only users with the correct login credentials and code can log into their account.
Change WordPress Database Prefix
The website’s database is the most favorite target for SQL injection attacks. These types of cyberattack force the database to execute malicious code, allowing hackers to modify or eliminate the data within it freely. As SQL injection attacks comprise around 80% of hacking attempts launched per month, you shouldn’t take this threat lightly.
One of the factors that make your database prone to SQL injection attacks is the use of
wp_ default database prefix. Using a predictable database, prefix allows hackers to guess your table names and wreak havoc in your database. Therefore, I highly recommend you change it at the soonest opportunity.
Disable PHP Error Reporting
The PHP error reporting function helps you to locate errors within the PHP files much faster. However, it also allows other people to see your site’s vulnerabilities. Therefore, I recommend you to disable this function altogether.
WordPress disables the error reporting function by default. If it’s enabled for some reason, you should disable it manually by modifying the wp-config.php file. Depending on your web hosting service, several hosting providers also allow you to manage this setting from their control panel.
Keep WordPress up-to-Date
To keep up with the ever-increasing types of cyberattacks, WordPress releases updates along with the latest security patches periodically. This improvement doesn’t only apply to WordPress core, but also the plugins and themes. That being said, using outdated software is a recipe for disaster.
While WordPress automatically implements minor software updates, you still need to perform major updates manually. So, be sure to look for new updates in the Updates section of your WordPress admin panel regularly to avoid having security vulnerabilities in your site.
There is also a free plugin Easy Updates Manager, which you can use to control how you want to update your WordPress core, themes, and plugins.
Disable Directory Browsing
Directory browsing can give you quick access to the site’s structure and individual directories. However, it can turn into a double-edged sword if other people can also access it. Hackers often use it to find vulnerable files, plugins, and themes, then use them to gain access to your website.
If you are hosting your WP site on a premium platform, then you may not need to worry as they will take care of these optimizations. However, if you are self-hosting or need to disable it manually then check out this article to know how to disable directory browsing in WordPress.
Remove WordPress Version Number
WordPress continuously releases updates to patch the previous version’s security vulnerabilities. Older versions are usually plagued with more vulnerabilities. Therefore, making your WordPress version public isn’t the best idea for your web security system.
By default, your WordPress version is visible at the bottom right of your admin panel and the page source. It also appears in less obvious places like the site’s RSS, CSS, and scripts. There’s a great article that provides a step-by-step guide on how to remove the WordPress version from these places.
Disable File Editing
WordPress’ built-in file editor lets you modify the plugin and theme scripts much easier. Despite so, this feature can endanger your website if it falls into the wrong hands. For this reason, it’s best to disable file editing altogether. You can do so by adding below in the
Perform Regular Backups
Creating backups is just as important as securing the website. In the worst-case scenario, the backups can save you from having to rebuild the site from the ground up.
The process might seem tedious, but there are many backup plugins like VaultPress and BlogVault that can make it hassle-free. Protip, use the plugin that has an automatic backup feature to save your time and avoid having outdated backups clogging your system.
If you don’t like using too many plugins then you may consider using iThemes Security Pro which take care of above all and more.
Stop Spam and Negative SEO
Spam is everywhere, and nobody likes it.
If you are running a popular site and not having a proper spam prevention system, then you may be attracting thousands of spammer every day. Having too much spam is bad for SEO and user experience. Imagine, you have hundreds of irrelevant comments on a blog post.
Say no to spam by using the CleanTalk anti-spam solution.
One of the best investments you can make to secure your site is by using WAF (Web Application Firewall). It helps to secure your site from OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities, known and unknown security flaws, malicious code, DDoS attacks, and much more.
Manage Themes and Plugins
One of the biggest perks of using WordPress is its vast collection of plugins and themes. Ironically, WordPress plugins and themes pose as the largest source of vulnerability that could put your site at risk. So, you should make your choice wisely and carefully manage the ones you have installed.
The easiest way to prevent hackers from accessing your website via faulty software is by using plugins and themes with excellent reviews and ratings. These are great indicators that will tell you that they are well-maintained and functioning properly. Additionally, be sure to check for updates periodically to improve their performance.
Since cyber threats around the globe are not planning to withdraw very soon, it’s essential to secure your WordPress website from potential danger. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy yet effective security practices you can perform to improve your site’s overall security.
This article proves that you don’t need a big budget or advanced technical knowledge to perform some of the best security practices. The question is, are you up for the challenge?