These days, there’s no denying that WordPress is the best website builder in the world. That said, being the best doesn’t mean you’re perfect.
For example, consider the WordPress security concerns. Due to its immense popularity, WordPress is a huge target for malicious actors. Sites hosted on WordPress make up about 90 per cent of all hacked CMS websites.
The above stat is scary enough by itself, but it gets worse. If hackers target a key area of your WordPress site, they may take complete control over it. Think of your site as a human body: if one part gets damaged, it affects the whole system.
Not sure whether your WordPress site is safe from cybersecurity threats? Follow these nine tips and you’ll have nothing to worry about!
1. Update Plugins and Themes
Let’s start with the obvious one: updating your plugins and themes. Every once in a while, some plugins will get hacked, becoming a potential security breach point. By updating them right away, you should avoid most of the issues.
To update your plugins, head to Plugins > Installed Plugins. This will give you a list of all the plugins you’ve installed. If a certain plugin is out of date, WordPress will warn you about it and give you the option to update it.
As for your themes, you can update them the same way. Go to Appearance > Themes, check if any of them are out of date, and update them as needed.
2. Update WordPress
Like your plugins and themes, WordPress gets regular updates. Each new version fixes various bugs and vulnerabilities, improving the overall security. Some updates deal with particularly malicious bugs, so it’s best to update as soon as you get the chance.
Updating WordPress is simple enough. Once you go to your dashboard, you’ll see an announcement at the top of the page if a new version is out. Select “Update now” and you’ll be on the latest WP version within seconds.
3. Use a Security Scanner
When it comes to how to secure a WordPress website, few things are as effective as security scans. This is something specialised plugins do when they go through your site. If they find anything suspicious, they remove it immediately.
A good way to think of a security scanner is as an anti-virus tool. Many scanner plugins also offer backup features, so there’s no chance of losing your data. For a more comprehensive security solution, consider investing in a managed WP hosting service.
4. Install a Firewall
Installing a firewall can do wonders for protecting you from various online threats. If something strange tries to connect to your computer, your firewall will notice it and keep it away.
How does this relate to your WordPress website security? Well, we all use our computers to connect to the admin area of our websites. If your computer gets hacked, your connection with the site becomes risky as well.
For best results, consider installing some WordPress security tools as well. Many of these plugins include their own firewalls, as well as features like malware scanning or file monitoring.
5. Rename the Login URL
On a WordPress site, you always have a default URL that you can use to log into the dashboard. The first part is yoursite.com, and the second part is either wp-admin or wp-login.php.
If someone wants to hack into your website, having a default login URL will make things easy for them. To avoid that, you’ll want to create a custom login URL. There are plenty of WP plugins that will let you do this for free, such as iThemes Security.
6. Limit Login Attempts
Speaking of logging in, limiting login attempts is always a good idea. If you allow for unlimited login attempts, hackers will be able to take advantage of it. For example, they can create a bot that will keep trying to get in until it finds the right login details.
Again, there are many free plugins that can limit possible login attempts. While you’re at it, you may want to change your passwords once every 3-4 months. This will further decrease a hacker’s chances of breaking into your site.
7. Protect Vulnerable Files
Your wp-config.php file is the most important part of your WordPress setup. It hosts key data and information about your entire WP installation. If something happens to it, you may not be able to use your site at all.
One way to protect this file is to simply move it a step above your WP root directory. This won’t affect your website at all, but hackers won’t be able to gain access to it.
8. Get an SSL Certificate
Another way to protect your admin data is to use a secure socket layer (SSL). This encrypts your key information and secures the data transfer between the server and the browser. Plus, using SSL will also help you rank higher on Google.
The easiest way to get an SSL certificate is to buy one from a third-party provider. Alternatively, you can ask your hosting provider for it. Some hosting plans include this as a feature, so you may be able to get one at no extra cost.
9. Force Strong Passwords
Limiting user access is one of those WordPress security tips many people ignore. If you’re not the only one with access to your site, pay attention when setting up new accounts. Limit their permissions and functions to those they need to do their job.
A plugin called Force Strong Passwords can also be a big help here. Though WordPress recommends strong passwords, it doesn’t force the issue. This plugin won’t let anyone who enters your admin area proceed without entering a strong password.
More on WordPress Security
Following the above tips is all you need to do to keep your site secure. For best results, review these steps once a month. Remember: when it comes to WordPress security, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure!
Want to make sure that your WordPress site can handle any security changes? Test those changes on a staging site before migrating them to the live version! Click here to learn more about WordPress staging.