Your WordPress website represents a lot to your brand. From the content, you worked hard to create to the customer information you protect, and many other components, your WordPress site, and admin dashboard are home a lot of sensitive information.Hacks and brute force attacks are the most frequent attacks on WordPress sites, though there are vulnerabilities that could leave you wide open to some of the worst of what the Internet has to offer. You don’t want to leave your hard work and customer data at risk. So it’s essential that you implement some strategies to maintain the safety of your site and protect yourself against attacks. Here are some practical steps to take for WordPress protection.
As WordPress comes across new threats, WordPress releases patches to fix known errors and patch holes on their end. If you’re not updating your site regularly, you leave yourself exposed to invasion through these known holes. Remember to make it a point to update your site regularly, which means every few weeks or as often as updates are released. Keeping your site up-to-date gives you the most protection that you can have against known WordPress hacks and vulnerabilities.
Your plugins, too, require regular maintenance to stay as safe as possible. Stay on top of plugin updates as they’re released and perform regular checks to ensure that you’re not missing anything. Leaving previous versions intact means hackers can exploit opportunities to break into your website.
Your admin controls are a precious part of your website, and hackers would love to run wild through your dashboard. Thus, it’s incredibly important to lock this part of your site down hard and fast. For starters, add password protection to the wp-admin directory. Doing this will add another layer of protection to your dashboard, by requiring a two-step login process for directory access. For maximum effect, make sure that the password for login and directory login are not the same. The AskApache Password plugin can be a phenomenal tool for adding security to admin controls. It generates a .htpasswd file, encrypts your passwords and configures permissions for secure pages.
Be mindful of your users
Adding users to your site is ideal for collaborative sites and allowing multiple uploads. The downside to adding a bunch of users is that somewhere along the way, someone may mess with something that’s not theirs or leave their username and password exposed to hacks through improper login protocol. If you allow multiple users, set up the ground rule for each to follow. Set password requirements or use a plugin that monitors password strength and requires an update after a period. If users violate your policies, revoke their privileges to keep your site safe.
Remove the word “admin”
A fundamental mistake that many a WordPress user is guilty of is labeling the admin user as, well, “admin” in the system. Doing this is a problem for a few reasons. One, it’s super easy to guess. Do you want half of your login info to be at hackers’ fingertips? A surprising number of WordPress users don’t update this credential, even though making an edit is quite simple. Take a few minutes to update your admin name to add another layer of protection to your site.
Implement SSL encryption
A secure socket layer (SSL) certificate secures your dashboard by encrypting your data as it’s transferred from browser to server. You can either purchase a certificate or see if your hosting company offers a subscription level that comes with SSL certification.
Your login portal is the most vulnerable place for attacks. Make your login credentials as complicated as possible by getting rid of any names and portals that have “wp-” at the beginning. Don’t use something obvious, like your blog name or first and last name, if they’re well-known through your online presence.
Email as a username
Consider using your email address as your username to add another layer of complexity to your credentials. The email address that you use is a legitimate and unique qualifier that can be used for logins as well.
Give your passwords a do-over, too, by using complex passwords and updating them regularly. Use password generators to come up with random strings so that you can improve your likelihood of avoiding a brute force hack.
Limit your login attempts
In addition to staying on top of your user base, take steps to protect your login portal and any secure pages by setting a login attempt limit. This will keep would-be hackers from being able to access your site by locking them out for a period after three or five incorrect password attempts. You can even install a plugin that sends an alert to the email address associated with your account so that you get notified when someone tries and fails to login.
Implement two-step authentication
Give yourself a little extra work upon login to give a hacker a lot of extra work and to deter hacking of your account. Two-step authentication will ask for two separate passwords on different screens when you attempt to login, which is enough to lock down your site. Doing this is particularly useful if both of your passwords are reliable and difficult to guess.
The information that you store on your WordPress site is obviously critical to your site’s function and your business operations. However, some of the pages or info on your WordPress might leave you open to attacks. If you have outdated pages that have broken links and other possible information leaks, you are vulnerable to outside attacks. Make it a policy to go through your info periodically and weed out irrelevant and unused pages. Check your links and remove dead ones, and perform any other maintenance to keep your site up to date and secure.
Watch your plugins
Similarly, your plugins can be a backdoor to online intruders if they’re not regularly maintained and updated. Keep your site running smoothly by minding your plugins to ensure their viability for your WordPress. Also stay in touch with the broader WordPress community to learn about hacks and vulnerabilities when they occur.
Run regular backups
You know that regular backups are essential for keeping your personal computer running in tip top shape. Well, the same concepts apply to your WordPress, too. Use backup services or an old-school hard drive to securely save your files and database info in case something happens to your WordPress. Go the extra mile and choose a backup service that encrypts your data and uses several layers of password protection for ultimate security.
Secure your database
In a similar vein, keep your database locked down and cleaned up. You don’t want to leave old info hanging around on the database, especially if you have older customer data stored or anything else of a sensitive nature. Set a regular schedule for maintaining your database and purging outdated information. Not only does this free up your storage space, but it makes your WordPress website more secure as a whole.
Change your secure pages
Make sure that secure pages, like member directories and transaction portals, remain secure. Implement SSL and https pages for everything to do with e-commerce conducted on your site. There’s nothing worse than opening up your customers to the card or bank account hacks, thanks to a vulnerability on your site.
Set up a firewall
WordPress encodes firewalls that protect your site and your data from outside breaches. They work by locking down your data and providing added protection from attempted hacks and attacks. Purchase a firewall or use a plugin to ramp up security and protect your WordPress.
Restrict user access
If you’re handling particularly sensitive data or need additional security, you can restrict user access to certain IP addresses. This way, your other users will only be able to log on if they’re working from a device with an approved IP address. This is a fairly extreme measure of security, and most WordPress users probably don’t need to implement such a precaution. If you handle very sensitive information, though, you may want to add this extra layer of protection to keep yourself and your clients safe from hacking.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can protect yourself from outside threats to your WordPress. There are certain threats on the horizon that you must recognize and address to help you protect your WordPress from one such attack. Implementing security measures big and small keep you on track to having a secure site and reducing the likelihood of an online invasion. Even something as simple as changing your password is a great start. If some of the more advanced security measures seem daunting, or something you just don’t have time for, don’t worry about it. We’ve got plenty of experience in WordPress security and would be happy to help you out.
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