In general, website attacks and cyber attacks are growing in numbers every day. Thus, being secure in the online world becomes more and more important.
Even the most secure websites on the internet are vulnerable to distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), hacking attempts, and malware injection.
If you are serious about your website, then you need to pay attention to WordPress security best practices. These are the top WordPress security tips to help you protect your website against hackers and malware.
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WordPress Security Best Practices
WordPress core software is very secure, and it’s regularly monitored by hundreds of developers. However, there’s still a lot of things you can do to improve your WordPress security—even if you’re not tech savvy. Below are some of the WordPress security best practices you can apply immediately to your site.
1. Keep WordPress Updated
You need to keep your WordPress updated.
WordPress is an open source software which is regularly maintained and updated. By default, WordPress automatically installs minor updates. But for major releases, you need to install it manually. These WordPress updates are crucial for the security and stability of your WordPress site.
Most managed WordPress hosting services, like Bluehost and InMotion, provide automatic WordPress update. But if your web hosting does not provide this kind of functionality, then make sure that your WordPress is always updated. Furthermore, if you have plugins and themes installed on your website, make sure that it is up to date as well.
2. Use A Better Hosting
Your WordPress hosting service plays the most important role in the security of your WordPress site. A good shared hosting provider like Bluehost or InMotion takes the extra measures to protect their servers against common threats.
However, on shared hosting you share the server resources with many other customers. This opens the risk of cross-site contamination where a hacker can use a neighboring site to attack your website.
Using a managed WordPress hosting service provides a more secure platform for your website. Managed WordPress hosting companies also offer automatic backups, automatic WordPress updates, and more advanced security configurations to protect your website.
That is why it is better to use a managed WordPress hosting than shared hosting. You can learn more about the difference between shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting here.
3. Back Up Your Site
Backups are your first defense against any WordPress attack. But remember, nothing is 100% secure. If sophisticated websites can be hacked, then so can yours.
Backups allow you to quickly restore your WordPress site in case something inevitable happened.
There are many free and paid WordPress backup plugins you can use. The most important thing you need to know when it comes to backups is that you must regularly save full-site backups to a remote location—not your hosting account.
By not doing that, you are putting all of your eggs in one basket. If your server’s hardware fails or worse you get hacked, then you don’t have a backup which defeats the purpose of setting up regular backups. This is why we highly recommend storing your backups on a third-party storage service like Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, etc.
4. Use Strong Passwords
The most common WordPress hacking attempts use stolen passwords. You can make that difficult by using stronger passwords that are unique for your website. Not just for WordPress admin area, but also for FTP accounts, database, WordPress hosting account, and your professional email address.
5. Manage User Permissions
Another way to reduce the risk is to not give any one access to your WordPress admin account unless you absolutely have to.
If you have a large team or guest authors, then make sure that you understand user roles and capabilities in WordPress before you add new user and authors to your WordPress site.
6. Use Security Questions
Adding a security question to your WordPress login screen makes it even harder for someone to get unauthorized access.
You can add security questions by installing the WordPress Security Questions plugin. Upon activation, you need to visit WP Security Questions page to configure the plugin settings.
WP Security Question allows you to add a security question feature on registration, login, and forgot password screens. You can also edit the security question per user in the users settings.
7. Use WordPress Security Plugin
You need to protect your website from malicious attacks and login attempts.
Thanks to Wordfence—the most downloaded security plugin for WordPress websites. Wordfence includes an endpoint firewall and malware scanner that were built from the ground up to protect WordPress. It is the most comprehensive WordPress security solution out there.
Wordfence has a lot of features. These include file integrity monitoring, brute force protection, traffic monitoring, etc. It is an auditing and monitoring system that keeps track of everything that happens on your website.
So go ahead, install and activate Wordfence. The beauty of this plugin is that, the free version already includes the right set of tools to help you get started!
The Wordfence security plugin is very powerful, so browse through all the tabs and settings to see all that it does.
8. Limit Login Attempts
By default, WordPress allows users to try to login as many time as they want. This leaves your WordPress site vulnerable to brute force attacks. Hackers try to crack passwords by trying to login with different combinations.
Fortunately, this feature is also included on the free version of Wordfence. Just go to the brute force protection settings and configure it’s default value. You can define how many login attempts can be made and choose how long a user will be unable to retry if they exceed the failed attempts.
I suggest you also utilize the brute force additional options it provides.
9. Use Web Application Firewall (WAF)
The easiest way to protect your website and be confident about your WordPress security is by using a web application firewall (WAF). A Web Application Firewall stops you from getting hacked by identifying malicious traffic, blocking attackers before they can access your website.
As I said, Wordfence is the most comprehensive security solution for WordPress out there. So they also have a WAF feature. The best thing is that it is also included in the free version. Cool right?
Wordfence firewall configuration is automatically updated with new firewall rules that protect your website from the latest threats. Even if you are running a vulnerable plugin or theme, Wordfence will protect you from being hacked by blocking attacks based on known and constantly updated attack patterns.
That’s everything for this article! Remember that your website’s security is affected by different factors, such as web hosting. A better hosting provider such as Bluehost or InMotion is what we recommend.
Furthermore, you should back up your site to a remote location—not your hosting account. Even though you’ve chosen a hosting service that provides full site backup, if their system is compromise, then you’ll lose all your data. It is still your responsibility to do backups to your site and store them on a third-party storage service like Dropbox, Amazon S3, Google Drive, etc. You can use Jetpack or UpdraftPlus for your backup service provider.
Use Wordfence to protect your website from malicious attacks such as DDoS, hacking attempts, and malware injection. Indeed, Prevention is better than cure.
Implement these best practices to make sure your website is more secure! If you have any questions and feedback, write them down below in the comment section.
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