Cyber security is a serious issue, but many might not know just how serious of an issue it can be. When you learn that no less than 50,000 unique websites get hacked daily, though, you will start having an inkling into this problem.
The problem is, the majority of websites today are being run on the WordPress platform. That means a large percentage of the websites falling to hackers are based on WordPress.
While WordPress itself has done its best to ensure sites being run on their CMS are safe, mistakes to happen. In this piece, we are going to talk about how to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Before that, though…
Why Do You Need WordPress Security in The First Place?
Depending on what your website is about, there are a lot of things that could go wrong when someone breaches your security. Some of these are:
- Uploading a malware – A hacker could upload a malware onto your website servers for different reasons.
They could use this to harvest data and information about your website and how you run it for one reason or the other. They could even make it in a way that such a malware downloads automatically onto your visitor’s computers.
That not only destroys your goodwill with website visitors, but makes your website blacklisted. It would be almost impossible to gain back your reputation when such happens.
- Stealing user information – If your website is such that stores user information (profiles containing names, date of birth, age, sex and so on), this will be of importance to hackers.
They can harvest such data and sell it on the black web, to data mining companies or other interested personnel. That has constituted a breach of data which users submitted to you in trust, and breaks your promise to keep their data safe.
- Stealing financial information – This is very common on WordPress websites used for running e-commerce. Sometimes, it might not be a strictly e-commerce-based website but one that sells an offering or the other.
When such happens, the hackers have all they need to rip off everyone who has ever submitted their credit card/ payment details to your website. Besides the fact that this will put a lot of your customers in discomfort, they won’t be pleased to buy from you again should they know the breach came from you.
- Manipulating your revenue – Your website could be gaining revenue from affiliate sources, ad streams and so much more. Should a hacker gain access, they can change your affiliate/ ad/ revenue source details to theirs and divert your sales to their side.
They could even change your receiving accounts and get your revenues in their own accounts.
Of course, those are just some of the things that could go wrong when your WordPress website is not as secure as can be. There is a slew of other reasons why hackers might want to gain access to your website. The onus, thus, lies on you to make sure they have a hard time doing so.
Keeping your WordPress website safe
Want to take your website off the list of easy targets for hackers? Here are some things you can do:
1. Secure your login page
Before your website can be hacked at all, the hacker has to get to the admin page. If you go with the WordPress default settings, all they have to do is add a /wp-admin or /wp-login.php at the end of your domain name and they are at the admin page.
Without even knowing it, you have made one step easy for them.
To get around this, customize your login page to only show up with a specially designated address. That way, you can stay off the grid for most hackers.
2. Implement website lockdowns
Brute force attacks thrive off being able to try multiple passwords till they get the right one. That gives hackers the freedom of trying many possible combinations before breaking into your dashboard.
A simple way to kick against this is by specifying the number of failed attempts a user can have before they are blocked off the admin area.
The best part of this move is that you also get notified when any such activity is recorded, helping you to keep a tighter ship. Many WordPress firewall and security plugins that lets you do this.
It might be worth a look.
3. Choose a good hosting company
Don’t be a part of those who believe that the relatively expensive hosting companies are making you pay for the brand name. More often than not, these are the ones who provide you multiple layers of security over the cheaper options.
Besides the additional benefits that comes with paying those extra bucks, you also get a better security for all your efforts. If you have no idea on choosing the right hosting, you can follow our ultimate guide on how to choose a WordPress hosting.
4. Stay away from nulled themes
WordPress packs a slew of paid and free themes to be used on your website. These themes have been designed and coded by highly-skilled developers who know what they are doing.
The themes have also been tested by WordPress to ensure it is in line with setup standards.
However, some websites offer cracked/ nulled version of the paid themes for free. This might sound like a good deal till you learn that the cracked theme contains malicious code which could hurt your website badly.
5. Disable file editing
By default, your WordPress website has a code editor function which allows you make changes to the theme and plugins. You can find this by going to the Editor dashboard under Appearances or Plugins.
When hackers gain access to your site, they can go here to insert malicious codes – and you won’t even know about it till it’s too late.
The best way to kick against such attacks till you find that something is amiss is by disabling the ability to edit plugins and the theme.
6. Update your website
One of the easiest things you can do to protect your WordPress website is ensure that it stays updated from time to time.
When a new update comes in, that means the developers have found a flaw that they deemed important enough to be patched. Not closing this gap will leave you vulnerable to the flaw they have seen, making it easy for someone who knows their way around such a flaw to exploit you.
The same is true for the plugins as well as the PHP – they can also be updated, and should be updated as soon as you get the notification. Here is our guide on upgrade a WordPress site to the latest PHP version.
Note, before doing any update on your WordPress site, you are highly recommended to create a backup of your whole site.
7. Disable the XML-RPC feature
With the rollout of WordPress comes an automatic inclusion of the XML-RPC feature.
It would be unkind to this addition if we didn’t look at its good sides. After all, that is what makes it easy to seamlessly connect your WordPress account with your mobile and desktop apps.
However, it also makes it easy for brute force attacks to happen at a much faster rate.
For example, a hacker would not need to make 500 password guesses when you have that feature enabled. All they need do is make some 50 requests with the system.multicall function and they would be able to try thousands of passwords in the same timeframe.
The simple fix to this would be disabling the feature, especially if you are not using it.
8. Log idle users out
It is not every time a hacker needs to gain access to your website from a remote location. If you have multiple users on your website, such a hacker can just loiter around till the user leaves their computer.
That is why you should never let anyone stay idle for too long in the dashboard area. If you have observed many banking and financial websites, this is the same model they use to keep their user data safe.
One of the ways to get this done is installing the Idle User Logout plugin. Configure it to state the amount of time you want each user spending idle before they are required to log in again, and you are good to go.
After all that has been said, it is good practice to prepare for the worst. While you must have implemented the above, make sure you back up your website from time to time, you can do that easily using a free backup plugin like our WPvivid Backup Plugin. That way, you can always restore from the last point of backup if anything does happen.
We don’t hope that for you, though.
Got some more tips you use to secure your WordPress website that we haven’t mentioned here? Do let us know about them in the comments.
This article has covered the most essential steps for WordPress protection, we’ve also created an ultimate guide on How to Secure A WordPress Site from all aspects that you may also need.