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WordPress provides extensive features to help with website creation and maintenance. However, an open-source content management system (CMS) can be vulnerable to attacks that carry low to critical risks.
Having a secure WordPress site can help improve trust between your customers and search engines. However, even though WordPress is generally safe to use, maintaining its security requires conscious effort.
Luckily, securing your WordPress site can be an easy task. This article will walk you through a simple guide on keeping your website safe and suggest some top WordPress security plugins.
Choose a Secure WordPress Hosting
First, you need to find a WordPress hosting service with solid security measures. A good hosting provider uses the latest antivirus software, regularly updates its servers, and creates security patches to protect from cyber-attacks.
It’s also important to find out if the hosting provider activates a firewall. It works as a security layer to filter data on your connected local network to prevent unauthorized access.
In the case of website migration, you might need a file transfer protocol (FTP) account to ensure a seamless process. Therefore, check if the hosting provider uses a secure FTP to encrypt your file transfer process, preventing man in the middle (MITM) attacks and data eavesdropping.
Keep Your Website Up-To-Date
To prevent hackers from modifying code and attacking your site, keep your WordPress updated. WordPress often creates updates to strengthen its software security, so make sure to upgrade to the latest version for the best protection.
If you use a managed WordPress hosting service, your hosting provider will conduct the software updates. Otherwise, if you use a regular web hosting service, you need to do the updates yourself.
Check regularly for not only WordPress software updates but also updates for all your installed plugins and themes.
Download Plugins and Themes from Credible Sources
WordPress plugins and themes expand your site’s functionality, but they can be vulnerable to attacks if you download them from unknown sources. Make sure to only download them from WordPress.org or the official plugin’s website, for example, www.elementor.com.
Additionally, avoid downloading cracked themes or plugins. These plugins work with all premium features but without the original license. Nulled plugins won’t regularly update their security patches, making them vulnerable to malware injection.
Lastly, don’t activate any plugins that guarantee access to your hosting files and databases directly from a WordPress dashboard. Unless you are using WordPress hosting that allows you to manage your files from the dashboard, manage your files only from your hosting service’s control panel.
Create Strong Passwords
A report shows 81% of data breaches occur through stolen and insecure passwords.
Access breaches can happen to your website, especially if there are multiple site administrators. Therefore, it’s important to create a strong password that meets these criteria:
- Uses more than one word and has at least 12 characters
- Consists of letters, numbers, and special characters
- Uses both uppercase and lowercase letters
- Doesn’t contain any personal information
- Avoids general words like the sun and the moon
If you need help creating and remembering passwords, invest in good password manager software. It can help generate passwords and create a regular password check-up schedule.
Additionally, don’t forget to change your password every six months and whenever an administrator account is no longer active.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Activating two-factor authentication (2FA) adds extra protection so that a password alone can’t grant access to your account. Generally, it is a one-time code or a security key that you will receive via SMS, email, or an authenticator app like Google Authenticator.
Avoid using phone numbers to receive the one-time code as hackers can breach telecommunication records. Furthermore, you can also use multi-factor authentication to get extra protection.
Besides helping to create strong passwords, the WP 2FA plugin also provides a two-factor authentication feature to integrate into your WordPress account.
Limit Login Attempts
Hackers often develop a script or use a bot to guess your password. Therefore, limit login attempts to prevent brute-force attacks and password guessing by unauthorized users.
You can set a login limit via the WordPress admin panel and set how many login attempts are allowed before a user or IP address is blocked. WordPress also lets you see how many hacking attempts have occurred on your site.
Another way to apply this feature is by activating the Limit Login Attempts Reloaded plugin.
Disable File Editing
WordPress file editing is a great way to directly change installed plugins’ and themes’ code as an administrator. However, if there are other administrators on your website, unchecked file editing can lead to security vulnerabilities.
Furthermore, if hackers gain access to an administrator’s account, they can edit the files and input malicious script. To avoid this, consider disabling file editing. Here are the steps how:
- Open File Manager, then navigate to the wp-config.php file.
- Add the following line of code – define (‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true);
- Save the change.
- Check your WordPress dashboard. If you no longer see the option to edit your plugins and themes, the code works successfully.
Use a Security WordPress Plugin
To help you maintain the security of your WordPress site, you can also activate security plugins like Wordfence Security. It allows you to scan any malicious IP address, malware attacks, spam, or harmful code injection.
The plugin also has features to cover login security and provides a website application firewall. The basic features are free to use, but there is a premium plan if you need more extensive functions like real-time IP blocklist, firewall and malware advanced scanners, and premium customer support.
It will cost you $99/year for the premium features, but they provide bundling discounts if you add additional licenses and years to your payment.
If you want to use a single plugin that provides almost all of the WordPress security measures mentioned above, consider installing the Jetpack plugin. Aside from security, it offers tools for website backups and performance analytics.
Securing your WordPress website doesn’t have to be a complex task, but you need to put in the effort. This includes using strong passwords, being mindful of malicious plugins or themes, and activating security plugins.
As discussed above, many WordPress security measures can be done for free, but some will have a cost. If you want to pay for a plugin’s premium services, make sure to research and read customers’ reviews. Choose one that meets your needs and avoid downloading nulled plugins.
Remember that taking your WordPress security into account should be a priority, especially if your website collects personal data and processes transactions.