Is your WordPress site secure? If you think it is, how do you know for sure?
I don't mean to burst your bubble, but you should never be too confident that your site is protected. New threats are always popping up. The past few years have brought us ransomware, formjacking, cryptomining malware… it's like a game of whack-a-mole that never ends.
That said, there are steps you can take to make your WordPress site more secure. If you're not currently using any of the methods listed below, it's time to start doing so:
Use Secure Login Credentials
Let's start with the basics: you need strong login credentials. Notice that we're talking about more than just your password here. The default username for a WordPress administrator is “admin” – you should change that to something more distinct in order to prevent unauthorized access.
Now, your password. Password cracking software allows hackers to brute force their way into your site by randomly trying different combinations of characters until they stumble across your password. So, the longer and more complex your password is, the better. You also shouldn't base your password on personal information that might be publicly available online, such as your child's name or your alma mater.
Customize Your Login URL
Another way to prevent automated brute force attacks is to change the login URL of your WordPress site. By default, WordPress tacks on “wp-login.php” and “wp-admin” to your site's URL for your login URL. You should use a plugin, such as Protect Your Admin, to customize your login URL.
Image credit: Lifewire
Imagine how frustrating it would be for a hacker if they finally cracked your admin password, only to find that they need physical access to your cellphone to actually get into your site.
That's the kind of defense that two-factor authentication (2FA) provides. With 2FA, every time you enter the correct login credentials to your admin account, a one-time access code that expires quickly is sent to your personal email address or cellphone. Without this temporary code, you can't access the site. This adds yet another obstacle for hackers and makes your site much more secure.
Ban The IP Addresses Of Malicious Visitors
The previous three security methods will help you stop someone from forcing their way into your site, but they won't stop them from trying. That's why, when you notice that someone is repeatedly attempting to access your admin account, you must be able to ban their IP address. You can do this manually, or you can use a plugin instead.
Switch From HTTP To HTTPS
Surely you've noticed that some sites have a lock icon featured in the address bar when you visit them. This means that the site uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) rather than the standard Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), ensuring that communication over the site is encrypted for security. Switching from HTTP to HTTPS is a bit of a process, but it's worth it.
Use A Secure Host
Image Credit: Jold Hosting
You need to consider the security of your site from all angles. Even if you're doing everything you can to protect against attacks, your hosting provider might not be. Your host should be offering you threat protection, 24/7 support, frequent backups, and other security services.
Admin Area Activity Tracking (AAA Tracking/3A Tracking)
If multiple people have administrator rights on your site, then you should be keeping tabs on what they're all up to. These users can basically do anything. You must make sure that nothing suspicious is going on (Activity Log is a good plugin for this purpose).
Auto Logout Of Idle Users
What if one of your administrators leaves their computer unattended while they're logged in? In that case, any stranger that comes across this inattentive admin's machine would have complete access to your site. You can prevent this by setting up your site so that idle users are automatically logged out (our recommended plugin: Inactive Logout).
Regular Site Backups
The final method included in this collection is less about how to stop an attack and more about what to do after an attack. Data loss is one of the most common consequences of a successful site breach. By backing up your site often, you'll be able to restore most of what was lost.
While there are plenty of plugins available for this, BackupBuddy stands out as the best – you can read our review here.
What Do You Think?
These were just some of the ways to ensure that your site is safe and secure. We'll update this post as more information becomes available. If you're aware of any methods missing in this post, please let us know in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!