WordPress is a popular content management system that powers over 40% of websites on the internet. However, this popularity also makes it a target for hackers and cybercriminals. In this post, we will discuss the best practices WordPress Security and protecting it from potential threats.
Understanding the Threats around WordPress Security
Before we dive into the best practices for securing your WordPress website, it’s important to understand the various threats that your website may face. Common security threats include:
1. Malware attacks
Malware, short for “malicious software,” refers to any software that is designed to cause harm to a computer system or network.
Malware attacks on WordPress websites can range from basic malicious code injections to more sophisticated attacks that can lead to data theft or website downtime.
2. Brute force attacks
A brute force attack is a method used by hackers to guess login credentials by repeatedly trying different combinations of usernames and passwords until they find the correct one.
Brute force attacks can be prevented by limiting the number of login attempts or by using strong, unique passwords and updating your passwords regularly.
3. Cross-site scripting (XSS)
Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of security vulnerability that allows hackers to inject malicious code into a website, which can then be executed by visitors to the site.
This can lead to sensitive information being stolen or the site being defaced.
4. SQL injection
SQL injection is a type of security vulnerability that allows hackers to inject malicious code into a website’s database. This can allow them to view or modify sensitive information, or even take control of the entire website, thereby stealing all the user data.
5. DDoS attacks
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is a type of attack where a large number of computers or devices are used to flood a website with traffic, overwhelming the server and causing the site to become inaccessible.
DDoS attacks can be prevented by using firewalls or other security measures to block traffic from suspicious sources.
These security threats are just a few examples of the potential risks that WordPress websites may face.
It’s a good idea to stay informed about the latest security threats and best practices for securing your website to ensure that it remains safe and secure.
We understand not everyone can spend the time on it – but we can have a look for you.
Why Do People Launch Attacks on WordPress Sites
As a small group of enthusiastic WordPress Security geeks, I can tell you that there are many reasons why people launch attacks on WordPress sites. Some of the common reasons include:
Many attackers aim to gain financial benefits by hacking WordPress sites. They may try to access sensitive information such as credit card details, bank account information, or other financial data, even email lists can be sold off to scammers.
Some attackers may seek to steal confidential information such as customer data, login credentials, and other sensitive information to sell on the dark web or use for malicious purposes. Like mentioned, scammers love this data and are willing to pay very well for it.
Some attackers launch attacks on WordPress sites simply to cause harm or disruption. This could involve defacing the website or spreading malware, viruses, or other malicious code. WordPress sites have also been used to route traffic to illegal content. Really bad stuff.
Political or Social Motivations
In some cases, attackers may target WordPress sites for political or social reasons. This could involve defacing the website to spread a political message or hacktivism against a particular organization or government body.
Some attackers may try to manipulate search engine rankings by injecting spammy links or other black hat SEO techniques. This could lead to a negative impact on the site’s search engine rankings or even result in a manual penalty from search engines.
These are just a few examples of why attackers target WordPress sites. It’s important to note that there are many other motivations, and the tactics and techniques used by attackers are constantly evolving. As a small group WordPress Security experts, it’s our job to stay up to date with the latest security threats and implement best practices to protect our clients’ websites.
By understanding the potential threats, you can take the necessary steps to prevent them from occurring and stay one step ahead.
A Checklist for Securing Your WordPress Website
1. Keep WordPress Core Updated
One of the easiest ways to increase your WordPress Security game is simply to keep it up to date. WordPress releases regular updates that address security vulnerabilities and improve the overall performance of the platform. By keeping your WordPress installation up to date, you can reduce the risk of your website being compromised.
2. Keep WordPress Themes & Plugins Updated
Once you get a theme and a few plugins on the hop, you’ll probably think that’s the end of that. But theme and plugin developers are constantly updating their code to not only enhance their own products but to keep up with WordPress updates too.
If you see a little red circle with a number in it next to your plugins nav – just go and update it.
3. Use Strong Passwords
Weak passwords are one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your WordPress website. Ensure that you use strong, unique passwords for your WordPress admin account, FTP, and hosting account. You can use a password manager to generate and store complex passwords securely like: Dashlane, Nordpass, or a free one like this.
Another note on this, make your username something abstract, like a password adding another layer of difficulty for potential threats.
4. Install Security Plugins
WordPress has a wide range of security plugins available that can help protect your website from potential threats. Some popular security plugins include Wordfence, iThemes Security, and Sucuri Security.
5. Use HTTPS
Using HTTPS can help protect your website from man-in-the-middle attacks and data breaches. HTTPS also provides a ranking boost in Google search results. You can obtain an SSL certificate from your web host or a third-party provider.
Hosting providers usually use a service called Let’s Encrypt. If you think it sounds lame, it kind of is. It’s not consistent and sometimes it’s just down. If you are taking credit card payments or holding some serious data, purchase a proper SSL from somewhere like Comodo – it’s worth it.
6. Limit Login Attempts & 2FA
Limiting the number of login attempts can help prevent brute force attacks and nips it in the bud. If they can’t login, they can’t do much more damage now can they?
You can use a WordPress Security plugin to limit login attempts and lock out users who enter incorrect login credentials multiple times.
Wordfence has a limit login feature and can add Two_Factor Authentication at the same time (2FA). It has a robust Firewall feature and blocks malicious IP addresses in real-time. It’s what we use and we’ve never had any issues.
7. Disable Directory Indexing
Directory indexing allows users to view the contents of directories on your website. This can expose sensitive information and provide hackers with an opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities. You can disable directory indexing by adding an index.php or index.html file to each directory on your website or add a snippet of code to your .htaccess file.
8. Back Up Your Website Regularly
Back up your website regularly to ensure that you can restore your website in case of a security breach or data loss. You can use a backup plugin to automate the backup process and store backups securely on an offsite location.
However, with the right hosting, you can set this up yourself or your host will probably already be doing it. I’ve had to reinstall from a backup a few times but that was due to login permissions where two people used the same login credentials around the same time and made changes until WordPress locked them out. It was a very annoying thing to fix and was easier to use a backup.
In conclusion, securing your WordPress website is crucial to protect it from potential security threats. By following the best practices outlined in this article, you can reduce the risk of your website being compromised and ensure that it remains secure.
Remember you can always contact us for help.