WordPress is a flexible and extensively customizable open-source website builder, making it a web platform of choice to build all kinds of websites.
However, no platform can boast absolute security online.
With WordPress holding a significant market share in the world of website builders, it has become a prime target for hackers.
Most times, these attackers seek loopholes from poorly coded plugins and themes.
Shockingly, 61% of attacks are caused by outdated sites, while 8% of WordPress sites fall victim to weak or stolen passwords.
An alarming 99.42% of all security vulnerabilities within the WordPress ecosystem were found in themes and plugins.
This means that the WordPress CMS itself is built to handle security well, but the use of themes and plugins increases vulnerabilities.
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What Security Threats Does WordPress Face?
WordPress is faced with truckloads of security threats that can compromise your website’s integrity.
Some of the most common threats include:
1. Brute Force Attacks: Hackers use automated software to repeatedly attempt to guess your login credentials until they gain unauthorized access.
2. SQL Injections: Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in WordPress databases to inject malicious code, potentially gaining control over your site.
3. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): This is when attackers try to inject malicious scripts into your site, they do this to create an exploitative means of stealing sensitive information from the site, things like user data or web traffic redirection are their major targets.
4. File Inclusion Exploits: Malicious actors exploit insecure file inclusion mechanisms to execute unauthorized code on your server.
5. Malware: Malware can be introduced into your WordPress site through infected themes, plugins, or malicious links, compromising your website’s functionality and user data.
7 Essential Steps to Secure Your WordPress Site
#1. Use a Quality Web Host
Ensure you choose a reputable web hosting provider that prioritizes security.
A reliable host will offer features like firewalls, regular server scans, and account isolation to safeguard your site.
We recommend that you avoid cheap web hosting, they pay attention only to getting more customers and doing less with security.
#2. Perform Regular WordPress Updates
WordPress is one of the consistently updated open-source software in the market.
The team behind the software has continued to release necessary update releases, containing security patches and potential vulnerability fixes.
A good step in the right direction when it comes to website security is to always have your WordPress core files, themes, and plugins up to date.
Regular updates are vital to tightening potential entry points for attackers.
#3. Use properly coded themes by trusted developers
This is another major issue experienced by most beginners.
Themes and plugins from untrusted sources pose a big threat to your WordPress site.
Beginner bloggers and WordPress site owners trying to cut corners, end up getting a nulled theme that has been compromised and packed up with malicious backdoor scripts, in no distance their websites are soon hijacked and their investment goes down the drain if the situation is not properly managed.
We’ve had several such cases, in which the creators of websites become clueless on how to retrieve their website back, and soon look for help from an experienced handler to help fix the m☆ss.
Going by the popular saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’ if you don’t want to end up expending more than what you should have originally committed to the project, It’s important to choose themes and plugins only from trusted sources with regular updates and excellent reviews.
You can re-emphasize this to your web developer or whoever is handling your website.
Reputable themes often prioritize security and work diligently to fix any discovered vulnerabilities.
#4. Enable HTTPS by Installing SSL
For a long, Chrome browser and a few others have stopped supporting websites without SSL.
Encrypting data transmission is crucial for securing your website.
Enable HTTPS by acquiring an SSL certificate, which encrypts information transmitted between users and your site, preventing unauthorized access.
There are different types of SSL including ones that are free from Let’s Encrypt.
Make sure you have the right SSL installed and all your web pages are served encrypted information.
#5. Secure Your Logins
Strengthen login security by avoiding generic usernames and using strong, unique passwords. Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) to add an extra layer of protection, requiring users to verify their identity through a secondary method.
#6. Backup Frequently
Frequently back up your website to a secure external location.
A backup will help to mitigate your loss in the case of data loss or attack, while most hosting providers will provide you with a daily backup, it is important to also have a copy that you are convenient with as your restoration point in case the worst happens.
WordPress does not lack free backup plugins that you can use to create a backup copy of your website to cloud storage platforms like Dropbox, Google Cloud, or even locally.
One of our best picks is the WP migration tool for minimal-size websites.
#7. Remove Unused Plugins and Themes
It has been found that themes and plugins are the major culprits when it comes to WordPress hacks.
While the team at WordPress is at its best to make sure that the themes and plugins that get added to their repositories are free from malicious elements, some still manage to find their way to the system and later become exploitative due to a lack of updates.
In light of this, we recommend, Uninstalling any plugins or themes that are not actively in use. There’s no point keeping a plugin or theme sitting on your website when you are not using it.
It has consistently been established that most of these inactive components are largely responsible for creating security vulnerabilities and reducing their presence minimizes potential entry points for intruders.
#8. Private Isolated Cloud Servers
Private isolated cloud servers are very efficient ways to keep your WP site secured from intrusion. Most cloud servers offer an extra layer of security, keeping your website isolated from potential threats, unlike shared hosting where such threats quickly spread account user accounts.
You can rest assured to an extent that you have dedicated resource hardware solely for your website or organization, cutting down the risk of security breaches and snail-loading performance due to the consistent and concentrated availability of server resources.
#9. Disable Theme Editing in the WP Dashboard
Another smart way to keep your WP site secured is by disabling theme editing within the WordPress dashboard.
This simple yet effective security measure will help prevent unauthorized users from making any alteration to your themes and plugins through the WP dashboard. changes to your site’s themes directly through the dashboard.
This is perceived as useful as it stops any form of unauthorized theme modifications that can potentially disrupt your site’s functionality and introduce vulnerabilities.
#10. Activate Mod Security When Away
ModSecurity is a web application function also known as ModSec, it serves as an effective Web application firewall for the IIS, Nginx, and Apache web servers, it can help to block evolving cyber threats especially when you’re not actively managing your site.
If you are going to look away from your site for a while, it is important to have ModSecurity activated to protect your site from a range of web-based threats, including SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks when you’re not looking.
#11. Filter out Special Characters to Block Potential Database Injections
Filtering out special characters in your input fields is a fundamental security practice in web development to ward off potential database injections. The malicious process of SQL injections occurs when a user tries to gain access, corrupt, or manipulate the database by inputting SQL codes.
This is done to exploit vulnerabilities in your site’s code base with hopes of finding loopholes to corrupt your database, leading to data breaches. Of the several ways you can prevent this is by filtering out special characters using this sanitizing and escaping method.
#12. Limit WP Login Permission Attempts
Limiting login permission attempts is an effective way to combat brute-force attacks. Brute force attacks involve repeated login attempts using various username and password combinations until the correct one is found. By limiting the number of login attempts, you make it much more challenging for attackers to gain unauthorized access to your site.
#13. Make Login Username Different from What’s Visible on the Web
Differentiating the login username from what’s publicly visible on your website is a smart security move. Attackers often target usernames as part of their login attempts. By using a username that isn’t easily guessable based on publicly available information, you add an extra layer of protection against unauthorized access.
#14. Use Strong Passwords
Using strong login passwords remains your site’s first line of defense against threats.
There is a need to encourage your team members and other site users to always make use of complex passwords made up of a clear mix of letters, numbers, and special characters to form their passwords.
Also, timely updating passwords and avoiding common choices will further help to fortify your site’s security.
#15. Setup a Firewall
A firewall acts as a barrier between your WordPress site and potential threats. It filters incoming and outgoing traffic, blocking malicious requests and safeguarding your site from various cyberattacks. Implementing a firewall can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches.
#16. Install a Security Plugin
Security plugins provide a range of protective features, such as malware scanning, login attempt monitoring, and firewall capabilities.
Installing a reputable security plugin enhances your site’s security posture, as these tools are specifically designed to address WordPress vulnerabilities.
#17. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
A content delivery network (CDN) provider may significantly improve your website’s speed and customer satisfaction.
Content Delivery Network (CDN) stores copies of static files, such as images, videos, and CSS files so that when a visitor requests one of these files from your website, the CDN server nearest to them will respond with the file, instead of your web server.
This in turn speeds up WordPress by reducing the amount of time it takes for your website to load its static files. Simple right?
Also, most CDNs also offer caching services. Caching stores a copy of the requested file on the CDN server so that it can be served quickly and easily the next time it is requested.
This can further improve WordPress performance by reducing the number of requests your web server has to handle.
User data must be well guarded and protected as cyber threats continue to evolve in the www space.
Take proactive measures to mitigate potential attacks.
Keep in mind that site security is not a one-time thing but an ongoing process, as long as your business and web exist on the internet.
So stay vigilant and prioritize security to safeguard your website and its visitors.
Also, it is a smart move to engage the service of a professional web Design Agency to keep an eye on your website, handle plugins and theme updates, and make sure the overall state of the website is great.