The Complete Guide to WordPress Security WorldTech Management Solutions

The Complete Guide to WordPress Security

They're fantastic, wish I would have started using them sooner!
Michael C., Memphis, TN

Securing a WordPress site isn’t just a good step, but an essential way to protect your website in today’s constantly changing world in internet security. When you read through this guide, you will learn the steps to take to secure your site, but also learn how to continue to monitor and update your site to ensure ongoing security. Because WordPress security is so valuable to every user of this platform, this needs to be a priority.

Yet, even with all of that security, it’s still important to recognize that it’s nearly impossible to have a site that’s protected from every type of vulnerability out there. These principles, though, apply to most threats. That means you can use them to help you to stay up to date and to keep your site secure even as threats change.

Why You Cannot Avoid or Put Off WordPress Security

You have plenty of things to do on any given day to operate your site and run your business. WordPress security is an investment you need to make no matter what’s on your to-do list. Simply, the security of websites is a growing concern for any organization. Just take a look at some of the threats that have surfaced in recent years and how each one of these could be impacting your site right now.

Hacks Happen

Did you know that 90% of all CMS hacks in 2018 happened through WordPress? It’s true that the platform is the largest and most used today, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid the fact that hackers focus on these sites.

Google Isn’t Playing Games

Every day, Google blacklists sites that contain any type of malware or phishing risks. That’s about 10,000 websites every day for just malware risks. Another 50,000 accounts for phishing attacks. You simply don’t want to be labeled as such.

Small Businesses Are the Biggest At-Risk Group

Over 60% of the attacks that occur on the web are towards small businesses, according to reports. It’s costly to avoid these types of hacks after they happen. Hackers know that small businesses lack the same access or security knowledge. That’s why they target this area. No matter how small your company is, it can be at risk. T

hese are just some of the key reasons why you cannot avoid taking action when it comes to WordPress security. Over the coming years, it’s expected that these risks are going to grow even more so. That’s going to create even more opportunities for your business to be the target.

What Could Happen to Your WordPress Site?

For many WordPress users, the only real understanding of security risks is hackers. What could they do to you? You have nothing to offer – why would they attack you? First, hackers hack because they can and enjoy causing problems. Even if you have a basic blog that includes very little actual “valuable” information such as financial details or customer information, the risk is present. Take a look at the most common types of attacks that occur with WordPress. This is why we invest so heavily in security.
Hackers place malicious code into your database. In doing so, they gain access to that information. This is data that is not meant for other people to see. In some cases, they may decide to delete this data – making it impossible for you to replace it. If this data is customer information, they steal it and can sell it. In other cases, company sensitive data becomes vulnerable.

Key Principles to Protecting Your WordPress Site

Even though these risks seem daunting, there is plenty you can do about it right now to minimize the impact they have. Again, there’s no foolproof method of avoiding all risks, but there are tools and principles of WordPress Security that can help to defray much of that risk. The process starts with understanding a few key principles. These are the first steps to invest in to prevent many types of risks from occurring. Before even investing in security tools and methods, start here.

Your Users Typically Create Most Risks

What many people don’t recognize is that most risks introduced by the people using the site. When you have a brand new, untouched WordPress, everything within it is designed to be very safe and secure. However, as you go about using it, you change things that typically create vulnerabilities. Hackers find these areas of weakness and target them specifically. To avoid this problem:

  • Stay up to date on WordPress security measures.
  • Limit how many people access and make changes to WordPress.
  • Follow best practices every time you utilize WordPress in any manner.

Keep Themes and Plugins Limited

The more you add to the WordPress site, the more difficult it becomes to remain secure. That doesn’t mean you cannot use plugins and various themes – you just have to minimize how many you install. Every time you add one, it changes the code just a bit, creating new holes that can create vulnerabilities. If you have a problem with the site, try to find a way to avoid adding a plugin to fix it – that will cut many of the risks right here.

Always Keep Your System Up to Date

WordPress has a wide range of updates from time to time – each one of them is important and even essential. Many of them incorporate updates to security problems. Some of these updates are designed specifically to roll back problems exposed by hackers on other sites.

To avoid any problems, make sure you have a good backup strategy in place for your site. Some users don’t like updates because they can create issues with themes and plugins. If you have a backup process in place – and you are using it consistently – you can always roll back to an older version.

Keep Users Limited in Their Access

We touched on this previously, but it is perhaps one of the most important steps you can take to minimize risks. The more people who have access to WordPress, the more risks. Yet, go further than this as well. When you are giving users access, give them just enough. There’s no benefit to giving them more access to features and functions then they need. By limiting this, you limit many of the vulnerabilities so commonly associated with WordPress risk.

Recognize Prevention Is Ongoing

It would be simple to invest in updated cybersecurity and move on, but threats and access changes all of the time. Attacks can still happen even when you are doing everything right as a WordPress user. You need to remain ready to act and constantly learning to minimize those risks. This includes:

  • Having automated backups in place.
  • Having cybersecurity resources available at all times.
  • Hire professionals who can roll back as necessary or fix concerns as they develop.

Your goal should always be to prevent hackers and other problems, but there is no 100 percent method that works all of the time. That is why we invest in risk reduction as a mindset.

It All Comes Back to Security

Prevention is your first step. Then, your next step is to create a secure site that makes it harder for any of these risks to actually make it through. Take these key steps to minimize most of the security attacks we’ve talked about so far.

Step 1: Invest in New, Strong Passwords

Many of the hacker access points start with passwords. They do not need to know anything about your business or even you to work to gain access. Remember, computers run scripts at a rapid pace to find the right combination. They can and will access your password.

  • Strong passwords minimize this.
  • To create them, remember these principles
  • Long passwords of 20 characters are best Use a combination of lower and upper case letters
  • Always incorporate numbers Use a variety of symbols

Every site should have a unique password – and they should never mix personal and business passwords with each other. In addition to this, you can use password managing tools to minimize risks. If you choose these apps, be sure you are selecting only reliable and well-designed options such as LastPass or Dashlane.

Step 2: Make Updates Automatic

As mentioned, WordPress updates are a very good thing and a powerful tool for minimizing risk. Every day, thousands of people are sending messages and working to improve WordPress security. Many users will report problems as they become exposed, helping to keep the site as a whole up to date and working properly. If holes are determined, they are patched faster than you could do on your own.

The only way for you to get the best protection from this is to always have the most up to date version of WordPress in place. To do that without any complication, turn on the automatic process that will make the updates happen as they become available. This ensures you don’t have to remember to upgrade them.

Step 3: Keep Plugins Updated

Plugins are specific types of software that are very commonly used on sites as a way to enhance function. Yet, they, too, are vulnerable to hackers in a variety of these same ways. Like with WordPress, then, you want to keep them up to date as well. Here are a few key rules to remember:

  • Only use plugins and themes you need to use
  • If a theme or plugin receives routine updates, that’s a good sign that someone is working to keep this updated
  • If you have not received an update in the last few months, find the developer and determine why you are not getting them.

Plugins and themes need to remain updated. Don’t see this as something you can put off – do it as soon as possible. Again, with a reliable backup plan in place, there’s no risk to updating it.

Step 4: Automate Your Backups

It is also essential for you to automate the backups to your site. This helps to ensure that there is no lag in the process. Backup:

  • All recent databases
  • File backups that are easily available off the site
  • Do backups before making major changes to the site including theme and plugins updates or installations

The less you have to remember to do, the better and more secure your site will be. Automating this process is rather easy depending on which type of backup solutions you use.

Step 5: Two-Factor Authentication

Passwords are a big problem which is why investing in two-factor authentication is an ideal solution for most WordPress users. It makes it nearly impossible for a hacker to gain access through this manner. All of your WordPress logins and users should use this method. It’s rather easy to do – there are a number of plugins you can use for it.

Once in place, it is a simple, fast step that makes it harder for anyone to access the site.

Step 6: Utilize SSL

Secure Sockets Layer, more commonly known as SLL, works to encrypt all of the data that comes from your website. It helps to block this sensitive information from being accessible to visitors to the site. It adds security that can also help to boost your website’s ranking on Google – that’s because Google ranks websites higher that use SSL because it means they are safer to website visitors.

Step 7: Change Up Login Pages

This is something many site owners do not know much about but that can make a significant difference in the way they operate. Default login pages are always more vulnerable. This helps hackers to engage in a brute force attack because they can just work on various usernames and passwords until they find the right combination.

However, when you use a login URL that is not easy to guess, that makes it harder for these bots to find the area. They just do not know where the login form is and that slows down any attack on the site.

Step 8: Check Out File Permissions

Another area to look to improve your protections is with your folder and file permissions. When you give file permissions, that means that files on your server can be changed. Never set any of your file permissions or directory permissions to 777. Instead, choose different configurations. This just makes it harder for someone to gain access.

Step 9: Make Pingbacks Inaccessible

In the WordPress configurations, pingbacks are enabled. However, changing this default setting becomes necessary to increase security on many sites. It’s easy enough to do within the Settings (look under Discussion and uncheck the area that says “attempt to notify blogs linked to the article.” By doing this, you are able to limit the risk of your site becoming a DDoS botnet. Also, uncheck the box on this page that states “Allow link notifications from other blogs on new articles.” This simple change enhances security right away.

Step 10: Take These Steps

There are several other steps you can take that are rather easy changes that help add protection. Follow these steps

  • Hide your WordPress version number, which can give hackers access to how your site is setup and whether it is up to date. Remove any information in the settings of your theme that displays the version number.
  • Change up the admin name. Make sure it is unique to again make it harder for hackers to access it. Also, eliminating the admin username altogether from your site makes it much more difficult for hackers to get in. If you are using “admin” change it then remove it.
  • Avoid using the “wp_” prefix for your database. It becomes too easy for users to insert code into your database when it is this accessible.
  • Invest in brute force protection. This type of protection specifically targets this area of weakness, minimizing your vulnerabilities. Look for a specialized solution here.

Invest in a Secure Managed WordPress Host

All of these steps are critical to ensuring your WordPress site is up to date and safe, yet it can still be at risk. One way to minimize most of these risks is to move the WordPress site to a secure managed host.

Many times, WordPress users turn to a host that supports most CMSs. That isn’t necessarily bad but it does mean that it makes staying on top of the latest WordPress security a bit more challenging. When you make the switch, on the other hand, to a WordPress CMS – one that specializes in just this – you are gaining a significant amount of added protection. They will be putting more effort towards the WordPress security risks that are most likely to impact you. When selecting a managed WordPress host, you should choose a solution that will handle most of the updates and concerns you have including creating backups for you and keeping your WordPress updates in hand.

How do you know if your current server is a good fit? Start with understanding how they are helping to support your needs.

  • SSL – Be sure this is included and easy for you to set up. As noted, it’s critical for security and Google ranking.
  • Ensure your multiple domains have ample protection. They should use chroot to keep each one separate to minimize hacks impacting all of them.
  • A web application firewall should be included in the managed server application to block most of the threats before they even get to the site.
  • Vulnerability detection is something the best servers offer – it helps to detect problems for you so you don’t have to always be on top of the process yourself. They should be constantly looking for vulnerabilities that could impact your site.

Most importantly, talk to the managed WordPress host to ensure they are actively investing in security solutions that are cutting edge and leading the pack in terms of minimizing risk. It’s worth spending a bit more to gain this type of hands-on protection as it works directly to minimize the risks your site faces every day of operation.

Searching for Solutions to Your WordPress Problems? The WorldTech Management to provide you with the comprehensive support and guidance you need. We provide managed IT support from Memphis and the surrounding area. Contact us today for help managing your Wordpress security.

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