WordPress is an excellent platform for quickly and easily constructing your website. It provides a plethora of plugins to help you realize your desired site. However, WordPress also comes with its own set of potential risks. This article will outline the top 10 security practices for WordPress website owners to implement to safeguard their sites from malicious hackers and malware.
1. Don’t use pirated themes and plugins
Sometimes, obtaining paid plugins or themes for free can be tempting, but those pirated plugins and themes come with immense risks. Using pirated or nulled WordPress plugins and themes can pose a significant security risk to your website. The biggest concern is that these themes and plugins may contain malicious code or backdoors that can be used to gain unauthorized access to your website, steal sensitive information, or compromise the performance of your website. Additionally, developers do not update or support pirated themes and plugins. Any security vulnerabilities discovered will not be fixed, leaving your website at risk for hacking or other issues.
Furthermore, it is possible that hackers have created these themes and plugins that are specifically designed to give them access to your website. This can lead to sensitive information being stolen or your website being used for malicious activities. It’s also important to note that using pirated themes or plugins is illegal, and in some cases, it can lead to legal action. Purchasing and using licensed themes and plugins from reputable sources is best to protect your website and business.
2. Keep everything up to date
Staying up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress and plugins is essential for keeping your WordPress website secure. Every updated version may contain bug fixes and security patches, so staying current helps protect against being targeted by pre-identified vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain access to your site.
3. Use strong passwords
Using a complex password that includes a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters such as % or ^ is essential. Simple passwords like ‘098765’, ‘123abc’, or ‘password’ are easily guessed and can be broken with brute force, so it is essential to change them immediately. Creating a secure password is the first and most crucial step in protecting your data.
4. Keep daily automatic backups
Regular backups are essential to minimize damage in an unforeseen disaster. Your website can be vulnerable to malicious attacks anytime, so having a backup can help you quickly restore your WordPress website to a functional state. You can utilize backup plugins to ensure your website is appropriately backed up. Various paid and free plugins are available to suit your needs.
5. Disable username enumeration
User enumeration is a common technique to obtain registered user data from a WordPress website. Knowing an administrator’s username or registered user makes it easier for malicious actors to launch a brute-force attack and crack the login password. It is essential to stop username enumeration to prevent hackers from discovering the website’s registered users and administrator’s login username.
Unfortunately, some one-click tools install a WordPress website with an administrator account username of “admin” by default. Changing the username from “admin” to something else as soon as possible is highly recommended to protect your website from threats.
6. Add two-factor authentication
The two-factor authentication technique on the login page is an additional layer of security for keeping your website secure. This method requires users to log in using a two-step authentication system. The first step involves entering a username and password. The second step requires the user to authenticate via a one-time generated PIN code sent via SMS or an RSA token generated in the authenticator app. This will significantly reduce the risk of login credentials being hacked.
7. Don’t use the default database prefix
By default, WordPress uses the prefix ‘wp_’ for all tables in its database. If left unchanged, this makes it easier for malicious actors to exploit automated tools to inject your database when your website is vulnerable. However, by changing the default database table prefix, you can reduce the potential damage even if your website is susceptible to SQL injection attacks.
8. Disable file editing
WordPress websites have a built-in code editor in the dashboard that allows users to edit their theme and plugin files. To access it, simply navigate to the Appearance Editor and Plugins Editor. However, we strongly recommend disabling this feature, as hackers can easily inject malicious code into your WordPress dashboard if they gain access.
To disable file editing, you need to edit the wp-config.php file and add the following line of code:
9. Use an SSL certificate
A secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is essential for every website to ensure the secure transfer of information. SSL is a protocol that encrypts all data when transferring from browser to server, making it virtually impossible for a third party to access it. Without an SSL certificate, all the data between the user’s web browser and the web server is sent in plain text, leaving it vulnerable to malicious actors. To protect your website and its users, it is essential to have an SSL certificate in place.
10. Use a security plugin
You should employ a security plugin to safeguard your WordPress website, as these plugins provide comprehensive website security and adhere to best practices. WordPress security plugins offer a range of features, such as file integrity monitoring, remote malware scanning, activity auditing, blacklist monitoring, effective security hardening, post-hack security actions, security notifications, and even a website firewall, to ensure your website is secure and protected.