8 Simple Ways to Secure Your WordPress Sites
Being on the Internet- the virtual world is the necessity of this ever so expanding modern world. From costing a fortune, just to be on the Internet, to using simpler and cheaper tools like WordPress or Tumblr, the internet has come a long way.
WordPress, which started as a blogging tool in 2003, is now a fully functioning open source content management system, which provides users with an easy and viable option to reach out to the people through the net. You can be an avocational blogger or a professional trying to promote his business, WordPress will be there to help you.
Did you know around 25% of the total global websites are dependent on WordPress?
- As of April 2016, WordPress accounts for more than 100 million websites across the globe, out of which nearly 50% of them are hosted on the free ‘wordpress.com’.
- WordPress also accounts for more than 113 million unique views per months?
- Various famous sites and celebrities using WordPress include The New York Times, Forbes, Katy Perry, Sylvester Stallone and many others.
But managing one’s site on WordPress isn’t a mere picnic as well. There’s always a risk of security, external threats, hacks and much more.
Even if you are no Elliot Alderson from ‘Mr. Robot’, you’d still have that bit of familiarity with some of the popular measures. You might have heard about some about a plugin, some other premium tool that can do the job for you.
Apart from these premium tools and plugins, there are still certain simpler and effective measures that can improve your cyber security and safeguard your WordPress site from various malicious attacks. Herein, have a look at some of these simple measures.
Change Your User Name Regularly
Sites that use WordPress’ default username, i.e., ‘admin’ are the most common and easiest targets of external threats, since half of the information needed to gain access to your site is easily retrievable. The only thing now left is your password, and once it’s done, your site would be compromised.
Your job or target should be to make the hackers work as much difficult as possible.
What should you do:
Change your username more regularly than normal. With the latest WordPress update, it is easy to create a new user profile with a ‘Strong’ username, providing it admin-level control over your blog and then subsequently deleting your default ‘admin’ user account.
Repeat this process frequently and make it that much more difficult for someone to hack your blog.
Even though simple passwords are easy to remember, it also makes them that much easier to crack.
To secure your blog, the hard work that you have put in your site and its content, it is imperative that you choose a stronger and a complex password.
What should you do:
Set your password criteria to at least 12 characters long and include uppercase, lowercase letters, special characters and numbers.
Secondly, just like the username, you should periodically change your password and keep the hacker guessing.
There are various tools and premium plugins available that allow you to modify or filter your passwords criterion as per your wish.
Two Step Authentication Process
One of the simplest solution to prevent brute force login attacks is to install a 2-step authentication process as it adds another layer of guesswork for the intruder.
Remember, our target is to make it as much harder for the hacker as possible.
What to do:
Different plugins and tools are available that can be used to avail this feature. The process would require the user to input the password, plus an additional authorization code- that will be send to your phone via message or email, in order to log into your site.
Moreover, you can also choose a security question instead of a One-Time authorization code to log into your site, if you wish to choose that.
Check User Access
It is quite natural for multiple people or users to access your admin panel. Although it helps you to run your blog more efficiently and reach out to your target audience, it also leaves you vulnerable at the back.
All the hacker needs to do is breach into any anyone of your user accounts and he’ll have direct access to your admin panel.
What you should do:
There are a couple of steps that you can take to safeguard your site.
- Firstly, make it a thumb rule, to only grant access to your admin panel to those in dire need only.
Also, once you grant them access, make sure to only provide them bare minimum permissions they require in order to complete their task
- Secondly, you should ask all the members of your team, i.e., each of your blog users, to make it a habit and change their respective usernames and passwords periodically, without fail, as each login can be a potential gateway for external threats. So, it is better to bolster each gateway.
Limit Login Attempts
Why provide an intruder with the liberty to try indefinitely to breach your security?
‘Brute Force’ is a major tactic deployed by hackers to breach into any external site or blog. Providing them with the freedom to have a go at your login credentials, for n numbers of times, will ultimately play into their hands.
What Should you do:
Premium plugin and security tools are available which restricts the number of times a user can attempt to login, from a specific IP, over a given period of time.
Once a hacker is presented with only a limited number of login attempts, his guesswork becomes even more arduous.
Handle your Plugins and Themes with Care
Before we move forward with this, one must be aware of the basics knowledge and working of themes and plugins. What does a theme do? What purpose do plugins solve? How is a plugin different from a theme?
One can say that the themes manage the “Display Logic” of your website or blog. They determine how to store, organise and display your website content to its visitors.
The theme will control the outlook of your website - how should your posts be displayed, should each post have an image? If so, where and how should they be placed? Does your post need a header or a footer?
All these display aspects of your blogs are managed through WordPress Themes. In layman’s terms, if your WordPress blog is a house, then themes manage and control the outer display of the house – what colour should you paint it with? Should there be a front porch? Or should we just have a front yard?
Plugins are the extension codes of the WordPress, which can be added to your core WordPress software to improve its functionality – modify, enhance, limit, add or remove various features.
For e.g., there is no option in the latest WordPress update doesn’t have the features to ‘Limit Login attempts’. In order to add this feature, you’ll need a plugin software.
Going by the House metaphor, plugins are the interior designs to an empty house. They help you to decorate, and re-decorate, its interior over and over again, as per your whims and fancies. For e.g., your ‘house’ could have a jacuzzi, or a chandelier in the living room or a terrace farm, as and when you like.
So, what exactly is the issue with Plugins and Themes?
As well as providing the structure and design to your blog/website, your plugins and themes can also work like a backdoor to your admin panel. Also, if unchecked, they can affect the speed and performance of your blog/site.
In order to keep your WordPress site secure, it’s imperative that you secure your plugins and themes regularly.
Did you Know:
1. Panama Paper Leaks, one of the largest online journalist data breach of all times, wherein nearly 4.8 million emails were breached and compromised, leading to the exposure various worldwide offshore scams involving various politicians and celebrities was a consequence of a WordPress Security lapse.
As per certain reports, the failure of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian Law Firm, to update the outdated version of their Revolution Slider Plugin lead to the site’s hack.
2. A research conducted by cyber security firm, Enable Security, in 2013 revealed that around 73% sites on WordPress are vulnerable to cyber-attacks due to continued use of outdated versions of plugins and software.
What to do:
- Keep your plugins and themes updates
This will help you to fix all the bugs from the previous versions, which the hackers could have targeted in order to gain access to your site’s admin panel.
- Only install plugins and themes that you require
Adding too many plugins and themes doesn’t only makes you vulnerable to potential hacks, it also limits your site's performance and speed as well.
As a matter of fact, only install those plugins or themes that you cannot do without. If you are not using a plugin or a theme, the best thing for you will be to delete it (and not just deactivate it).
- Buy plugins and themes from a trusted source
It is a good thing to be a blogger on a budget, but would be plain stupid to ignore the potential hacking threats of these so called ‘bargain buys’.
As a general thumb rule, never buy premium themes or plugins for free- be it from any third-party website or from a torrent. Most of these premium themes and plugins are of older versions, the bugs of which are known to the tech-savvy hackers. These pirated versions may have malicious code which may pass your sensitive information to the hackers.
Instead, spend some dimes on your themes and plugins and always buy them from a trusted and verified source, for e.g., D5 Creation.
D5 Creation is one of the leading WordPress theme developer, providing you dozens of WordPress approved premium themes at a reasonable price or even free. At the moment, there are more than 350 thousand websites across the globe that operate on D5 Creation themes.
Moreover, all their themes are coded as per the WordPress Standards and hence all the standard Plugins will run with these Themes without any issue.
The Theme Gallery will provide you with the options to either choose from the premium business-oriented themes, or create a custom theme as per your taste and help your site grow with D5 Creation.
Keep WordPress Up to Date
This may seem to be the simplest of the task, yet it is one of the most ignored ones. What we don’t realise is that these simple steps, if ignored, can also have the same adverse effect on your site’s security like the rest of the activities discussed above.
What should you do:
Whenever you see the ‘Update available’ banner on your admin dashboard, just do yourself a favour and click on it to update your WordPress site. This will help you to fix certain bugs from the previous versions, which the hackers could have used to intrude in your site’s admin panel.
You can even make a backup before installing the update so that you don’t lose/break any important stuff. But the most important thing is to update your site regularly, without fail.
Backups- specifically the periodical and scheduled backups, must be a part of your roster.
Scheduled Backups are generally a key part of most sites’ security planning because they safeguard your data in case the site’s security is breached. You’ll be able to restore to a previous version, prior to the attack, and save valuable data, if not all, in case your blog is compromised.
What should you do:
Both free and paid backup options are readily available for WordPress users. A number of premium backup plugins provide simple ‘data backup and restore’ solutions to their users.
In the event of something fishy happening to your site, you’ll cherish the fact that you have a prior backup.
What may seem to be so simple and basic can sometimes be the most uphill task to accomplish. Remember, the security of your WordPress site is not down to just installation of the latest security plugin or an updated firewall. It is also down to the care you handle your site with. The more care you take of your site, the harder it will be to break into.