WordPress Website Security 101: What You Need To Know

website security 101 - wordpress security issues

WordPress offers a huge range of features and functions. It also powers 20 percent of self-hosted websites. Not all hackers will try to access your website to edit the content or take it down. Sometimes they want to fill the website with spam advertising or malware. Don’t let this happen to you! Here’s what you need to know about WordPress security issues.

Is WordPress Secure?

WordPress itself is a secure platform, in the sense that developers keep it up-to-date and plug any holes that hackers could exploit.

Once you install it onto your web host, things start to get tricky.

On its own, WordPress doesn’t have any built-in security. Your website host may offer security services but you would need to check what these are.

Shared hosting providers often scan for suspicious activity. They also manage their own hardware and software for updates.

Trouble is, you share your server space with other websites. If another website is hacked, it can leave yours vulnerable.

Managed WordPress hosting services provide security as part of your package. That might include website backups, updates, and monitoring across their network.

Even if your host does offer these, you can and should take an active role in keeping your website secure.

Why Do I Need to Secure My Website?

Website security matters more than you might think. Google can and does blacklist websites that create suspicious activity.

They do this to prevent visitors from reaching websites that may be full of malware. Remember, Google’s primary concern is the user experience.

If that user has a bad experience with a hacked website, they may not trust Google in the future. They may use different search engines.

Having your website added to the blacklist means it no longer shows up in search results. Imagine how much lost business that adds up to over a few weeks.

This is one of the many reasons that security should be part of your website’s best practices.

Has My Website Been Hacked?

Now you know why WordPress security is so important, you might wonder if your website has been hacked. Or you might have found this article because you think it may have been – but you’re not sure how to check.

There are various signs your website has been hacked. Here are a few of the most obvious:

  • You can’t access the site using your login credentials.
  • Google will alert you that the site has been hacked.
  • Google Search Console shows malware alerts.
  • Your host takes your site offline.
  • Visitors report seeing strange ads or other unusual activity.

If you haven’t experienced any of these issues, then make securing your website a priority before you do.

How To Secure Your Website

Your first step toward WordPress website security should be making sure your website uses the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol. You can recognize these websites because they say https (versus http) in the address bar. This makes it harder for hackers to scrape information from your site.

It’s a good start, but you’ll need more protection. There are several parts to a WordPress security strategy. Let’s examine them now.

1. Plugins

Plugins are the quickest way to secure your website. At the time of writing, WordPress offered 55,916 plugins in its directory.

They work as additional pieces of code to extend the functionality of WordPress.

Two types of plugin are essential to your security. The first is a firewall.

Wordfence and Sucuri Scanner are popular firewall choices. There are both free and premium versions of each of these.

The second is a backup solution. Choose one that lets you create backups to cloud storage. If the worst happens, you’ll be able to restore your website from a previous version.

You can create a more robust security profile using other plugins, as detailed below.

2. Keep WordPress Updated

Developers release new versions of WordPress to help keep it secure, among other things. Always ensure you update to the latest version.

Create a routine to update your plugins and themes too. Hackers can exploit weaknesses in their code to access your website.

Wordfence will let you know when any plugins you use need to be updated.

3. Two-Factor Authentication

Adding two-factor authentication creates an extra layer of security to your website. This means the user must provide a code after entering their username and password.

This code is either emailed to them or generated by an authenticator app. It’s only temporary and expires, often after 60 seconds.

A hacker might try to access the website with brute force. Without access to the user’s inbox or authenticator, they can’t get the code. So they can’t log into the website.

4. Manage Your Users

Not everyone that contributes to your website needs administrator privileges. Many contributors can post content as a user.

Listing them as such can lessen some of the damage a hacker might cause.

That said, if they have a weak password, or someone guesses it, a hacker can still access your dashboard.

Do a thorough review of everyone who has access to your website. If they don’t need access, revoke it.

As part of this user management, stop using ‘admin’ as a username. Change it to something else because ‘admin’ is the first username hackers will try.

5. Secure Your Login

Out of the box, your login page is easily accessible. Simply add /wp-login.php to the end of the domain address.

A simple way to deter hackers is to hide your login page. This means you might enter /accessmysite.php or /letmein.php instead.

Various plugins allow you to do this. Choose an unusual or difficult-to-guess alternative for your new login page.

You can also get a plugin to limit login attempts. This helps cut down on brute force attacks because it blocks login attempts after three wrong tries.

Fix Your WordPress Security Issues

Now you know how to fix WordPress security issues before they happen. If you haven’t been hacked, make sure you follow the steps above within the next few days.

There are more advanced strategies but these will keep your website safe for now. Not confident in handling your website security? Consider hiring a trusted company to handle your website maintenance.

Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you with your WordPress security issues, secure your site and get you peace of mind!

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