10 Steps to help keep your WordPress website safe from hackers

The widespread use and trust in the WordPress platform by organisations and individuals around the world have, unfortunately, caused WordPress sites to become a common target for hacking. Hackers are targeting themes, core WordPress files, plugins and sometimes login pages, too.

Fortunately, there are a variety of methods that can be implemented to ensure that your WordPress site is totally secure and impenetrable to would-be hackers. All sites are under constant probing by hackers and malicious bots, these criminals can scan thousands of pages and attempt millions of logins every day.

Now imagine those efforts being repeated by thousands of equally malicious and criminal hackers. They attempt to exploit specific vulnerabilities or weaknesses that could be caused by common user error. This is why taking the necessary steps to protect and secure your WordPress site is so vital to a business’s or individuals online wellbeing.

Here are 10 steps that you can take to help ensure your WordPress site remains safe and secure:

  1. Invest in Your WordPress Hosting Security MeasuresThe first and, arguably, the most important step in securing your WordPress website is investing in reliable and effective WordPress hosting security measures. This would include a choosing a trusted domain and/or web host, or hiring the right person to manage your VPS (Virtual Private Server), if you run on one. If there is a vulnerability in your hosting account, most subsequent measures will become a waste of time.
  1. Some keys to maintaining a secure WordPress environment could include:
    1. Updating the Operating System and Security Software of the web hosting platform
    2. Installing firewalls and intrusion-detection systems
    3. Configuring your server using ‘secure’ networking and file transfer encryption protocols (SFTP)
  1. Securing a WordPress Site with A Firewall
    A robust firewall is a necessary part of any good website management. A firewall is a software programme that scans for and blocks malicious intruders from doing any damage through your website. For example, WordPress firewalls will scan for common red flags, like multiple logins attempted or asking to visit too many webpages in a short time, and, if they are found, that IP address will be blocked. A firewall is essentially a ‘wall’ of good bots, scanning everything and everyone which interacts with your site and fights off hackers and their bad bots.
  2. The Importance of User Agents (UA)
    A ‘user agent’ is technical term for the identifying features of a website that are informing the host what browser, like Chrome, Fox or Safari, is being used and what operating system, such as Windows 10 or Mac OS X, the visit originates from. Malicious bots try to use multiple UAs to try and fool websites into making themselves undetectable. Fortunately, the UA strings identified by the best hosting-security and firewall defences around are, usually, faster and more effective than the hacking attempts they work to prevent.
  3. Specialised WordPress Defences Against Various Exploits
    The best versions of firewalls and defensive software, such as Wordfence, are able to key in on unique and new comprises to a host platform or site. Once the engineers and researchers become aware of a new type of threat, they will immediately update the services of all users to add the new protocols. Compromised themes or plugin developers can take weeks to pick up a new, unique threat. By securing specialty WordPress protection services, you can find and prevent these hacks before they begin.
  4. Reinforcing Your Website Security
    There are other free and paid plugins that can provide an additional layer of defence that helps to secure the protections and walls that keep bad bots from taking advantage of a weakness. Sucuri Security, for example, is owned by the hosting platform GoDaddy and has many added benefits, like real-time login updates and malware-scanning features that constantly check if any files have been altered.
  5. Limited Available Logins to Your Site
    Wordfence, and other firewall software, are able to block malicious bots that are trying repeated logins to your WordPress site, by filling in different usernames and passwords to break in. These attacks are common because they can work, which is why concerns like number of login attempts are important. Additional plugins can be implemented, like Limit Login Attempts Reloaded, that allow users and publishers to block any attempts by hackers over a specific number they set.
  6. Create Daily Backups of Your WordPress Site
    Websites, like any other digital files, are susceptible to corruption, tampering, technical failure and user error. If there is ever a catastrophic even that manages to take down your site, having a backup that is stored online or in a physical server can save hosts a lot or heartache. Set up your site to back itself up – automatically – to a cloud or physical server daily – and ensure that ‘a’ latest version of your WordPress site is always available to deploy.
  7. Update all Themes, Plugins and Additional Software
    One of the most important – and easiest – steps you can take to secure your WordPress site, or any other website, is to make sure that your site’s themes, plugins and additional software are always up to date. WordPress provides a function that can be set to automatically update all plugins and themes, which is known to be the leading cause of hacks due to user error. Staying updated means that your site is using the latest and best defensive procedures to keep it safe.
  8. Be Careful of Your Site’s Abandoned Plugins
    You may not know that an abandoned plugin can continue to work, even years after a developer has let it fall at the waist side. These old plugins could potentially create a pathway for hackers and their bots to infiltrate your site. Like a villain using old, abandoned sewage pipes to hide their nefarious movements around a city. These hackers can even update old plugins and use them to upload viruses or malware onto your site without you knowing, until it’s too late.
  9. Secure Your WordPress Site from Hackers with Appropriate Protections
    Most of the digital crimes committed by hackers are preventable. By following simple steps like these, a host has the opportunity to sure up any vulnerabilities that a hacker would try to take advantage of. Firewalls, login limiters and trustworthy hosting services and platforms are just some of what plugins and software can do to help guarantee your WordPress site safe from hackers.

If you need help in securing or fixing your WordPress site, or if it has been hacked, Cognite Marketing knows what solutions will work to keep your site safe going forward.