WordPress Security: 6 steps to keep your site safe

In this tutorial, we will go through the steps on how to increase WordPress security using six steps.

Updated: 17 Aug, 22 by Susith Nonis 7 Min

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In this tutorial, we will go through the steps on how to increase WordPress security using six steps. Cybersecurity has long been a hot topic. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as cybercriminals are said to earn $1.5 trillion each year, according to Michael McGuire, a senior lecturer at the University of Surrey (UK). He even terms his figures as conservative, meaning the numbers are likely higher. Governments and corporations are spending billions to protect their sites against online threats. 

These statistics make it natural to wonder whether WordPress is secure because individuals, corporations, and small businesses use it to host their websites. Hackers like to target sites that use WordPress as their content management system. Although this CMS makes up 65.1% of the market, people might reconsider using it after seeing the damning statistics regarding their security online.

A commonly asked question is whether WordPress is secure. The answer is yes, as long as publishers prioritize website security and follow the best practices when using their sites. Good practices include understanding potential security threats and knowing how to protect your sites from these threats. 

Having this knowledge reduces your vulnerability and increases your confidence in the CMS.

1. Brute-Force Login Attempts

This threat is among the simplest threats on WordPress. Brute-force login attempts occur when hackers automatically enter several username-password combinations tremendously fast and are eventually able to guess the correct credentials. This hacking grants access to password-protected information and is not restricted to logins. This is why you should add a strong password to your WordPress account

2. Database Injections

Also referred to as SQL injections, database injections occur when a cyber-attacker dispenses a string of dangerous code to a site via user input such as a contact form. Subsequently, the site stores this code in its database. Like an XXS attack, this dangerous code runs on the site, fetching or compromising sensitive data stored in the database.

3. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

XXS threats occur when a hacker injects poisonous code into the target website's backend in order to extract data and damage the site's functionality. The malicious code could be submitted as a response to user-facing forms or using more complex means at the backend.

4. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks

DoS attacks bar authorized users from gaining access to their sites. They are undertaken mainly by overloading servers with traffic to cause a crash. The effects are worse in Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks, which are DoS attacks carried out by multiple machines simultaneously.

5. Backdoors

Backdoors are files containing code that allows hackers to circumvent the standard WordPress login, thus accessing the site whenever they want. Hackers often place backdoors in other WordPress source files, making it difficult for inexperienced users to locate them. Even after removing a backdoor, hackers can create its variations and use them to continue circumventing your login.

WordPress restricts the type of files you can upload to limit the occurrence of backdoors, but this issue is something you want to watch out for.

6. Phishing

Phishing is a type of attack where a hacker contacts a potential target purporting to be a legitimate service or company. Phishing attempts urge you to download malware, visit a harmful site, and provide personal information. Once the attacker gains access to your WordPress account, they can pretend to be you and launch phishing attacks against your customers.

You can enforce several strategies to keep your site safe from security attacks. You should include these tips in your routine check. Also, review them frequently to enhance security.

1. Update your WordPress site regularly

With each new release, WordPress improves the functionality and security of its CMS. The vulnerabilities and bugs are fixed whenever a new release comes out, making the new version more secure. Furthermore, whenever core staff at WordPress discover a malicious bug, they will remedy it immediately and quickly force a new safe version. You are more vulnerable to threats if you fail to update your WordPress version.

To update your WordPress website:

  • Go to the dashboard
  • Check whether there is a new version at the top of the page
  • If there is, click on it and select the "Update Now" button to initiate the process, which will only take a few seconds.

2. Back up the website 

It is important to create a copy of your site's data and store it somewhere safe. This way, you'll be able to restore your website using this backup copy if anything terrible happens to your site. To back up WordPress site data, you need a plugin solution. Thankfully, there are many good plugin options in the market.

3. Update themes and plugins

Updating your website's current plugins and themes is another way to protect yourself from hackers. It helps you stop vulnerabilities like buys and potential breach points. Like most software products, you might encounter security holes and breaches in specific plugins, which is why updates are necessary.

4. Limit user access to your site

If you are not the only one with access to your website, remember to be very careful when setting up other new accounts. Ensure that you keep everything under control and limit user access for users that don't need it. If you already have many users on your site, consider limiting their permissions and functions. 

Other users should only have access to the functions they need to undertake their tasks.

5. Change passwords often and limit login attempts

Restrict your login form from allowing unlimited password and username attempts because this aids a hacker's success. They'll eventually find your login data if they can attempt infinite times. Limiting attempts is the first step to preventing this from occurring. You can also use specific plugins to limit login attempts.

6. Allow security scans

Security scans are undertaken using specialized plugins or software. They go through your entire site, searching for anything remotely suspicious. If they do find something, the software removes them immediately. Security scanners function the same way as anti-viruses.

Other ways to protect your WordPress site are using SSL and installing a firewall.

WordPress security is extremely important. WordPress is the leading content management system globally, and as long as you follow these tips, it is possible to protect your site against a range of security attacks. If something is beyond you, you can always contact WordPress, and they will be able to help.

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Susith Nonis

Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I venture into the world of Technology, I try to share what I know in the simplest way with you. Not a fan of coffee, a travel addict, and a self-accredited 'master chef'.