Website owners around the world are interested in WordPress security. Failure to keep WordPress sites secure has led to tens of thousands of websites being blacklisted every single week, be it for malware or for phishing scams.
If you are concerned about your website, you should adhere to WordPress security best practices. We have created a brief guide in order to share with you some of the simple steps that you can take to keep your WordPress site secure.
Keep WordPress Up-To-Date
WordPress is open source software. Its open source nature means that cyber criminals could find vulnerabilities that they can use to compromise your site. However, the open source nature of WordPress is also a positive thing in that it is constantly being updated. Minor updates are automatically installed. When there is a major update to WordPress, you have to take the initiative and perform the update yourself.
In addition to keeping the WordPress core updated, you need to keep all of the plug-ins and themes installed on your website updated. Many of these themes and plug-ins are made by third-party developers. If they are not updated, they could be used by cyber criminals to gain access to your site.
WordPress is making it easier for customers to create and use strong passwords. As of WordPress 3.7, the zxcvbn library has been adopted. The criteria that new WordPress customers use when creating a new password has changed.
This new criteria focuses on using chains of words as opposed to simple passwords based on a name or a location that many users commonly have. As a result, passwords are easier for users to remember and harder for cyber criminals to crack. This change might cause some customers to feel slightly frustrated because it may take them longer to create a password.
However, WordPress is interested in helping their clients do everything possible to keep their site safe. Using a strong yet unique WordPress password is one of the key security steps WordPress users can take.
Now, users can only create passwords that are viewed as being “strong” if they are going to serve as an author, editor, or administrator. It is recommended that users create passwords that are a combination of four or more random words. An example would be McDonaldstormtrooperenterprisechevrolet.
The combination of these four words makes it easy for the user to remember the password and makes it almost impossible for computers to crack. To take the password to the next level, you can even add special characters or numbers.
The Role of WordPress Hosting
If you want your WordPress site to be secure, you need to have a good WordPress host. There are a number of quality shared hosting providers that take it upon themselves to see to it that your WordPress site is protected against common threats.
A good web hosting company will work behind the scenes to protect your website and its data. They will monitor your network for questionable or suspicious activities. They should have tools in place to protect against DDOS attacks.
A good WordPress hosting company is going to keep their server software and hardware updated with the goal of preventing hackers from being able to exploit security vulnerabilities in older versions of software or hardware. They should have a plan for disaster recovery in place. If there is an accident or a major unexpected event, good WordPress hosting is going to have a plan that allows them to protect your data and get your site up and running again quickly.
You may opt to use managed WordPress hosting as opposed to shared server resources. When you use shared server resources, there is a risk of cross site contamination. In this case, a hacker could get into the server through someone else’s site on the server and attack your site. With managed WordPress hosting, this problem disappears.
Managed WordPress hosting is a more secure platform for your website. It should support the latest versions of web technology, such as MySQL and PHP. The firewall that it has in place should be geared toward WordPress. It should come with a CDN that can identify cyber attacks and spam before they affect your site.
Knowing what your host will help you with is important. Some hosting companies offer free 24/7 security and around the clock monitoring. Others will be more than happy to charge you for that. Make sure to do your research and find hosts that offer security plans. In a report by bestwebhostingaustralia.org researcher Nathan Finch found that hosts with above 99.9% uptime have much better security as they generally run their own datacenters. Finch says when in doubt go with a host with stellar performance, they will notice security issues or DDoS attacks a lot earlier.
Choose Quality Themes and Plug-Ins
When it comes to themes and plug-ins, we have have already discussed the need to keep them up-to-date. We strongly recommend that you only use quality themes and plug-ins. Themes and plug-ins account for more than 50 percent of hacked WordPress sites. There are a few steps you can take to eliminate your themes and plug-ins as a gateway for hackers.
The first step is to only use the themes and plug-ins that you truly need. Having a bunch of active plug-ins on your site that you are not using minimizes your site’s performance. It makes your site less secure. The more components your site has, the higher the risk is that someone will use those components to gain access to your site. If there are plug-ins that you do not need, you should deactivate and delete them.
We strongly recommend that you use well supported plug-ins and themes. You can tell if a plug-in or a theme is supported by how frequently it gets updated. If you notice that a plug-in has not been updated for a long period of time, the chances are high that it has unpatched security holes or bad code that increases your site’s vulnerability. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of paying attention to the level of support prior to installing a plug-in.
It would not be wise to download a WordPress plug-in or theme from an unknown source. The worst-case scenario is that the plug-in or theme has been designed to include malicious code and will compromise your site. This is especially the case if you download premium plug-ins for free.
Here are some basic steps to follow to keep your WordPress site secure. As always, we would love to hear from you. Let us know what steps you have taken to keep your WordPress site secure in the comments section below.