Maximize Your WordPress Security in 2023 – 15 Expert Tips
You must have often heard the phrase “Prevention is better than cure!” mostly used for health. This very phrase holds true for WordPress security as well. It is much easier and better to protect your WordPress site than to recover it after it has been attacked.
There exists a common misconception that only those sites get hacked that store sensitive information or are relatively popular. This is not true at all. Each and every site is vulnerable to attacks and hacks.
As the most popular and open-source CMS platform, WordPress sites have specifically been on the hit list. This does not mean that WordPress sites are vulnerable. WordPress has many standard solutions to this problem.
At WP Creative, we offer ongoing website maintenance plans at a very reasonable fee for SMEs and monitor and upgrade your website on a regular basis to keep it up to date with the technology and security best practices. If you are interested, please talk to one of our WP experts and discuss your needs.
Let’s dive into our WordPress security guide and talk about why prevention is better than cure when it comes to WordPress security!
Table of Contents
- Why is prevention better than cure in WordPress security?
- 18 Steps To Prevent Attacks On Your WordPress Website
- Where do WordPress security attacks originate?
- Best WordPress Security Plugins for 2023
- What to do if my WordPress website is hacked or attacked?
- People Also Asked
Why is prevention better than cure in WordPress security?
Investing in preemptive WordPress security is akin to investing in your health; you do not realize its importance until it starts yielding apparent benefits. Nevertheless, it is absolutely essential if you want to avoid the hassle of cleaning up after the mess has been made.
You can adopt numerous ways to clean up your site after hackers have invaded it. However, it is recommended that you take steps to deter hackers before they get to your website. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS and therefore, it gets unwarranted attention from hackers. That is why it is in your site’s best interest to take preventive measures in order to avoid malicious activities.
Even if your site does not have sensitive data, it is still vulnerable to attacks. In fact, most of the attacks on WordPress sites are non-targeted. These hackers randomly target websites. Such websites are on their target list to be used for black hat Search Engines Optimisation (SEO), DDoS attack, and malware distribution.
18 Steps To Prevent Attacks On Your WordPress Website
Just like there are ways to clean up the mess created by hackers, there are also ways to prevent these attacks. You will feel relaxed after knowing that these measures are neither time-consuming nor tough to implement. All you need is the determination to implement the required measures!
Step 1: Keep Your WordPress Updated
This is probably the easiest thing that you can do to prevent attacks on your site. Keep all the WordPress core files and features of your WordPress site updated. This includes WordPress core, WordPress themes, and WordPress plugins.
It is recommended that you should always use the latest version of WordPress software so that you can reap maximum benefits from it. Moreover, doing so will make your website more secure, as the latest WordPress version is usually more secure.
Give this simple tactic a try and your site will surely become more secure than ever before!
However, we do realize that keeping your WordPress site updated is an extremely time-consuming task. Being a business manager or owner, you definitely have far more important things to deal with. This is where our role becomes important. You can reach out to us and we will ensure that your website is regularly updated.
Step 2: Maintain An Audit Log To Keep An Eye On Your WordPress
For logging in to your WordPress site, you only need to enter your username and password. However, doing so does not guarantee a high level of safety. To increase the security of your WordPress site, it is recommended that you should enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). You can do so by installing a relevant plugin.
Two-Factor Authentication comes in various different forms. For instance, you can make your site email you a one-time authentication code that you will be required to enter every time you decide to log in. Moreover, you can even make your website use a reliable app like Google Authenticator to formulate unique codes.
The best aspect of this feature is that it makes it impossible for anyone else to log in to your website even if they know the username and password. The reason is that accessing the site requires a unique code that has limited access. This feature even gives you some time to update your password in case someone is trying to gain access to your account fraudulently.
Apart from this, we recommend our customers install WordPress security plugins such as Wordfence to further increase the safety of their site.
Read our in-depth guide on WordPress Maintenance and everything you need to know.
Step 3: Use Strong Passwords And User Permissions
Passwords are one of the essential elements of a website. They play a crucial role in making a site safe and secure. Mostly, hackers steal passwords to gain access to websites. You can give hackers a tough time by using strong and unique passwords; passwords that no one else except you can guess.
Businesses are usually reluctant to use difficult passwords because they are afraid that they might forget them. You do not need to worry about memorizing the passwords anymore. There are password managers available in the market that perform this duty on your behalf.
What excuse do you have now for not having strong passwords for your site?
Step 4: Opt For A Reliable Hosting Company
We cannot emphasize the importance of choosing the right hosting company enough. If you run a business in Australia, you can choose a reputable shared hosting provider like VentraIP or Crucial, and know that your site is in safe hands. The reason is that these hosting providers take extra precautionary measures to keep your site protected from possible security vulnerabilities.
However, comparatively, managed WordPress hosting is more secure as compared to shared WordPress hosting. Managed WordPress hosting companies provide automatic backups, automatic WordPress updates, and efficient security configurations.
We would recommend you opt for WPEngine if you want to go for managed WordPress hosting for businesses in Australia and New Zealand. In terms of WordPress security best practices, it is one of the best ones out there!
You can also opt-in for cloud hosting like Amazon AWS, or Google Cloud if you are running a high-traffic or complex website.
Step 5: Install SSL Certificate
SSL certificates help in encrypting data exchange between your site and the users’ browser. This makes it tougher for hackers to get into your site and steal information. As soon as you install SSL, your website will start using HTTPS instead of HTTP. Additionally, you will be able to see a padlock sign right next to your site’s address.
Despite the importance of SSL certification, not all hosting companies offer one. Firstly, we recommend our customers opt for a hosting company that does offer an SSL certificate. However, if you have already opted for a company that does not offer this certification, do not worry. There is a way out!
Talk to us, we will help you to purchase an SSL certificate and install it for you.
Step 6: Alter Your WordPress Login URL
By default, your WordPress URL is “yoursite.com/wp-admin ”. If you decide to leave it as is, remember your site will become prone to security attacks. In order to prevent such attacks, it is advisable to change your WordPress login URL or add a couple of security questions for your key pages.
On top of that, you can even add two-factor authentication which has been discussed above in this article. You can even check for the IP address that has made the largest number of failed login attempts and then block that IP address from your site.
Step 7: Use Passwords For WordPress Admin And Login Page
Alternatively, you can also use a password and username to protect your website and login page. Doing this will ensure you have double WordPress security layers on your website’s login page and anyone trying to log in to your WordPress Website will need to login to the login page first.
Step 8: Add Security Questions To WordPress Login Screen
Adding security questions is another way of making your login page inaccessible to attackers and unauthorized people. Like the previous step, it will add a layer of security to your WordPress Website. This will then require your Username, Password, and a security question for you to log into wp-admin.
Step 9: Limit Login Attempts
We recommend you use the login attempts limiter WordPress security plugin in order to prevent unauthorised people from attempting to log into your website.
Attackers might try to log into your website with multiple attempts on your domain name login page, so limiting the login attempts is one of the best ways to prevent this.
Step 10: Regularly Backup Your WordPress Website
Backing up your website is the most basic technique to secure your WordPress website attacks. Regularly backing up your WordPress site will help you to restore your website after any sort of incidents like attacks or even physical damage. Even if your website is not attacked by hackers, you may need backups before editing your website in case anything breaks.
You can do this on your website using backup plugins like UpdraftPlus and All-in-one migration. Back up your entire website with all of its files, database and records so that you can restore your website fully in case of attacks. You can choose to store your backups anywhere including your local computer and Google Drive.
Step 11: Remove unused themes and plugins
Any unused theme and plugin should be removed to increase WordPress security. These plugins and themes are especially harmful if they are not updated on time. Unused and outdated are one of the common entry points for attackers to get into your WordPress website.
Firstly, deactivate any WordPress theme or plugin you do not want to use and then Delete them. This will also reduce the size of your WordPress website.
Step 12: Update the PHP file and version
Updating your PHP version to the latest is crucial to your website security. WordPress sites require you to update the PHP version whenever the new version is available. You can do so by navigating into the WordPress Dashboard or through your website hosting provider.
You can also ask your hosting provider or webmaster to do this for you. Regularly updating the PHP version ensures you have all the new WordPress security upgrades and that your site is secured.
Step 13: Do not use the default WordPress admin account
WordPress’s default username is Admin and attackers will have no problem guessing it if you use it. It also presents attackers with opportunities for attackers to figure out the login username and use it to gather other information to support the attack.
So, it is advised to use another username in order to make it harder for attackers to get your login info.
Step 14: Use Firewalls, Scan for Malware and Vulnerabilities
Using a firewall plugin for your website makes sure that the spammy/harmful traffic to your sites will be blocked before it reaches your website. Firewalls help you protect your site from all major sorts of WordPress security breaches like database injections, cross-site scripting, and file inclusions.
Try out some of these best popular firewall plugins for your websites:
Use plugins and tools to scan for vulnerabilities on your WordPress website. There are plenty of plugins that will auto-run checks for any WordPress security issues that your website may be susceptible to. You can also manually run the checks and scans if you think anything is not in place.
Step 15: Auto Log-out Idle Users
If any user is idle, then the WordPress session for that user should be ended requiring them to log in again in order to gain access to the WordPress dashboard. Chances of attacks may increase if a user leaves the desk without logging out. You can implement this using the Inactive Logout plugin.
Where do WordPress security attacks originate?
While WordPress is the most used Content Management System, it is also one of the most attacked platforms. These attacks can originate from anywhere like your login page, your outdated WordPress, Phishing, and many more. It is more important than ever to make your website safe and secure. But do not worry, most attacks on WordPress have nothing to do with its security.
The attacks were mostly due to some discrepancies from the user side like not keeping the WordPress website updated. In fact, according to Sucuri, “50.3% of infected WordPress websites were outdated.”
WordPress updates are released every few months in order to keep up with new security and functional challenges. So, there are things you would want to know to keep your website updated and safe.
Themes and Plugins
Themes and plugins are one of the most common places where these attacks originate. Plugins and themes are what make WordPress one of the most used CMS and no wonder you can not stop using them on your WordPress website. But these same themes/plugins will open doors for attackers if you do not pay close attention to their updates and security measures.
You will need to update the plugins and themes regularly in order to keep these WordPress security threats at bay. According to Sucuri’s Santoyo, More WordPress attacks originated from plugins/extensions in comparison to the outdated core software.
Check thoroughly for security features and issues while downloading your plugin. Not all plugins, extensions, and themes are built to be secure. Some of the developers update the plugins in line with WordPress updates but those who do not, expose the risk of websites being attacked. Also, even if the plugin developers make the updates available, it is you, the user who needs to update the plugins/extensions/themes on your website to make it safe.
Do not use plugins, themes, and extensions from unreliable sources, and read reviews before installing the plugin. Choose the plugins and extensions which are updated regularly, fulfil security standards and offer support in case anything breaks.
WordPress Login Page
No wonder, the WordPress login page can be the point of origin for attacks. One of the most common techniques is Brute Force attacks, where an attacker uses a bot to try out millions of username and password combinations on your login page. If you are using the default username Admin, the only task attackers will be left with is finding out the password, and sometimes, they might get lucky.
As discussed above, you can limit login attempts, set 2-factor authentication, and add security questions and login page password methods to deal with Brute Force attacks. Another technique is to change the default login URL of the WordPress website from WP-admin to anything that can not be guessed easily.
Old WordPress Version
Updating your core WordPress version and Php is essential as updating the plugins. WordPress and PHP commonly form a platform for your website and if you are not updating them regularly, you might be opening doors for security attacks. Even though not updating your core WordPress only accounts for around 5% of the total attacks, this is still huge given the number of WordPress users.
Core software updates are made available from time to time in order to cope with new security threats and issues. Installing the new WordPress version and updates regularly indicates that your site is updated to face new and old attacking threats. You can enable auto updates or update the WordPress core software manually as well.
Malware is some sort of software designed to steal information and break into websites. This malware usually makes its way into your website using outdated software, themes, plugins, or extensions. They are made to exploit the security issues in your themes or plugins to make their way into your website. Some of them might also try to attempt logins like bots.
Best WordPress Security Plugins for 2023
WordPress is undoubtedly one of the most popular platforms for building your website, powering over 40% of websites. While its usage increases exponentially, so does the threat of attacks. Attackers are constantly trying to exploit vulnerabilities in websites. Fortunately, there are WordPress security plugins to secure your WordPress site from these attacks.
These plugins are tried and tested to help you protect your website from malicious attacks like brute force attacks and sensitive data access.
What to do if my WordPress website is hacked or attacked?
Don’t panic if your WordPress site is hacked. There are a series of steps you can do to fix your hacked website. You can still recover your website and get it back to full functionality. To do this follow the steps listed below:
- Try to get your website’s backup file. If you do not have the backup file, chances are your web hosting provider might have one.
- Restore your website from the backup file if possible. Do a clean WordPress installation including all plugins and themes files.
- Try to repair your site using plugins and security tools to detect if there is any malware.
- You can check your logs to know what actually caused this hack.
- Delete suspicious user accounts and reset WordPress passwords.
- Remove all unused extensions, plugins and themes.
Finally, if you do not know how and whereabouts, the best thing to do is call for WordPress website experts.
The online world is full of threats. You can never predict which attack might strike your WordPress site. Hence, you need to be vigilant throughout in order to prevent hackers from reaching your site. Vigilance can be observed by adopting either one or all of the above-mentioned WordPress security tips. It is ideal that you adopt all these measures so that your site’s security can be maximised and your stress can be minimised.
Making your WordPress site safe and secure should be your first priority. Even if you have not made it your priority yet, you should do it now!
One of the best ways of doing so is to hand over the task of securing your site to our team of experts. They know how to protect your site against all possible dangers.
Here is your golden chance to get expert advice regarding your WordPress website’s security tips and consultation. Do not forget to avail it.
Comment below and our WordPress Security Expert will get back to you!
People Also Asked
Is WordPress secure?
No wonder, WordPress is a secure content management platform but it can be susceptible to attacks. Most of the risks associated with WordPress security come from the user side rather than the WordPress platform itself. You can follow our WordPress security guide in order to minimize the risks and secure your WordPress site.
Is WordPress easily hacked?
WordPress site is not particularly suited for hackers. Like every other website on the internet, WordPress sites are vulnerable to being hacked if proper security tips and measures are not taken.
Some of the common reasons for these attacks can be outdated plugins/themes/PHP, not using strong passwords and anti-malware plugins. Also, WordPress sites are mostly found hosted on shared servers and this can sometimes negatively affect your website’s security.
Can WordPress websites be easily hacked?
Similar to any website WordPress is hosted on a web server. Many host providers have no security on the platform and the server is accessible by an administrator. All website hosts are vulnerable to hackers.
What is the best security for WordPress?
The best way to go about WordPress security is to use a combination of plugins, tools, and security measures as discussed above. These are some of the best practices to start with;
- Opt for a reliable web host provider that offers security features.
- Use a strong password and 2 -factor authentication for your WordPress logins.
- Use firewall and malware scanner plugins like Sucuri.
- Make a timely backup of your website.
- Always use the updated WordPress version and keep all of your plugins updated.
What is the best free WordPress security plugin?
Various free WordPress security plugins are available in the market today to protect your website. These are some of the best ones in terms of popularity, overall features, and necessity.
- All-in-One WP Security
- iThemes Security
- Malcare Security
- Shield Security
- Hide My WP Ghost – Security Plugin
How do I know if my WordPress site is vulnerable?
The best way to find out if your WordPress website is secure is by scanning your site with security scanners. Another thing to look out for is if your WordPress is functioning normally or if any security plugin has reported any issues within the website.
You can also take a free security test on Sucuri to find out issues and areas of improvement. You will know if your site is infected, blacklisted, or is using older versions of software. Also, Google Chrome and other browsers will let you know if the site you are browsing is safe or not.
How do I Secure My WordPress Site Without Plugins?
You can use plugins to protect your website from attackers but only using plugins may not always be the best method. There are ways to secure your WordPress website without using WordPress Plugins.
And, Yes! you can work to improve your website security without coding knowledge. These are the most common approaches to making your website secure without using plugins.
- Update your website plugins, themes, and core files regularly.
- Prevent access to your public folder/files.
- Disable file editing for the htaccess file.
- Use strong passwords and 2-factor authentication
- Regularly back up or export all of your site’s content.
- Disallow access to your WP files and directory.
- Change the default WordPress URL.
- Delete themes and plugins you don’t use.
- Only use trusted plugins, tools, and themes.
What are the most common WordPress vulnerabilities?
With the increasing use of WordPress platforms, comes the risk of attacks. These are the most common ones to watch out for in 2023.
- Weak passwords and not using 2-factor authentication
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
- Outdated plugins, extensions, core WordPress & Php files.
- Unsecured hosting partner
- Malware and Phishing
- Not setting up proper user permissions
- Not backing up the site on a regular basis
Can WordPress websites have viruses?
Yes, WordPress websites can have viruses on them. These viruses can come in the form of malware, worm, bot, or spyware. These intend to spy, steal and misuse information or break your site to malfunction. Most malware gets into your site through plugins and themes. You can know if your website has malware by scanning with tools like Sucuri.
Can the WordPress database be hacked?
Yes, WordPress databases can be hacked but it is not as common as other attacks like those through outdated plugins and themes. Attackers can get into your WordPress database and alter the contents for example the Table Prefixes.
These mostly originate through MySQL injection attacks(SQLi). Malware is injected into the WordPress database with this method. Hackers use automated tools to test and bypass the authentication as well as the firewall without the notice of the webmaster. Then, they can alter the records or steal critical information.
What are the signs of you getting hacked?
While it needs multiple confirmations to know if you have been hacked, there are some signs you need to watch out for. Some of the common signs are:
- You might see a drop in your website traffic.
- You are unable to log in to your WordPress website.
- Suspicious user accounts are added to your website.
- You see unusual activity in audit logs.
- Unknown WordPress files are added.
- Unusual website breakages.
- Malicious links and comments are added to your website.
- You may notice a drop in your website’s performance.
These are some of the signs that your website might be hacked. But you can not be 100% sure just because you see some of the signs. You might be able to solve minor issues like removing user accounts and disabling WordPress comments. But we recommend you consult a website security provider or maintenance company in order to confirm and restore your WordPress website.
Is it good to use multiple security tools on your WordPress website?
It is good to use multiple security tools on your website as far as you can manage them all and they do not override each other’s functions. Sometimes, the plugins or tools may overlap in their features which can cause your site to break. Also, not all plugins are good for your site. Try to use tools from trustable sources. Test and choose your tools accordingly.
Updated on: 6 October 2022 |