Setting up your own WordPress site with the accompanying plugins and widgets has become easier than ever before. Numerous tutorials, video guides and step-by-step introductions to WordPress have ensured that even the most basic users can enjoy using this hosting solution.
That being said, WordPress is also one of the most exploitative hosting services on the web – due to the fact that so many people set up their sites without any security solutions, getting past their login information is also more straightforward than ever.
What can you do to secure your WordPress website and ensure that people don’t have access to your files and personal data without your strict permission?
1. Updated WordPress
One of the most basic mistakes you can make when setting up your WordPress site with a custom domain and personalized data is the mistake of turning off automated updates to WordPress. The basic code of WordPress gets updated constantly and more and more options become dominant with new iterations.
This means that options you didn’t know about come into forefront and old versions of WordPress become obsolete. You don’t have to let your site update itself, but you will create a huge security risk in the process. Hiring a professional service to bring your site back online after a WordPress core exploit is a great distraction from an otherwise content-focused routine you have going on.
2. Updated Plugins
Whatever plugins you have installed can pose a huge security risk if you don’t take care of them regularly. Checking your plugins for available updates, changes of code or changes in settings in general is something that every WordPress admin should do.
Core plugins such as Joomla or Drupal are essential to everyday functions of your website, meaning that they can cost you a lot of time and money if they end up being your security exploits. Under no circumstances should you be running outdated plugins that don’t match your version of WordPress or the globally active versions of said plugins. Doing otherwise is reckless to say the least and can often even cost you your job or reputation as a WordPress administrator.
3. Site Backup
Backing up your website data is the first and last line of defense when it comes to WordPress. Having a hard copy of your website somewhere in the Cloud is a sure way of getting that data back if anything malicious should happen.
Your domain might be compromised or your hosting service might be under cyber attack – if you have a site backup that won’t be an issue, meaning that you can get your site online again in a matter of hours. This is especially important because it doesn’t involve any professional help or additional services that you need to obtain in order to get the site back up. Failing to make a copy of your site on a regular basis can set you back weeks if not months and make your site nigh useless.
4. Pay For Premium
It’s logical that you want to spend as little money as possible on plugins and widgets. Downloading premium plugins from pirated sources has a multitude of cons and the least of which is not paying the creators their due income.
By using illegally obtained plugins, you risk the possibility of not receiving official updates and versions of software that come out every few weeks. As such, you will be the perfect target for many hackers and malicious software, often resulting in your site being completely compromised.
Downloading plugins from official sources such as WordPress.org or even the creator’s own sites will ensure that what you are using is completely safe and legal. Most importantly, it allows you to use official developer help and receive technical tips on how to combine different plugins if you don’t know how to, further ensuring that your website is safe from exploits.
5. Malware And Intrusion Scans
Sometimes even your Firewall and Malware tools won’t detect any changes in the site’s structure. That is why the human eye is still the best way to detect any suspicious activities on the website.
Scanning your plugins and site activity for any intrusions or malware breaches can take some time to get used to – after all, learning how to tell a line of code from a line of malware takes practice and trial and error. Make sure that you check your site regularly, at least once a week, sometimes even more if you feel like it.
The best way to do so is to install a malware detection plugin and run daily scans whenever you are taking a break. Reading through the output files and going through all the information your plugin has gathered is the best way to ensure no malicious software or unsolicited intrusions have happened while you weren’t paying attention.
6. Verified Software Sources
We have already talked about downloading premium plugins from illegal sources, but what about other WordPress software essential to your work? Ensuring your website’s security is the number one reason you are reading this list, and as such, verified software with legal licenses should be at the top of your to do list. WordPress.org does offer a plethora of options when it comes to widgets and plugins, all of which have helped web administrators keep their WordPress-powered sites going.
Asking for help with verified WordPress software is not unlike asking for writing help – you will always have to contact the authors in order to check their code’s compatibility with other plugins on the market. Knowing which plugins work with which will help you develop a safe and working combination that will ensure your sites long-term security, but only if you download them from verified sources.
7. Minimizing The Strain
Having too many plugins on your website is often a foolish idea. You should always limit yourself to the number of plugins, widgets and external software that is essential to your work. Think about all the plugins you have installed over the course of previous several months and think about which ones are unnecessary. Deleting unimportant plugins serves a number of reasons, all of which are there to ensure your website’s security.
- Cut down costs of maintenance by deleting premium tools that are not needed
- Faster and more responsive WordPress design due to a lack of unnecessary data and waste of bandwidth
- Higher SEO and SERP ranking due to faster loading times and lighter design
- Higher security levels due to an inability to exploit well-known and protected plugins
While these are only a few benefits of having only the essential plugins on your website, there are many more that ensure the safety of both your data and the people visiting your website. Think about them the next time you decide to install an unnecessary but seemingly “cool” plugin on your WordPress-powered website.
8. Selective Automation
Every piece of software you put on your WordPress site or store will serve the purpose of giving you a new option to play with. These plugins are in constant development and some updates are more useful than others. As such, it’s important to consider the fact that not all the updates that come out will be beneficial to you personally.
Disabling all the automatic updates except a few core ones is a great way to overcome problems before they emerge. As the updates roll out, you can select which ones you want to apply and which ones not, but this poses a further problem in itself – plugins that are out of date are security issues in themselves, offering malicious software an easy way into your databases. Weigh your pros and cons carefully before opting for either one of these options because it all depends on personal preferences and functions that your website serves.
9. Secure And Limited Login Access
There is no need for everyone in your office to have full administrator access to WordPress. Giving your colleagues marginal access so they can shape content and put new articles on the website should do the trick.
The reason for doing this is the fact that not everyone is a WordPress expert – people are sometimes just news reporters or shop managers that want to get on with their day and go home to their families. As such, these people don’t realize the catastrophic mistakes they can make by pressing the wrong button as an administrator on your company website.
While you don’t have to hire top writers to get the work done, shaping up a couple of usernames and passwords for your colleagues and giving them marginal access to the website is the safest way to go about it. This will not only limit the administrator access to only a selected few technicians and editors but also make sure that there are no security loopholes to be exploited in the office.
10. Two-Factor Authorization
Getting around your login information can sometimes be easier than you think – all it takes is a single strange line of code in your WordPress in order for someone to track your login information. In doing so, they can easily log in without your permission, change, extract or even delete data without your knowledge.
This can easily be averted by enabling a two-step authorization procedure for every time you log in. WordPress will quickly send you a one-time code that you can use in order to further prove that it is indeed you trying to log in. This can be sent to your personal email, phone number or whichever two-step method you prefer. While it may seem like a drag, this is a great way to ensure that you site remains secure in the long run.
11. Dashboard Activity
Depending on the number of users your WordPress-powered site has, it’s a good idea to sit down every once in a while and track their Dashboard activity. You can easily access all the activity on your site by going into the Settings options and checking which user did what action on the site. This is a great way to ensure no strange behavior has been happening on the site without your knowledge and also provides a good way to detect any malicious intent.
You know your colleagues more than anyone and if some of them have accessed parts of the site they have no knowledge off, it might be a sign of something going on. You can check your Dashboard activity with a plugin or simply by using your own eyes and ears, whichever method you prefer according to your skill and experience.