WordPress Security: Best Practices for Keeping Your Site Safe

Oct 13, 2023
Alice Pham

WordPress has been the most popular website builder for many years now. It powers over 43% of all the websites on the Net, which makes it the best choice for your website. It’s rich with features and has a huge list of plugins that make optimization a piece of cake. 

However, it is precisely its popularity that makes WordPress the target of most cybercriminals. It gives them endless opportunities to hack websites that aren’t secure and target people who don’t know how to keep them safe. 

No platform is immune to hacking or malware but, WordPress offers great security and protection. It is your responsibility to take the remaining precautions, and in this article, we’ll teach you all about them. 

#1. Start with Your Devices

Everything starts with the devices you are using to access and manage your WP website. Many focus on website security and forget about this important part, therefore leaving a huge gate open for criminals to access their website data – and much more. 

The security of your online business or blog is closely connected to the security of your device. It all starts with how safe the devices you are using are. For starters, you need to keep your device clean from unnecessary files and as safe as possible. Check this list of tools that will help you eliminate the junk from your device, cool it down, and make it more secure. 

#2. Secure Your Connection with SSL/HTTPS Certificates

One of the most basic ways to secure your website is to secure its connection with the browsers of your visitors. 

If you aren’t convinced yet, know that in 2018, there were 90,000 hacking attempts per minute on the platform. Hackers target everything from large corporate websites to small businesses. So, if you are thinking, ‘Who will think of hacking my small eCommerce store,’ think again. In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

So, how can you secure your connection?

Whenever you visit a website that has a secure connection, you’ll find a grey padlock icon before its URL. To add this to your website, install an SSL certificate on the web server. 

Websites with SSL certificates enable websites to transfer from HTTP to HTTPS. Compared to HTTP, HTTPS is considered more secure and as such, it adds encryption to the information processed on your website. 

#3. Keep your WordPress Site Updated at All Times

Websites that run older versions of WP and haven’t been updated in a while are highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Updates are there for a reason. They are created to improve not just your website’s functionality but also its security.

Install every update officially released by WordPress to keep your website more secure, as well as the updates for the plugins and themes you are using. 

The longer you keep an outdated version of anything on your website, the higher your chances of being targeted. 

You can use tools to optimize this process and update plugins automatically. For instance, you can use the Smart Plugin Manager to check if there are any available updates and schedule their installment. 

#4. Use Secure Passwords to Avoid Brute-Force Attacks

Very often, hackers will try to access your site by simply ‘guessing’ your username and password. They’ll use bots and tools to perform a brute-force attack and find out what you use to sign in on your website.

You’d be amazed at how many people use the ‘admin’ username for their website. This makes the job of hackers 50% done. 

Create a strong username and password for everyone with access to your website. This will minimize the hackers’ ability to brute-force their way into your website. 

More importantly – don’t stick with the same password for long periods of time. It can be hard to memorize passwords now that we use so many apps and tools, but changing them frequently is necessary. If you want to keep your website as secure as possible, make sure to change the password every few months – if not even more often. 

#5. Restrict Access Permissions to Your Website

WordPress is a great - and affordable platform because its code can be edited easily by anyone with access. While this is very useful since you can give access to others to help you manage and optimize your website, you need to be careful with it. 

Restrict permission only to people who really need access to your website. WordPress now offers different levels of permission, so you can give people just the right amount of access they need to get their job done. 

#6. Limit Login Attempts on Your Website

If you haven’t done so already, limit the login attempts. If there’s an excessive login situation, set notifications for this. This is a big red flag telling you that someone might be trying to get into your website using brute force. 

There are plugins that can help you do this, too, such as the Limit Login Attempts Plugin. Tools like this will block any attempt to sign in to your website after 3 errors. The block stands for 20 minutes. 

#7. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication has proven itself to be one of the best methods for securing your accounts. When you add two-factor authentication, you create another barrier for cyber criminals attempting to access your website. Even if they get through the first barrier, i.e., guess your password, they still can’t log in because they don’t have the secondary login option.

In most cases, this is your device. You’ll get a password on your phone number, making it hard for hackers to access this data. Alternatively, you might get a password on your email address. 

A WP plugin that you can use to to enable two-factor authentication on your account is WP Engine. 

#8. Install Some WordPress Security Plugins

Plugins are there for a reason – to make your experience on the platform easier and more enjoyable. Many of the available plugins serve for security and site monitoring. You can choose one of the many available security plugins, install them and use them to activate anything from two-factor authentication to monitor the website for malware injections. 

Here are some of the popular plugins for security available on WordPress today:

  • Sucuri. The basic Sucuri Security plugin will scan your website for the most common threats. If you opt for the paid plans, these come with the top WP firewall protection and help you block malicious and brute attacks on your website. 
  • Wordfence. Wordfence’s free version comes with threat assessment, malware scanners, and exploit detention. You will get alerts on any sign of a security breach. The premium options offer plenty of additional features.
  • iThemes Security. This is a plugin with file integrity checks, a login attempts limit feature, 404 detection, password enforcement, brute force protection, and much more. 
  • All-in-One WP Security. This WP plugin will audit, monitor, and firewall your website. You can use it for IP filtering, user account monitoring, preventing brute force attacks, scanning for suspicious database injection patterns, etc. 
  • WPScan Security. WPScan has its private manually-curated database of vulnerability updated daily by specialists and members of the community. It scans the websites for over 21,000 vulnerabilities in themes, plugins, and core software. 

#9. Backup Your WordPress Website

Your website can vanish overnight. If someone hacks it, you can lose all the data on it. It doesn’t even have to be a cyber-attack. You can lose your data due to an error or a mistake while editing your pages.

This is why it’s always recommended to back up the data on your website. Do it as often as you can – you never know when your website can be compromised with viruses or malicious code. 

Remember this: if it happens, you’ll have the latest backed-up version available. If you don’t do it regularly, you’ll still lose a lot of data. If you don’t do it at all – you are putting all of your efforts and time spent on the website at risk. 

#10. Set Strong Spam Filters

WordPress websites that lack regular maintenance or have loose spam filters are prime targets for comments that contain malware. These come in large numbers, and if you don’t set tight filters, they can harm your website tremendously.

So, set tight filters and always keep them updated with the latest version. Don’t rely solely on them – you can also manually monitor your comments and block any questionable content from the WP dashboard. 

After a short while, you’ll find that differentiating between legitimate and spam comments is very easy. 

Wrapping Up

Securing your website starts with choosing the right platform and hosting provider, but that’s just step one. It’s also the website owner’s responsibility to take steps to protect their site from threats, loss of information, and attacks. Hopefully, this list will help you minimize the risks to your website and keep it up and running without a problem.