WordPress Security 101: What Every Non-Techy Business Owner Needs to Know
The fact that WordPress sites are targeted by about 90,000 (Source!) hackers every minute validates how susceptible they are to security breaches. But why is WordPress, in particular, such a frequent target for these attacks?
The primary reason behind this is its rising demand. About 43.2% of all websites run on WordPress, making it the most popular content management system (CMS). It’s quite easy to use because of the wide variety of available themes, plugins, and support from the community.
Unfortunately, it is precisely this widespread usage and the platform’s feature-rich environment that attract not just website owners but also those with malicious intentions.
Factors like poorly developed plugins and themes, insecure passwords, and a lack of backups are common causes of WordPress security flaws.
Unlike physical premises, you cannot erect physical barriers to protect your site. However, equipped with the right knowledge and tools, it is entirely possible to fortify your site and reduce its susceptibility to cyber threats.
This blog post will guide you through the tactics and strategies that can help safeguard your WordPress site and ensure its safety and security.
The importance of website security
Before diving into the specifics of WordPress website security, it’s essential to understand why it’s so vital for your business.
Protects customer data
If your website collects any type of customer information, whether it be email addresses, payment details, or contact information, you have a moral and legal obligation to keep this data secure.
Maintains brand reputation
Your company’s reputation could be severely damaged if there is a breach in its security. Customers are less likely to have faith in a business that is unable to protect the information on its website.
Google and other search engines give websites that are secure more weight. If your website is not secure, it may have a detrimental effect on your search engine results.
Keep business continuity
Hacks and malware can disrupt your site’s functionality. Downtime translates to lost sales and customer trust.
WordPress Security 101
Let’s explore some practical steps to enhance your WordPress website’s security.
#1. Choose reliable hosting
Your journey to a secure WordPress website starts with selecting the right hosting provider. Hosting refers to leasing space on a server where your website’s files and data are stored. Reliable hosting companies invest in security measures to protect your site.
Managed WordPress hosting, in particular, is designed for WordPress users and offers added security features, making it an excellent choice for those who want an extra layer of protection.
#2. Keep everything updated
Outdated software, themes, and plugins are a common entry point for hackers. Regularly updating WordPress and its components is a simple yet effective way to enhance your website’s security.
By keeping everything up-to-date, you ensure that any known security issues are addressed promptly. Enabling automatic updates is a convenient way to ensure you’re always running the latest and most secure version of WordPress and its components.
#3. Use strong passwords
Weak passwords are an open invitation to hackers. Strong passwords are essential because they serve as the first line of defense against unauthorized access.
Use complex, unique passwords for your WordPress admin account, FTP, and database, including a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
#4. Implement two-factor authentication (2FA)
Adding an extra layer of security with 2FA is a smart move. Even if someone manages to crack your password, they won’t be able to access your account without the second authentication factor because 2FA requires two forms of verification before granting access.
The second factor typically includes a verification code sent to a registered mobile number or a backup code that is generated when you enable the 2FA mode.
#5. Limit login attempts
WordPress allows multiple login attempts by default. You can change this setting to limit login attempts, which helps prevent brute-force attacks.
Brute-force attacks involve repeated login attempts to guess your password. By limiting the number of login attempts, you can thwart these attacks.
Plugins like “Limit Login Attempts Reloaded” provide an easy way to configure these limits to protect your site effectively.
#6. Secure your WP-admin directory
The WP-admin directory is where you manage your website. Limiting access to this area is essential because it’s a prime target for hackers.
You can restrict access by setting up additional layers of security, like IP blocking or password protection, either through your hosting control panel or by using a security plugin.
#7. Backup your website
Backups are like insurance for your website. If something goes wrong, you can restore your site to a previous, working state.
Automatic backups offered by hosting providers are helpful, but creating your own off-site backups adds an extra layer of security.
Store these backups in a location separate from your website to ensure that even if your hosting is compromised, your backups remain safe.
#8. Use SSL encryption
A secure socket layer (SSL) is a must for every website. A padlock icon in your browser’s address bar indicates that SSL has encrypted the connection.
It encrypts the data exchanged between your site and your visitors, ensuring a secure connection. Most hosting providers offer free SSL certificates, so there’s no excuse not to use them.
Google had also indicated a while back that HTTPS, while not a direct ranking signal, is a part of a ranking system , making SSL a critical aspect of not only security but also SEO.
#9. Install a security plugin
For non-tech-savvy users, security plugins can be a lifesaver. They add layers of protection, including firewalls, malware scanning, login attempt monitoring, and more.
Popular security plugins like Wordfence, Sucuri, and iThemes Security come with user-friendly interfaces, making them accessible even for those who are not tech-savvy.
#10. Monitor file permissions
File permissions dictate who can read, write, or execute files on your server. Setting the right permissions is essential to limiting access to crucial files and directories.
Hosting providers usually offer tools in their control panels to manage these permissions, allowing you to fine-tune security settings to protect your site.
#11. Disable directory listing
By default, web servers can list the contents of directories if no index file is present. Directory listings can inadvertently reveal the structure of your site, which is useful information for potential attackers.
Disabling directory listing prevents web servers from showing the contents of directories, making it harder for malicious individuals to gather information about your site’s structure.
#12. Change the default login URL
Changing the default login URL is a security-through-obscurity technique. By using a unique login URL, you make it more challenging for hackers to find the entry point. Plugins like “WPS Hide Login” allow you to customize the login URL easily.
#13. Regularly scan for malware
Malware can compromise your website’s security and infect your visitors’ devices. Regular scanning helps identify any malware or suspicious activity.
Security plugins or online scanning tools can automatically check for malware, and if anything is detected, they provide a means to remove or quarantine it.
#14. Plan for DDoS attacks
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks involve overwhelming your site with traffic to the point of crashing it.
To protect your website from these attacks, it’s essential to use a DDoS mitigation service, which can detect and filter out malicious traffic, ensuring your site remains accessible to legitimate users.
#15. Seek WordPress development services
For non-tech-savvy business owners, managing and securing a WordPress website can be a daunting task. In such cases, seeking professional WordPress development services can be a wise investment.
Their experienced WordPress developers can provide solutions, including robust security measures, regular updates, and ongoing support.
Professional WordPress development services can provide peace of mind by handling the technical aspects of your site. This will allow you to focus on your business’s core functions while knowing your website is in capable hands.
#16. Create a response plan
Despite your best efforts, security incidents can still occur. While preventative measures are crucial, it’s equally important to have a plan in place for when a security incident occurs. This plan outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a security breach or any unexpected incident.
It includes a clear set of actions that you and your team should follow, such as identifying the breach, containing it, notifying the necessary personnel, and assessing the extent of the damage.
The plan should also detail the process of recovering the website to a secure state, which may involve restoring backups and implementing security patches.
Moreover, it should specify how to communicate with your audience and clients if sensitive data has been compromised.
Having a well-structured response plan ensures that in the face of a security incident, you can react swiftly and effectively, minimizing potential damage and maintaining your website’s credibility and trustworthiness.
Having a catchy, appealing, and secure WordPress website is a business imperative. By following the steps and practices outlined in this guide, you can significantly reduce the risk of a security breach.
Remember that security is an ongoing process, and staying vigilant is key to protecting your website and, by extension, your business.
Invest the time and effort now, and you’ll save yourself from potential disasters in the future. Constant vigilance is the price of a secure and thriving online presence.
About the Author!
Amelia Swank is a senior web and app developer with over 8 years of experience. Currently with SunTec India, she specializes in the domain of digital solutions, specifically WordPress development, Shopify development, Magento development. Her passion for technology fuels her writing, aimed at spreading insights to all. Amelia closely follows the latest IT advances to share her expertise with those interested in the field.