Prevention of a WordPress website from the hacking attack is far greater than crying over the spilled milk. The beginners often start with poor security measures as they are of the opinion of ‘why a hacker is going to harm me as I have just installed the CMS.’ But they are wrong as hackers do not discriminate between the size and type of a website. In fact, they reach out to the highly vulnerable sites and try their luck and expertise.
If you have also powered your business website on WordPress and don’t want a stranger to ruin your online presence, you need to take every precautionary measure to avoid it being hacked. In this post, I have explained some of the effective strategies to safeguard possible entry points for the infiltrators.
We hope it will benefit you. But, before exploring different ways of safeguarding your website, get to know about different security measures in WordPress.
Basic Security Measures in WordPress
WordPress has built-in security measures that allow webmasters to easily deter hacking and malicious attacks. But, these security features need thorough configuration and frequent testing. It includes automatic update of WordPress version as well as the theme or plugins you use, managing multiple roles, and generating complex passwords.
Failing to update a plugin may also compromise the security of your website. every CMS and eCommerce website has certain built-in features to ensure the security of your digital assets. The ease of quickly transforming a WordPress website into an eCommerce website is also attracting lots of people to set up a webshop in no time.
It is increasing hacking vulnerabilities for the online store that are based on WordPress. Thus, setting up an online store is getting more challenging. It can be the major reason that merchants and web architects prefer web development on a stand-alone eCommerce platform like Magento or PrestaShop. These dedicated applications have one thing in common and that’s advanced security features.
For example, Magento has built-in two-step verification, regularly scheduled security check, application of regular security patches, and lots of more. WordPress does cater to the security needs of a business, but few of the webmasters are able to configure them. But, here you can find valuable tips to configure basic security measures of your WordPress website.
– Lay Down a strong Foundation – WordPress Hosting and Setup
The foundation of a website comprises the purchase of a hosting space and installation of the WordPress application. The hosting servers and the setup are highly vulnerable to attacks if they are not done professionally. According to WPwhitesecurity, 73.2% of the WordPress websites are highly exposed to hacking attacks because of various reasons like sticking to an outdated version or using an identified WordPress version.
To avoid attacks, sign up with a hosting service provider that is tested and recommended by the renowned businesses in your niche. Identify your competitors in search engine result pages and find who is hosting their website with tools like hostadvice.com or whoishostingthis.com
Among different web hosting plan, pursue dedicated or WordPress managed hosting because intruding into a website on shared hosting is easy as pie for hackers.
You can restrict strangers trying to login to your website with the following configuration settings.
- Add the following code to your .htaccess file that bars hackers from accessing your WordPress configuration file. The code is #protect wp-config.php<files wp-config.php> Order deny, allow Deny from all </files>
- Replace the conventional FTP with a secure one like SFTP for securing the connection with the hosting server.
- Install latest WordPress version and frequently update when a new version or a security patch is available.
- Add the code Options All – indexes to the .htaccess file as it will restrict outsiders from extracting a complete list of directories on your website.
- Configure permission scheme to protect files, categories, and subcategories of your website.
– Customize the Login Page – The Gateway to your WordPress website
According to a survey carried by WordFence, login pages amount to 16.1% of entry points through which a hacker can access your website. This is done through a Brute Force attack by identifying a valid username and guessing the password. Read this tutorial for exploring two different ways of changing WordPress usernames. Additional ways of avoiding attacks are given below.
- Differentiate the login page URL so that the attackers are unable to find even the page where you put login credentials. The commonly used slug is /wp-admin/ that can be replaced or modified with something unpredictable like /NoAccess-admin/ and deceive the users.
- Exercise your creativity in setting up a username and password that is difficult to guess. Like most of the people set up admin and admin123 as username and password respectively to easily remember it. But, it is highly vulnerable to be revealed a few guesses.
- Also, don’t use a common password on multiple platforms like setting the password of your personal email account to WordPress website login too.
- Set up a two-step authentication, so that a distinct code is sent either to your personal email or cell phone to proceed with signing into your admin panel. The password guessing is often done with software that keeps on changing text and pressing the login button. You can prevent such attempts by configuring reCaptcha and making it mandatory to pass for a successful login.
- Guessing a login and password is not successful in two to three attempts. So, you can configure locking down the website with a defined number of attempts. It will automatically put down the login page when a stranger reaches the predetermined number of attempts.
– Scrutinize and Update Themes and Plug-ins you Use
A report published on WPStrands states that 75% of the infected websites are powered by WordPress application, and 50% of these websites were not timely updated. The major vulnerabilities were found because of the inadequate security updates of the respective plug-ins.
The main culprit behind the Panama Papers data breach was also a plugin that ignorance of the updating the plugin in time, though the developers had already released a version with security patches. The facts and findings from different surveys reveal that themes and plug-ins are highly vulnerable to hacking attacks. Following are some of the ways that can help you safeguard your website.
- Stop relying on the free themes and plug-ins as they are not regularly updated for security patches by the developers. Invest in your blog, website, or online store with premium themes and extensions that are duly tested and verified by developers and marketplaces.
- One of the benefits of preferring a marketplace over an individual vendor is that you get a plugin that has passed through multiple quality checks. So, you get a refined copy of the tool.
- Most of the beginners install plug-ins that are not necessary for their specific website needs. Remove all the add-ons you no longer need as these can prove a real threat to the security of your website.
- Check out security updates for the themes and plug-ins you use. WordPress auto-notify you when an update of the particular applications is available. Get them updated without any delay. Take precautionary measures like backing up your website before you plan to update the core theme or plugin. Read this informative tutorial to know how you can back up a WordPress website for free.
– Secure Your Admin Dashboard – The Control Panel
The admin panel and database are also among the easy entry points for hackers. Intruding to the admin dashboard means hackers can exercise all the powers like put down the entire website, and steal to misuse the financial details of your clients and users. The login is a primary gateway, but infiltrators can get access by any means. You can restrict their access to the following ways.
- Ban /wp-admin/ login from all the IP addresses except the one you use. This will help you restrict access of strangers to your admin dashboard. You can do this by adding the code
#deny access to wp-admin
Allow from 00.00.00.00 (Your IP Address)
Deny from all
- Install SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate to safeguard the data between your hosting server and browser.
- Seek assistance from security application to keep an eye on a modification of the files on your website.
WordPress, being a CMS platform, is not vulnerable to security threats, but the ignorance and negligence of the webmaster can increase the vulnerabilities. Safeguarding the website starts right from the selection of a hosting service provider and the way WordPress is installed. It leads to customizing the URL and credentials of the login page and takes into account the installing and upgrading the themes and plug-ins in a timely manner.
Failing to update the security patches is a clear invitation for hackers to intrude into your control panel and destroy the record. The prevention of any entry point is significant to the security of your website. Let it be the database, the login page, the admin dashboard, the customer registration forms, and sign-in permissions to authors, staff, and other users.
Author Bio: Zeeshan Khalid is a Web Architect, an eCommerce Specialist, and an Entrepreneur. He is the CEO and founder of FME Dubai, a leading e-commerce web design and development agency. Over the years, FME Extensions has successfully delivered projects in Magento, WordPress, WooCommerce, Joomla and other CMS/shopping cart platforms. You can find him on the LinkedIn.