How To Secure Your WordPress Blog In 7 Easy StepsEric Merlin
Day after day, expert hackers and terrible plagiarists prowl the internet in search of websites with security vulnerabilities. If they discover a loophole on your website, they may carry out a range of malicious activities.
Despite the myriad of hacking incidents that happen online every day, most people seem unconcerned about blog security. Don’t be so overconfident that your blog is not susceptible to such attacks. Instead, you need to be proactive.
Why You Should Secure Your WordPress Blog
Stolen data, expensive downtime, and loss of content are some of the things you could suffer when your blog is hacked. Keeping your blog secure helps you guard your reputation and enables you to deliver the best service possible to your visitors.
As WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for blogging, it is always a target for hackers who seek to exploit vulnerabilities in websites. The great news is that once you’re able to build up proper defences, then you wouldn’t have to worry too much about the security of your WordPress blog.
Currently, WordPress, as a content management system, powers more than 25% of websites, and for a lot of site owners, working with the WordPress platform is a no-brainer.
The benefits are limitless; it is free, and a big community is always ready and willing to help you out, not forgetting the hundreds of great plugins to help expand your website’s functions. It is loved by the DIY crew as well as web developers.
Apart from hacking, content theft also seems to be a big problem online and it’s something to be worried about. Especially in the blogging world where uniqueness should be a seal of quality.
Although Google and some of the other search engines develop algorithms to determine the origin of some content, it is definitely no joke when you find out that your content has been copied and pasted on numerous blogs on the internet.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to prevent such security threats from becoming real. In this post, I’ll be discussing 7 ways in which you can make your WordPress blog safer and more secure.
1. Do Blog Backups
The first thing you need to do before any other thing is to make a backup of your website files. This allows you to recover your site if something goes wrong in the future. If you want to do this manually, you can go through the “export” tool on WordPress although there are a couple of issues with the tool.
For instance, if you don’t take a backup of your files regularly and something happens to your site, the most recently backed up data may not be as current as you’d prefer. So, if you backup your site only once a month, you’ll lose all the changes made to the site between the backup for the last month and when disaster struck.
If you decide to backup manually, best practice is to do backups at least once every week.
The alternative to this, rather than reminding yourself to do a backup of your site, is to install a security plugin that can automatically do your backups. Some of the well-known plugins are;
BackUpWordPress – a free plugin that does your site backup according to your specified schedule
Backup Buddy – a premium WordPress plugin. It is different because it can restore your images, posts, and files that some of the plugins won’t restore.
WordPress backup to Dropbox – for people with a Dropbox account, the plugin performs automatic backups. It’s very easy to store your files on Dropbox using this plugin.
2. Choose Quality Hosting
If your hosting provider is not inspiring so much confidence in you, now would be a great time to switch. WPTemplate.com reveals that 41% of WordPress sites end up being hacked because of weaknesses in the website owner’s hosting package, making this the most prevalent method of hacking.
If you’ve not yet signed up to one of their hosting plans, Bluehost or Wix are great hosting companies to work with. They have adequate security measures in place to protect their customers against attacks.
3. Don’t Download Software Without Researching
One other way through which hackers can get access to your WordPress blog is through software such as plugins and web themes that you download. Hacking attacks are due to themes 29% of the time and to plugins 22% of the time, according to WPTemplate.com.
This means you need to be careful about the type of downloads you do on your site. First, before you download any software, read reviews from other users. If they have rated the software highly, then it’s normally safe to download.
However, if the software has no reviews or if most of the reviews are of people complaining after installing the software, then it’s better to steer clear.
Most times, premium themes and plugins are the way to go. They usually have more features, and they are always more secure.
NEVER download pirated plugins. These are premium plugins that are going for free and there’s a good chance they’ll come bundled with malware.
4. Do Regular Software Updates
Hackers find it easy to infiltrate WordPress blogs with older versions of the software installed. This is because they have taken the time to study that version of the software and discover its loopholes. This is particularly true of the WordPress software.
All the weaknesses of the older versions are already public knowledge because they have been exposed by users, so you can be certain hackers are quite conversant with the software if it’s outdated.
Also, ensure that your site is not showing the version of WordPress you’re running on. With this information, hackers can figure out which techniques they need to gain access to your website. Moreover, by hiding the fact that your website is running on WordPress, you will also prevent brute-force attacks through bots.
5. Create Strong Passwords
Usually, we shouldn’t be talking about this, but it’s worth discussing because 8% of WordPress hacks still occur as a result of weak passwords. Ensure you’re not using one password across different accounts and that your passwords include a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters.
Similarly, make sure your username is not the default “admin” as it will be one of the early combinations hackers will try out to gain access to your site. It’s best to create a new user and designate the account as an administrator account. Log back into your WordPress website with your new account details and delete the default admin account.
6. Install Security Plugins
Even after taking the aforementioned precautionary steps, there is still an extra layer of security you can add to your website through some trusted security plugins that will help to patch security holes. These include;
iThemes Security – This plugin provides more than 30 ways to secure your site, for instance, stopping automated attacks. You’ll need to upgrade if you want more options
SiteLock – This plugin has a broad library of identified malware. It constantly runs checks on your site to ensure it is safe. If malware does find a way of creeping in, it works to get rid of it quickly.
WordFence – This plugin comes in both the free and premium options. It runs a malware scan on your site.
Login Lockdown – This plugin guards your website against brute force attacks by regulating the number of login attempts from a particular IP address through a certain period.
7. Use Web Application Firewall
A firewall sits between your hosting server and the network traffic. The firewall performs the function of filtering out the most common threats before they reach the machine where your WordPress website is being hosted.
There are three types of firewall solutions you can use on your WordPress site;
- Network Level: This is usually present at the machine level or network level. It works with WordPress hosted at a data centre that belongs to you. This option is the costliest and it’s usually employed by an enterprise-level website where there is control over the physical location where the server is installed.
- Host Level: This is usually hosted at the web-application level, which in our case is WordPress. However, this is not recommended because ultimately, your host would have to do the intensive job of filtering out traffic. It is definitely a better option than the network-based web application firewall, but because it requires a large pool of the local server resources, it’s not the best option.
- Cloud-based: Cloud-based web application firewalls are typically implemented at the DNS level. It filters the most common kinds of threats before it gets to your WordPress server. This is the easiest and most economical WAF to implement. It has one downside though, you would need to change the DNS.
Web application firewalls can detect and protect against some common types of threats such as SQL injection attacks, Cross-site Scripting attacks, buffer overflows, and session hijacking.
A lot of WordPress users don’t give their website security the kind of serious attention it deserves. However, when you adopt the steps described above, you will significantly lessen your risk of experiencing a security hack. Remember; if your current hosting provider is not secure and doesn’t offer any security-related support, moving to either Bluehost or Wix will make a huge difference.