Dmytro is the founder of Solvid and Pridicto. Featured in Hackernoon, TechRadar and Entreprepreneur.
Instances of cyberattacks, especially those targeting WordPress websites, are on the rise across the internet. The most recent attack to hit WordPress users affected some 700,000 sites running a vulnerable plugin.
One version of the plugin, developed by Wordfence, has been found to be vulnerable to security threats, but the developers have claimed that only around 37% of users have the exploitable version currently installed. However, this hasn’t stopped millions of websites from being probed by hackers in a bid to expose the vulnerability, according to security researchers.
According to Purplesec’s list of cybersecurity statistics published in 2020, instances of cybercrime has not only steadily increased over the past decade but has accelerated by as much as 600% due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With threats to WordPress websites rising in recent times, it’s more important than ever to look after your pages. With this in mind, let’s take a look at seven key tips for ensuring that your WordPress site remains secure:
Choose Your Host Wisely
One of the most straightforward ways of shoring up the security of your WordPress site is to choose a hosting provider that’s committed to providing multiple layers of security.
In this respect, it may be worth taking your time and avoiding extremely cheap hosts in favour of a provider that can bring you the privacy that your site needs.
By paying more for a quality hosting company, you can ensure that your website has comprehensive security behind it. It may also be worth looking at the level of around the clock support offered by hosting providers, too. Hosts like WPEngine not only provide daily malware scans for websites but they also offer 24/7 support over 365 days a year – for a relatively competitive price.
Make Sure You’re Using The Latest PHP Version
PHP forms the backbone of your WordPress site and so this means that using the latest version on your server is vital. Each release concerning PHP is usually fully supported for around two years after its release. During this timeframe, any emerging security issues are typically patched fast. At the time of writing, any website owners running PHP 7.1 or below no longer has security support and are at a higher risk of cybercrime.
According to Kinsta, over 57% of WordPress users operate on a PHP of 5.6 or lower, and as much as 77.5% of users are running PHP versions that are no longer supported. Be sure to take the time to ensure that you’re up to date with your PHP to mitigate your website’s vulnerabilities.
Utilise Two-Factor Authentification
Introducing a two-factor authentication (2FA) module on your WordPress login page is another healthy security measure. This option enables users to provide login details on two different components – with the website owner deciding what those two modules can be.
In many cases, this can be a regular password followed by a secret question, a private code, a set of characters or the Google Authenticator app – which texts a secret code to the user’s phone.
2FA provides an extra layer of security on websites that require user logins for access to various services – and Google Authenticator is excellent in ensuring that a user can only enter by receiving a code to their registered mobile device.
Install Secure Plugins and PHP Scripts
Users don’t need to remain on WordPress to install the scrips and plugins that securely help their websites to stand out from the crowd and attract new visitors.
There are plenty of verified external platforms with many pre-made security PHP scripts that can help to provide an extra secure element for websites online.
One impressive security-themed plugin comes in the form of BulletProof Security, which offers users free access to malware scanners, built-in firewalls and automated database backups alongside many other excellent features.
Automatically Log Out Idle Users
The aforementioned BulletProof Security plugin also enables website owners to automatically log out idle users once they’ve been inactive for a predesignated amount of time.
For contributors and various users leaving the wp-admin panel open on their screens, this can lead to serious WordPress security threats. Anybody passing by has the power to alter information on your site, user accounts or to break your website altogether. To avoid this scenario, install a plugin that enables your site to log people out once they’ve been inactive for five, 10, or 15 minutes.
Disable File Editing
When you’re setting up your WordPress site, there’s a code editor function that’s built into your dashboard. This function enables you to edit your theme and plugin. It can be accessed by going to Appearance > Editor. Another way to find the editor is by navigating to Plugins > Editor.
Once your website goes live, it’s advisable to disable this feature. This is because if hackers access your admin panel, it’s possible for them to add discreet and malicious code into your theme and plugin without you noticing until it may be too late.
To disable the ability for users to edit plugins and theme files, you simply need to paste the following code into your wp-config.php file:
The place in which to paste this code can be found listed in the image above. This little measure can help to ensure that your website has been kept safe from making damaging changes to the anatomy of your pages.
Use SSL To Encrypt Data
Adding a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to your site is a smart move in securing the admin panel of your site. SSL helps to ensure that secure data is transferred between user browsers and the server – helping to make it significantly more difficult for hackers to breach the connection or spoof your information.
Luckily, the process of getting an SSL certificate for your WordPress website is a relatively straightforward one, and it’s possible to purchase a certificate from a third party company or to check the options of utilising a free one courtesy of your website hosting provider.
Furthermore, Google tends to rank websites with SSL higher than those without, so it could work wonders for gaining more traffic over time. There are plenty of appealing SSL certificate platforms available to choose from so once again it could be worth conducting some research to see which service works best for your site.
Cyber attacks on WordPress sites may be on the rise, but fortunately, the technology at our disposal to prevent our websites from getting compromised is steadily improving. Remember, that while you may have the best tools and security features available for your site, it’s worth taking the time to exercise caution and keep vigilant towards unusual activity occurring on your pages.