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How To Ensure Your WordPress Website Security

How To Ensure Your WordPress Website Security

Wordpress Website Security. Cyberattacks are a digital phenomenon that no institution, organization or business in the world is fully immune to. They could seriously compromise your reputation and discourage visitors from coming back. Usually, site security is associated with serious investment in protective measures and backend operations which are within the competence of developers. However, there are a few basic steps you can take on your own to safeguard your website that could save you the cost of hiring a specialist.

With the advance of web development technologies where the focus has been fixed on user-friendliness, it has become really easy for site owners to jumpstart their own site. Free CMS solutions like WordPress and Joomla have allowed site owners to take almost full control of their web presence.

Thanks to the plethora of ready-made themes, point-and-click customization options and useful plugins on offer, the learning curve for creating a website has shrunk considerably.

Essentially, it has become really painless for site owners to launch and manage their own web presence with ease. However, when focused on building their own website and making it successful online, site owners may often overlook a critical component – website security. The web environment is full of smart abusers and ever evolving threats.

Ensuring a safe experience for visitors must be a top priority for site owners. Luckily, there are some easy-to-understand options that could help site owners take control of site security for themselves.

Keep your passwords secure:

The first and foremost step you should take to keep the doors of your website well locked is to create passwords that are strong enough to be hard to break.

Create long & complex passwords – the best proven formula for creating a strong password is to create a long password, (a minimum of 8 characters and most preferably – longer than 12 chars), and to use an elaborate mix of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.

Use a unique password for each login – every single password you have (e.g. for admin area, for database, for email, etc.) should be unique.

The handiest way to keep unique passwords is to use a password manager (such as LastPass and Sticky Password) since it stores passwords in an encrypted format.

Use random combinations – according to security best practices, you should avoid using easy-to-guess information like your birthday or dog’s name in your password. Password-cracking programs can guess millions of passwords in minutes. So, if a hacker gets other information about you, it will be child’s play for him to crack your password.

Change the “admin” username:

During the installation, CMS’s set up an ‘admin’ username by default. If someone wants to access your admin area and your username is still the default one, the attacker’s job is already half done. To fix that, once you have installed your CMS, you should create a new user with admin privileges. You can see how to do that for a WordPress site from our blog. The procedure for other CMS’s is similar.

Enable 2-factor authentication (2FA):

With 2FA enabled, aside from the standard username/password login submission, you will be asked to authenticate yourself in another way as well.

The most common two-factor authentication method is the phone-based verification, be that via an app or a text message.

It’s important that you enable 2FA for all accounts with admin privileges.

Most popular CMS’s offer 2FA plugins. Check out our post on the best two-factor authentication plugins for WordPress if you use the popular blogging platform for your site.

Install Safe CMS extensions / Plugins: Thanks to their extensible nature, CMS’s offer a variety of add-ons and extensions that can complement a website with virtually any functionality you could imagine.

However, extensions could also hide security risks because of their open-source code being equally accessible to both developers and malicious hackers.

That’s why, you should be very picky about the extensions you use.

Here are a few proven ways to assess their safety:

The extension should be from a legitimate source: always download your plugins, add-ons and themes from trusted sources.

Getting downloads from shady sites or installing free pirated versions could infect your installation with malware.

The extension should be regularly updated: look for plugins which are maintained by their authors and get regular updates.

If the last update date for a plugin was more than a year ago, that should ring an alarm that its author has stopped supporting it, and it is left prone to security breaches.

The extension should have a good download rating: pay attention to а given extension’s number of downloads and the feedback it has received.

A plugin with a high install count and positive reviews would point to a trusted developer who cares about security. Install security plugins:

CMS’s support a wealth of security plugins that can help you create a basic level of protection against various hacking attacks.

So, depending on the CMS you are using, you could take advantage of the following security plugins for FREE:

BBQ Firewall:

BBQ Firewall is a lightweight, super-fast plugin that protects your site against a wide range of threats. BBQ checks all incoming traffic and quietly blocks bad requests containing nasty stuff like eval(, base64_, and excessively long request-strings. This is a simple yet solid solution for sites that are unable to use a strong Apache/.htaccess firewall.

Full Info & Download:
BBQ Firewall

Blackhole for Bad Bots:
Bad bots are the worst. They do all sorts of nasty stuff and waste server resources. The Blackhole plugin helps to stop bad bots and save precious resources for legit visitors.

Full Info & Download:
Blackhole for Bad Bots

Cerber Security, Anti-spam & Malware Scan:
Defends WordPress against hacker attacks, spam, trojans and malware. Mitigates brute force attacks by limiting the number of login attempts through the login form, XML-RPC / REST API requests or using auth cookies.
Tracks user and bad actors activity with flexible email, mobile and desktop notifications.
Stops spam by using a specialized Cerber’s anti-spam engine and Google reCAPTCHA to protect registration, contact and comments forms.
Advanced malware scanner, integrity checker and file monitor.
Hardening WordPress with a set of flexible security rules and sophisticated security algorithms.
Restricts access with IP Access Lists.

Full Info & Download:
Cerber Security, Anti-spam & Malware Scan

Keep your platform up-to-date:

Ensuring you keep your CMS site updated is crucial for keeping your site live and kicking.

Thousands of websites are left vulnerable to outside attacks and security breaches due to outdated and compromised software.

Due to their open-source nature, CMS’s undergo daily improvements within the dev community.

Keep backups of your data:

One of the sure-fire ways to protect yourself on your own is to keep a recent backup of your data.

In contrast to the other, preventive steps mentioned above, backups will help you recover your website in the event of a security incident.

Use an SSL certificate for HTTPS encryption:

Unlike the measures mentioned above, using an SSL certificate will not improve your website security, technically speaking. However, thanks to the additional layer of encryption that it provides, it is crucial for inspiring trust in your website among your customers.

An SSL certificate secures the transfer of information like credit cards, personal information, and login details – between your website and the server. Thanks to the HTTPS protocol it uses, SSLs assures users that no outsider could intercept or change the content that is exchanged between them and your website.

Due to the trust factor they provide, SSLs have become a must for all types of websites recently.

Now visitors are alerted by major browsers if a website does not use HTTPS.

Moreover, Google has already confirmed prioritizing HTTPS websites in search rankings which has turned SSLs into an important SEO resource.

If you’ve already launched your website and have not yet implemented any of the steps mentioned in this post – you need to get going and stop procrastinating over vital steps like these.

You can never be sure that the new cyber-attack that hits the digital security news won’t hit you too.

Because, as reality shows – small business sites are just as susceptible to cyber crime as big companies.

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