WordPress Security Tips or How to Secure WordPress Site Without Plugin
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Table of Contents
WordPress is the preferred content management system of millions of users worldwide. With nearly 40 million downloads, it’s used by more than 37% of websites that are up and running on the modern-day web. It’s a versatile and easy-to-use CMS that works great for the launch of small blogs and large corporate websites. There is a lot more we can say about WordPress. However, such an impressive demand has a drawback – it’s a luring target for hackers. Although WordPress is one of the most secure CMS available on the web, attackers attempt to find vulnerabilities in WordPress-based websites to add malicious code, steal data, or for any other purpose. To make their sites resistant to any kind of attacks and security breaches, web developers should implement extra technologies to boost security. In this post, we are going to highlight proven WordPress security tips to avoid the most common WordPress security issues.
Offsite WordPress Security Tips
Web-based attacks are among the most common cyber attacks targeting WordPress websites of all sizes. Detecting WordPress security attacks when they already hit your site is possible with the help of dedicated WordPress plugins and extensions. However, what steps should a web developer take to prevent WordPress security breaches? The following list of tips and the most common solutions should come in handy for you.
Lock down file permissions
One of the most alluring WordPress features is to allow different files of your site to be writable by web servers. However, while allowing write access to your files, you make your site easier to reach by hackers, especially if you use shared WordPress hosting.
The pro WordPress security tip is to lock down your file permissions as much as possible and loosen those permissions on rare occasions. What should you do when you need to make your files writable, without compromising your site’s security?
The wisest solution would be to own all files of your WordPress site by your user account, meaning that all the files will be writable only by you. All files that need write access from WordPress should be writable by the webserver. Depending on your web hosting requirements, you may be requested to group writable files under a user account that is being used by the webserver process.
Keep plugins updated
It’s not a secret that an updated website is a secure website. It’s a simple and evident thing that many website owners neglect. Some are too busy with other things, so they just forget about the need to install the latest updates of WordPress core and all plugins that your site uses.
Whatever option you choose – getting your plugins automatically updated or installing updates manually – you will keep your site more resistant to vulnerability breaches by the end of the day, If you prefer installing updates manually, download the latest plugin version from its developer and upload it via FTP while overwriting the existing plugin in the /wp-content/plugins directory.
Enable automatic updates of WordPress Core
With so many people using WordPress, a large community of users interested in keeping the CMS safe and sound. An impressively big community of users are reporting on WordPress vulnerabilities, thus letting WordPress developers patch security holes rather fast and letting WordPress site owners prevent attacks while installing the latest updates. Still, if the update is not installed in time, a website becomes potentially vulnerable to attacks.
To prevent any sort of security breaches caused by the outdated WordPress Core, keep your site always up-to-date while adjusting the latest WordPress version to get automatically installed as soon as it’s released.
Adjust user roles
By adjusting user roles on your site, you can also restrict access to certain pages and functions that only a website owner or the admin can manage. It’s especially relevant for marketplaces and multi-user blogs, with dozens of users having the permission to reach your site’s dashboard. Ensure that each of them accesses your site using their own login credentials. Also, ensure they cannot access more functions than you allow. Don’t make a contributor to your blog the admin of your site.
Disable the WordPress API
WordPress API is a handy feature for web developers who want to integrate their own programs into the CMS. However, there are always two sides to a coin. WordPress API uses REST API, which bypasses the WordPress authentication system and the two-factor authentication. To prevent the risk of hackers reaching your site’s admin area, it’s better to disable WordPress API entirely.
Always run the latest WordPress version
Updating WordPress can be especially annoying when you want to continue using plugins that are not updated anymore, but they are vital for delivering better service to your customers. Still, running on the latest WordPress version is a must-do. Missing any of the latest updates means that your website gets more vulnerable to security breaches. Still, it’s up to you to decide on which WordPress version your site runs. If you want it to feature the latest tweaks and bug patches, running the latest version helps keep the core software of WordPress secure.
Saving backup versions of your WordPress site is a proven way to get it protected against any attacks. You never know when something goes wrong. You may write the wrong line of code and the whole structure of your site will be ruined. You may not notice a malware attack on your site, which might add the wrong content and features to your site’s pages. To get rid of the unnecessary changes and get your site up and running, you need to have a working WordPress backup version, which lets you restore your site if something bad happens.
When it comes to WordPress backups, ensure that it’s saved in a remote location. The best choice would be to storing it on a cloud service like Amazon or Dropbox. If you update your site daily, op[ting for real-time backups should be a good choice for you.
Hotlinking is another WordPress security issue that you should take care of. Although it seems to be a fast and convenient way of adding visuals to your site by simply inserting the URL address of the chosen picture, puts your server bandwidth at risk of slowing down your site.
What’s hotlinking? When you browse the web and find a picture you like posted on another website, you ask the website’s owners to add it to your web page. Doing so without a permit can lead to bad results because you are doing this illegally.
So, when you get permission, you can pull the URL address of the image and use it to place the photo in your post. The point is that the image is hosted on another site’s server, and you cannot control when it is removed from there.
Other people may do the same to your site. To avoid this from happening and prevent any sort of security issues, you’d better disable hotlinking on your site.
Limit login attempts
WordPress doesn’t set the limit of the number of login attempts to your site. The default settings put you at risk of facing brute force attacks since hackers can scammers can keep on choosing the right login credentials for as long as they need until they find the needed combination.
While setting the limit of login attempts, you can protect your site from hacking. Besides, you can set up email notifications to be alerted when something strange is happening. You can also block suspicious login attempts to lock scammers before they finish their attack.
Change the login page URL
Everyone who has worked with WordPress knows how the login page URL address is set by default. It’s just as simple as adding the /wp-admin to the end of your site’s URL. If an average user knows that, a hacker is aware of the same thing for 100%. So, the next WordPress security tip is to hide your site’s login page using a custom URL address. Think of a non-evident combination of words and numbers for the login page URL and share it with your colleagues who also work on your site.
Receive password breach notifications
The most secure website can still be hacked as a result of data breaches. A server or a service that your website is subscribed to may be hacked, which puts your own web resource at risk of security breaches. In such situations, the owner of the hacked website should inform you about the data breach to let you change login credentials and take all the needed steps for you and your team to protect your project from the possible WordPress security issues.
Install an SSL Certificate
An SSL Certificate installed to a web servicer is a sure-fire way to establish a secure connection between your site and your client. There are several types of SLL Certificates you can opt for:
- Single SSL Certificate is installed on a web servicer to confirm your site’s domain name identity. It encrypts data between the server and the visitors and guarantees the integrity of the transmitted data.
- Multi Domain SSL Certificate is used to secure multiple domain names.
- Wildcard SSL Certificate is installed to secure multiple sub-domains, like mydomain.com, my.mydomain.com, my1.mydomain.com, etc.
Idle users after a period of inactivity
After a certain period of inactivity, users should be logged out of your site. Your website’s dashboard gets more vulnerable when users walk away from their screen, and everything can happen. You never know where and in what conditions users access your site’s dashboard. It’s become trendy to work in public places like cafes and coworking spaces, so it’s always a wise move to idle users after their inactivity.
Don’t post content under the admin account
If you use WordPress for blogging purposes, ensure that you create separate contributor or editor accounts to work with content. As a rule, contributors and editors don’t have as many permissions as website administrators. That’s why it will be more difficult for hackers to attack your site.
Limit the number of plugins and themes
Installing too many plugins and themes can slow down your site and make it more vulnerable to security breaches. You should mind that simply deactivating the unnecessary plugins and themes is not enough. You should take care of removing them from your site entirely since the inactive themes and plugins can be still used for adding malicious code to your site.
Switch to HTTPS
WordPress has obliged all WordPress-based websites to have HTTPS to get a higher ranking in search engines. If you are still using HTTP, switch to HTTPS immediately! It’s a sure-fire way to protect your site from security breaches. HTTPS adds encryption to your connection, which will keep hackers away from your site when you transfer data between servers. It is also used to protect your website from hidden scripts on your PC and those that steal data from login forms.
How many of these steps are implemented on your website? How many are you still missing? When it comes to WordPress security, web developers should do all they can to avoid the risk of possible attacks. Forewarned is forearmed. Mind these tips to prevent WordPress security issues.