Security is of the utmost concern when it comes to online activities, especially for businesses. If your website gets hacked, cyber-criminals could disrupt your business. They also can gain access to confidential customer information that you are legally required to protect.
For this reason, it is imperative to find ways to secure your website against hacking. Utilizing WordPress for website creation might concern you since the nature of the program creates additional vulnerabilities. After all, it is open source.
This is a valid concern. On the one hand, hackers can access the source code and find ways to exploit weaknesses. On the other hand, so can anyone looking for ways to make the program more secure. It’s basically a wash, presenting a different, if not necessarily worse, set of security challenges.
What does this mean for you? Like any other website owner, you have the responsibility of taking all possible steps to protect your website from hackers. Therefore, the greater your security measures, the less of a target you’ll be. Here are several steps you can take to keep your WordPress website secure from hackers.
Adjust Admin Login
One of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to a website is by cracking passwords. We’ll talk more about password protections below. First, we need to discuss your administrative login. If it’s hacked, a cyber-criminal can be granted access to near total control of your website. That includes the ability to add, delete, or make changes.
In other words, you do not want this to happen. The easiest way to prevent it is to change your login and use a secure password. You’ll want to protect both the login page and the wp-admin directory.
For starters, don’t choose “admin” as your login name. This is notoriously common and often the very first login name hackers attempt to use. From there you need to select a strong password, rather than something like “password”, for example.
As for the login page, it’s best to change your URL to something different from the default assigned. If hackers know the exact URL, they can launch a brute force attack. By changing it you can make accessing your website much more difficult.
Lockdown and Notifications
Brute force attacks on login pages are among the most common ways in which hackers breach website defenses. Thus, additional precautions in this area will serve you well. One easy option is a lockdown function.
What this does is lock down your login page after a set number of failed attempts to log in from a specific IP address. Many websites allow, say, three attempts before the login screen locks. When this happens, notifications can be received to let you know that a hacking attempt is in progress.
There will certainly be false alarms when users simply forget a password. In such cases, you’ll want to provide instructions for regaining access. This is often done by sending a one-time code to the account email and requiring new password creation. However, this feature may also allow you to stop brute force attacks before they really begin.
Strong passwords are an important part of any website’s security. Users that fail to set strong passwords become weak links in your security chain. Luckily, you can do a lot to ensure strong password protection.
Start by requiring an email address as a login name. It’s longer than the average user name and harder to guess. From there, you must set high-security standards for passwords.
This starts with the number of characters required for passwords. Many websites require a minimum of eight characters. However, passwords with twelve or more characters are now recommended. Some experts say requiring up to twenty characters is preferable for ideal security.
Other password features you should require include using both uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. This makes passwords much harder to guess. You may also want to prompt users to create new passwords regularly.
Finally, you should set up 2-step authentication measures. One way to do this is with personalized security questions. Require the user to answer them after entering a correct login name and password. You can also use an authenticator that sends out rotating, random codes to user devices. Generally, users must sign up and download the authenticator app to a device, computer, or smartphone.
Use secure data transfer between users and your website. Doing so ensures that transmissions containing confidential data, such as login information, aren’t intercepted by hackers. It’s easy to get a SSL certificate that provides you with this encryption. You’ll find that many web hosts offer it, or you can purchase it independently. With browsers moving to restrict or block access to websites without SSL in the near future, you’re going to need this soon anyway.
Monitoring and Maintenance
Keeping tabs on your website helps you spot issues like downtime. However, it also receives notification when unusual or unauthorized activities occur. This may give you time to lockdown your website in order to prevent a hack in progress.
You should also make sure your website, themes, plugins, and such are updated regularly. WordPress products experience more updates than the average software program. If you want to make sure you have the latest protections, bug fixes, and so on, regular maintenance is necessary.
Regardless of the current protection you have in place, there is always a possibility that a smart and dedicated hacker could find a way to breach your defenses. There’s little you can do about stolen data. Once it is accessed, you can’t undo the damage.
However, hackers can also wreak havoc on your website by corrupting or simply deleting files. Should the worst occur, you must be prepared for recovery.
With regular off-site backups, you’ll have a recent save point to revert to. This means you can simply swap in the latest save point. It adjusts security to prevent another hack, and gets your website back up and running.
Use the Right Tools
Do not fear that you have to tackle all of these security measures alone. You’ll be happy to know that WordPress offers a slew of tools designed to help you secure your website. iThemes Security is a good place to start. Additionally, there are dozens of other security plugins available through WordPress. Just visit https://wordpress.org/plugins/ to see what’s available and begin researching the best options for your website.
You can do it!