How To Prevent My WordPress Site From Being Hacked
Bmoozd • Website Security Tips
Protecting Your Site on WordPress
How To Prevent My WordPress Site From Being Hacked
Whether it be lost pages, deleted plug-ins, or even a ransomware hijacking – dealing with a hacked website can be a costly and lengthy procedure, particularly for smaller companies or organisations without thousands of pounds to spare.
So, for those who can’t afford or bare to undergo the ordeal of an attack, perhaps on a monthly basis, the following tips were designed with you in mind. Below you’ll find our recommendations for the five ways in which you as a WordPress based site owner can prevent your WordPress site from being hacked – hopefully foregoing unneeded stress of a cyber-attack.
What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
With Experian estimating that personal information can go for as much as £18 per person on the Black Market, we understand as well as you do that strong security for sites which handle sensitive details is a must have – and with WordPress, much of this is fairly straight-forward.
From stolen credit card information, to emails or even addresses, securing your client’s sensitive information is key for an industry in which cyber-attacks are on the rise.
So, let’s say you, as a new or even an experienced website owner, were trying to go about protecting yourself from cyber-attacks. Aside from having created a great online experience for your clients (which can buy you their patience if all else fails) you as a website owner could do the following things to protect both them and yourself from cyberattacks:
1. Don’t Skimp on Good Quality Web Hosting
First off, quality is everything – and Premium Web Hosting is no exception. What may at first seem like a good deal may later turn out to be a nightmare with cheaper web hosting often leaving you vulnerable and exposed to attacks from hackers who are used to exploiting weaker systems.
What we think you’ll need are ‘Premium providers’ which, aside from their inbuilt security measures and 24/7 backup support, can be tailored to WordPress sites just like yours, ensuring maximum protection.
What’s more, switching to a better hosting provider gives you the added benefits of:
- Malware Scanning – protecting your site with comprehensive scanning and Virus removal, which can be deployed at a moment’s notice
- Attack Protection – anyone caught posting on your site or associated sites using an ‘XMLRPC’ system will be immediately flagged and blocked by security to prevent breaches
- Disk Write Protection – only changes which preserve the safety of your WordPress files will be permitted on the web server, even by authorized members
- Upload Security – as a WordPress user, storing your files using the highly secure Media Library will help that bit more to keep hackers out and your security as tight as possible
2. Have a Secure Username and Password
As a Website owner, your WordPress login page acts as the first line of defence against your site and would-be hackers. Therefore, in order to prevent the use of ‘Brute Force Attacks’, in which particular malicious software is used to guess your username and password, it’s best to have complex and unique login details.
We found that, for example, usernames including ‘admin’ or something thereabouts are typically be found at the top of the list of usernames on these ‘Brute Force’ programmes. A unique username including a complex combination of words and numbers is often your best shot at keeping hackers out – better still, it’s also the easiest way.
The same goes for your password. Just as your username can be subject to attacks, hackers use similar technology to root out short or weak passwords.
Rather than going with the usual ‘abc123’ or ‘apples’, we’d recommend that you try using a password generator, many of which utilise five or more words in random sequences. This way the password will be totally unique and generally immune to the same attacks a shorter one would be.
Why is this important? Well, should hackers be able to bypass the login security and get into your site, they typically install code into files containing your WordPress themes or plugins – allowing them to remotely control your files and website.
Once they’re that far, there would be very little between them and deleting pages or posts, disabling your site in a ransomware attack, or even installing malicious tracking software endangering you and your clients.
3. Don’t Forget About Plugins
As a WordPress user, you come to rely on plugins to perform the bulk of your simple tasks. As a result of their importance, patches and updates are released around each month both by WordPress and individual developers.
Ignoring these crucial updates will almost certainly leave you open to hackers who, using sophisticated scanning technology, can detect plugins which could act as launch-pads into your website. Avoiding is easy, simply update all of your plugins as advised by WordPress – this should be easy to remember as patches generally come out each month.
Simpler still, you can do this by accessing the WordPress dashboard and deleting any themes or plugins which you no longer use. This way, there will be less of a chance that hackers can exploit their outdated coding to gain access to your site. Yet another way to prevent your WordPress site from being hacked.
4. Consider a Firewall
Investing in a security plugin or other firewall software may come to save you a great deal of money in the long term.
Essentially, firewall software can be deployed by web-owners in order to identify and block potentially malicious activity from even getting to your website thereby foregoing the need for any of the previous tips.
Why is this important? Well, in our experience, as your site grows, so do the potential security threats. The more traffic which travels through your website the more attractive you instantly become to hackers, who look to capitalize on the lucrative information black market by stealing it from weak sites.
Because of this, you should consider investing in a security plugin designed specifically to monitor malicious activity on WordPress sites. With this piece of software, potentially malicious behavior or unusual activity will be immediately flagged for your attention and blocked automatically.
More than that, we’ve found that investing in a Firewall will help your site in the following ways:
- Virtual WordPress security
- Real-time preventative measures
- Extra login security to prevent ‘Brute-Force’ attacks
- DDoS mitigation
5. Daily Backups
In the worst-case scenario (all else having failed) and you do happen to fall victim to a cyber-attack, the last thing you want to do is have to start completely from scratch. Rebuilding a broken site is costly and, if you haven’t learned from your mistakes, is only asking for more trouble
That’s exactly why backing up your files on a daily basis will give you that extra peace-of-mind – allowing you to restore your site and files to how they were before any attack ever took place
Indeed, start by focusing on the following, the most crucial elements of your site:
- Theme and Plugins – which controls the feel and functionality of your site
- Uploads – all of your files which have been stored on your site
- Database – which acts as the regulatory and logistical hub of your site
Something to note with regards to Plugins and Themes is that in our experience, when you come to update or install new ones, there is always a risk that something can go wrong. Because of this risk, it’s always best to back up again before attempting an update.
Where would you back up to? Well, we’d advise that you secure your files on a different platform, something completely separate from WordPress – which would hopefully remain unaffected by cyber-attacks.
Alternatively, why not automate your backups? This, in our experience, makes the whole process considerably easier.
In Short, What Can You Do As a Website Owner
Remember, hackers will always find a way onto your site – particularly if your security isn’t as good as it could be – so these five tips are crucial in you and your clients online safety. In summary, remember that:
- You get what you pay for with Web Hosting, if you decide to spend just that extra bit for a premium service, you’ll thank yourself for it later.
- Having secure and unique login details, both username and passwords, should forgo any of the pain of having your website attacked by ‘Brute Force’ software.
- Make sure to get rid of old or unused Plugins, anything that a hacker could use to compromise you and your site.
- Firewalls are a great investment, making sure that suspicious or potentially malicious activity doesn’t get onto your site in the first place.
- Setting daily backups of your site and your files, particularly with off-site and reputable cloud services, will help you in the event all else fails.