WordPress is one of the most well-known content management systems in the world, thanks to its user-friendliness and versatility. That popularity comes at a cost, though – it also attracts the unwanted attention of criminals.
So the topic of WordPress security should be crucial to website administrators who use WordPress – which powers about 35% of websites on the internet. Web admins need to take a number of safety precautions to ensure their website and visitors stay protected. Follow this WordPress security checklist to get the basics covered.
WordPress Security is a Never-Ending Job
There’s no way to eliminate threats completely. Website security – and cybersecurity in general – is about reducing risk as much as possible. That means deploying multiple security methods and precautions to keep threats at bay.
The threats keep developing as criminals get more sophisticated. However, website admins need to make sure their protection methods stay current.
Checklist for Protecting a WordPress Site
1. Use Security Plugins
Plugins are one of the things that help make WordPress so versatile. There are thousands of security plugins for WordPress, and each comes with its own set of features. Sorting through them all would take too much time, so do some research to find the best ones.
Keep in mind that there are different kinds of security plugins and most websites need more than one to stay adequately protected. Vet each properly before installing it, though, because just like with apps on mobile phones, they can be fake or compromised. Take a look at user reviews, install base size, and the vendor’s terms of service before installing a theme or plugin.
2. Review WordPress Themes and Plugins Regularly
Plugins and themes can pose a threat to websites through bugs, thus opening websites up to exploitation. Developers also regularly abandon plugins and themes, making them obsolete and dangerous.
Set out a couple of times a year to review themes and plugins by checking whether they’re still supported and receive regular updates.
3. Manage WordPress Account Logins and User Permissions
Many attacks focus on admin accounts using standard methods like brute force attacks, credential stuffing, and password keylogger attacks. Always replace the default admin account and use unique usernames and passwords for each account. Also, make sure to have two-factor authentication enabled for all accounts.
If there are multiple accounts with access to the website, then use the principle of least privilege. Only grant access privileges to accounts based on the actions they need to perform and nothing more. This limits the number of things hackers have access to, should they gain entry through any one account.
4. Limit User Login Attempts
WordPress automatically allows an unlimited number of user logins, but that can be changed. Either use a plugin or a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to limit the number of logins per user. This prohibits hackers from gaining access to accounts through brute force or password spraying techniques.
5. Use a VPN When Logging Into the Site
While admins can take every precaution to secure their website, all of that is moot if their devices and network aren’t secure. Hackers will use any point of entry to work their way into the system, which means through an infected device or an unsecured network.
There are plenty of ways to add extra layers of security to devices, and that’s undeniably important but not the focus here. So make sure to consult cybersecurity resources and set up policies regarding device security. As for network security, VPNs are the way to go.
What is a VPN? It’s a tool that creates a safe and encrypted connection between your device and the destination on the web. This protects against man-in-the-middle and SSL stripping attacks, as well as against hackers identifying admins based on their IPs.
6. Keep WordPress, Themes, and Plugins Updated
Site administrators will be notified when new WordPress updates are available, and it’s essential to apply these as soon as possible. Updates usually contain important security patches for newly identified weak points or bugs.
WordPress updates can be set to download automatically, as they’re released. Automatic updates are ideal, as they can install instantly. The same goes for plugins and themes, though these might have to be checked and updated manually depending on the plugins and the setup.
7. Create WordPress Backups
Back up the website on a routine basis to ensure a stable version ready to go should something go wrong. This isn’t just in case of a cybersecurity emergency but is generally good practice too.
Keep in mind that, while this checklist covers all the basics, it isn’t a full WordPress security guide. WordPress admins should take care to consult WordPress security resources regularly to ensure their security habits stay up to date. This checklist can also be consulted now and then to make sure that all the essentials are still covered.