Hardening WordPress: Preventing WordPress Hacks
The reason behind many hacked WordPress websites is that site administrators fail to take any basic preventative action until it’s too late. Then comes the process of fixing a hacked site, costing time and money. You can lose customers, and the security breach can even impact your organic Google ranking.
You need to approach your website’s security proactively because by the time you notice that something’s gone wrong, it’s too late. Avoid any inconvenience and spare yourself some energy and money by taking measures to prevent a cyber attack.
There are multiple ways to prevent or deter hackers. You have to target any vulnerabilities and take the necessary steps to get them in good shape. To get started, you don't need any prior security knowledge, just some basic familiarity with WordPress.
Take a holistic approach to account security by keeping not only your WordPress Core secure but all other related accounts secure such as your host and PHP or database. We recommend adopting the following methods to keep your WordPress core secure.
WordPress comes with the default user 'admin'. By keeping this, you are making a hacker's life 50% easier. After all, a username makes up half the WordPress login page credentials, for this reason, we advise you avoid the username 'admin'. To remove admin and create a new administrator following these steps:
From your WordPress admin panel locate Users and click Add New. Enter a new user with Administrator role making sure you choose a strong password using the password generator.
Finalize by logging out of WordPress and log back in with your new user. From the Admin panel, go to User and remove the user 'admin'.
If the account admin has existing posts, assign the attributes and links on to the newly created user.
You might think a safe password is just something memorable with numbers, but realistically, a strong password consists of more than 12 characters combining numbers and upper and lower case letter. We recommend using a password generator tool to create a strong password for your WordPress accounts, and anything else related to your site, such as your email, domain registrar or cPanel. A hacker could do a lot of damage if they got access to any of these. For this reason, avoid using the same logins for each of your online accounts. We recommend using LastPass to manage your passwords. This is a helpful application that generates strong passwords and manages multiple login credentials.
Limit access to your site by granting user roles relevant to the task of the person working on your website. This is crucial if you have multiple people working on your site. Create individual login credentials appropriate to the work each person is doing, from the contributors to the authors, editors, and developers.
The administrator role has many rights; don't assign it to someone unless they definitely needs access to the full scope of the Admin roles functions.
Brute Force attacks can be a problem even if you're not using the default admin and have a strong password set up. To address this, use Two-Factor Authentication. It’s the standard today for enhanced security to gain access, Gmail, and Paypal users will be familiar with how this works, and you can add it to your WordPress as well using the Google Authenticator plugin.
The concept of Least Privileged is giving people WordPress permissions based on what they need access to, when they need it, and for how long. If they need admin access momentarily for a configuration change, grant it, and remove it once it's resolved. Assigning people the appropriate levels of access reduce your security risk exponentially.
Add a security question to your WordPress login screen using the WP Security Questions plugin to make unauthorized access even harder.
Limit Login Attempts - By default, WordPress lets users attempt to log in as many times as they want which again leaves sites powered by this software vulnerable to brute force attacks as hackers can try multiple combinations to crack your password. Fix this by limiting the failed login attempts a user can make.
Firewalls are a great defense against external attacks but require a bit of work. Firewall plugins shield your site from all incoming traffic, monitoring traffic and blocking common security threats before they reach your site. Deploying one of the best ways to stay ahead of emerging threats used in tandem with a wider security framework. There are two common types of firewall, Cloud-based firewalls, and end point.
DNS Level Firewalls are the superior of the two. They route your site traffic through their cloud proxy servers ensuring only genuine traffic reach your site. On the other hand, an Application Firewall is triggered after it reaches your server, before your website loads. It’s not the most efficient way to block bad traffic and not as efficient as a DNS level firewall in reducing server load.
Consider Wordfence for a basic free application level firewall. Another useful firewall service is Sucuri, the leading premium WordPress security company. It offers everything from DNS Level Firewall and other prevention services including intrusion and brute force as well as malware and blacklist removal. Sucuri also employs tactics to improve your website’s performance by reducing server load, all easily accessible from one plugin. Setting up is straightforward, you need to add a DNS A record to your domain and direct it to the Sucuri cloud proxy instead of your website.
Update WordPress to the latest version
Updating WordPress to the latest version should be a matter of course. Make sure your WordPress core files are updated with the latest release to keep your site safe from outside interference.
WordPress notifies users in their Dash when a new version is released. You can also subscribe to the WordPress Releases RSS feed for this information. There are also plugins available which keep your site automatically up to date. Aside from the software, be vigilant with your themes and plugins. Be careful to deactivate and remove unused themes and plugins. They can pose a security risk since they will eventually get outdated making them vulnerable, so as a rule of thumb, if you're not using it, delete it.
Secure Plugins and Themes
The popularity of WordPress means there’s an expanse of plugins — each one having the potential to open up additional vulnerabilities. It's best to stick to trusted plugins and themes from the WordPress repository or well-known companies to avoid future problems. Reputable theme providers and plugin developers are more likely to take a proactive approach to security, for example, many of the top WordPress plugin or theme developers are audited by a third-party before release.
When you install a WordPress security plugin, you're granting it access to your WordPress files, directories, and database. You can't limit this access which is why it's important to understand what a plugin will be accessing. To get this information read the plugin documentation and reviews to check its reputation. Once you're satisfied, you can grant a plugin access to your system by installing it.
WordPress users often don’t realize the importance of backups and website security until it's too late and their website is hacked. If you back up regularly, you can quickly restore your WordPress site should a problem arise. This makes them an important line of defense against cyber attacks. To be on the safe side, make regular backups to a remote location (not your hosting account) such as a cloud service.
There are several ways to backup your site. Most decent hosting providers run automated backups. To be on the safe side, check when you sign up. There’s also an abundance of backup plugins to get the job done such as VaultPress and BackupBuddy. These plugins are reliable and most importantly, easy to use.
Secure WordPress hosting
Your host plays an important role in the security of your site. Many WordPress hosting solutions offer proactive security measures such as blocking an IP address after a given number of failed login attempts, automatic backups and updates and advanced security configurations. If you want to take the worry out of keeping your site secure, you need look no further than EasyWP to cover your WordPress hosting and security needs.