How to Secure WordPress Before it's Too Late: A Complete Guide to WordPress Security

How to Secure WordPress Before it's Too Late

With more than half of the internet powered by WordPress, security is a big concern. In fact, if you're running a site powered by WordPress, you need to make sure that your site is secure against malicious attacks. The following tips will help you keep your blog or website safe from hackers.

1. Protect your login and password

Your username and password are the keys to your account. It is important to protect them. You should never share your login information with anyone, and if you have any reason to believe that your login information has been compromised you should change it immediately.

To help you keep your account secure from identity theft, take a few precautions:

1. Don’t share your username and password with anyone. 2. Change your username and password regularly. 3. Don’t share your username or password with anyone who is not you, your guide will tell you which services and programs you can use to generate a secure password for you.

Stateful firewall software prevents hackers from logging in to your site, executing certain subroutines, and accessing your server. The most common and effective firewall software for websites is WAF (Web Application Firewall).

You can buy a firewall that guarantees your website is secure, such as the NordVPN firewall. However, you should never take this precautionary step without testing it first. Otherwise, a once-only security update can potentially turn into a permanent security hole.

If you are using the Tor browser, you can install Tails to make accessing your site even safer.

A website’s security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. This is why it is important to keep your site updated with the latest security patches.

If you suspect that a critical operating system security vulnerability has been recently patched, you should immediately patch your website. Keep in mind, however, that security patches may impact your site’s performance in some cases.

A critical vulnerability on your site could allow a hacker to take control of your account or your server — all because you didn’t patch it.

When it comes to downloading and applying patches, don’t just trust the security firm’s website. Before you download any patch make sure you have read through the security advisory carefully.

2. Keep WordPress updated

If you're using WordPress, you need to make sure you're keeping it updated. Out of date software is vulnerable to hackers and cyber attacks so make sure you're always running the latest version. If you're running a business site, you want to make sure you're keeping it updated with the latest security upgrades.

Tip: If you had an active theme when you added it to your site, chances are you can safely remove it.

This is another preventive security measure that basically blocks a specific URL. Instead of going through the trouble of adding suspicious URL patterns, you can use a plugin that detects potentially dangerous patterns and blocks them.

For instance, if you have a nearly-100% open rate on your blog posts, the risk is negligible since it’s unlikely the URL would host a dangerous site. Instead, it’s better to use a dynamically-generated URL filter.

On WordPress, head over to “Settings” and then “Plugins” > “WordPress Security Scanner.” Now, you can choose a URL filter to quickly block risky URL patterns. For instance, if you want to keep your blog safe from spammers, you can use your domain name checker plugin to detect spammy domain names. The use of an URL filter and therefore URL blocks is very common if you have more than a few concurrent visitors.

You can use a tool like DoSandbox to clean up your blog and stop hackers from potentially accessing sensitive information.

A popular tool to prevent hacking is the Content Integrity Policy. This plugin applies a mark of trust to any page which you upload onto your blog. Any page detected as containing a malicious script will be flagged alongside the URL.

Once you start to train your customers not to give your website their login credentials, the likelihood of someone else accessing it goes down significantly. Fortunately, it’s easy to do. First, apply a Two-factor authentication to every logged-in account.

3. Make your blog difficult to access

If you’re trying to build a loyal audience, make it difficult for people to find your blog. If you have your blog on your own website, you can use a plugin to hide it from search engines and only display it to people who know the URL. This is called the robots.txt file.

WordPress has its own version of this, called the wp-header.php file. Anything in this file is only accessible by WordPress-powered websites. If you add a line of code to your wp-header.php file to not show something to search engines, there’s a good chance that most people won’t even know you had a site at all, much less care.

There’s another popular solution for hiding your blog from search engines. This is by adding a particular tag to your page content. The best place to do this is in the head section of your page, just below your content.

By default, people with WordPress blog sites will only see posts from their own site. You can see your posts from other blogs by adding the following code to your wp-config.php file:

Typically, if you create a directory named after your blog in your WordPress installation, you’ll be able to see all your posts from other sites there. But not if your setup is in a root directory. Thankfully, there’s a way around this that I like to call “downsizing” your blog.

Just by moving your posts into a directory that starts with your blog name, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Site Macros are essentially short code snippets that will automate actions within your WordPress installation based on certain conditions. So, if you want to guarantee that only your blog gets rendered in search engines, you can use a Site Macro that tells WordPress (not search engines) to only index posts from your blog.

There are many ways to accomplish this, but my favorite is using the Yoast SEO plugin. Once you install Yoast by downloading it, you’ll see a popup in your WordPress dashboard.

4. Back up your data regularly, and keep backups secure

You never know when you’re going to lose your data. Whether it’s a fire, a flood, or an internal power outage, you need to have a plan in place for when disaster strikes. Save your data to the cloud by using the cloud-based service Google Drive, which offers storage up to 15 GB for free.

Most people know that the biggest security risk when it comes to your website happens inside your domain name. That’s because your website sits inside of someone else’s computer name, such as wp-content/theintercept.com. Websites have to choose how much we care about our own safety and the security of our server, so we tend to give more resources to things like SSL encryption. These security features use already-existing keys that code-sign your site to verify that it came from the web domain itself. This is a security measure that helps protect you from someone who gets your website with a fake web address and tries to access it.

However, this security measure does come with a cost. It’s up to you to decide what you’ll and won’t do for your site’s SSL certification. If you only care about security, and you don’t mind spending a little extra time on your site to get it certified, you can select a lower-level option that doesn’t include encryption.

But if you do want to take extra safety steps, and you want to keep your key safe and free, you can head down the just-in-case rabbit hole of using a self-signed SSL certificate. The doctor put it in the medicine cabinet, and it’s time to pop it open and see what’s inside.

To create a self-signed certificate, we open up a site’s root folder (not a subfolder, including. htaccess) and navigate into the file menu. From there, we select “Add Certificate…” in the menu, and we’ll have the option to select the type of certificate we want to create. Of course, we’re not restricted to just.com,.net, or.org — you could even choose.de for Germany. Below that is our certificate options.

5. Use strong passwords

Passwords, also known as passphrases, are words or phrases used to authenticate your identity to a system. The problem with most people is that they use the same password for different websites and applications. A hacker could get access to one of your accounts and then use it to access other accounts. When you use passwords, you don’t need to remember them — all you need to remember is what it is to access a specific system. Even if you use a unique password for everything on a website, you should still include a common username that anyone who has access to your WordPress blog can use to log in. This way, it’s more difficult for a single individual or hacker to browse your entire website.

Many CMS, like WordPress, allow you to create a username and password. However, by using a short code, you can save yourself from having to create a long password.

The shortcode is an HTML tag that can be used in place of an HTML tag. The purpose of a shortcode is to store a portion of the WordPress CMS's code. This means that when you add shortcode tags to your blog post, they are automatically applied to all of your post types instead of just your main post.

To add a shortcode to your page, simply copy and paste the code into your source editor. Now, you can add as many shortcodes as you like within your post.

This is how shortcode codes work:

Shortcodes make your code look more organized. Notice how using this shortcode automatically applies the shortcode to all of your post types instead of just your main post. This makes it more difficult for a hacker/someone with administrator access to browse your entire blog.

To create the code, you need two things:

WordPress core. If you use another CMS, you may not need to install WordPress core. That’s because most CMS also have their own user database. By default, WordPress uses your MySQL database as a data source.

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