As a budding webmaster, I like checking my site analytics from time to time. Google Analytics (GA) provides relevant stats, which help in analyzing my WordPress site security. These include the number of monthly visitors, their countries of origin, and the pages they view. It also shows how much time they spent, which is also known as the bounce rate.
Telltale signs of website vulnerability
You probably know how challenging WordPress site security can be. Its popularity makes it a prime target for malicious hackers. It’s also prone to spam comments that may impact the user experience.
Although WordPress tries to make the platform as secure as possible, the bad guys also work overtime to compromise websites. Even the most secure websites still fall victim to cyber-attacks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take measures to prevent them.
Tips to improve your WordPress site security
Your WordPress site security budget might be relatively modest compared to companies with entire IT departments to secure their online properties. This calls for vigilance on your part. The following “common sense” tips will come in handy:
1. Have unique passwords
For purposes of simplicity, most people use the same, easy-to-guess password for several online accounts. While this is convenient, it makes it easier for malicious users to illegally access them. If your email or social media account is compromised for example, and you use the same password for your WordPress site, you could be locked out of it as well.
If you log into public computers, be sure to log out when you’re done. Clearing your browser history also makes it harder for anyone to retrace your online steps. Desist from using Wi-Fi networks whose credibility you’re not sure of.
2. Use a reputable web host
Settling for a cheap web host might lead to costly WordPress site security issues. Although pricing is a major consideration when analyzing hosting providers, you should place more emphasis on security features.
These include firewalls, malware detection and removal, DDoS prevention, access restriction, and timely software updates.
3. Add layers to login credentials
Such layers include two-factor authentication, CAPTCHA, and limited login attempts. Most hackers use brute force to “guess” or crack your username and password combinations. These security layers make it harder to do so.
I once received a text message asking me to “enter this code to access your account” (a membership website I’m subscribed to, not my WordPress site). On logging in to the email account I had signed up with, I was informed that someone from Bulgaria had attempted to access the site using my credentials.
They had gotten my username and password right, but could not input the correct code to access the site. What made it even more incredible is that two-factor authentication (2FA) on that particular sight is optional, and I’d added it only a month earlier. If I hadn’t taken this extra measure, the Bulgarian hacker would have accessed my account without my knowledge.
4. Always use authentic themes and plugins
Though some WordPress themes are pricey, the support you receive is totally worth it. Not only are they made by highly experienced developers, but they’re also thoroughly tested to remove bugs and other security flaws. We recommend elegant themes because of their affordable pricing, a wide variety of themes and plugins, and 24/7 customer support.
Some webmasters download cracked themes and plugins from torrent sites and other shady websites. As the old saying goes, there’s no free lunch. Some of the premium products that you’re offered “free” come loaded with trojans and other nasty malware.
The damage they cause might cost you more than what you stand to save by downloading illegally cracked extensions.
More advanced WordPress site security tips
Other than taking precautions, there are some solid freemium solutions that improve your WordPress site security. These include:
Install a WordPress security plugin
I have the free version of Wordfence installed on this website. You wouldn’t believe the number of potential attacks the plugin stops.
From the screenshot above, Wordfence stops tens of brute force attacks per day. The website is still relatively new but still gets subjected to thousands of attempts per month. The plugin also blocks several suspicious IPs.
Without this plugin I wouldn’t be aware of all these attacks, so I wouldn’t take any extra WordPress site security measures. Buying the premium version would be totally worth it because the free version is already impressive.
Other notable security plugins are Sucuri, iThemes Security, Anti-Malware Security, and All-in-one WordPress Security. Their biggest benefits are:
- Preventing the loss of website data and that of your users.
- Stopping malware infections on your website and users’ devices.
- They prevent hackers from taking over your website, changing login details, and locking you out completely.
Purchase an SSL certificate
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol that encrypts data transmission between your site and users’ browsers. Once enabled, your website address will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. A small padlock will also appear next to the address as a sign that it’s secure. Other than making it hard for bad actors to steal data, an SSL-secured website also boosts your Google rankings.
One setback is the high cost of SSL certificates, which is prohibitive for most newbie website owners. Although prices might be affordable depending on your web host, some still charge hundreds of dollars per year to install it.
Logout idle users
Some hackers can hijack the sessions of idle users especially if they access your website from public networks. Other than changing that user’s login credentials, they can use their account to identify vulnerabilities involving your WordPress site security. To avoid this, install a plugin that automatically logs out idle users after a specific amount of time. A good example is the Inactive Logout plugin.
If you implement the tips outlined in this article, your WordPress site security is bound to improve. Remember to stay vigilant, as bad actors are always probing your website’s defenses for weak points. Take any suggestions or notifications you receive from these cybersecurity solutions seriously, and promptly implement their suggestions. For more tips, follow sites such as wpbeginner.com, which is dedicated to helping WordPress webmasters.