If there’s one thing that all advanced WordPress users agree on, it’s this: most webmasters don’t take website security and maintenance anywhere near seriously enough.
5 steps to increase your WordPress site security
That’s right: Too many WordPress users take a reactive approach to security and maintenance. It’s something they only care about when something goes wrong. By that point, though, it’s often too late.
It isn’t hard to understand why this happens: many view website security and maintenance as a chore. If you’ve spent days, weeks, and months building your website, though, isn’t that time and effort worth proactively protecting?
I hope you answered that question with a resounding “Yes!,” as today I want to help get you started with the basics of WordPress security and maintenance, with five beginner-friendly strategies that you should all be implementing.
1. Backing Up Your Website
I’ve been using WordPress for a number of years now, and if I had to give one piece of advice to new users it would be this: Things go wrong. And when disaster strikes, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache if you’ve backed up your website.
That’s right: creating backups of your website should be the number one priority. It’s the difference between losing months of hard work and being able to restore your website in a matter of minutes.
With so many competitively priced plugins and services out there, failing to backup your website just isn’t worth the risk. WordPress Backup and Clone Master plugin immediately spring to mind, but there are quite a few others worth looking at.
2. Installing Updates
You might think that the WordPress core, plugins, and themes are updated to add shiny new features. This is true to some extent, but most updates are primarily for patching up known security vulnerabilities.
Fortunately, WordPress is super-easy to update. Unfortunately, however, sometimes updates can cause compatibility problems which cause your website to break.
Quick Tip: set up a staging environment so that you can test out major site updates in a safe way. If the updates cause no issues in the staging environment, they’re safe to install on your main website.
To create a staging environment, simply clone your main website and put it on a subdomain. This can be achieved using the aforementioned WordPress Backup and Clone Master plugin.
3. Install a Security Plugin
Most webmasters don’t take website security anywhere near seriously enough. Don’t fall into that trap yourself: install a dedicated WordPress security plugin on your website.
Here’s a few more featured WordPress security plugins:
- WordPress File Download Manager
- Opt-In Content Locker for WordPress
- Swift Security Bundle – Hide WordPress, Firewall, Code Scanner
4. Hide WordPress
A quick scan through your website’s source files is often enough to identify where your website is weak. This is definitely not information you want falling into the hands of the bad guys, but unfortunately it’s readily available for those who know where to look.
For example, it’s relatively easy to find out which version of WordPress you’re using. Remember what we said about most updates being primarily concerned with patching up known problems? Well, if you’re not on the latest version, then I know that there are unpatched problems on your website. Worse still, it’s possible to find information on how to exploit the problems associated with earlier versions.
One of the best ways to protect yourself against this is by using the Hide My WP plugin. The plugin removes all traces of WordPress from your website’s source code – including changing folder names for themes and plugins. This makes it far more difficult for hackers to identify vulnerabilities in your site’s source code.
5. Prevent Brute Force Attacks
Brute force attacks are the most common form of website security breach – it happens when attackers successfully guess your login credentials by guessing different combinations of username and passwords.
There are three main ways you can protect yourself from brute force attacks:
- Use a secure username – most users choose a really obvious, unsecure username like ‘admin’.
- Use a secure password – the more complex your password, the more difficult it is to crack. Use the free Strong Password Generator tool for help creating (almost) unhackable passwords.
- Hide your login page – if the attackers can’t find your wp-login page, they can’t access your website. You can move your WordPress login page using the Hide My WP plugin.
A few minutes for invaluable security
Do you take your website’s security and maintenance seriously enough? This is important stuff, so if not, why not start today?
The five tips included in today’s post are all beginner-friendly and should take no more than a few minutes each month to implement. That’s right: it only takes a few minutes to ensure your website is healthy and running optimally.
Featured image: Gudella. This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for 2017.