7 Ways to Ensure Your WordPress Site’s Cybersecurity

KEY TAKEAWAYS

WordPress hacks are on the rise, but with a vigilant eye, proper monitoring and efficient security upkeep, you can keep your website from suffering a breach.

Did you know that more than 455 million websites utilize WordPress? This means an impressive 35% of the world’s website market share goes to the web hosting giant. At least 400 million people access WordPress websites every month. As such, you can see why there is an increasing need to make your WordPress site as secure against cyberthreats as possible.

It may not be among the 50 leading SaaS companies, however, WordPress is one of the world’s most popular content management systems (CMS). But what’s the point of using an excellent CMS if the content is vulnerable to cyberattacks?

Indeed, in 2018, WordPress accounted for 90% of all hacked CMS websites. However, a mere 2% of the data breaches were due to a weak spot in WordPress’s core security. In other words, it was users who exposed their sites to threats in diverse ways, usually through vulnerable plugins.

If you’re using a WordPress-powered website, it’s safe to assume that the last thing you want is to find your site amidst the chaos of a cyberattack. Therefore, with the ever-increasing threats on the web today, security is an important consideration for your website project.

We’ve compiled a list of seven of the best strategies and practices to keep your WordPress website secure. Keep reading to learn how to protect your site and data.

Keep Your WordPress Website Secure: 7 Tips You Should Know

Right off the bat, here are some hacks (pun intended) that you can use to boost the security level on your WordPress website.

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1. Choose a Secure WordPress Host

Choosing a secure WordPress host is one of the significant risk management considerations for your project. Your WordPress host plays a major role in the security of your website, therefore, you cannot afford to pick just any hosting provider. You need to choose one that provides several layers of server-level security.

You shouldn’t rush into picking a WordPress host. Instead, take your time to explore your options. Of course, you also want to avoid suspiciously cheap hosting providers. After all, if they’re offering their services at comparatively lower prices, it’s usually indicative of hidden issues. It’s also not a wise idea to try to host your WordPress website on a personal VPS, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. A better option is to find a host that can effectively address security incidents — i.e., a website hosting service you can trust.

By subscribing to the services of a top-notch hosting company, you can be sure of comprehensive security for your website. You can also explore the various levels of periodic remote support that these hosting providers offer.

Typically, a WordPress host that performs malware scans every day and offers 24-hour support is best. Most 24-hour support providers use an automatic call distributor to stay on top of their client’s calls, so check that your potential WordPress host offers around-the-clock assistance.

2. Always Update Your PHP Version

The Hypertext Preprocessor, or PHP, is an integral part of your WordPress website. You must always use the latest version on your site server.

Typically, each PHP release stays fully supported for approximately two years before it gets an upgrade. Of course, there may be periodic fixes and patches on any security issues the developer notices during those two years.

Today, the most recent version of PHP is PHP 7.4. However, PHP.net still supports versions 7.2 and 7.3. In other words, WordPress owners still running PHP 7.1 or lower are at a higher risk of cyberattacks (Also Read: PHP 101).

According to WordPress stats, a startling 32% of its users are running their websites with a PHP that is obsolete. It’s scary to think of the sorts of cybersecurity breaches they expose their sites to every day. Granted, it takes business and website owners some time to test their code’s compatibility with new PHP versions, but that’s no excuse to operate a website without the necessary security support.

Building a responsive website is more than just the design template. Aside from the issue of security, running an outdated PHP version can adversely impact your website’s performance and efficiency. It’s always the best policy to use the latest PHP version for your WordPress website. If you’re not sure about what to do here, communications platform as a service (CPaaS) solutions make it easier to get the help you need from service providers.

3. Use Secure Passwords

While this tip can sound condescending and a bit like a broken record, it will surprise you just how much people neglect to use secure passwords.

According to SplashData, the most popular password throughout the year 2018 was ‘123456.’ If that doesn’t shock you, the next on the list was — wait for it — ‘password.’

Of course, you don’t need a web developer to tell you such passwords make WordPress sites an easy pick for hackers. This is why mobile device management (MDM) is important for most projects. It means you’ll have a dedicated device and team working to help secure your device. If you need help picking a secure password for your website, you can reach out to a digital customer service for help. If you’re wondering what digital customer service is, it’s a system that provides solutions to your queries via digital platforms such as texts, chat messaging and social media, rather than using a VoIP phone system.

Using a creative and generally hard-to-guess password is the best practice for anyone trying to protect a digital system. A secure password is one of the surest ways to toughen up your WordPress website against possible hacks, however, many people complain that when they make their password very hard to guess, they forget it themselves. Well, there are several solutions to this; you can keep your WordPress password in an encrypted database on your PC, or you can use online password managers. This keeps your passwords safe in cloud storage.

Whichever choice you make, ensure that the password for your WordPress website is safe and — most importantly — unique (Also Read: Choosing a Password Manager for Business: 8 Features to Look For).

4. Use Two-Factor Authentication on Your WordPress Website

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is an extra layer of web security that requires users to use two different means of authentication to verify their identity. In most cases, this includes a code sent to the user’s phone or email address, or a secret, personal question.

Using a two-factor authentication process on your WordPress website is an effective way to reinforce its security. It is also useful for things like secure file sharing, too. The best part is you get to choose which two authentication modules you use.

Many people choose to use Google’s Authenticator app, which sends a unique code as text onto their phone. Of course, the app ensures that you are the only one that can receive such texts.

 

5. Only Install Secure Plugins

One of the top design trends of WordPress websites includes installing plugins that help users boost their web activities and stand out from the crowd. However, this freedom can sometimes be a security lapse in itself.

According to Wordfence, in 2016, vulnerable plugins accounted for nearly 60% of WordPress users’ data breaches. So, you see, running your website with a plugin that does not have verified security may put your site at risk. As such, it’s best only to install secure and trusted plugins on your website.

If you’re wondering how to make sure of this, looking in the ‘popular’ or ‘featured’ categories on the WordPress platform or downloading directly from the developer are ways to start. Always check the fine print to ensure they have concrete security policies.

Some plugins even offer users access to automated database backup, malware scanners and built-in firewalls. This is undoubtedly an excellent sign to watch for. Even after installing secure plugins, you should always keep them up-to-date. Not downloading the latest bug fixes, security updates and version upgrades can put you plugins at risk and create gateways for hackers.

6. Put a Limit on the Number of Login Attempts

By default, there is no maximum number of times you can try to log into your WordPress account. This means if you forget your password, you can keep trying without the site locking you out. While this may seem like an upside if you’re prone to forgetting passwords, it puts your WordPress website at risk.

You see, hackers are aware of this loophole, too, and they exploit it. Most times, they compile a list of popular usernames and passwords alongside stolen or bought user data. Then, they visit WordPress websites and use bots to attempt hundreds of username and password combinations in less than a minute. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. This form of hacking is known as a brute force attack.

 

However, if you set a limit on the number of login attempts on your website, you can discourage — if not eliminate — such cyberattacks. For instance, if you set your maximum attempt to three, after this number, the site locks out that user (or bot) for a specific duration.

7. Encrypt Your Website Data With SSL

Finally, one of the best ways to secure your WordPress website is to add a secure socket layer (SSL). Adding an SSL certificate to your website ensures that data transfers between your server and its visitors have encryption. It also switches your website from HTTP to HTTPS. If you’re looking to improve ecommerce strategies, then an SSL certificate is a must-have.

You see, with HTTP sites, hackers can use a man-in-the-middle attack to view data that visitors to your website transmit to the server, resulting in data breaches and other cyberattack consequences. With an HTTPS website, all site and data traffic is encrypted, so no one else can see it.

Thankfully, acquiring an SSL certificate is a relatively straightforward process. All you have to do is purchase it from a Certificate Authority and install it on your WordPress website. Then configure your website address to show the HTTPS prefix. Through the right cloud-based call center software, Certificate Authorities can assist you with the purchase and eventual installation. If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, you should get one immediately!

Staying Ahead of the Cyberbullies

There is no doubt that cyberattacks on WordPress websites are on the rise, but with the available technological resources and the right tips, you can keep your website from suffering a breach. We’ve already given you some great insights into how to safeguard your WordPress site’s cybersecurity, now all you have to do is apply them in practice.

You can find more information on the different types of security incidents you might face by reading this post from Auditboard.

However, remember that despite having security strategies in place, you still need to keep a vigilant eye out for unusual activity on your site. Proper monitoring, along with efficient security upkeep, will help to keep your site secure (Also Read: 7 Sneaky Ways Hackers Can Get Your Facebook Password).

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Jenna Bunnell
Senior Manager

Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways.