A 10-Point Guide For Improving WordPress Site Security

How can you improve the overall security of your website to prevent security issues? 

We have compiled a 10-point guide for WordPress site owners that can make life harder for even the best of cyber-criminals.

What are these 10 measures? Keep reading.

1. Opt for a Safe WordPress Hosting Plan and Company

Be it a WordPress or non-WordPress website, the web hosting plan and infrastructure are the backbone of your website. Choosing the right hosting plan and service provider can influence the overall security of your website. Shared hosting plans are quite popular and cost-effective but can pose security-related risks to hosted websites.

On the other hand, managed hosting and Virtual Private Services (VPS) hosting are comparatively costlier than shared hosts. However, these hosting plans offer enhanced security services and reliable customer support. 

How to implement this:

Enquire with your current or prospective web hosting company about the security features provided in the hosting package. Is WordPress security an integral part of their package, or do you need to pay extra for these services?

If your hosting company does not offer adequate security features, it’s advisable to move your website to a more secure web hosting company. See below for our hosting option. 

2. Update the WordPress Version and Plugins/Themes 

This is a common and consistent problem among WordPress websites. Even though WordPress updates are free, site owners do not regularly download and apply them to their installations. Why are WordPress updates necessary? The latest versions often contain fixes to security bugs that were detected in the previous versions. Installing them can take care of this security issue.

Apart from the core WordPress, WordPress plugins and themes also need to be regularly updated to their latest versions. At the same time, ensure you only install high-quality plugins/themes from trusted sources that are safe and reliable. Always read the reviews and check their ratings. 

How to implement this:

Most WordPress releases and updates are available for download frequently. You can enable the “Auto-update” feature on your WordPress account to automatically install the latest core version and plugins/themes. This is particularly useful if you have installed a large number of plugins/themes on your site.

If you are worried about updates causing incompatibility issues, you can choose to test the updates first on a staging site. This is highly recommended out of an abundance of caution. 

3. Use a Unique Account Username and Password

Is your WordPress account administrator using a common username like “admin” or “admin123” to access the account? Common usernames or passwords make it easier for hackers to gain illegal access and inflict damage on WordPress accounts.

As a safety measure, follow the practice of using unique usernames for “admin” users along with other users. At the same time, strengthen the WordPress account password for all users by mandating that it should be at least eight to ten characters in length.

Additionally, every password must be a combination of upper- and lower-case characters, numeric, and at least one special character. You should also limit the number of admin logins to only those who absolutely need it. 

How to implement this:

You can use the “Users Management” functionality of your WordPress account to configure a stronger username and password for each user. 

Additionally, you can install password management tools like Dashlane or LastPass to create stronger user passwords.

4. Secure Your WordPress Login Page

Among the common types of cyberattacks, hackers deploy automated bots to try and gain access to admin accounts through brute force attempts. 

To achieve this, they generally target your default WordPress site login page or the “/wp-admin” page. Apart from enforcing stronger user credentials, you can reduce the chances of a successful attack by hiding the WordPress login page from hackers.

How to implement this:

One way of hiding your WordPress login page is by modifying its default location (from “mysite.com/wp-admin”) to a new location (for example, “mysite.com/loginpage1”). You can use WordPress Login page plugins like WPForms or Theme My Login to change the default URL of your login page.

Check with your webmaster before implementing so no one gets locked out accidentally. 

5. Use CAPTCHA-Based Protection

Like we just mentioned, hackers try different combinations of user credentials to repeatedly attempt to log in to your site. With the industry-certified CAPTCHA tool, you can restrict the number of failed login attempts on any WordPress account.

The tool is also effective in determining if a malicious bot or a genuine human user is attempting the login. This makes the CAPTCHA tool an excellent protection tool for your WordPress login page.

How to implement this:

As a WordPress admin, you can implement CAPTCHA protection by logging into your WordPress account and installing the Google CAPTCHA plugin tool.

6. Use of HTTP Authentication

Want to secure your WordPress login page even further? Then HTTP authentication is an added layer of security for your login page. What does HTTP authentication do? Simply put, it blocks any unwanted visitors from accessing your WordPress login page.

As a genuine WordPress user, you must first enter your HTTP authentication credentials to even gain access to the login page.

Any WordPress account administrator can configure HTTP authentication and then share the required credentials with authorized users.

How to implement this:

You can download and install a WordPress plugin like HTTP Auth, which enables you to configure and execute HTTP authentication for your website.

7. Get Your Website SSL-Certified

What is an SSL certificate? Short for “Secure Socket Layer,” it switches your website from “HTTP” to “HTTPS” (secure HTTP). SSL-certified websites are much safer as every communication between the user’s browser, and your website is encrypted and is less likely to be intercepted by hackers. 

Apart from the “https” denotation in your site’s URL address, these websites are marked by the “lock” symbol that represents website security.

Besides making your website secure, SSL certification can improve the user’s trust in your website and also your site’s ranking on the Google search engine.

How to implement this:

You can easily obtain an SSL certificate for your website from your web hosting company. Alternatively, you can implement SSL certification through free-to-use WordPress plugins.

8. Set Up an Effective Website Firewall

Did you know that your WordPress web server receives numerous IP requests from all over the world? This includes bad or suspicious IP requests that aim to gain illegal access to your server resources and damage your website.

A website firewall is designed to identify such bad IP requests and block them even before they reach your website. It monitors all the incoming web requests and only allows genuine requests to pass through. Thus, a firewall acts as the first line of defense for any website.

How to implement this:

You can choose from the following three types of firewalls for WordPress sites:

  • A cloud-based firewall that is installed on an external cloud platform
  • In-built firewall that is part of the website security provided by your web host
  • A plugin-based firewall that can be installed on your WordPress site like any other plugin

9. Uninstall All Unused Plugins/Themes

Are you using tons of plugins and themes on your WordPress site? Outdated plugins/themes can be a significant security threat for your site. As mentioned in point 2, it’s recommended to update every installed plugin/theme that you are using (with caution, of course).

However, if you have many unused or inactive plugins/themes, it’s best to uninstall them or replace them with a better alternative completely. Unused or outdated plugins/themes can increase your security risk as they have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

How to implement this:

You can take stock of all your installed plugins/themes from your WordPress admin account and remove those that you no longer use.

If you are selling products from your WordPress site, you are likely to have one or several eCommerce plugins installed. Keep a close eye on those as they are likely to have some access to your customers’ private data.

10. Regularly Scan for Malware

Thanks to WordPress’s popularity, websites built on it are constantly being targeted by hackers and cybercriminals looking for any vulnerability that they can exploit. If you own a WordPress site, it’s better to proactively and periodically scan for any malware infections on your site.

With early malware detection and removal, you can keep your website safe and clean from hackers.

How to implement this:

There are multiple ways of effectively performing a malware scan on your site. This includes:

  • Malware clean-ups from your web host provider
  • Manual malware clean-ups that require a high level of technical expertise
  • Through plugins like MalCare and Wordfence, which are easy to install and effective in early detection of malware.

In addition to providing protection from malware, plugins like MalCare also offer malware removal, bulk updates and management of plugins/themes, firewall protection, and CAPTCHA protection.

In Conclusion

Whether you have your whole business on a WordPress site or this is just a side hustle, website security should never be taken lightly. It is a continuous process as hackers keep coming up with innovative ways to compromise your site. This list cannot guarantee 100% website security, but using this 10-point guide can significantly improve the security of your WordPress site. 

Security plugins combine several of these measures in their offerings so you don’t have to use them all. Do check them out. We highly recommend investing in a reliable security plugin for added security and assured peace of mind.

And with all of these suggestions, make sure to check with your webmaster and/or host/support team before installing or updating anything. 

If you would like help securing your website or moving to a hosting provider who covers security, speed, and upkeep, contact us today!

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