Despite of being well secured, WordPress website still risk to be hacked. Basically, hackers always find gaps in WordPress websites` defense only because of the human factor. It means that some of our actions can open doors for hackers and soon or later these doors will be used.
Beginners in the field of WordPress administration often make mistakes towards the security of their projects. Today we will analyze the main mistakes and proven ways to avoid them. Even if you are an experienced WordPress administrator, it would not be excessive to check all the items we will mention in this article.
If you only start your WordPress project, then it is crucial to pay attention to all of the listed actions. It would not protect your website for 100 percent rate but will cut off the most dangers your website can face from hackers. The listed actions are also important to get the overall understanding of how WordPress security works and how to avoid the unwanted hacker access to the heart of your project.
Choosing a Secure WordPress Hosting
Hosting providers can represent a very much different level of security for their clients. That is why you should pay attention to the technical options of a hosting you choose and the testimonials other website owners write for it. There is of course some relation between hosting`s price and its level of security but do not judge only by this feature.
To choose a hosting for your WordPress website wisely you should know a lot about its technical features. Alternatively, you can use the knowledge and experience of other people. We have a special blog section dedicated to different hostings, their overviews and comparison. Feel free to use the systematized information for the sake of your WordPress project.
Creating a Strong Admin Passwords
Hackers often use brute force attacks to get your essential passwords automatically. These can be WordPress admin dashboard password, web hosting or FTP password, MySQL database password or even you email password. If you use some simple combination of numbers or some obviously connected words (like your date of birth or name), then it would be pretty much simple to hack your passwords and use them for any needs a hacker has.
There are two basic ways to strengthen your passwords: create them by your own or use a special password randomizer. Password randomizer will create a really strong password with not only numbers and letters but also special symbols which are difficult to hack. There are also special tools which offer you an opportunity to securely store all of your automatically generated passwords. This way you would not have to remember such difficult combinations.
Using a Unique Admin Username
By default, you will get your admin username simply as “admin”. There is a higher risk to compromise your admin password if you are still using the default username. Basically, you make the half of hackers` work for them by only leaving your username unchanged after a WordPress project creation.
Protecting the WordPress Admin Area
WordPress wp-admin directory can be especially weak while performing a multi-author WordPress website. In this case you need to offer a seamless entrance to your authors to the admin dashboard and to protect your project from hackers simultaneously. This task can be really challenging but there is a simple solution – two factor authentication.
Two factor authentication basically means that a person who logs in must use not only a password but also additional security key sent to email, mobile application or via SMS. This method is not easy to set up but literally eliminates any opportunities for hackers to break your defense. There are special free and premium WordPress plugin to set up two factor authentication for your website, so that you do not have to invent your own security shield.
Track WordPress Updates
The main security principle of the WordPress platform is based on constant updates. Hackers always invent new malware and the proper answer from WordPress can only be provided by strengthening its defenses with updates dedicated to the prevention of newly invented malware.
You must track all WordPress platform updates and install them as soon as they arrive. Alternatively, you can enable the automatic updates and allow WordPress to take advantage of constant renewal by its own. Anyway it would be good to check manually whether your website corresponds the latest WordPress version.
Updating Themes and Plugins
Outdated themes and plugins can also serve as open doors for hackers. It is much more complicated to track all themes and plugins` updates if you have a lot of them. This is the main reason why you should clean your WordPress website from themes and plugins you do not use. Less tools mean less work on tracking and updating them.
A lot of themes and plugins also offer automatic updates and you should use them to reduce the manual part of security work. It is also preferable to double check tool which update themselves automatically with your own presence from time to time.
Using Protected Protocol for File Transfer Management
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) clients allow a WordPress admin to manage website`s files within their directories. The important thing here is to set up secure connection between your local computer and website directory be using SFTP/SSH protocols.
Look for general or security settings within your FTP client to change the default FTP option to SFTP/SSH. This way you will protect your WordPress website files from being captured and corrupted by hackers while you transfer them from a local computer to the WordPress directory.
Denying the Hacked Software
There is always a temptation to use hacked versions of premium themes and plugins. An obvious trap is hidden in the free piece of the pie. Hackers would not spend their time breaking WordPress tools and just presenting them to public for free.
The main reason any hacked software exists is the malware inside it. Hacked software has proved itself as the easiest way to get malware directly to its goal. Do not let your website fall into this obvious trap and suffer from malware.
Securing WP-Config File
WP-config is one of the most important files that determines the proper work your WordPress website. You can add an extra security layer for wp-config file by adding special code string to .htaccess file:
order allow,deny deny from all
Additional ways to secure wp-config file and work properly with its content you can find in our dedicated article.
Changing WordPress Table Prefix
One of the important settings of wp-config file is the opportunity to change the default “wp” prefix for the content tables of your website. Although changing this prefix is not fully proved to increase the secure level of your WordPress project, many experts advise to take this measure as an additional one.
All you need to do is to access your wp-config file via FTP client and change the default string of $table_prefix to the one you want. It will look like this:
$table_prefix = 'your_prefix';