Consider WordPress security one of those “hahaha not really important at all” sorta topics…
…until your site gets hack and your content stolen.
WordPress security is no joke, and should be taken seriously by anybody with a site!
This is because hackers keep coming up with new means of compromising websites. It does not matter how large or small your site is, or to which industry domain you belong. And thanks to its global popularity, WordPress websites are increasingly being targeted by hackers.
If website security is something you haven’t really prioritized so far, it’s time you took action. Website hacking can affect your business in many ways – by lowering your website’s SEO rankings, directing away your traffic, affecting sales and conversions and, lastly, leading to a loss of customer trust and hard-earned brand reputation.
In this article, we have evaluated the best WordPress security measures and shortlisted ten of the most effective ones. :
- WordPress security plugins
- Website backups
- WordPress updates
- User credentials
- Two-Factor Authentication
- SSL certificate
- Firewall protection
- WordPress hardening
- Least privilege principle
- Country blocking
Let’s now discuss each one of them in detail.
Tip #1: Install a security plugin on your site
Security plugins continuously scan your website for any malware and infections, identify any vulnerable areas on your website, and notify you of any failed login attempts. While there’s always the option of manual scanning of malware, you need to be technically proficient in WordPress to understand how and where hackers can hide their malicious code in your WP installation. Besides, doing this on a recurring and regular basis can mean a considerable investment of both effort and time.
WordPress security plugins like MalCare and Sucuri monitor your site 24/7 for malware threats help you take action by cleaning malware, and offer a host of other security features specially designed for WordPress. If you have a business that is entirely dependent on your online presence, installing the best WordPress security plugin is one of the most important decisions you can make for your site.
Tip #2: Backup your WP files regularly
As an online business owner, you would want your website to be functional 24/7 and for 365 days a year. Hence in addition to a security tool, you also need regular website backups.
How often should you take a backup?
That depends on how often your website goes through any change or how many new customers do you add to your database every day. Backups are available daily, weekly, monthly, or even in real-time, where a backup is initiated each time, there is any change.
Real-time backups are vital for eCommerce or WooCommerce sites. For WP sites, you can opt for paid WP backup plugins like
These backup plugins automate the entire backup process and store multiple copies of your backup at a safe and independent location. Compared to manual backups, these are far easier to restore through automated workflows on their dashboard.
Tip #3: Update your site
Many of us install plugins and themes on our site that help improve its overall functionality. To ensure that these add-ons work at optimum performance, you should update all your themes and plugins. Apart from them, you should also update your WP version as soon as there is a new update.
Why? Like any software tool, WP updates contain fixes for common bugs and security issues found in previous versions. Keeping your site updated protects it from security vulnerabilities that hackers exploit.
How do you update all your WP components? You can sign in to your dashboard as an admin and install new WordPress updates when available. For plugins/themes, you can view all your installed plugins/themes using the panel and individually update each one of them.
Or, you could use the WordPress management features offered by WordPress security plugins such as MalCare.
Tip #4: Strengthen your login credentials
While this tip seems very obvious, many users tend to take this security aspect lightly and use usernames such as “admin123” and “admin” with passwords like “123456” or “password.”
If you happen to be one of those users, here’s what you should know – you are providing an easy entrance to hackers on your site as such credentials are relatively easy to decode. Hackers deploy bots to guess your usernames using various brute force tactics.
Always use a unique username, but more importantly, configure a strong password that is at least ten characters long and is alphanumeric in nature. Even if you set a strong password, follow a practice of changing your password regularly.
Tip #5: Implement 2-factor authentication
Even though strong passwords are effective, they cannot be the only defense against malicious login attempts. Hence, you need to implement two-factor authentication (or 2FA) for your WordPress login page. With 2FA enabled, when you try to log in, the system sends an additional authentication code on your mobile device to validate the owner.
To implement this, you can install 2FA plugins such as Two Factor Authentication or check if your security plugin offers this as a feature.
Tip #6: Obtain an SSL certificate for your website
Take a look at any website URL and check if it displays the “padlock” icon or is marked as “Secure.” If yes, then it is an SSL-certified website. As a practice, SSL (or Secure Socket Layer) certificate is recommended for every site. This is because SSL-certified websites encrypt the transfer of information to and from the user’s browser to the website server. With encrypted data transfer, hackers find it difficult to steal and then decrypt the information.
While an SSL certificate is mandatory for websites that execute online payments and financial transactions, it can also improve the SEO ranking of your website. Google strongly recommends SSL certification for every site.
Tip #7: Set up website firewall protection
Firewalls are the first line of defense against any hacker trying to enter your site. Think of a firewall as a security guard who allows or prevents visitors from entering your premises. Technically, a WP firewall monitors every request that is made to your website and then identifies the “good” or the “bad” ones.
There are primarily two types of firewalls: DNS Level firewalls that route your website traffic through a cloud firewall server or the Application Level firewalls (or plugins) that monitor the traffic only after it has entered your web server. While implementing one for your website, we suggest application-level firewalls as they are popular, easier to configure, and are part of most security plugin tools such as MalCare, Sucuri, and Wordfence.
Tip #8: Implement website Hardening
Based on the techniques that hackers typically use to damage your back-end files, WP has 12 different hardening measures recommended for any website. Here is the list:
- Limiting the number of login attempts – to just 3
- Implementing 2-Factor authentication
- Blocking PHP execution in vulnerable folders of your WordPress installation
- Disabling the file editor
- Disabling any plugin installation
- Maintaining an audit log – to monitor what’s happening on your site
- Logging out inactive users automatically
- Changing your security keys regularly
- Using strong passwords
- Configuring alerts for any suspicious logins
- Setting up a WordPress firewall
- Installing an SSL certificate
Manually implementing each of these hardening measures requires technical knowledge and can be time-consuming. Thankfully, security plugins like MalCare have in-built hardening measures – that can be easily implemented through a central dashboard.
Tip #9: Restrict the number of ‘Admin’ users
Did you know? WordPress allows six different user roles to be created; however, hackers are more interested in hacking into user accounts with administrator or admin roles.
The reason is that admin users have the highest level of authority and rights that allow hackers to have more control over your website.
For this reason, try to restrict the number of users with admin rights for your website, or only assign admin rights to trusted users. For the rest, you can assign user roles such as – editor, author, or subscriber with lower privileges or authority.
To configure user roles, you can use any WordPress management tools like WPManage or WP Remote.
Tip #10: Implement country blocking
Did you know that WordPress allows you to block users from an entire country or region? While blocking multiple countries is not good for website traffic growth, country blocking (or geo-blocking) is useful if most of your cyberattacks are originating from a single country. Some of the leading countries where hackers operate include Romania, Brazil, Russia, and Turkey.
Country blocking ensures that all users, including hackers, from these countries, cannot access your website. You can quickly implement this security trick by installing a plugin like iQ Block Country or IP2Location or use your security plugin’s firewall to do so.
WordPress Security in a Nutshell:
With the global increase in cybercrimes and malware attacks, website security is among the top priorities for any online business owner.
While website security is ever-evolving, sticking to the fundamentals and getting them right is the best place to start. The ten security tips discussed in this article are highly recommended by security experts, easy to follow, and very importantly, can be implemented by even novice users using easily available and specially designed tools.
If you still have any queries or suggestions, please let us know in the comments section below.