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The Ultimate WordPress Security Checklist

February 20, 2017     Layero Themes    

It is quite surprising that many website owners go along with the wrong assumption that security is not a big concern for a website that doesn’t attract huge traffic on a daily basis.

The reality is that security has nothing to do with the amount of traffic.

Did you know that hackers also attack websites just for fun?

Yes, while some hackers inject malicious code to steal personal data and spread their political agenda around the web, some others do it just for fun.

WordPress websites are favorite targets for hackers, because it is the most popular CMS out there. The harsh reality is that only a fraction of websites follow security standards.

In this post, I’ll explain the security checklist you need to take a look at in order to ensure WordPress security.

1. Choose a secure WordPress hosting

When it comes to securing your WordPress website, one of the first things you need to do is to choose a secure WordPress hosting provider to host your website.

No matter how many precautionary steps you take for securing your website, your site won’t be secure from possible future malicious attacks unless you choose a secure hosting.

You might want to pick a reliable WordPress hosting provider that takes security of your website seriously, like WPEngine.

2.Update your WordPress core files

‘Always update your WordPress core files’—we’ve all heard this advice lots of times.

Still, many people are not fond of updating the core WordPress files because they are afraid updating may break one of their plugins.

That’s definitely a flawed reasoning. If I had to choose, I’d prefer a website with a temporarily broken plugin over a hacked website.

Of course, having a broken plugin for your website isn’t cool, but it isn’t going to stay that way for a long time. In fact, you can always find an alternative plugin that is well supported and updated if needed.

On the other hand, security is a far bigger issue for your website. Keep in mind that a hacked website could degrade your brand authority and sabotage your entire online business.

3. Update your WordPress plugins

Poorly configured plugins are one of the biggest loopholes for your WordPress security. Always make sure your plugins are up-to-date.

On a regular basis, take a look at the plugin directory of your WordPress site and remove any unwanted plugins that are being installed.

Install theP3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) plugin for a taking a deeper look at the plugins you’ve installed on your site. P3 will analyze the impact of each plugin on your site, and helps you figure out whether it causes a performance drop on your website.

4.Update your WordPress themes

Besides security, updated WordPress themes let you access all the latest features they offer.

If you used to make lots of customization to your theme, make sure you use a child theme on your website, so you won’t lose any customization while updating. In case you’re not currently using a child theme, you may use a service like Diffnow.com to preserve the tweaks you made to the parent theme.

What I liked about Diffnow is that it helps you compare your current theme with the latest version of your theme, so you can keep track of the changes you made and copy it onto your latest version after updating it.

5. Install from the official source

For the security of your website, it is highly recommended that you use only the official directory to install free WordPress themes and plugins, because it ensures the highest quality and security of the free products.

However, many legitimate theme agencies and developers do not list their free themes and plugins on the official directory because of the constant changes to the official guidelines. That means you’ll find legitimate products outside the official directory as well.

However, if you’re choosing the free themes and plugins outside the directory, always check the quality to ensure it doesn’t contain potentially vulnerable codes. You may use a free malware checking site like Virustotal.com for theme and plugin assessment.

6. Do not edit WordPress core files

Editing core files can be risky for WordPress security. This practice doesn’t allow you to easily and automatically update WordPress core files.

Having said that, how would you amend the functionality of your WordPress website without editing the core?

You may either use it as a plugin or tweak the functions.php file of your WordPress theme.

7. Use a strong username and password

Till WordPress 3.0, the default username of a WordPress site was ‘admin.’ Due to that reason, hackers presume that people still use it as the username for their administrative login. So if you’re still using ‘admin’ as your username, you’re risking the security of your WordPress site.

In that case, create a new administrator user account and transfer the ownership of all of your posts to that account. Once done, delete the older user account with the username ‘admin.’

When creating a password, it is better to avoid using the same password on your site that you have used on almost every website around the web.

Additionally, you may install the Simple User Password Generator plugin if yours is a multi-author site. This plugin will generate stronger passwords whenever you create a new user account, which comes in handy for securing your website.

8. Monitor Google Search Console and Google Analytics accounts

Regularly monitoring your Google Search Console account helps you determine if it suspects a potential vulnerability on your WordPress website.

Similarly, you’ll need to take a look at your Google Analytics account to find if there are any unexpected changesto the stats, like a sudden drop in search traffic, etc.

In case you’ve found any vulnerabilities, you can take action to fix them.

9.Take a backup

Keeping the backup of your WordPress files and databases is an essential task to secure your WordPress site. It can be a lifesaver in case of any malicious attacks and accidents.

If you’re looking for a free plugin to take backups, Updraft Plus could be a great choice for you. Besides manual backup, it also helps you backup your content and databases to cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.

10.Set a custom login URL

Using the default login URL on your WordPress website can be risky, because it allows anyone around the web to try and guess your login username and password. Once someone guesses correctly, he’ll be able to log in to your website without your permission.

Due to this, changing the default log in URL can be a nice strategy to improve WordPress security. An easy way to create a custom login URL is to install the free Custom Login URL plugin.

11.Limit log in attempts and block specific IP addresses

Now that you’ve set a customized login URL, the next step is to limit the number of log in attempts. By limiting the number of log in attempts, you’re stepping towards better security.

Install the Login Lockdown plugin, which helps you limit the number of retries for a specific amount of time, block certain IPs, lockout invalid usernames, etc.

12.Scan your website

Scanning your WordPress site is one of the essential tasks to secure your site.

Exploit Scanner plugin helps you scan the theme’s source files and databases and lets you know if it finds anything suspicious. The primary goal of this plugin is to show you vulnerabilities. You may need to take necessary measures to fix those vulnerabilities.

Would you like to add more tips to this article? Share your favorite security trick on the comments section.

 

Categories: WordPress Tips

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