WordPress Security: How to Keep Your Website Safe and Secure

The security of your website should be a top priority, But, all too often, WordPress security ranks right near the bottom of a site owners ‘to-do’ list.

Fixing a hacked site, or a website infected with malware, is not just time consuming. Hacking also disrupts your site’s search engine rankings, affects your users’ experience, loses you customers and conversions, and can ultimately break your website.

So, how do you keep your WordPress website safe and secure?

In this article, we look at a range of WordPress security strategies and tools that you should implement on your website. From ensuring your website’s login page is secure, to using a high-quality security plugin and keeping your site backed up, we cover the key elements of WordPress security. Let’s get started…

Secure Your Website’s Login Page

There is much you can do to secure your WordPress login page, from shutting down brute force attempts to changing the login page URL and creating strong passwords. Let’s take a look…

Limit Brute Force Attacks

Brute force attacks are automated trial and error attacks that repeatedly try to guess your username and password. These attacks can not only slow down your website but, if successful, can install malware on your website, steal user information, and much more.

Limit Login Attempts Reloaded is a free WordPress plugin that will enable you to block any brute force attacks that are made on your website. Not only does the plugin block repeated login attempts coming from the same IP address, it also allows you to blacklist IPs and usernames. Although using this solution won’t guarantee protection from brute force attacks, it will go along way to keeping your website safe.

Generate Strong Passwords

Changing your password regularly, and using passwords containing a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, will also help prevent your password being discovered during brute force attacks. However, even though most of us know the importance of using strong passwords, we still don’t always follow this advice. This is mainly due to the difficulty of remembering endless strings of letters and number.

LastPass is a secure password management service that will generate and save strong passwords for you. This takes the stress out of creating and remembering passwords that are essentially just a bundle of random characters. Importantly, it also means that you can secure your website with ongoing strong passwords.

Two Factor Authentication

WordPress Security - Google Authenticator

Setting up two factor authentication is another effective strategy to secure your website’s login page. Two factor authentication requires you to log in using two different methods. This helps to thwart brute force attacks and ensures you are who you say you are!

miniOrange Google Authenticator is a popular WordPress plugin that provides an additional layer of security during the login process. You can select your authentication method, including scanning a QR code, entering a one-time passcode, or answering predefined security questions.

Rename Your Login Page URL

Another effective strategy to keep your WordPress website safe and secure is to rename your login page URL. By default, your website’s login page URL will be sitename.com/wp-login.php. By changing this URL to something unique, you can reduce the number of brute force attacks your site receives. Consequently, this lowers the chance of your site’s security being breached.

To change your login page URL, install the free WordPress plugin WPS Hide Login. This lightweight plugin will enable you to quickly alter the URL of the login page to anything you want. And importantly, it works by simply intercepting page requests, so no core files are changed on your site.

Select a Reputable Hosting Provider

Selecting a trustworthy hosting provider will go along way to improving your site’s security. A high-quality host will ensure a range of security measures are in place to keep their servers safe. Security measures might include firewalls, brute force detection, virus protection, data backups, and much more. Therefore, always opt for a reputable hosting company. And make sure you check out the security features they offer before you sign up to a plan.

If your budget can stretch to it, managed WordPress hosting will help provide an extra layer of security for your website. WordPress specific hosting providers are experts in the field of WordPress, offering tailored WordPress-related security features, performance optimizations, and other additional tools. These can include automatic WordPress updates and backups, vulnerable plugin bans, firewalls, and malware scans tweaked for WordPress, to name a few options.

Kinsta is an impressive WordPress hosting provider service that still provides services at a reasonable cost. Features consist of…

  • Proactively stop malicious code from entering their network
  • Detect DDoS attacks as they happen
  • Hardware Firewalls
  • GeoIP blocking and automatic IP banning
  • Two-factor authentication support
  • Hack fix guarantee
  • Uptime monitoring

Plans also include a free SSL certificate, ensuring that your user’s sensitive data is encrypted.

Keep WordPress Updated

WordPress Security - Easy Updates Manager

Keeping your site updated is an extremely effective way to help keep your site safe. Updates often include a range of WordPress security improvements, preventing hackers exploiting any pre-update vulnerabilities. Therefore, uninstall any plugins you are no longer using, and always keep all other plugins, your WordPress theme, and WordPress core, updated.

Easy Updates Manager is a free plugin that will enable you to manage all updates on your website. Simply install the plugin, configure the settings, and then let Easy Updates Manager run on your site, ensuring all elements are automatically updated.

Use a Security Plugin

One of the easiest ways to keep your WordPress website safe and secure is to install a WordPress security plugin. Sucuri is one of the top WordPress security solutions around and will implement and run a range of tools on your website to help monitor and prevent any safety issues as they occur.

Sucuri does provide a free version of its services. However, to access the features that are of real value to your site’s security you will need to purchase a premium plan. Here are some of the top features Sucuri has to offer …

  • Website Application Firewall (WAF)
  • Continuous Malware and Hack Scanning
  • Malware Removal and Hack Response
  • Virtual Patching / Hardening
  • Blacklist Monitoring
  • Advanced DDoS Mitigation

Prices start at $9.99 a month, with a 30 day money back guarantee and 24/7 premium support.

Take Extra Security Measures with Multiple Users

If you are running a large blog with multiple authors, or you have numerous employees accessing your WordPress dashboard, then you should consider taking extra security measures. Let’s take a look…

  • Restrict User Access – Ensure that your users are assigned the right roles. If you have multiple bloggers on your site, simply give them access to post. By restricting user access you limit the possibility of related user security issues arising.
  • Automatically Log Out Users – The free WordPress plugin BulletProof Security incorporates an Idle Session Logout tool. Once activated, this feature logs any user out if they have abandoned your site mid-session and not signed out.
  • Audit User Behaviour – It is always good to know what is happening on your website. Activity Log is another free WordPress plugin that will enable you to monitor any site activity, including logins, plugin activation, post publications, and much more.

Backup Your WordPress Website

WordPress Security - UpdraftPlus

However many security features and settings you enable on your WordPress website, there is no guarantee that it won’t get hacked. Therefore, taking the time to set up an effective backup plugin is a must.

UpdraftPlus is a free WordPress plugin that will enable you to backup your website. You can store your files and database on a wide assortment of cloud applications, including Dropbox, Google Cloud, and Amazon S3.

Importantly, UpdraftPlus makes the restore process extremely easy. So if your website is broken you can quickly restore your site with just a few clicks of a button.

Final Thoughts on WordPress Security

Evidently, there is much you can do to ensure a high level of security on your WordPress website. Although setting up the numerous plugins mentioned above can be time consuming, the safety of your website is well worth the effort. And once set up, most of the tools will run automatically on your website, needing minimum maintenance but providing plenty of peace of mind. So are you ready to improve your WordPress security?

Which strategies will you use to help secure your website? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

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