September 26th, 2020 at 10:07 pm
6 Steps to Harden your WordPress Website Security
5 minutes reading
WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) today. More than a third of all websites built are on this platform. Its relative ease of use, power, and modularity gives website owners a lot of leeway in their build.
As a web hosting provider concentrate on WordPress, HostArma offers specific WordPress-centric plans to cater to the demand. However, given the increasing levels of cybercrime, website owners who wish to use WordPress should be equipped with knowledge that can help then increase their website security.
6 Fundamental Steps to Harden WordPress Security
The performance of a website can be heavily influenced by various factors ranging from the web hosting environment to how the website is built, configured, and maintained.
Thanks to its core flexibility WordPress, has many options that allow you to increase its security levels.
1. Keep WordPress Up to Date
One of the biggest mistakes that WordPress site owners do is fail to keep their WordPress installation up to date. When new versions are released, they have generally been tested to work. However, vulnerabilities may crop up from time to time.
It is these vulnerabilities that cybercriminals often seek to exploit. One example is Cross-Site Scripting vulnerability. A flaw in the WordPress core allowed bad actors to hijack administrator accounts.
Thankfully, this vulnerability was quickly patched. The issue does serve to outline the importance of keeping your WordPress installation updated. It is with these updates that vulnerabilities are patched, along with other bugs.
Updates can also sometimes bring performance improvements or add new features to your WordPress core.
Quick tip: If you are running multiple WordPress installations, you can handle updates for all your sites from your web hosting control panel. If you are a HostArmada customer, you can do that through cPanel > Software Feature Groups > Softaculous Apps Installer > Outdated Installations.
Most Web Hosting Control Panels come integrated with an application auto-update functionality. This is much easier than logging into each individual site to perform updates, and it could save you a lot of time if you are running several WordPress websites hosted under the same account.
2. Remove Unused Plugins and Themes
Plugins and Themes are not part of your WordPress core installation, but serve to add features to your site. They help increase flexibility in your site build since you can choose the themes and plugins to work with following your needs.
Because plugins and themes are often community developed, not all of them are safe to use. Some are even built by a single developer seeking to address small issues. Be wary of over-using themes and plugins since each will be a potential source of more vulnerabilities.
If you are making use of plugins, they too need to be kept updated. If you find that you have installed a plugin before that, you no longer use, make sure to remove it to avoid leaving a possible security loophole.
Quick tip: Keep an eye on theme and plugin updates. If you notice any that have not been updated by the developer for a long period of time, it might be better to seek an alternative and remove the old one.
3. Install a Security Plugin
Since there are so many ways to harden an installation of WordPress, it can be daunting for some users to handle everything on their own. That is where security plugins like Wordfence come in handy.
They offer in-depth security to WordPress sites and can help you safeguard from many types of threats. These can include anything from brute force attacks to bad bots. Many security plugins also work with massive amounts of community data, so they can assess threats much better than doing it on your own.
Quick tip: Be cautious about your choice and configuration, even of WordPress security plugins. Some may have an impact on the performance of your website if not configured correctly.
4. Choose a Secure Web Host
The choice of web host is vital to any website, not just for those who are thinking of running WordPress. Web hosting providers take diverse approaches to security. Some may not offer comprehensive security, while others may work with top security brands like Sucuri to provide users with greater protection.
There are also some web hosting providers like HostArmada, implement tight website security features such as Proactive Zero-day attack detection and OS Patch Management to protect users’ websites on their cloud hosting plans. Note what options are available to you in this regard when choosing a web hosting plan. If you are new to the web hosting concept, you would like to learn how to measure the value of a given hosting service. Even if you have solid experience with web hosting, it is always a good idea to stay informed and ahead of the industry trends.
Quick tip: Some web hosts may have extra security features that come at additional cost. Decide if you want to pay extra or simply choose a more secure host that is all-inclusive.
5. Make Use of a Content Delivery Network
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) help you speed up the delivery of your web pages by keeping caches of static content on their global network of servers. Because of this, they also act as a sort of ‘front line’ to your website.
This makes them the perfect solution to increase your WordPress security as well. CDNs can be used for bot filtering and firewall rule implementation. The best part is that since these are done on the CDN servers, your web hosting will not have to bear the load, which will reflect in your resource usage and, consequently, in your expences.
Even though WordPress sites are dynamic, CDNs can still be very useful. In fact, many CDNs integrate well with WordPress and can offer many advantages. They are also widely used, so learning how to configure them properly should be easy.
Quick tip: CDNs do not necessarily come with premium price tags. In fact, Cloudflare offers free accounts that work well for many sites. Most CDNs will be priced based on the volume of data they help serve.
6. Observe Best Security Practices
You can use all the security plugins in the world with poor results if you fail to follow the best security practices in managing your WordPress site. This can be pretty comprehensive, depending on how serious you are about your website security.
- Always use strong passwords (longer than eight characters, upper and lower cases, digits and special characters)
- Avoid using the administrator accounts unless necessary
- Mask the administrative login screen
- Check your file and directory permissions
- Protect your wp-config.php file
- Disable file editing unless you need it
- Use 2FA authentication for logins
If you just scour the web, you can easily fill pages with the number of things you can and should do simply as a precaution. In fact, many best practices in securing WordPress sites are not difficult to do, nor will they cost you money.
Quick tip: The list can go on indefinitely. Ideally, build a checklist of the things you want to do and keep track of it as you’re hardening your WordPress site.
The biggest mistake WordPress site owners can make is taking their site security for granted. Those that do typically end up blaming the software for being ‘insecure’ if anything happens to their site.
As you can see from the points we have outlined here, the responsibility for the security of WordPress sites is shared in a way. However, you, as the site owner, need to make the choices and put things into play.
Cybercriminals have the advantage of only having to succeed once in order to steal or otherwise wreak havoc. You need to consider things from the point of view that a single loophole could be a disaster for your site. Therefore, you should always keep healthy backups of your website. As we take security seriously at HostArmada, we do offer free daily backups stored on remote servers for enhanced security with all our hosting plans.