Do I Need a WordPress Security Plugin?
Your site’s security is something you’ll want to take seriously. Typically, website hacking isn’t something we think will happen to us. We know it happens, but why would someone target my site?
But, with WordPress being one of the most commonly hacked CMS, no one is safe.
This isn’t said to scare you, but instead to get you thinking about taking proactive action.
If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not your site needs a WordPress security plugin, then this post is for you. Below we look at the main reasons you may want a WordPress security plugin.
WordPress Security is Reactive
If you’ve installed the latest version of WordPress on your site and have followed decent security protocols, then you probably think you’re protected.
You’ve done it once, now you can set it and forget it.
But security isn’t something that you can just do once. It’s something that’s constantly evolving and you need to regularly update your site’s security standards if you want to stay protected.
Even if your website starts off secure, in time it will become less and less secure. Hackers continuously look for vulnerabilities within popular software, and since WordPress powers 25 percent of the web, it’s pretty popular.
Once hackers find and exploit these vulnerabilities, then WordPress will patch those holes and release an update for its users. However, there’s a time gap between the time when the vulnerability is exploited and the patch is issued.
During this time you’re totally exposed.
You Can Keep Your Site Secure Without a Plugin
You can keep your site relatively secure without the use of a WordPress security plugin.
Taking the following steps will help a lot:
- Keep your WordPress core, themes, and plugin up to date. By running the latest version of all these there will be less bugs, and vulnerabilities. Failing to update is like leaving your back door open.
- Use strong passwords. Your username and password is your first line of defense. Make sure you create an incredibly strong password, and that you change this password on a regular basis. The same thing should be done for every admin account.
- Limit user access. If you do have multiple user accounts you should limit the amount of access that each user has to the backend of your site. This will reduce the chance of any settings accidentally being changed.
- Install an SSL certificate on your site. Using an SSL connection will help to encrypt your user’s connection and secure any data transferred between the browser and server. But, it can also help to encrypt your admin data.
The above steps will help to improve the security of your site, and you can do them all without the help of a security plugin.
However, there are certain vulnerabilities you won’t be able to overcome without using a security plugin.
But Installing a WordPress Security Plugin Helps – A Lot!
If you’re concerned about the security of your WordPress site, then installing a WordPress security plugin is a no-brainer. Some common WordPress security plugins include Sucuri, Wordfence, BulletProof Security, and All In One WP Security and Firewall.
But, if you’re still not sold here are a few very useful things that security plugins can do:
1. Secure Your Login Page
Like we mentioned above, having a strong password is the first step to securing your login page.
But, you can elevate its security even further with a WordPress security plugin.
For example, you’ll be able to do things like:
- Add two-factor authentication for all users
- Limit the number of failed login attempts
- Block certain IP address from accessing your login page
Your login page can be especially vulnerable to brute force attacks and are one of the most common ways hackers will gain access to your site. By hardening your login page you’re making one of the most vulnerable aspects of your site nearly impenetrable.
2. Scan for Malware
Has suspicious text been appearing on your website? Are there site changes live that you never made?
If you’re the only person who has access to your site, then you could have malware or other malicious software installed on your site.
WordPress security plugins have built-in malware and security scanners that act similarly to your computer’s anti-virus software.
These scans will look through your entire website to find anything malicious and remove it if they find anything. Usually, these tools will scan your site on a regular basis to ensure you’re fully protected.
3. Secure Your WordPress Database
Your WordPress database is where all of your site’s information is stored. Your database can be vulnerable if you used the standard naming conventions when creating your database.
Unless you’re a technical WordPress user, changing your database prefix yourself can be challenging. But, through using a security plugin you can easily change the prefix of your database, to make it more difficult to locate.
Plus, you can also regularly backup your database. This will ensure that if you ever need to restore your site, you’re completely covered and don’t have to start from scratch.
4. Create a Website Firewall
Some users will want to add a firewall to their WordPress sites. Firewalls have a lot of features, but the main selling point is the ability to block unwanted connections. Plus, they’ll also help to stop any brute force or DDoS attacks from taking down your site.
The easiest way to add a firewall to your site is by using a WordPress security plugin. Otherwise, you’ll need to have full server access, and some technical skills, to implement a firewall.
3 More Pro Security Tips for Your WordPress Site
Maintaining a high level of WordPress security is all about being proactive. Here are a few more security tips to follow. Implement these, and you’ll be on your way towards a safe and protected site.
1. Only Download Themes and Plugins from Known Sources
When you download plugins and themes for your site it’s important to only install them from reputable sources. For paid plugins and themes this means places like Themeforest, Elegant Themes, StudioPress, WPMU Dev and similar sites.
It’s also a good idea to minimize the number of active plugins you’re currently using on your site. The more plugins you’re using, the greater your chances of your site being hacked. Plus, some plugins might have smaller development teams that might not be able to patch their plugins for vulnerabilities as rapidly as larger organizations.
2. Always Backup Your Site
Backups will be your first defense against any attack on your website. In case something bad does happen, you can quickly restore your site to its previous state.
There are a ton of backups plugins available, like VaultPress and BackupBuddy. In some cases, your current host might even be keeping regular backups of all your site’s files. But, it’s important that you save your backup files to a secure offsite location, just in case.
The frequency you backup your site depends upon how often you update your site. If you regularly publish new content every single day, then a daily backup is recommended. But, if your site stays relatively the same, then you can get away with a monthly backup.
3. Use a Secure Hosting Environment
You can do everything possible to secure your WordPress site on your end, but none of that will matter if your hosting environment isn’t secure. A reputable hosting company will take extra measures to ensure your site is secure.
However, shared hosting environments aren’t always the most secure option. If security is a priority, then it might be worth upgrading to a dedicated hosting package. Most dedicated hosts can offer stricter security practices, plus, your site won’t be sharing server resources with hundreds of other websites.
Securing Your WordPress Site
There isn’t a way to 100% protect your website from hackers and other malicious attempts. But, if you want to give your site the highest level of protection possible, then it’s a good idea to use a WordPress security plugin.
You can do things manually to improve your security beyond the standard installation, but overall it’s easier to use a plugin. There are a multitude of security plugins that provide single security features, or ones that act as an entire security suite.
What you require depends on the levels of security you’re seeking.