How to Make Your WordPress Site Secure from Hackers

A lot of website owners don’t think about keeping their WordPress sites secure until it’s too late.

The best time to do something about a hack is before one takes place. Luckily, there are a variety of things you can do to your WordPress site to elevate your levels of security.

Taking a proactive approach to website security is one of the best things you can do for your website and your sanity. No one wants to wake up in the morning, only to find that their sites have been compromised.

Below we’re going to show you seven different ways that you can make your WordPress site more secure from hackers, including installing some of the best WordPress security plugins out there today. 

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Just How Secure is WordPress?

In general, WordPress is a pretty secure platform. The biggest reason it gets a bad rap is that site owners aren’t following website security best practices.

As it currently stands, WordPress does lead as the most commonly hacked website platform. However, this data is skewed a bit, because WordPress is also one of the most popular website building platforms out there–it currently powers over 30% of the web!

Here are some of the most common ways that WordPress sites are hacked:

  • Failing to update the WordPress core or plugins consistently
  • Using nulled plugins or themes (i.e., illegally obtained software)
  • Having poor user admin practices
  • Using a low-quality theme or plugin

As you can see, a lot of these security risks can be managed just by keeping your site and plugins up to date and only downloading themes and plugins from reputable sources. 

With the vast nature of WordPress, security holes do exist. The thousands of different themes and plugin combinations are near impossible to test.

But, by implementing the WordPress site security tips below, you’ll significantly elevate your levels of site security across the board. 

7 Ways to Keep Your WordPress Site Secure

There are a ton of different factors that go into keeping your WordPress site secure. Just running a clean installation of WordPress isn’t enough.

Below you’ll find seven WordPress security tips that you can implement today to strengthen the security of your site:

1. Use Strong Passwords

A lot of websites are hacked because hackers will use password generation tools to brute force attack the admin area. If you’re using a weak password or a password that you use other places online, then you’re significantly increasing your risks of suffering from a brute force attack.

One simple fix to keep this from happening is to use a strong password. When you’re setting up your WordPress site, there are a few different places you’ll need to create a password: admin access, when creating WordPress databases, and when connecting to your website via FTP.

Creating a strong password is one thing, but remembering that password can be even more challenging.

One great way around this is to use a password manager. A password manager is a secure and encrypted tool that stores your website passwords. Then whenever you need to input a password for a particular site or application, the tool will input the password for you.

There are a variety of password managers out there, but here are a few worth checking out:

2. Keep Your Core, Themes, and Plugins Up to Date

A straightforward way to keep your site secure is keeping everything up to date; this includes your WordPress core, your theme, and the plugins you’re using.

At the core, WordPress is incredibly secure and has a team of expert developers who are continuously working to patch security holes and improve the platform. Like most software, updates and patches are released after security risks are discovered.

So, if you’re running an older version of the software, you’re basically leaving your back door open. 

Installing too many plugins can also make your site more vulnerable to hackers. Plugins can add a ton of useful functionality and features to your WordPress website, but this comes with the added risk of potentially installing a poorly coded (and therefore vulnerable) plugin.

Whenever you install a plugin, you should take additional time to vet the quality of the plugin and the team behind it. You also need to update plugins whenever an update is released. You might not know if an update has been released, so it’s essential to log in to your dashboard regularly to look for updates. 

A poorly coded theme can also leave your site open to security backdoors. Installing a theme from a quality source can decrease your chances of your theme becoming hacked, but you also need to keep your themes updated and running the latest version. 

3. Restrict Site Access and User Roles

WordPress allows you to create multiple different user accounts. This can be helpful if you have a team running your site, or you’d like your writers to upload articles directly into WordPress.

However, the more logins and passwords you have floating around, the higher the chances of a single user having a weak password—or their account becoming compromised in other ways.

When you’re creating new user roles for your WordPress site, you should only give them access to the parts of your website, they need to do the job effectively. For example, you could provide a writer access to the posts section, but not the plugins, themes, or site settings areas.

It’s also helpful to enable two-factor authentication across your site. This is a process using an app or plugin that verifies the identity of the user who’s logging into the website. 

4. Enable a Website Firewall

A WordPress firewall will essentially create a forcefield around your site. Think of it as a failsafe for if you forget to update your site for several months. In some cases, you might not be able to update individual plugins due to a specific software configuration. 

In these situations, a website firewall will keep your site secure, even when specific plugins or themes aren’t running the latest software version.

One common version of a firewall is known as a website application firewall. This acts like a filtering mechanism that all your website traffic passes through before reaching your site. It will filter out bad traffic or even hacking attempts and only let the good traffic reach your site.

As a benefit, this can also help to keep your site online when you’re experiencing a traffic surge, or are undergoing a DDoS attack on your website. 

Here are the biggest benefits of running a WordPress firewall:

  • Hackers and bots are automatically blacklisted, so they’ll never reach your site
  • Malware infections, DDoS attacks, and SQL injections will all be prevented
  • Brute force attacks will be a thing of the past
  • Your site could run faster and perform better
  • You’ll sleep better knowing your website is protected 24/7

Below we’ll highlight some great WordPress plugins that also have built-in firewall protection. 

Even configuring your site to work with a CDN like Cloudflare will help to protect your site from DDoS attacks, because your website’s traffic will be routed through their network of servers instead of directly going to your website. 

If you’re currently hosting your site here at HostGator, you’ll be able to integrate your site with Cloudflare directly from your website control panel. 

5. Have a System for Site Backups

Website backups won’t help to keep your site more secure, but they can help you if your website does get taken offline during an attack. With a backup system in place, you can ensure that you’ll always have an operational site that you can restore from.

Having a backup is always helpful when you’re experiencing any issues with your site. If you’ve been hacked, or your site is malfunctioning for some reason, you can always restore your site to a previous version.

Some hosts will include bundled backups with your hosting plan. But, there are a number of WordPress backup plugins that can help you with backups as well. It can also be helpful to create multiple website backups and store them in different locations.

Here are some popular backup plugins worth exploring:

A WordPress backup plugin can help you from losing all of your hard work. Plus, you’ll always have a backup plan if your site ever does experience a hack. 

6. Limit Login Attempts

The login screen on WordPress is especially vulnerable. Having a strong password will help a lot in ensuring a hacker won’t gain access to your site via a brute force attempt.

But, if you want to harden the security even further, then you should consider limiting the number of times a user can input their password before locking them out.

For example, you can limit the number of login attempts to 4 times. So, after the fourth attempt, you’ll receive a notification of that user and their IP addresses. You can even ban specific IP addresses if it becomes a persistent issue.

One of the best plugins for this is aptly named Limit Login Attempts Reloaded

Best of all, this plugin is entirely free and currently trusted by over one million other WordPress site. Just install the plugin, configure the settings, and your WordPress login screen will be much more secure. 

7. Install a WordPress Security Plugin

A lot of WordPress security plugins will have most of the features highlighted above. WordPress security plugins are great, because you just have to install the plugin, configure it, and your site will now be secure from most risks lurking online. 

A lot of WordPress security plugins will have features like:

  • Malware scanning
  • Built-in firewall protection
  • Login screen protection
  • Letting you know what plugins and themes are out of date
  • DDos and protection from other online attacks
  • Anti-spam protection for a clean comments section

Here are a few WordPress security plugins worth installing:

Most of the security plugins highlighted above have free versions available, but if you’re serious about securing your site, then upgrading to the premium version is a worthwhile investment. 

You can always start with a free version of the plugin and upgrade to premium once you’ve been able to explore all the features and see how well it protects your site. 

The Importance of a Secure Host

With everything above your WordPress site should be incredibly secure. But, beyond securing your actual website you’ll want to host it with a secure hosting provider.

Your hosting provider needs to value security and have your site hosted on a server that’s up to the latest security standards.

Some solid features to look for in a secure hosting company include:

  • Multiple methods of keeping your server secure, including redundant backups, on-site security and backup generators
  • Servers that are running the latest server hardware and software
  • Certifications that show the facility has been vetted by third-party security providers

No matter if you’re choosing a shared hosting, VPS, cloud, or dedicated server, the security standards should be the same.

In Closing: Keeping Your WordPress Site Secure

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the steps you can take to elevate the security of your WordPress site and make it hacker-proof.

It’s important to implement the security tips above sooner rather than later. You never know when an attack might occur, and you want to be protected and prepared.

The easiest course of action is to install one of the WordPress security plugins mentioned earlier in this post. Think of it as your one stop shop for WordPress security. This will add a firewall to your site, lockdown your login screen, include a regular malware scanner, protect you from malware and DDoS attacks, and more.

Finally, even by working through every tip in this post, it will all be for naught if you don’t have a secure hosting environment. Your host will act as the foundation for your website’s security. So, make sure you invest in a hosting company who values the security of your hosting environment and website.  

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.