Today, WordPress powers over 25 percent of websites, and for many site owners, working with this content management system (CMS) is a no-brainer. It’s free, there’s a huge community eager to help you out, and there are tons of awesome plugins that will help expand your site’s functions. It’s perfect for web developers and do-it-yourselfers alike.
The problem with WordPress’s popularity, however, is that WordPress blogs are easy targets for hackers. The good news is that you don’t have to worry so much about your WordPress security if you build up proper defenses. Start with these tips to secure your WordPress blog, and rest with peace of mind knowing you’re at a lower risk of experiencing a crisis.
1. Back Up Your Blog
Before you do anything else, you’ll want to save a backup copy of your website files. That way, you can recover your site should something go wrong in the future. You can do this manually through WordPress’s “export” tool, but this poses some issues.
For example, if you aren’t backing up your files frequently and a crisis destroys your site, your most recently saved data may not be as recent as you’d like. If you only remember to back up your site once a month, for instance, you’ll lose all the work you made on the site between last month’s backup and when the crisis hits.
There’s an alternative. Instead of having to remind yourself to back up your site, you can install a security plugin to automatically do the work for you! Some of the more popular plugins include:
- Backup Buddy – Backup Buddy is a premium WordPress plugin, but what makes it different is that it will restore your posts, images, and other files that some other plugins won’t.
- BackUpWordPress – This is a free plugin that will back up your site on your chosen schedule.
- WordPress Backup to Dropbox – If you have a Dropbox account, you can easily store your files there with this plugin that will perform automated backups.
If you choose to go without a plugin, be sure you’re backing up your site manually at least once per week.
2. Choose a Quality Host
If you’re not feeling confident in your hosting provider, now would be a good time to switch. According to WPTemplate.com, 41 percent of WordPress sites are hacked due to vulnerabilities in the owner’s hosting package, making it the most common hacking method.
3. Research Software Before Downloading It
Another way hackers get into your WordPress site is through the software you download, such as web themes and plugins. As WPTemplate.com reports, hacks are attributed to themes 29 percent of the time and to plugins 22 percent of the time.
This means you have to be cautious about what you’re downloading on your site. Start by reading reviews from other customers. If the software has received high ratings from other users, you’re typically safe to download it, but if there aren’t any ratings or people complain of issues after installing the software, it’s best to steer clear.
In most cases, you’ll have better luck with premium plugins and themes. Not only do they usually come with more features, but they tend to be more secure as well. NEVER download premium plugins for free. Pirated plugins have a good chance of coming corrupted with malware.
4. Update Your Software Regularly
Hackers have an easier time getting into websites with older software installed. That’s because hackers have had time to learn the holes in that version of the program. This is especially true of WordPress itself. On older versions, all the vulnerabilities are already public knowledge as they’ve been pointed out by users, so you can be sure hackers know their way around your software if it’s out of date.
Along these same lines, you don’t want your site to show which version of WordPress you’re running. If hackers know that, then they know what techniques they can use to get into your site. By hiding that your site runs on WordPress, you can also deter brute-force attacks by bots.
5. Use Strong Passwords
This goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning because 8 percent of WordPress hacks are still made due to weak passwords. Make sure you’re not using the same password across accounts and that you include a variety of letters, numbers, and special characters.
Likewise, avoid using the default “admin” username as this will be one of the first combinations hackers will test out to try logging into your site. Simply create a new user for yourself and assign the account as an administrator. Then, log back in with your new credentials and delete the default admin user.
6. Install Security Plugins
Even when you’ve taken the abovementioned precautions, you can still add an extra layer of security to your site through trusted plugins. Just some security plugins that will help patch security holes include:
- SiteLock – Has an extensive library of known malware and constantly checks your site to make sure it is safe. If malware does creep in, then it will work to remove it quickly.
- iThemes Security – This plugin offers over 30 ways to secure your site, such as by stopping automated attacks. Upgrade for more options.
- Login Lockdown – Login Lockdown prevents brute force attacks by limiting the amount of login attempts from the same IP address during a certain period of time.
- WordFence – This plugin features free and premium options and will scan your site for malware.
Most WordPress users don’t take their site security as seriously as they should. When you follow the tips above, however, you can greatly reduce your risk of encountering a security hack. What steps have you taken so far to secure your WordPress site? What’s the next step you plan to take? Let us know in the comments below!
Mike Wallagher is a professional blogger and freelance writer who helps people to succeed through blogging. He also works as a WordPress developer and consultant. When he is not behind computer, he is probably at woods taking pictures of beautiful Mother Nature.