WordPress is open-source software that is used by millions worldwide. Being this popular has its advantages, but also comes with some risks. Since WordPress is open-source and used by millions, it is a good ground for many different cyber-attacks. Generally speaking, WordPress is pretty secure, but many weak and bad user practices do make it vulnerable to hackers. Bad user practices like weak password use, irregular software updates, lack of SSL and HTTPS, etc., can lead to data breaches, identity theft, ransomware, and other kinds of attacks. Website security includes proper security configuration, regular updates to the latest versions of software, and compliance with industry best practices. With these segments combined, one could say that their website is secure.
There are multiple ways to secure your website from potential attacks. These ways, or rather steps, are known as best practices. Try to follow as many of these steps as possible, to keep your website as safe as possible.
One of the first steps to consider is enabling SSL and HTTPS. Secure Sockets Layer is used to secure transactions between browser and server and the information sent between them. When HTTP traffic is not secured, the data being sent is not encrypted and can be read as plain text if intercepted. WP Force SSL helps keep track of SSL, certificates, and if they are enabled. This plugin also switches HTTP traffic to HTTPS, handles and fixes different SSL errors, does content scans for mixed content, enables monitoring of all sites through a single dashboard, etc. Installation is very easy and enabling SSL and installing SSL certificates is done in one click.
Many users choose weak passwords that are either not long enough or related to some personal objects. Using secure login procedures such as strong passwords that include numbers, symbols, and upper and lower-case letters that are at least 8-10 characters long will greatly help with preventing breaches via login information. Additionally, two-factor authentication with a second device, limiting login attempts, and adding captcha verification can be used for an extra layer of protection.
Keeping software updated with the latest security updates is one of the key steps in preventing any vulnerabilities from being exploited by attackers. Out of date software does not meet security requirements and it is important to check and install updates regularly. The same can be said for the version of PHP for an extra layer of security. And do not forget to back up your website before updating just in case there are some compatibility issues between the new version of the software and already installed plugins.
If using any plugins, it is important to check the background and validity of every plugin that is being installed. Among thousands of plugins online, checking if one is secure before installing it is essential. Many plugins take care of security on your website. But those plugins also have to be verified if they are secure and from a credible source.
Among these major steps, one more very important step is regular website backup. The worst part of a cyber attack is not being hacked, but rather losing valuable information and customer data from your website. To prevent data loss, along with the previous steps, keep your files and data always backed up. If done regularly, damages in a potential attack will be minimal since data can be recovered after the threat is eliminated. There are reputable plugins available that will help you keep track of backups and even perform them automatically.
Website vulnerabilities are weaknesses in a website that allow an attacker to gain control of the site or exploit data from the site. The most common vulnerabilities that can be found on a website are outdated software, poor user role management, unfiltered input fields, user inputs being passed to the database directly, poor error handling, bad URL access restrictions, unrestricted file upload, etc.
Unfortunately, hacking attacks happen daily. Knowing the most common attacks and how they are performed can help improve the security of your website and defend against those attacks. Some of the most common attacks are:
Brute-force login attempts where attackers use automated ways of entering many user credentials quickly until eventually guessing the right credentials. These attacks target any password-protected information.
Database injection (SQL injection) is a process of submitting harmful code to a website and its database through user input forms. This code then can fetch data and potentially compromise confidential user information.
Cross-site scripting or XSS happens when malicious code is injected into the website backend to extract information or break website functionality. This can be performed in different complex ways or by submitting user input in forms.
DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack is performed by overloading the server with traffic which then causes crashes. This can prevent authorized users from accessing their website and trying to fix the issue.
Hotlinking refers to another website showing embedded content that is being hosted on your website without permission, making it appear like its own content.
Security can be improved in many ways. Aside from the before mentioned ways of improving security, the following practices will further improve your website security. Limit user permissions and limit access to different parts of the website, make use of monitoring, log user activity, change the default login URL, disable file editing in the dashboard, change database file prefix, consider deleting the default admin account on WordPress, hide your WordPress version, etc.
Finally, even if you get hacked, all of these mentioned steps will help you remain calm and work on fixing damages and resolving issues that lead to the breach. Make sure to have a plan in case of a hacking attack that will streamline the process of resolving the issue. Cyber attacks are constantly evolving, so your website security needs to evolve with it and be on top of every new potential vulnerability. Remember to use SSL and HTTPS, update your software regularly, have up-to-date backups of your data, and use strong credentials.