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How To Protect Your WordPress Website From Hackers

By: Frederic

How To Protect Your WordPress Website From Hackers

Learning how to protect your WordPress website from hackers is easily done.

An excess of 70% of WordPress users are currently vulnerable to hacker attacks, according to statistics

Being the most used content manager in the world, it is quite common that you receive attacks from hackers, brute force, and robots. If you have all the options marked by default, you could have a security problem that leaves you without a website or that includes malicious code. Look to see which of these actions you can do to be much more protected.

Table of Contents 

Why Is Keeping Your WP Website Secure Important

There are millions of websites that face severe attacks from annoying people who apparently have nothing better to do with their time than spread misery far and wide: hackers. You don’t want to wake up one day and see that your well set up site is no longer yours, right?

Still in doubt about the importance of talking about WordPress security?

Everyone wants to prevent hacking on WordPress. Recovering can take some time and intense effort. Toughen up your WordPress with these WordPress security tips, so that horrible fate doesn’t happen to you. Yes, it will take some time and continuous effort to avoid WordPress hacking.

Common WordPress Security Issues and Vulnerabilities

There are many types of attacks, but we will name the best-known cases.

  • Backdoors: It provides hackers with a hidden back door to access the site and infect the installation files, Plugins, or the Theme. It can be caused by installing plugins or themes from unsafe or untrusted sites.
  • Brute force attacks: These are attacks that consist of mass login attempts using various username and password combinations until the correct credentials are found.
  • Denial of service: Continuous attacks on vulnerabilities in the system causing resource overload and loss of service connectivity.
  • Social psychology attacks: You receive an email saying that they have detected a problem in your account and ask you for a username and password. Senders tend to be familiar, so people easily fall for it.
  • SEO spam: Your posts are filled with hidden links in order to position fraudulent websites, but it will be you (and not those websites) who appear on the blacklist.

Why Choosing the Right WordPress Hosting is Important

It will do little good to have a bulletproof WordPress website if the server where you have it hosted is a strainer. A hosting service must provide security elements at the server level. It must be the first line of defense.

Use a professional hosting provider

Check the characteristics of the hosting service that you are going to hire for your website and make sure that security is one of their priorities.

Operating system

We recommend Linux versus Windows. Both platforms have security problems and tend to be attacked by malicious users; however, Linux continues to have a certain advantage thanks to the developer community it has. Linux is not without risks but, so far, it is capable of solving security problems much more quickly and efficiently than Windows.

Is your hosting up to date on security?

Here are some of the measures that you should consider in a shared hosting service.

  • Use of an isolation system for hosting accounts, so that hacking of a web-hosted on the server does not affect the rest.
  • Use of real-time monitoring applications that analyze all the files that are read or written to disk, to ensure that they do not have malware or suspicious code.
  • Use of systems to prevent Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS).
  • Preventive measures to avoid brute force attacks on WordPress.
  • Use of a WAF (Web Application Firewall). Thanks to it, you can establish security rules, which will stop most of the attacks made on WordPress. In this way, even if a plugin on your website has a vulnerability in the code, the WAF is likely to prevent this attack.
  • Protection of databases. Among other measures, the correct thing would be that access to them was only allowed from the server itself, and not from remote computers.
  • Updated software: as it happens with your WordPress and its plugins, it is important that the software used by the server is updated since the old versions of it can also be vulnerable.
  • An added value that a hosting service can offer is the automatic backup of our data so that, if we have to return to a previous state of our website, we always have a backup copy. But remember that the fact that your hosting service already makes automatic backups is not an excuse for you to make your own copies.

Secure WordPress Website With SSL

One of the most overlooked ways to strengthen your WordPress security is to install an SSL certificate and run your site through HTTPS. It helps encrypt any information that your visitors may import to your sites, such as personal information or bank details. It keeps everything encrypted and private. A big mistake is that if you don’t accept credit cards, then you don’t need SSL.

When you install the SSL Certificate, your website will use HTTPS, which means that you will get a familiar padlock icon in front of the URL, indicating that you have a secure connection. In the past, it was only used by e-commerce sites, but now SSL certificates have become an industry standard. As a bonus, Google has now started favouring websites that have a secure website, helping it rank higher. 

DIY Website Security Tips & Tricks To Protect Against Hackers

Do not use the wp_ prefix for the database

From the first moment of WordPress installation, you have to specify a series of information that you have to enter in order for WordPress to communicate with the database.

Most of this information is provided by your hosting providers, such as the name of the database, its username, and password. But there is a decision to make: decide the prefix of the tables that will be created for WordPress.

By default, this display is offered prefix wp_so that your tables will be such as wp_options, wp_comments, wp_posts, etc.

Of course, this is something every hacker knows, and it’s free information that we give to any potential attacker, who knows that if you don’t do a secure install, the WordPress tables – which are standard – will have those full names if you don’t change the prefix.

The first place you should start is secure WordPress install even before, in this step: change the prefix for the default tables ( wp_) for another of your choice, for example, wptabla_or X1jM_or whatever you want. The important thing is not how long or complicated it is, but at least do not leave the default prefix.

Do not use the admin user to access WordPress

Another decision that we have to make during the installation of WordPress is the name of the first user to access the administration of our website, a user who by default will have full management permissions.

For years WordPress has offered a default username, which of course you shouldn’t use. When choosing the name of your first user to access WordPress, do not choose those common names, such as admin, Admin, root, etc., since they are the first ones that a hacker who wants to take possession of will check.

Always use the latest version of WordPress

If there is something dangerous, it is to network with obsolete or insufficiently updated software. Hackers tend to mainly attack sites with older, outdated versions, as they tend to be more vulnerable by not incorporating sufficient protection into known attack types.

Fortunately, WordPress offers an automatic update system, both for the WordPress core itself and for plugins and themes.

By default, you will not have to worry about WordPress security and maintenance updates, as it does them without your intervention. It will simply notify you when it has been updated. 

Update the installed plugins

WordPress is safe, and it is normal that it is because there is a large community that takes care of its maintenance, development, and growth, but the same does not happen with plugins.

As much as a plugin is used, many times behind there is a single programmer who, for obvious reasons, does not have the resources or the time necessary to always have his plugin up to date.

It is for this reason that the main route of entry for attacks on a WordPress installation is mostly through non-updated plugins.

WordPress offers us a system of notification and automatic updates of the installed plugins, so when you see that some need to be updated, do not think about it.

If you do not use plugins from the official directory, WordPress may not automatically identify if updates are available. In that case, you should be aware of the developer’s website.

Make backup copies

If there is a fixed rule in security, it does not matter what measures you apply, there will always be a new vulnerability for which we are not protected, we will always be one step behind malicious attacks. So, in the event of a disaster, the only thing that can save us from the eventual loss of all our content is having backup copies.

Verify that your web hosting provider has full automatic backups. In addition, install a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus, which allows you to schedule different backup tasks, being able to save your copies on another server, send them by email, or even automate their saving in Cloud services such as DropBox, Amazon S3 or Google Drive, among others.

Limit access attempts

Most of the current attacks against WordPress sites are carried out through massive attempts to access through the login screen, so it is essential to protect internal access to your WordPress.

For this, we can apply different security measures:

  1. Disable user registration, thus preventing malicious users from taking advantage of possible vulnerabilities to obtain extra permissions on your installation and the possibility of making changes to it.
  2. Add a human verification system like reCaptcha, which prevents unwanted access from automated machines that try to gain access to your site.
  3. Install a plugin to avoid massive access attempts such as Limit login attempts, the Protect module of JetPack or utilities of this type of most security plugins, so that they block these types of attacks.

Install a security plugin

Many of the protection measures that we can apply to our WordPress installation are included in plugins specialized in securing WordPress.

Most of them contain settings to avoid brute force attacks, code injections, and modifications of system files, including warning systems so that you are informed of any possible attack in progress.

The most recommended are the following:

Prevent access for sploggers

If you allow user registration on your WordPress, you must protect yourself against sploggers, users who register massively on websites to try to access its settings, add spam comments, or even inject malware.

The definitive solution for this type of user is, of course, not to activate the user registry (WordPress default behavior). If you have registration enabled for loyalty or marketing reasons, you should install a plugin to detect and eliminate this threat. The best used to be WangGuard, but it closed down so here are the best alternatives.

Protect yourself from spam

One of the usual tasks of any administrator of a content manager, such as WordPress, is to control spam in the comments. First, it is a source of distractions and unwanted links on comment forms. Second, some hackers use these forms to inject code that could compromise the security of your WordPress installation.

For this, we should apply different strategies:

  1. Add a Captcha human verification system using Really Simple CAPTCHA plugins.
  2. Activate a spam checking plugin like Akismet or AntiSpam Bee.
  3. Protect forms from injecting special characters.

In short, are you 100% safe from hackers?

If you follow our recommendations, you have a minimal 0.00001% chance that there is a small uncorrected security issue. It is impossible to keep your site 100% free of hackers. What you can do is make it more complicated for vulnerabilities with proper maintenance. If you’re short on time to learn how to execute these website security tips, WP Expert offers an excellent WordPress website maintenance service.