Cyber attacks are becoming more and more common these days. Experts state unanimously that hackers constantly refine their attack methods. As a result, even vital national security institutions have been hacked. In this context, what can you – an average webmaster with limited site security skills – do?
This post is all you need to significantly improve your site security. The suggestions are simple and actionable. We know that your time is precious, so let’s cut to the chase.
Reliable Hosting Platform
Start making your site more secure by analysing the site hosting platform. Less experienced users don’t pay too much attention to the host platform for their sites. Some of them prioritise price, but that’s not the winning approach. Security, uptime, and performance are also capital factors.
Stay away from free hosting or take strong precautionary measures! Check the testimonials and the review sites before purchasing the services of a less-known hosting provider. Eventually, ask the customer support about the security measures implemented on the hosting servers.
Most popular hosting providers can’t put their reputation at risk and they do everything possible to resist hackers’ attacks. It makes sense to choose a well-known host for your site.
It sounds like a no-brainer tip, but it’s on all website security checklists on the Internet. No one would mention this recommendation unless many people did not update their WordPress core, themes, and plugins regularly. Paradoxically, due to its simplicity, people consider it as lacking weight. Do not make this mistake!
It takes under two minutes to update everything on your site and rest assured. Don’t skip it! Hackers are the first ones who know the vulnerabilities of an outdated WordPress core version, theme, or plugin. It’s only a matter of time until hacking bots will test your site. They will profit from a security breach in no time if you don’t update the site’s assets.
Few Users and Privileges
Skip this paragraph if you are the only person who has access to your site. Elsewhere, perform an audit of the site accounts. From a security perspective, an account is equivalent to a security vulnerability. The more privileges an account has, the bigger the vulnerability is.
Check each account and decide whether it’s still necessary to keep it. Reduce its privileges in line with the account’s activity. It just takes a few minutes to perform an in-depth review of an account, and you only have to do it from time to time.
It’s another no-brainer tip, but as long as there are still credentials like username: admin and password: 1234, it makes sense to warn you in this respect. Verify the passwords’ strength and force users to use strong passwords. There are security plugins to implement this policy.
Every additional character from your password complicates the guesswork of the hacker. Use special characters, uppercase, and lowercase to make things more difficult for hackers.
Complex Security Plugin
A security plugin implements a plethora of measures that an expert can do in a few hours. You are in real danger if you don’t have a security plugin installed and configured on your site. You don’t have any excuse because outstanding security plugins are free on the WordPress repository. Millions of webmasters have used them and rated the plugins as excellent. Here are four plugins that secure tens of millions of websites.
4+ million active installations and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars tell you everything you need to know about this plugin. It’s the most frequently used security plugin from the WordPress repository. The free version is more than enough for small to medium-sized websites. Webmasters who want enhanced security or run medium-sized to large websites should go for the paid version.
Wordfence blocks malicious traffic, checks the WordPress core integrity, limits login attempts, implements 2-factor authentication, and tracks known security vulnerabilities.
Sucuri is one of the most famous players in the online security industry. The WordPress plugin released by Sucuri is a solid tool for fortifying your site. It does pretty much the same things as Wordfence does.
Remote malware scanning is a distinctive feature of the plugin. The remote scanner detects any malicious code that has infected your site. In this way, you can rest assured that the site doesn’t have malware and the scan didn’t affect the site performance because the scanning process is remote.
iThemes Security follows the same path as the above plugins – a free version to show webmasters the plugin features and a paid version for extended functionality. The user interface looks better than the other two alternatives, and you get a similar level of security with this plugin.
This plugin impresses with its user-friendly interface, so even less experienced users can correctly configure the plugin. The Security Strength Meter is a simple but effective visual indicator of the site security level.
The plugin protects against hacker attacks – DDoS, brute-force, Cross-Site Scripting, or SQL injections. Besides these, the plugin forces people to use strong passwords, rename usernames who didn’t change the default “admin” username, force log out after a set period, and so on. Briefly, the plugin protects your site against hackers’ attacks but also against site users’ mistakes and negligence.
You must install a security plugin on your site but, simultaneously, you have to check each plugin. Delete all unused plugins because each one is a potential vulnerability. Besides that, too many plugins bloat the site’s database and slow down the loading speed.
Avoid Shabby Sellers
It’s that simple – purchase themes and plugins only from known and secure sources. ThemeForest is the biggest marketplace to buy premium assets, and plenty of blog posts feature the best-paid themes and plugins. Practically, it’s a matter of research to find the suitable solutions for your site.
Usually, a theme or a plugin is affordable for most budgets. Indeed, cheap or free themes and plugins are perfect for restrictive budgets. However, these products may contain malware or bugs. You should only buy from serious sellers so you can rest assured and focus on your business.
Let’s be honest, 2-step authentication isn’t convenient for people. In simple terms, 2-step authentication implies using two layers of security: the standard credentials and an additional password. In spite of its inconvenience, this method is a huge step forward in making your site unhackable. You don’t need technical skills to implement 2-step authentication.
Limit Login Attempts
One of the most common methods of hacking a site is by trying combinations of usernames and passwords. Sadly, by using admin as the username, you have already done half of the job for the hacker. Your best countermeasure is to use strong passwords, but limiting the login attempts is another efficient method of security. It’s improbable for a hacker to guess the credentials in less than ten attempts, and it’s also improbable for a user to mistype their credentials ten times. Once again, a plugin will do the leg work for you. Check the WordPress repository for such a plugin or use one of the above recommendations.
Backup Your Site
A backup is golden in difficult situations and useless the rest of time. Many webmasters neglect to backup the site just because they haven’t needed a backup for years. Don’t make this mistake! Some free backup plugins come with an impressive set of features. For instance, you can periodically create copies of your site and keep them in different places. It costs nothing to back up your site.
Over to You
Website security is a huge topic, but this post aims to deliver actionable tips in the fewest words. Check each paragraph and put the suggestions into practice. It’s the proper guide to follow in emergencies. Your site will be more secure by applying the majority of the tips from this post. Altogether, you should constantly read articles and books about website security or get an experienced WordPress website designer to design. It’s a dynamic area and you should stay updated on what’s new in website security.