10 Essential WordPress Security Best Practices

10 Essential WordPress Security Best Practices. WordPress is an ideal website builder and content management system popular among developers. Highly customizable and provides a whole lot of themes, plugins, and templates to support your web development projects. However, it’s also a prime target for cyber attackers. It’s crucial to take additional measures to improve its security and protect your website against hackers and malware

This article guides you on the essential WordPress security best practices you implement to keep your site secure. 

Why s Website Security Important?

A secure WordPress site promotes user confidence, as they know their personal information remains protected from unauthorized access. This is particularly important for ecommerce websites and those handling sensitive data, where data breaches have severe financial and legal consequences. A strong security foundation prevents unauthorized access to your website’s backend. This prevents hackers from tampering with your content or injecting malicious code.

Hackers cause significant harm when they gain access to your site. This negative impact content delivery and service availability and cause severe damage to your business reputation. Therefore, WordPress security is about risk reduction, not elimination. It requires frequent assessment of attack vectors and threats, especially if you have a business website.

Here are 10 Essential WordPress Security Best Practices to implement today:

10 WordPress Security Best Practices

1. Keep WordPress Updated

One of the most straightforward measures to keep WordPress secure is ensure you have the current versions of your themes, plugins, and platform. There are thousands of plugins and themes to pick from. They have updates rolled out every time, some containing important security patches.

Updating them can be a long task. However, this boosts your site’s security posture. The longer you use an outdated version of your site, the higher the risk of being targeted by hackers.

2. Use Strong Passwords and User Permissions

Most WordPress hacking attempts use compromised login credentials. Using strong and unique passwords makes it difficult for hackers to access your site. That applies to the WordPress login area, FTP accounts, custom email addresses associated with the site’s domain name, and the WordPress hosting account. 

Many people prefer simple, easy to remember passwords. However, these are highly vulnerable and easy to hack. Fortunately, people accessing your site don’t have to remember their passwords, as they use a password manager to manage their credentials.

It’s also advisable to stop giving access to your WordPress admin account to anyone unless you must. Clearly define the roles and capabilities of every user if you have a large team or guests before adding new user accounts or authors. 

In addition to using strong passwords, secure your login procedures by:

3. Enable Web Application Firewall

Another practice of 10 Essential WordPress Security is a Web Application Firewall (WAF).  Importantly, it blocks malicious traffic before it reaches your site and provides solid security. Choose between the following:

  • DNS level website firewall: routes your website traffic through cloud based proxy servers, allowing only genuine traffic to get to your web server
  • Application level firewall: the plugins monitor and analyse traffic once it hits your server but before loading most WordPress scripts. The method is less efficient in reducing the server load. 

Choose a WAF that also has a malware clean up and blocklist removal feature. This guarantees that the vendor restores your website to its initial number of pages if you get hacked. 

4. Disable PHP File Execution in Specific WordPress Directories

Another way to strengthen your WordPress security is to disable the PHP file execution in directories where it’s not required. An example is at /wp-content/uploads/. Do this by opening a text editor like Notepad, then paste the following code:

<Files *.php>
deny from all

Next, save the file as .htaccess and upload it to the relevant directory on your website using an FTP client. The alternative method is to use the a hardening feature of a security plugin

5. Use a Secure WordPress Theme

Most developers choose WordPress themes just because they are aesthetically appealing. However, these themes are not necessarily secure. Some themes have code leakages that expose your website to cyber attacks. Therefore, it’s best to choose a WordPress theme that complies with WordPress security standards. 

You can check whether a theme meets the requirements by copying your website URL into W2C’s validator. Look for a new theme in the official WordPress software if your current theme isn’t compliant. HubSpot also provides a list of recommended WordPress themes

6. Enable SSL or HTTPS

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypts the connections between your site and your visitor’s web browsers. That ensures the traffic between the two is safe from malicious interruptions. Pick to enable SSL manually or use a dedicated SSL plugin. Doing so also boosts your SEO and improves visitors’ first impressions of your website. 

Google Chrome warns users, if the site they visit doesn’t have an SSL protocol. If visitors to your site receive this warning, they may not open the site, ultimately reducing website traffic. Check if your site follows the SSL protocol by visiting the homepage and checking whether it begins with https://. The “s” stands for “secure,” If it is missing, you need to obtain an SSL certificate for your site. 

7. Prevent Brute Force Attacks

Brute force attacks enable hackers to gain unauthorized account access by guessing the right combination of login credentials. Unfortunately, strong passwords and two factor authentication are insufficient to prevent brute force attacks on your site. 

That’s why you need to secure your login pages with the following additional measures:

8. Add Captcha to Your Forms

Another way to perform 10 Essential WordPress Security Best Practices when you must display your site’s login page, please consider locking it down as an added security measure. One way to do this is to add a captcha to your forms. Other pages to consider when implementing this security measure are the checkout pages, blog comments, and other open forms on your site.

The page represents an opportunity for hackers to submit malicious information to your site, including links and comments. While these may not directly affect your site’s performance, they may interfere with the user experience and hurt your business in the long run. 

9. Disable Directory Indexing and Browsing

Hackers use directory browsing to find out if you have any files exposed to vulnerabilities. Once they do, they leverage the files to access your site. Other people also use directory browsing to look into your files, establish the directory structure, and copy images. That’s why it’s recommendable to turn off directory indexing and browsing.

Connect to your website using FTP or the CPanel’s file manager and locate the .htaccess file in the website’s root directory. Add the following command to the end of the .htaccess file: options- indexes. Then save the changes and upload the htaccess file to the site.

10. Conduct Regular WordPress Security Scans

Routine checkups are crucial to monitor your site’s performance at least once a month. A scan reviews the files on your site and detects suspicious codes from attackers. It also checks the WordPress core on which your site runs, the current theme, and all installed plugins for vulnerabilities.

You don’t have to do the check-ups manually but use various security plugins. Some recommendable WordPress scanner plugins are:

  • Defender. 
  • Jetpack. 
  • BulletProof Security. 
  • iThemes Security. 
  • Wordfence.
  • Sucuri. 
  • Security Ninja 
  • Titan.

Thank you for reading 10 Essential WordPress Security Best Practices. We shall conclude the article now. 

10 Essential WordPress Security Best Practices Conclusion

The security of your WordPress site matters to protect your digital and financial identity, as failure to do so leads to significant damage to your business. Hackers may use your identity to steal your website domain name or commit online crimes for which you can be held liable. 

While WordPress is a secure site, you must take additional measures to strengthen its security. Start by evaluating the security loopholes and taking steps to fix them. The above WordPress security best practices form an excellent starting point in securing your site and strengthening the security protocols already in place. 

Avatar for Dennis Muvaa
Dennis Muvaa

Dennis is an expert content writer and SEO strategist in cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. He's also experienced in cybersecurity, big data, and AI.

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