The internet has revolutionized our daily lives more than any other recent technology. It has supported the birth of many enterprises and has encouraged us to try out wonderful new things. There are many ways anyone can quickly make their own website, no matter its use case. Be it a personal blog, an online shop, or a shiny portfolio; the web is open to everything.
Among the technologies that help easily create and manage a website, WordPress is the most preferred one by layman users. With its modular plugin architecture and various themes to choose from, WordPress offers its users all sorts of customization. However, looks aren’t all there is to a website. In today’s digital age, a website has to ensure security for its users as well.
Thankfully, WordPress accommodates robust security without added hassles of making users make new credentials through its single sign-on feature. This article will go through the basics of SSO and its workings and explain how to implement it in WordPress. It will also briefly go through some of the best security practices for WordPress to help ensure maximum security.
What Is SSO And How Does It Work
A very traditional part of internet security requires users to sign up on the website whose services they wish to use or log in if they already have signed up. However, as more and more websites require this step, the more credentials a user has to remember. Many websites don’t have the same credential policies, so the user can’t even use the same credentials everywhere. Here, the idea for a single sign-on mechanism was born.
A single sign-on (SSO) is an authentication mechanism enabling users to use the same set of approved credentials to sign up on multiple websites. The most popular SSO mechanism supported on the internet is using Google credentials, thanks to its easy-to-integrate API. Other popular SSO mechanisms include using Facebook, GitHub, Active Directory, Azure AD and Twitter credentials. It authenticates the user only once and fetches the data through cookies after that.
The primary concept of SSO is sharing session information across different internet domains. Security is significantly compromised in such a case, and most browsers don’t allow for cookies from one domain to be accessed by another. SSO shares session information after a central domain authenticates it. For example, the central domain can use a signed and encrypted JSON Web Token, which is passed to and used by other domains.
There are multiple SSO protocols that each perform SSO in their unique way. Different implementations include SAML, Facebook Connect, and OpenID Connect. Choosing a particular implementation depends on the nature of the domain that is being integrated with them. Some options like Auth0 help handle all the major work with integrating SSO into a domain.
Integrating SSO In WordPress
Powering near 40% of the whole web, WordPress has enjoyed a constantly growing user base since its first launch. WordPress is the go-to option for many first-time web creators to make the website of their choice without worrying too much about technicalities. The design part of a WordPress website is handled by the array of themes it offers. Many unique functionalities can be added using WordPress plugins, which many web applications now offer.
Like the many unique plugins it offers, WordPress also offers plugins to integrate SSO authentication into your website easily. The main tasks for setting up an SSO plugin on WordPress are discussed below:
Finding A Suitable SSO Plugin
Firstly, it involves going to WordPress Plugin directory, which has all the different types of plugins that you can install to add functionality to your WordPress site. Typing in SSO will give many options, many of which are developed by leading web application companies like Auth0, OAuth, OneLogin, and loginRadius. Most plugins will allow you to authenticate using social media accounts or Active Directory, Azure AD, Okta, Salesforce and many other IDPs
Installing The Chosen Plugin
After choosing a favored SSO plugin from the plugin directory, you’ll need to navigate the WordPress admin panels. From there, simply choose the Plugins option and click Add New. Put in the name of the chosen plugin, and it will easily install it on your WordPress website after you click Install Now.
Updating The Plugin
All plugins, especially those associated with a website’s security, need to be updated routinely. Clicking on the Plugins on the WordPress dashboard gives you a list of the installed plugins. Any plugin that has ‘There is a new version’ written below has an upgrade pending and can be upgraded from there.
Just like any other website, a WordPress website needs a hosting space to live and grow. Many users look towards popular cloud server hosting options, like Windows Server on Microsoft Azure. Plenty of resources are available that help set up WordPress on Windows Server without any extra hassles.
General Best WordPress Security Practices
While installing an SSO plugin on WordPress can significantly help with enforcing security while not making it more hassling for the user, it is often not enough. There are several more important steps that every WordPress website owner must take to ensure maximum security for their website and its users.
Some of the most widely accepted and encouraged WordPress security practices are as below:
Install An SSL Certificate
SSL Certificates were initially invented and used for securing online transactions. However, they have gotten much more robust and can now secure whole websites. It encrypts all the essential information about your website before it is transferred from browser to server. Even Google recognizes SSL certifications and gives SSL-protected websites more importance on search results.
Integrate A WordPress Security Plugin
While you must already have implemented an SSO plugin, integrating extra security plugins is only a better choice. Plugins that can scan for malware or phishing attempts, encrypt data, and help monitor a website’s vitals 24/7 are beneficial. A good WordPress security plugin is Securi.net
Choose A Reliable Hosting Service
Among the most crucial steps to take for a WordPress website’s security is to choose the best available hosting service. If you wish to manage your own hosting, going for a cloud server hosting platform is a perfect choice. There are many instructions available to teach you how to install WordPress on Ubuntu Server, for example, and get you going.
Enforce Strict Security Policies
Even if you have implemented the above steps, you should not slack on your WordPress website’s security setup. Policies like solid password requirements, limited login attempts, and disabling file editing help further eliminate any vulnerabilities. There are many other best security practices available that you should try implementing on your WordPress website.
Easily Securing Your WordPress Website With SSO
Cybersecurity has become the concern of the hour in the digital world, and major enterprises are scrambling to secure their systems properly. For a simple website owner, falling under attack is much easier. Therefore, it is essential to put in resources and to secure your WordPress website to the best extent.
You can implement an SSO authentication mechanism on different complexity levels. However, for a layman WordPress website, installing the right plugin should be enough. Many of the plugins offer multiple SSO authentication options and can be customized to your liking. In the end, almost all of them protect your website and its users. from any fishy behavior.