Security is something every website owner should think about at least once in a while. You never know when your site might be attacked by a hacker or become vulnerable against malicious exploits, so it’s always a good idea to stay on top of things in order to better respond to the situation. In this article we’ll take a look at some basic security practices you should be aware of, and what you can do to harden your WordPress site against most common attacks.
Is WordPress Vulnerable?
To put it bluntly, WordPress itself is secure. It is constantly being worked on by some of the most brilliant people out there, and the continuous stream of updates and patches makes it one of the most secure CMS platforms out there.
Outside of the WordPress core, however, things change quite a bit. WordPress security depends mostly on the user, as installing additional plugins or not enforcing good security practices can easily open up vulnerabilities in the system. This can in turn leave you open to all sorts of attacks which can take your site down in no time. And since WordPress is a very popular platform, it is often the preferred target of many malicious viruses and scripts.
In short, WordPress can be a fairly secure system as long as you take all the measures required to protect your site. Fortunately, they’re not too hard to implement and the long-term benefits can be noticeable.
5 Steps To Better WordPress Security
There are a number of things you can do to enforce better security on your WordPress website. Mostly, they consist of protecting your site against possible attacks by reducing the number of vulnerabilities, as well as preparing for worst-case-scenarios.
The first rule of good security is to keep your software updated. This can be a huge factor for protecting your WordPress installation, since outdated versions can have well-known vulnerabilities that are exploited by hackers to gain access to your site. You should keep the WordPress core up to date at all times, as well as all your themes and plugins. If you happen to have many websites that need updating, you could use a service such as ManageWP to streamline the entire process.
Clean Your Unused Plugins
As you add more plugins to WordPress, you create more possibilities of creating new security holes in your system. Even if a plugin has been deactivated, its files remain in the system, and are thus vulnerable to an attack. It’s a good idea to keep only the plugins you actively use, and delete everything else. The simpler your system is, the lower the number of points of failure.
Perform Regular Backups
Security is not only limited to defending against possible attacks. It also involves having a strategy for recovering after disaster has struck. You should always have a fairly recent backup of your entire site at hand, or else you could risk losing countless hours of time and effort. To do so, you can make use of a backup plugin such as Backup Buddy, which will take care of performing regular backups to multiple locations.
Enforce Good Security Practices
A big part of having a secure site lies in enforcing good security practices among your userbase. For example, you should always consider using strong passwords and changing them every once in a while in order to avoid having your account compromised. The Sucuri Blog has an excellent writeup of the general state of WordPress security and the most common ways someone could try to attack your site. It is good to keep in mind since a site can never be secure enough.
Use A Security Plugin
Having a secure WordPress site often involves making a large number of small tweaks to your installation. Instead of manually changing everything, you can resort to using a security plugin such as Better WP Security, which will do most of the work for you. Simply doing this will protect you against a number of possible exploits, since most malicious scripts are fairly simple and focus on only one vulnerability.
Security Is All About Maintenance
Keeping your site up and running is not a one-off task, but instead a matter of maintaining it over time. You should consider taking a serious look at it every once in a while, especially since new types of attacks and exploits can appear every day. The takeaway is to take all the possible safety measures you can, and try to act conservatively when dealing with WordPress themes and plugins. Remember, there is no such thing as unbreachable security.
What is your experience with WordPress Security? Tell us!