Keeping your WordPress website secure is critical for its survival. To make sure that your online project is protected against potential cyber threats, you’ll want to check its security constantly and see that proper measures are carried out.
With a bit of effort and the right tools, you can fortify your WordPress site’s defenses and shield your precious data from cybercriminals.
How to Check if Your WordPress Site Is Strong on Security
One of the reasons why WordPress is still so popular is its simplicity—it isn’t difficult to learn, and it hasn’t changed much over the years.
As top-notch open-source software, it has a colorful community of contributors from all parts of the world, and they’re trying to make it better and more secure. Since WordPress gets a couple of updates every year, it’s important to keep up with them and ensure strong security and smooth performance of your site.
So how can you check if your WordPress site is secure and strengthen its overall security posture?
Make Sure WordPress Is Updated
Using an outdated version of WordPress can leave your site vulnerable to a variety of cyber threats that might result in severe security breaches. Fortunately, keeping your WordPress core up to date is a pretty straightforward process.
To make things easier for yourself, you’ll want to enable automatic updates. WordPress provides the option to switch on automatic updates for minor releases, so why not make use of it? If you do, your site will automatically install updates for minor versions, such as security patches and bug fixes, without your manual intervention. However, although automatic updates are convenient, you still need to periodically check for updates the hard way. Only then can you be sure you haven’t missed any major fixes that could otherwise compromise your site’s security.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to keep plugins and themes updated—just check for updates in the “Plugins” and “Themes” sections of your WordPress dashboard now and then.
If you’re feeling forgetful, you can utilize automated reminders but don’t rely solely on them.
Always Use Strong User Authentication
By enforcing robust user authentication practices, you can prevent unauthorized access and protect sensitive information. For this, you need to check a few things.
For starters, make sure you’re using, and encourage your visitors to use, strong passwords. That is, a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters, and make it 12 characters long at least. You’ll find a lot of password strength testing tools online and most of them are quite useful.
In addition to this, enable two-factor authentication (2FA), as it adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two forms of identification to access their accounts.
Also, review your user accounts periodically to identify (and remove) any inactive or otherwise unnecessary accounts. The aim is to minimize the potential attack surface and ensure that only authorized users have access to your WordPress site.
Check Theme and Plugin Security
When choosing themes and plugins, make sure you’re getting them from reputable sources such as the official WordPress repository or trusted third-party marketplaces. There, you’ll see ratings and reviews, so take some time to go through user feedback. Like with the WordPress core, keeping your themes and plugins up-to-date is vital for the security of your site.
Consider using security plugins or services that offer vulnerability scanning for your themes and plugins. These tools can detect potential issues and give recommendations for minimizing risks.
We should also note that while plugins can enhance your site’s functionality, having too many of them can increase the risk of vulnerabilities. It’s smart to stick to essential plugins only and learn about vulnerabilities that can come with themes and plugins.
Ensure Secure Hosting Environment
The right web hosting provider can significantly boost the security of your site; the wrong one can drop it to a dangerous level. When picking out a web hosting service, look for some security features every host should offer. In short, they should have robust measures in place to protect their servers from unauthorized access, malware, and other security threats. So, look for regular software updates, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and strong access controls.
If a host performs automatic backups of your site and stores them securely off-site, it could be a keeper.
Moreover, pick a host that provides free or affordable SSL certificates and makes it easy to install and manage them. Also, look for providers with a strong track record of uptime, as having a secure site is useless if it’s frequently unavailable due to server issues. You can check this for yourself by utilizing uptime and speed performance tests available online. Some plugins further offer this.
Perform Security Tests and Security Audits Regularly
Carrying out regular security tests and audits is essential in maintaining a secure WordPress site. Some of the practical steps and tools you can use to assess the security of your site include:
- SSL checkers: This will check if your SSL certificate is properly installed and functioning correctly.
- Security headers: Tools like SecurityHeaders.io can check if your headers are in place and suggest improvements.
- Pingdom speed test: While primarily used for testing site speed, Pingdom also provides insights into the performance and security of your site.
- Vulnerability scanners: Tools such as WPScan or Sucuri can identify outdated plugins, themes, and core files that may pose a risk to your site’s security.
- Manual security audits: These include thoroughly reviewing your site’s code, configuration files, and database. Look for any suspicious or outdated elements that could be exploited by cybercriminals.
Use Security Plugins
When it comes to bolstering your WordPress site’s defenses, using security plugins is a smart move. There are plenty of comprehensive security plugins that provide features like malware scanning, firewall protection, login security, and more. To install and activate them, go to the WordPress plugin repository and follow the setup wizard.
Some of the popular security plugins are Wordfence Security (due to the fine scanner feature and prompt firewall updates), Sucuri Security (known for malware scanning, integrity site monitoring, and blacklist monitoring), and iThemes Security (which offers a full set of features including file integrity checks, brute force protection, and 2FA).
Implement a Website Firewall and Perform Malware Scanning
A firewall acts as a shield, monitoring and filtering incoming traffic to block malicious requests, and protecting against a variety of threats. To set up a site firewall, you can use one of the cloud-based firewall services or install a plugin that provides this functionality.
In addition to adding a firewall, it’s important to perform regular malware scanning to detect and remove any malicious code or infected files on your site. As soon as you perform a malware scan, carefully study the results. If any problems are detected, remove malware promptly or quarantine the infected files.
Make Regular Backups and Plan Disaster Recovery
Whether you opt for a backup plugin or manual backups, having a strong backup solution is essential for your WordPress site.
You could set up a recurring backup schedule that suits your site’s updates and content changes. This will ensure that your backup files are always up-to-date and ready for restoration in the worst-case scenario. You can also periodically test your backup restoration process to be sure that you can successfully recover your site.
Besides backups, you should come up with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a security breach, data loss, or site compromise.
Round-The-Clock Monitoring and Security Alerts
To ensure the ongoing security of your WordPress site, it’s smart to implement round-the-clock monitoring and set up security alerts. This proactive approach will allow you to detect and respond to incidents swiftly.
Use a site monitoring tool that will continuously scan for any anomalies, such as suspicious activities, unauthorized access attempts, or changes to critical files.
Additionally, configure your monitoring tools to send alerts whenever a potential security threat is detected. These can be delivered via email, SMS, or push notifications, making sure you’re promptly notified of any suspicious activity or vulnerabilities.
Another thing you’ll want to monitor is server logs, as these can help you identify any suspicious or otherwise unusual activity.
Take Control of Your WordPress Website’s Security
By taking control of your WordPress site’s security, you’ve put yourself in a position of strength.
Still, keep in mind that this is an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring, updates, and proactive measures to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.