Keeping my WordPress website safe from hackers

Keeping your WordPress website safe involves implementing various security measures to protect it from threats such as hacking attempts, malware infections, and data breaches.

Here are some essential steps, according to ChatGPT, to help you enhance the security of your WordPress website:

1. Keep WordPress Core, Themes, and Plugins Updated:

  • Regularly update WordPress core, themes, and plugins to patch security vulnerabilities and ensure compatibility with the latest versions.
  • Comment: WordPress will automatically alert you to new updates that will become available to your website installation. There will typically appear as red circled numbers in the LHS navigation pane, when you are logged in as an Admin. Fitting a plugin, such as Easy Updates Manager, should take care of the updates for you, but it’s always worth keeping an eye on whether these updates are being implemented automatically.
  • Many web designers will load plugins for a specific task (e.g. file migration), and leave the plugin there permanently. Our philosophy is to delete these plugins when they are no longer needed. Also plugins that are loaded but not “activated” are a potential security risk and should be deleted. They can always be reloaded, if needed later.

2. Use Strong Passwords:

  • Use complex and unique passwords for your WordPress admin account, and hosting control panel. Consider using a password manager to generate and store secure passwords.
  • Comment: WordPress automatically assigns strong 24-random character passswords to users, when they are set up. It’s good practice to stick to using these very secure passwords. Use 2FA with Admins at all times!

3. Limit Login Attempts:

  • Use a plugin to limit the number of login attempts. This helps prevent brute-force attacks by blocking IP addresses that exceed the login attempts threshold.

4. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

  • Implement two-factor authentication for additional security. This requires users to provide a second form of authentication (e.g., a code sent to their mobile device) in addition to their password.
  • Comment: Use the Google Authenticator app, or similar app to synch your phone to your Admin login. Your password can be compromised, but not your 2FA! In addition, it’s really important that you restrict the number of Admins on your WordPress website to the minimum, and that you insist that all have 2FA active. The Wordfence plugin provides the 2FA functionality. It only takes a couple of minutes to set the 2FA up on any Admin user. 2FA is NOT required for users below Admin level (Editor, etc).

5. Use Secure Hosting:

  • Choose a reputable hosting provider that prioritizes security and offers features such as firewalls, malware scanning, and regular backups. Consider managed WordPress hosting for additional security measures.
  • Comment: All hosting companies offer secure hosting for WordPress websites. It’s a good idea to shop around, if you are doing this yourself. Web agencies will have their preferences for hosting providers, so trust their judgement.

6. Install Security Plugins:

  • Use security plugins like Wordfence, Sucuri Security, or iThemes Security to add extra layers of protection. These plugins offer features such as firewall protection, malware scanning, and security audits.
  • Comment: At Go2web  and SCSweb, we both recommend the use of the Wordfence plugin. It does have a Premium (charged) level, but the free version does everything that a normal WordPress website needs. If you are the designated admin for the plugin, you will get email alerts regarding security issues, login attempts etc. You can easily set the level of alerts to suit your own situation.

7. Implement SSL/HTTPS:

  • Secure your website with an SSL certificate to encrypt data transmission between the server and visitors’ browsers. This protects sensitive information such as login credentials and improves trustworthiness.
  • Comment: SSL certificates are vital to keeping Google happy with your website. They are applied at host server level. They can be free, but normally attract at a small annual charge. Make sure your URLs start with https://…., which indicates that an SSL cert is fitted, and that a small lock icon is showing beside the URL. Clicking on the lock allows you to interrogate the nature and provider of the SSL cert.

8. Regular Backups:

  • Set up regular backups of your WordPress website. Backup your files and database regularly and store backups securely offsite.
  • Comment: Your website agency will ensure this happens. Your hosting company will be able to revert to a previous version of your website, in the case of a catastrophic failure.

9. Monitor File Changes:

  • Use a security plugin to monitor file changes and receive alerts if any unauthorized modifications are detected. This helps you detect and respond to security threats promptly.
  • Comment: The Wordfence plugin will do this for you automatically. Ensure that the plugin is set up correctly – ask your web agency for details.

10. Educate Users:

  • Educate users with access to your WordPress website about security best practices, such as avoiding suspicious links, keeping software updated, and using strong passwords.
  • Comment: You have a lot invested in your website these days – it’s probably the most important part of many organizations’ marketing and communications. The last thing you need is for it to be compromised because something basic has been ignored. Admins users with 2FA; keeping all software updated, regular security scans; deleting software not being used; all these are really good principles for maintaining a safe and secure website. Remember: the hackers are constantly looking for weaknesses in all our websites. Make yours one of those that gives them no opportunities to break in!

By implementing these security measures and staying vigilant, you can significantly reduce the risk of security breaches and keep your WordPress website safe from various threats. Regularly review and update your security practices to adapt to evolving threats and vulnerabilities.

Check out our Beginners and Advanced WordPress courses.

WordPress training for beginners and advanced users

For more details of our courses, contact:

Ian Jackson

ianj@go2web.ie

(086) 832 6541