One of the biggest challenges with running a website is to ensure its safety. Nobody wants their website to get hacked, and with the rising number of threats nowadays, even the best websites can be compromised.
So, how do you avoid getting hacked? Are there any special steps that you can take to make sure your website is safe and secure? In this article, we shall attempt to find answers to these questions.
This has already been repeated so many times that it might appear to be redundant. However, even to this day, numerous websites are compromised and hacked for the simple reason that the site owners did not consider updating their themes and plugins.
As and when new security threats or bugs are discovered, the WordPress community updates its products such as themes, plugins or even the WP core. As such, you should always update your WP installation as well as any themes or plugins that you might be using. In this manner, you can ensure that your site is not at risk and you have the latest security fixes applied.
Out of date and obsolete versions of WordPress can pose a great security risk as hackers can exploit known weaknesses and security issues.
First up, ensure that you use a combination of strong passwords and usernames. The default “admin” username should never be used as it is far too easy for malicious users to guess. Similarly, you should update and change your password regularly to make sure nobody gets to crack it so easily.
With that said, there are certain other measures that you can take to make it difficult for evil guys to hack your website. Change the default database and table prefix for your WordPress site. It is easy to do it when installing WordPress — simply modify the wp_ prefix to anything that you feel like.
However, the process of WordPress installation varies from one host to another, so you might wish to consult with your web hosting provider on this. Furthermore, if you are running an existing WordPress website, do not change the table and database prefixes outright. Once again, get in touch with your web hosting provider and ensure you have backups of your site — database changes have the potential to break things.
WordPress Plugins for Security
There are various WordPress plugins out there that you can use to harden and improve the security of your WP site. However, to provide optimum protection, let us discuss plugins on the basis of solutions they provide.
1 Brute Force Attacks
The most obvious method of gaining unwanted access to a site is by means of a brute force attack. Essentially, a brute force attack is when the hacker guesses your password and username combination until they get it right. To prevent such attacks, using a plugin like Login LockDown can be a smart strategy. It locks down your login page if there are multiple failed login attempts from the same IP address.
2 Virus and Malware Scanners
The second method in which a website can be hacked is by infecting it with a virus or malware. As such, you might need to run scans to ensure your website is free from malware and other security threats.
There are several WordPress plugins that can help you accomplish this, but Wordfence Security seems to be highly popular. It can run scheduled scans and check for your WordPress installation’s files against repository versions for any changes.
Sucuri Sitecheck is also a useful and worthy option for this purpose. While it does not check your site in realtime, you can upgrade to a premium plan for such features.
It must be pointed out, however, that the easiest way a malware can gain entry into your site is by means of compromised themes or plugins. Therefore, you should never install WordPress themes or plugins from unknown sources — unknown offers for free themes and plugins that you can get in your inbox or Google search are not always the safest bet.
A firewall is generally only needed for medium to large-sized websites. If your website or blog is small, you probably do not need a firewall.
However, a web firewall can really prove useful if your site is prone to DDoS attacks and other such threats. It can filter good traffic from bad and prevent bad guys from accessing your website.
Most CDN providers, such as CloudFlare, offer web application firewalls in their premium plans. Wordfence Security, mentioned above, comes with a community firewall that does a great job and is free of cost. Similarly, Sucuri too has a very powerful firewall solution in its paid offerings.
As a last resort, what should you do if something goes wrong? No anti-malware or anti-hacking solution is absolutely unbreakable, after all.
In such cases, it is always a smart move to ensure that you have regular and updated backups of your website. Most importantly, do not rely entirely on your web hosting provider for backups. Take your own backups and keep them on an offsite remote location such that if something were to go wrong, you can still restore your site quickly.
There you have it, some simple and useful measures you can take to ensure your website does not get hacked. Need more? Check out this guide about WordPress security.
Got any security ideas of your own? Share them in the comments below!