WordPress is one of the most popular open-source CMS in the world. It powers millions of websites and this makes WordPress the alpha CMS among bloggers, designers, and business owners. WordPress is easy to use but difficult to optimize for SEO. The weak link on which people do not emphasize much in digital marketing is website security.
Some important factors that Google consider while ranking your website
- User Experience
- On-page SEO
- Site Speed
- Mobile Friendliness
- Internal linking structure
- Structured Markups
To attain all these factors, website security is essential and here are some security tips to improve your WordPress website performance:-
Protect your WordPress login
- Use Strong Passwords: A strong password protects against many WordPress vulnerabilities. Passwords should be hard to guess and must contain case-sensitive alphabets, special characters and numbers. For security purposes, one should change credentials regularly. iThemes Security plugin can be used to implement strong WordPress password policies.
- Prevent Brute Force Attacks: Brute force attack is an activity that involves repeated and successive attempts to try various combinations of usernames and passwords to hack any site. CAPTCHA is one of the best protection against brute force attacks. CAPTCHA is used to prevent bots from automatically signing in with SPAM or submitting unwanted content. Google Captcha is a plugin that protects the Website from possible threats and spams and can be used for login, registration, password recovery, and more.
- Login LockDown plugin to ban users: A lockdown feature for failed login attempts can solve the huge problem of continuous brute force attempts. With this lockdown plugin, if a bot does a hacking attempt with repetitive wrong passwords, the site gets locked, and you will get notified of this unauthorized activity.
- Use two-factor authentication for WordPress security: It is very important to enable WordPress Two-factor Authentication. In case of password theft (via Man-in-the-middle attacks, phishing or other), there is no barrier if anybody wants to connect to one of your accounts. SMS code verification allows a mobile phone to receive OTP to verify the identity of the user. Email Verification is also a common and convenient method as SMS verification as this protects for theft of money (PayPal, the bank, etc.), and identity theft (Twitter, Facebook, your mailbox, etc.)
- Rename the URL of your WordPress Login Page: Default URL links to /wp-login.php or /wp-admin, and to prevent brute-force attacks one should simply change the URL. WPS hide login plugin can also be used. With this, you can use a custom URL as a standard login URL. After the activation of the plugin, “/wp-admin” and “/wp-login.php” will be replaced by a custom URL that you have chosen.
- Use your email to login: To log into WordPress, using an email ID instead of a username is a more secure approach. Usernames are easy to guess as compared to Email IDs. Also do not use your username ‘admin’. You can use Force Email Login plugin for this purpose and can also select an option for login with either username or email.
- Remove visible login links from the theme: You can remove the links like “Lost password”. It is very useful but if someone has hacked your email he will be able to control your site with your WordPress password.
- Limit the number of login attempts: If you allow people to try and access their accounts over and over again via the login screen, you’re leaving a weak point in your security. It lets hackers and bots try new passwords until they find the right one. Limiting login attempts prevents brute-force attacks. Some tools notify you about unsuccessful login attempts, which allows you to block those IPs or take other measures.
Protect your WordPress admin dashboard
- Whitelist IP addresses: WordPress enables you to whitelist IP addresses using your WordPress .htaccess file. You can specify IP addresses that can access your dashboard. You can pick and choose who uses your dashboard. IPs are unique, so this method is perfect if you work with a small team of users (who have static addresses). IPs are nearly impossible to replicate. It’s easy to implement. This process involves adding a few lines of code to your .htaccess file, which is quite straightforward.
- Protect the wp-admin directory: With this WordPress security feature, the website owner gets access to the dashboard by submitting two passwords. One for the login page, and the other for the WordPress admin area. Setting this up usually involves adjusting your hosting setup via cPanel.
- Keep your WordPress up-to-date: If you want to have a clean and virus-free website, update regularly for WordPress security. These updates are intended to fix bugs and sometimes have vital security patches. If you are not updating your themes and plugins, this can be a trouble. Many hackers rely on the fact that people don’t bother to update their plugins and themes. So, you should update the WordPress product regularly. However, WordPress has incorporated the automatic update in versions but only works for small security updates.
- Use SSL to encrypt data: SSL (Secure Socket Layer) ensures secure data transfer between user browsers and the server, by securing the admin panel and making it difficult for hackers to breach the connection or spoof your information. It is simple to get an SSL certificate for your WordPress website. You can purchase it from a third-party company or look for your hosting company to provide it for free. It also affects the website’s Google rankings because Google usually rank sites with SSL higher than those without it. That means your site will get more traffic.
- Add user accounts with care: If you run a WordPress blog with multi-author, then you need to deal with multiple people who are accessing your admin panel. This makes your website more vulnerable to WordPress security threats. Force Strong Passwords is a plugin if you want to make sure that whatever passwords users make are secure. However, this is just a precautionary measure, but it’s better than having several users with weak passwords.
- Change the username “admin”: During WordPress installation, you should never choose “admin” as the username for your main administrator account. It is an easy-to-guess username and approachable for hackers too. All they need to find out is the password, then your whole site will get into the wrong hands. The iThemes Security plugin can stop such attempts by immediately banning any IP addresses that attempt to log in with this username.
- Scan the website for viruses, malware, and security breaches: There are many tools which offer WordPress malware scanning that allows you to manually run an anti-malware scan to check if your site is infected by malware.
Protect WordPress website through the database
- Make backups regularly to secure your WordPress website: All of your site’s data and information is stored in the database. It is crucial to keep an off-site backup while maintaining security. Therefore, one should have a backup to restore WordPress website so that while making any changes it won’t affect the website. WP Database Backup and WP-DBManager are some plugins that can help you in this respect.
- Change the WordPress database table prefix: A very simple way to protect yourself is by using alternative prefixes for the names of the tables. If you install WordPress default, all tables in your database use the prefix wp_: wp_posts, wp_users, wp_usermeta, wp_comments, wp_new etc. If you use the default prefix, it will make your site database vulnerable to SQL injection attacks. Changing wp- term helps in preventing such attacks. For instance, Plugins like WP-DBManager or iThemes Security are also available to make this task easier.
- Set strong passwords for your database A strong password to access the database for the main database user is a necessity. The Password should be difficult to guess and contain uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. Passphrases are excellent as well. A free, and quick, tool for making strong passwords is the Secure Password Generator.
- Monitor your audit logs Make sure that your admins and contributors are not trying to change something on your site without approval. The WP Security Audit Log plugin provides a list for every activity, along with email notifications and reports. At its simplest, the audit log could help you see that a writer is having trouble logging in.
Use Secure WordPress Hosting
The WordPress hosting service plays an important role to protect your website from hackers and malware. Some of the features WordPress hosting plan should offer are:
- Datacenter security measures
- Server-side security systems like firewalls and anti-malware software
- SSL certificate add-ons
- Automated or managed backups
- Managed updates
Once you implement these tactics and follow up on WordPress’s ongoing security checks, you’re ready to permanently secure your WordPress site. If you have any query on how to secure your WordPress website, We are happy to help!