WordPress is a popular platform for building websites since it is full-featured yet free. Because it is so widely used, the sites built with it have become popular targets for cybercriminals. Hackers would rather spend their time trying to infiltrate a platform used by millions of businesses rather than one used by only a thousand. Thus, if your business has a WordPress site, you need to take as many measures as possible to secure it.
Here are seven ways to protect your company’s WordPress site against cyberattacks:
1. Use a Secure Hosting Service
When it comes to securing your WordPress site, you should start from the ground up. You need to use a reliable hosting service that regularly updates its infrastructure and keeps its security measures up-to-date. It is also important that the hosting service provides 24×7 phone support in the event that a cybercriminal is initiating an attack on your site.
An ideal setup is to have your WordPress site hosted on a dedicated server (or instance), but this can be expensive. When having a dedicated server does not make economic sense, shared hosting is a viable option, as long as your site is isolated from the other sites on the server. Otherwise, your site would be vulnerable if one of the other sites is hacked.
2. Implement a Password Policy
Weak passwords represent a serious threat to WordPress sites. With a brute-force password-cracking tool, hackers can crack a weak password in minutes. Thus, if people log in to any part of your site, you need to implement a password policy.
A password policy ensures that all the passwords used to access a site meet certain criteria. Businesses often implement policies that require site users to create passwords that:
- Are at least eight characters long
- Include both uppercase and lowercase letters
- Include numbers
- Include special characters (e.g., percent sign, exclamation point, dollar sign)
A password policy can also contain other requirements. For example, it might require site users to change their passwords every three months.
3. Keep the Number of Plugins to a Minimum
WordPress’s modular platform is both a blessing and a curse. You can easily extend and customize your site by installing plugins — and WordPress plugins are plentiful and often free to boot. However, every plugin you install presents a security risk. For this reason, it is best to keep the number of plugins to a minimum. The only plugins that should be installed are those necessary to keep your website secure and operating the way you want.
When you need to add a plugin, do some research before installing it. Make sure it does not have a lot of security issues or other types of problems reported in its support forum. Also, make sure that the developer frequently updates the plugin.
4. Install Security Plugins
Security plugins can help keep your WordPress site safe. There is a wide variety of plugins available. Some plugins are specifically designed to handle one security detail, such as implementing a password policy or executing a two-factor verification system. Other plugins handle multiple security measures. For example, a plugin might scan for malware, monitor the file system for unauthorized changes, and execute a two-factor verification system.
5. Do Not Install Free Themes from Unfamiliar Sources
Themes let you personalize the look and feel of WordPress sites. It is best to use either a free theme from the WordPress.org Theme Directory (they are reviewed) or buy a premium theme from a well-known vendor. Do not install free themes from unfamiliar sources, especially if they are free versions of premium themes. Those themes might be from cybercriminals who have inserted malicious code into them.
6. Keep Your Site Up-To-Date
It is important to regularly apply the updates issued for the core WordPress software and any plugins you installed on your site. These updates often include patches for the latest known security vulnerabilities, along with usability improvements and new features. If one of your plugins has not received an update in a while, it might be time to look for an alternative plugin that is better maintained.
7. Back Up Your Site
Despite your best efforts, your WordPress site might still come under siege. Having backup copies of your WordPress files and database can help you quickly recover from an attack. Plus, if your site becomes infected with ransomware, you will not have to pay the ransom to get your files back.
You can find instructions on how to perform backups on the WordPress.org website. There are also plugins that automate the backup process.