Essential WordPress Security Tips

Essential WordPress Security Tips

Table of Contents:

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a common vulnerability found in WordPress plugins. It occurs when a malicious script is injected into a trusted website or application, allowing the attacker to send malicious code to the end user without their knowledge. This can lead to the theft of sensitive information such as cookies or session data, or even the manipulation of HTML on a page. Preventing XSS attacks is crucial for maintaining the security of your WordPress website.


Brute Force Attacks

Brute force attacks involve hackers repeatedly trying various username and password combinations to gain unauthorized access to your WordPress site, potentially causing security breaches or website defacement if successful. This is particularly dangerous if you don’t limit login attempts.


Neglecting to update your WordPress core software, plugins, and themes can leave security vulnerabilities unpatched, making your site an easier target for cyberattacks and compromising its information, potentially leading to unauthorized data access, manipulation, or site takeover if not properly secured. Incorrect file and directory permissions on your server can enable unauthorized users to read, modify, or delete critical files, jeopardizing your site’s security and potentially leading to data loss or compromise.


Malware and viruses can infect your WordPress site, potentially leading to data breaches and harmful actions like spreading malware to your visitors, damaging your site’s reputation, and impacting its functionality. Implementing two-step authentication, limiting login attempts, and regularly updating your WordPress core, plugins, and themes are essential security measures to protect your website from brute force attacks and other security vulnerabilities.


Outdated Plugins and Themes

Outdated plugins and themes pose a significant security risk to your WordPress website. According to research, nearly 50% of the plugins in the repository have not been updated in over 2 years. While an outdated plugin may still work with the current version of WordPress, it is recommended to choose plugins that are actively updated. Out of date plugins are more likely to contain security vulnerabilities. When selecting plugins, consider the ‘Last Updated’ date and the number of ratings.


Avoid plugins that are out of date and have bad reviews. WordPress also provides warnings for plugins that haven’t been updated in a while. It’s important to stay on top of the latest WordPress security updates and vulnerabilities. There are resources available, such as WP Security Bloggers and WPScan, that provide information on security feeds and catalog vulnerabilities in WordPress core, plugins, and themes.


Keep WordPress Core, Plugins, and Themes Updated

Another very important way to harden your WordPress security is to always keep it up to date. This includes WordPress core, plugins, and themes (both those from the WordPress repository and premium). These are updated for a reason, and a lot of times these include security enhancements and bug fixes. We recommend you to read our in-depth guide on how WordPress automatic updates work. Unfortunately, millions of businesses out there running outdated versions of WordPress software and plugins, and still believe they’re on the right path of business success.


Use Strong and Unique Passwords

Passwords are a crucial aspect of securing your WordPress website. It is important to use strong and unique passwords to make hacking attempts more difficult. Avoid using easily guessable passwords, such as your pet’s name or common words. Instead, opt for passwords with at least 12 characters that include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and special characters. While complex passwords may be hard to remember, you can use password managers to securely store and manage your passwords. By using strong and unique passwords, you significantly enhance the security of your WordPress site and protect it from unauthorized access.


Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security measure that adds an extra layer of protection to your WordPress website. It requires users to complete two security steps before they can access the site. The first step is the traditional username and password challenge. The second step involves entering a security code sent to a separate device or app.


To enable 2FA on your WordPress site, you can use the Two Factor Authentication plugin. After installing and activating the plugin, you will need to set it up by following these steps:


  1. Install and open an authenticator app on your phone, such as Google Authenticator.
  2. Click on the ‘Two Factor Auth’ link in the WordPress admin sidebar.
  3. Enter the one-time setup code provided by the plugin.
  4. Scan the QR code displayed on the screen using the authenticator app.
  5. Once the QR code is scanned, the app will generate a unique security code for your WordPress site.


With 2FA enabled, users will need to enter the security code from their authenticator app in addition to their username and password when logging in to your WordPress site. This adds an extra layer of security and helps prevent unauthorized access.


Remember to educate your users about the importance of using strong credentials and regularly changing their passwords. By implementing 2FA, you can significantly enhance the security of your WordPress website and protect it from potential threats.


Regularly Backup Your Website

A good WordPress backup contains everything on your site: your pages, blog posts, comments, images . . . everything. But, have you thought of the steps you would take if you ever actually needed to use that backup? You need a plan. Make sure your website content stays secure by creating a daily backup of your database and files. This can be time-consuming! Pro tip: make sure these services–backup and restore–are included with your hosting plan. WP Engine and Siteground provide this daily full backup and restore service at no additional cost. What if your hosting company doesn’t offer an easy backup and restore method? It is possible to do manual backups of your WordPress


Limit Login Attempts

To further protect your site against the threat of brute force attacks, you can limit attempts to log into WordPress. That way, when someone enters the wrong password repeatedly, they’re locked out of your site for a time. One way to implement this feature is to use the Limit Login Attempts Reloaded plugin. It lets you specify the maximum number of incorrect passwords allowed before locking out the user and emails you whenever a login fails. Implementing this security measure can help ensure the safety of your website and prevent unauthorized access.

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