Protecting Your WordPress Site From Hackers: A Simple Guide

It's no secret that cybercrime is on the rise. Believe it or not, the FBI received 1,300 cybercrime reports per day in 2019.

Your website will be no different if you use WordPress. Since WordPress is the most popular content management system out there, it's a prime target for hackers. If you rely on third-party plugins and themes to make your site work, then you're at even more risk.

Luckily, there are several security measures you can take to protect your WordPress website. See what those measures are below.

Keep Everything Updated

No software is perfect, so the chances are good that your website installation has undiscovered bugs. While many of these problems aren't security concerns, there's always the rare occasion when one of them will be.

The problem isn't just with your core WordPress installation, either. Many security problems come from third-party themes and plugins. The more plugins and themes you add to your site, the bigger problem this becomes.

If you want to stay on top of WordPress security, keeping your software updated is your first line of defense. Software providers are typically on top of security issues when they're discovered. Regular updates will provide security patches for your website, so hackers can't take advantage of them.

Of course, you might not have time to check your website for updates all the time. That's why WordPress provides automatic updates for your files.

Just be aware that not all themes and plugins work well together at all times. If you make extensive use of them, updates can break your website. Make sure your website is backed up regularly so you can revert your website to an old version until you can track down your update problems.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Even if you use a strong password, that won't stop hackers from accessing your administration section. You can suffer from a data breach from another provider, or a hacker can use another method to steal your password.

Two-factor authentication solves this problem. Even though an attacker has your password, they won't be able to log in unless they have your secondary authentication method.

The primary way two-factor authentication works is with secondary codes. They're sent by email, text message, or an authentication application. In more complex scenarios, you can use a hardware device to log into your site.

It's not difficult to set up this process, either. Install the two-factor authentication plugin, and you can set it up in no-time.

Change Your WordPress Login URL

Nobody can attempt to log into your WordPress website if they can't find the login URL. Many attackers use automated programs to browse to your login page and automate the login process. Changing your login location stops these programs in their tracks.

The plugin WPS Hide Login accomplishes this task. Once you install it, use the administration section to indicate where you want your new login location.

Disable File Editing

There might be the rare occasion when someone gains access to your website. They have access to all your website files when this happens. A hacker can browse your theme and plugin code and add whatever malicious code they want.

You can stop this from happening by disabling file changes from your wp-config file. Add the following code to the end of that file to stop changes from happening:

define('DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true);

Monitor Your Website Files

The admin section isn't the only way hackers can modify your WordPress installation. In some cases, they can use compromised plugins and themes to access your web server's file system. From there, they can add and modify any file they want.

You'll need to monitor file changes on your server if you want to know when this happens. A security plugin can handle the job for you.

Wordfence is a free WordPress firewall and malware scanner. The Wordfence plugin continuously monitors your core WordPress files to look for changes. If something in a file doesn't look right, Wordfence will remove it and replace it with the original version.

You can also take advantage of Wordfence's malware definition database to remove malware from your server. Malware spreads quickly on web servers and can quickly infect your whole installation. Having a program remove the problem for you will save you a lot of time if you try to clean up your WordPress site yourself.

Change Your Database Prefix

Software automation comes at a price. While the WordPress install is easy and quick, it uses common naming patterns to make sure everything runs smoothly. One of those patterns is with database prefixes.

Your WordPress databases contain the term "wp-" before all its database tables. A hacker can use this pattern to access all your database information.

A plugin like this can stop a hacker from accessing your data. If someone doesn't know your prefix, they can't run commands to access and change data.

Stop DDoS Attacks

Hackers aren't the only security threat you'll face with your website. If you run a popular website that is hardened against attacks, attackers might use a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against your web server. If this happens and you aren't prepared, it can cause your website to crash.

A DDoS attack occurs when an attacker sends a large amount of traffic to a website in an attempt to overload its resources. These attacks can take place for hours and cripple your ability to conduct business with your website.

A great way to mitigate DDoS attacks is to use a content delivery network (CDN). Your CDN provider uses caching to host static versions of your website pages that don't change. Instead of your visitors hitting your server with requests when seeing these pages, they'll use the CDN server to access your website.

The same is true for someone wanting to launch a DDoS attack. Since their attack doesn't reach your server, your website won't go down. CDN providers also have security measures in place to detect and stop these attacks from happening.

If you're looking for a CDN to protect your website, Cloudflare is a great choice. Their free plan offers everything you need to protect your site.

Install SSL

Nothing is encrypted on the internet by default. If someone has monitoring tools available and is watching your traffic, they can see all the information you send and receive.

That's what SSL is for. It's a security certificate that provides encryption for everything that happens on your website. If you're logging into your administration section, you don't need to worry about anyone stealing your data.

Luckily, it isn't challenging to set up SSL anymore. Most hosting providers provide free SSL certificates from the LetsEncrypt service. It only takes a few seconds to set up, so make sure you take advantage of the service.

Don't Cut Corners With Website Security

Having a secure site today doesn't mean that it will remain so in the future. If you don't take the proper precautions, you'll put your website at risk. Use the tips above to fortify your defenses so hackers can't hack your WordPress site.

Are you dealing with a virus or hacker problem on your WordPress site? Let me know the problem, and I'll help you clean up your WordPress installation.

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