Top 24 Tips To Improve Your WordPress Security In 2022

 8 Feb, 2022

Introduction

WordPress needs no introduction! It is the best Content Management System at present that has a plethora of customization features, is SEO-friendly, and other integrations as well.

So it is not surprising to know that WordPress empowers more than 34% of websites used today? 

But, do you also know that stats indicate that WordPress sites get 90,000 attacks per minute? Yes! The number is quite overwhelming to believe.

Why is it so? Its popularity has given rise to more vulnerabilities like hacking and malicious attacks. 

Are you wondering what exactly exposes the WordPress sites to these types of attacks?

Many to list! It can be due to weak passwords, unauthorized themes or plug-ins, outdated WordPress versions, and much more. 

I can hear your million-dollar question that pops up in your mind right now!

What are the essential precautions that safeguard all of your websites, personal blogs, or eCommerce sites built on WordPress? Remember the saying, Prevention is better than cure? Right? Put it into practice!

In this article, we discuss these things that include the following:

  • Reasons to secure WordPress Security
  • What are the security vulnerabilities in WordPress?
  • Best WordPress Plugins to use
  • Top 24 ways to lock your WordPress Security
  • How does hacking harm your business?
  • Why invest in WordPress security?

Shall we start!

Reasons To Secure WordPress

First things first! It is significant to know the whys of WordPress Security for your digital assets. If you don’t secure WordPress the consequences can be:

  • When your website gets hacked, your confidential information is at the hands of hackers. They misuse them to hamper your brand image and revenues.
  • You have to pay lump-sum amounts to earn the website access back from those intruders.
  • Customers lose their trust and eventually move to your competitor.
  • Extra investments to rebuild everything you have lost right from reputation and customer trust.

So, what are the loopholes that hackers use to break into your website or blog post? Check out the undermentioned section that outlines the vulnerabilities they use to make the attacks happen.

Brief Look Into Security Vulnerabilities

We start the list with CSRF.

a. Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) 

This website vulnerability permits the hacker to trigger unwanted user actions that should never happen. 

b. Backdoors

As the name suggests, this vulnerability lets the intruders gain access using abnormal SFTP or FTP security encryptions. 

According to WordPress security plugin-provider Sucuri, many hacked sites have some form of backdoor injections.

c. Denial of service 

The hackers throw up unwanted connections to disable the services, and as a result, make your site not accessible.

d. Local File Inclusion (LFI)

When your site gets infected with LFI, it automatically processes the malicious files injected into your server.

e. SQL injection (SQLi)

The malevolent attackers use this technique to force your site to run the unwanted SQL queries that edit the information within the DB.

f. Authentication bypass

When you don’t have the authentication process to cross-check the authenticity of who is accessing your site, it becomes easy for the attacker to break into your page.

These are the few susceptible ways hackers can get hold of your site or page. So, in the subsequent discussion, we look into the top WordPress security best practices that help you stay protected from these vulnerabilities.

Top 24 Ways to Lock Your WordPress Security Site

Let us start the WordPress security best practices with the updates.

1: Update your WordPress Version

Do you know that more than 60% of WordPress websites have the outmoded version? 

What is the simplest way to keep your WordPress site secured? It is to update them with the latest versions that boost the site security and performance. 

Along with the version, experts recommend updating the themes and plugins. Why? It reduces security threats.

The latest version of WordPress is 5.9 (expected release date-Jan 2022)

Pro tip: Back up your website before updating to avoid data loss due to crashes or incompatibility errors

2: Use Strong Passwords for Logins

What is your admin password? Is it 12345 or password or admin? Well, your site has a high chance of being hacked. Don’t make things simpler for hackers.

Make your admin or user passwords strong, unique, and highly secure. It ensures heightened WordPress security login.

Do stay away from public networks as they are more prone to hacking. Just you ought to work in an open network in a cafe or restaurant do it via VPN.

Pro tip: Open an admin account with a new username and password. You can create passwords with lowercase and uppercase and are more than 12 characters long.

3: Deploy two-factor Authentication

Do you know that hackers are smart enough to encrypt your unique passwords? So, rest assured, you can leverage two-factor authentication that improve your WordPress security login aspect. This process sends an SMS message to your mobile device apart from password verification.

Are you wondering how this simple WordPress security technique can be effective? Hackers can have your password but not your smartphone. Right?

Pro tip: You can use Rublon, Google Authenticator, Duo, Fence, miniOrange for this WordPress security check. Do you follow these WordPress security best practices?

4: Use Web Application Firewall

What is the most credible way of protecting your WordPress site? Well! It is to install a web application firewall (WAF) that signals a u-turn for the malicious threats before reaching your server.

You can either use a firewall at the Application or DNS level. Former prevents traffic from proxy servers. 

DNS verifies the traffic after it reaches the server. But before loading it into your site.

Pro tip: You can use plugin WordPress security apps like Jetpack, BulletProof, Sucuri, MaxCDN, Cloudflare, Wordfence for your websites. 

5: Using the Latest PHP version

As PHP is the pillar of WordPress, make sure to use its latest version, and upon doing so, it fixes all the security issues or bugs. 

The latest version of PHP is 7.0, but still many are using the outdated version of 5.6 that can influence WordPress security and performance. 

6: Switch off the PHP Error Reporting

You have the latest version of PHP. Well! That is a piece of great news! But you have a few things to do on PHP that assures heightened security of your site.

Enabling error reporting feature display your file structure and other backend details to visitors and hackers. It is another vulnerability that helps scammers to knock your site.

So, security experts often suggest that a WordPress Security best practice is to disable PHP error reporting.

You can do this via

  • The PHP file
  • Control panel of your hosting account

7: Use Authorized and Original WordPress Themes

Do you fall for the honeypot of low-priced WordPress themes? Well! You have to remember that both the prices and the security features of these nulled themes are low too. 

What is the exact scenario of these unauthorized themes? The hackers hack the original version and embed spam links and codes to deliver nulled versions that can hamper your entire WordPress site. 

So, to avoid these kinds of issues, make it a practice to purchase and deploy only original and authorized themes.

Pro tip: Use WordPress theme from Themeforest, an official repository that offers professional themes and templates for your site.

8: Install Best WordPress Security Plugins

Do you want to make your themes free of malware, viruses, spyware, or ransomware? First, scan your site frequently. Then make sure to install security plugins to shield your site from any threats. 

Where to look for credible WordPress security plugins? Today many developers and companies offer tons of those that can boost your site speed and security.

Let us take a brief tour of a few WordPress security plugins that can prove to be advantageous:

a. Sucuri Security (widely used WordPress plugins)

  • Sucuri WordPress security plugins has both paid and free versions
  • It has the best free tools for security hardening, malware scanning, file integrity monitoring
  • Provides SSL certificates (paid one)
  • Few plans include advanced DDoS protection features
  • Send notifications for any suspicious activity on your site

b. WordFence Security

  • It has robust login features
  • WordFence has good security incident recovery tools
  • The non-paid version best suits small business sites
  • It scans and combats malware, spam, threats for your entire WordPress site
  • It has an in-built comment spam filter, and there is no need to install a separate one for the same

c. BulletProof Security (advanced tool)

  • It provides unique and most advanced security tools
  • The free version includes DB backups
  • Permits to hide plugin folders
  • It has the maintenance mode feature that is unavailable in other ones in the market
  • The set-up wizard has an auto-fix feature to make things easier

d. Jetpack 

  • Jetpack from the WordPress developers has tons of modules to heighten your site speed, security, and social media
  • It is a cost-saving security tool
  • Jetpack WordPress plugins manages the updates for you
  • Offers the best spam shields and security scanning
  • It eliminates the need for installing other plugins 

e. SecuPress

  • It is simple-to-use and beginner-friendly
  • The premium version offers the best security reports within minutes
  • You can change the login URL of the site without letting the bots know about it
  • SecuPress can identify themes hacked previously
  • You can expect two-factor authentication and malware scans in the premium ones

f. WPScanner

  • It has a manually-profiled database of more than 21,000+ security vulnerabilities. 
  • WPScanner WordPress security plugins have the best security checks, like detecting users with weak passwords. 
  • It has free API plans that befit many sites.
  • Set your scan schedules at a time that is convenient for you
  • The tool sends email notifications when a vulnerability is detected

g. Vault Press

  • The premium WordPress security plugins are suitable for bloggers and small business owners.
  • The tool reports on regular backups with the best calendar views
  • Offers one-click site restoration operations
  • The impressive dashboard is easy to use
  • VaultPress experts clear your doubts on any site backups or restoration activities.

h. Security Ninja

  • Security Ninja has an in-built security tester module that runs 50+ tests for your site.
  • It scans your themes of plugins for any malevolent code or malware 
  • The tool has an impressive list of bad IP guys list that auto-blocks if it finds a match
  • You can plan your scan schedules at your convenience
  • these WordPress security plugins help you track all the changes that happen on the site

i. Defender

  • These WordPress security plugins have a two-step google authentication verification
  • It has the login screen masking feature
  • It provides unlimited file scans
  • You can do core file repairs
  • Uses 404 limiters for preventing vulnerability scans

j. Shield Security

  • It offers deeper and smarter protection features that work round the clock and send less annoying notifications.
  • It offers three variations of two-factor authentication for the users to select from in the free version.
  • It is one of its kind, as it permits only a few users to change the settings.
  • Shield security offers the best prices for any bulk purchase of professional upgrades.
  • The plugin has smooth security policies for its user base.

9: Choosing Secure Web Hosting

What vital element plays a crucial role in securing your website? Yes! It is web hosting

Do you know that WordPress sites with vulnerabilities in hosting accounts get hacked by 41% more?

Are your current web hosting services secure enough? If not, it is better to migrate your site to another hosting platform to be on the safer side.

A few things to consider while picking your hosting provider are:

  • Choose the web hosting type as dedicated or VPS as they are not vulnerable like shared hosting services.
  • Be sure the hosting monitors any malicious activity and frequently updates their hardware and software. Also, it should offer the best server protection against various cyber attacks.
  • The hosting provider should provide automated backup options and the best security tools to shield your site against malware attacks.
  • The web hosting company should have a tech-support team round the clock to assist you in troubleshooting any technical issues that arise all of a sudden

10: Go and Install SSL Certificate

Are you wondering what SSL certificates have to do with WordPress security? Abbreviated as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), it is a practice that is overlooked by many. 

SSL makes the data transfer between the user and website more secure. Therefore it makes it harder for hackers to crack any vital information.

Getting an SSL certificate will make your website use HTTPS instead of  HTTP. It indicates that your site is secure to the users. 

When you have this WordPress security certificate installed it boosts your traffic and SEO.

Pro tip: You can use WP LetsEncrypt, WP Force SSL, Really Simple SSL, SSL Zen, Really Simple SSL plugins to handle the technical part of the SSL.

11: Frequent WordPress Backups

What WordPress security best practice helps you protect your website against any mishaps or threats and recover your entire site if it happens? It is to take frequent backups.

Make sure your backup includes all vital files. 

To activate this process select the Backup option from the WP migration menu. Also, remember to “export” your backups by selecting the option from the file menu.

Pro tip: UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, Jetpack Backups, WP Time Capsule, BackWPUp are a few WordPress backup plugins that can help you out.

12: Disable File Editing Option

Do you know that WordPress has a default file editor for PHP files? Yes! Not only you even the hackers know it and use this loophole to break into your website.

So, many WordPress users make it a habit of disabling this edit feature either by deleting the PHP configuration file using a File manager (hosting provider’s) or FTP.

13: Declutter Old Themes or Plug-ins.

Are you wondering how come not-in-use themes can affect your site? Yes! Millions of websites with outdated plugins and themes are the targets of hackers, as they can utilize this vulnerability to access and control your site.

To declutter the old plugins, go to the Plugins option-> Installed Plugins-> Click Delete under the plugin name.

To do the same for themes, go to Admin Dashboard -> Appearance->Themes-> Click Delete under the theme name.

Pro tip: You have to do these processes manually by accessing the FTP of your DB.

14: Use .htaccess for Improved Security

What is the reason for 404 errors on the eCommerce site or blogging platform? When you miss declaring .htacess files, the links might not work as expected, resulting in these errors.

Apart from this, .htaccess has the following functionalities:

  • Restrict or block access from a few IP addresses or only to one specific IP address
  • Disable PHP execution option on specific folders - remember to find the wp-config.php File from the root directory and protect it as they are the main focus of the attackers. 

15: Fasten Database Security

The DB is the heart of WordPress that holds all critical information for the site's functioning. Yes! Hackers are well aware of this fact! So they try to attack via SQL injections. 

This technique can overstep the WordPress security features and enter your system to wipe off the entire database. 

Do you know that SQL injections affect almost every WordPress website? Why? Many fail to rewrite the default prefix wp_.

So how to safeguard your site from this attack? Follow the two options mentioned below: 

a. Use the best database name.

If your site is about baseball techniques, then your default WordPress DB name would be wp_baseballtechniques, so make sure to rename it with some obscure names that are not easy to guess for the hackers.

b. Change the default table prefix.

The default Table Prefix is wp_. Make sure you change the name to something related to your original table and the field names. 

16: Make Use of Secure Connections

Cross-check whether your WordPress host offers more secured connections like SSH or SFTP. Why? These provide higher security than the typical FTP ones. 

Many WordPress ports use SFTP by default, which encrypts your data for added security. Apart from this, do follow these simple tips to safeguard your data:

  • Remember to set your home router correctly. Else your home network can be prone to attacks
  • Disable remote management (VPN), which shields the exposure of your network
  • Try using different ranges for the router IPs
  • Put up high-level encryption for your Wi-fi
  • Provide the access only to those who have the password and specific IP
  • Update your router firmware frequently.
  • Check the network SSID before choosing public network connections
  • Hide your IPs from attackers via third-party VPN services

17: Set the Correct File and Server Permissions

Ensure the file and server permissions are either too weak or not strong.

Why? The weak permissions turn sites vulnerable for an attack, and strong can impact the regular site functionalities. 

So, having the correct read, write, and execute file and server permissions can build up your WordPress security.

Pro tip: You can use security plugins mentioned in the top 10 list.

18:  Hide Your WordPress Version Details

The version details are a loophole for the hackers to know more about your site, enabling them to bring down yours. The chances are substantial if you have an outdated WordPress version.

But this problem comes with its practical solution. Just remember to hide your version details available via Theme Editor. The following steps will help you do it with ease:

  • Go to dashboard->Select Appearance-> Click Theme Editor
  • Select -> Current theme -> Click functions.php file
  • Add the remove version number code to the PHP file and the meta tag as well
  • Finally, Click -> Update file to save up the implemented changes

19: Auto Logout of Inactive Users

Do you use public computers and often forget to log out? You are not all alone! Many commit this mistake that makes the session run longer. 

Thus, when it is not a private network, the possibilities of data leaks are higher.

So, to avoid this issue, remember to set your WP site settings to auto log out the idle sessions. 

Many security plugins offer this feature that sends an auto end session message to those users who left without logging out. 

20: Block Spammy Comments

WordPress lets the penetration of spammy comments, which creates a vulnerability for any threats. So, include this point in your WordPress Security checklist - the practice of reviewing any comments before posting.

You can also manually disable or block the spammy comments altogether. 

Pro tip: WordPress Zero Spam, Antispam Bee, WP-SpamShield, Akismet, Antispam by Cleantalk are a few popular spams blocking plugins.

21: Track User Activity

Do you run multiple WordPress websites? 

If yes, keep an eye on user activities to track any suspicious activity in your admin area.

Why? Sometimes the users might alter any settings that they should not. So, tracking the user activities lets you know about any unwanted actions or unauthorized access to your site.

Pro tip: You can use Activity Log, WP Activity Log, and Simple History to do crucial monitoring tasks.

22: Prevent Hotlinking

Hotlinking is the use of an URL image source on your site. 

The bandwidth for displaying that image is from the actual source. As a result, their internet bills might shoot up.

Do you like it to happen to your website? No, right? 

If your site speed is low, it might be hot-linked. To check it, type in your domain name in the Google images and discover for yourself.

Pro tip: You can alter the control panel settings. 

Use a Security Plugin or 

FTP client to overstep hotlinking.

23: Switch-off XML-RPC

What is XML-RPC? It is a feature that allows you to access and publish content through smartphones. This feature switches on the pingbacks and trackbacks of the WordPress plugin.

So does it bother your WP security? Yes! It does. When XML-RPC is enabled, it creates the space for multiple login attempts, which does not come under the security scanner. Thus, it exposes your website to brute force or DDoS attacks.

The hackers send multiple pingback instances to many websites and crush them down.

If you want to disable this feature for your site, you can do it via

  • WordPress plugin or 
  • Manually by placing - the block WordPress code snippet into your root directory.

24: Restricting Login Attempts

One undesirable feature of WordPress is that it allows you to make multiple login attempts. This loophole is handy enough for the hackers to figure out the correct passwords through several attempts and crackdown your site.

How to overcome this? Limit the number of attempts. It helps you monitor any undesirable activity on your site. 

In general, the users need only 2-3 attempts for their login, and other increased instances of login attempts indicate a threat.

Pro tip: You can use the Limit Login Attempts Reloaded Plugin WordPress security.

We have seen the possible ways to lock your WordPress security against any hacking activity.  

Let us move into our last section that sheds light on the consequences of a hacking occurrence. 

What Happens When Your Site Gets Hacked?

Many to list out, but a few significant ones that point out the importance of investing in WordPress security plugins are:

  • Spoils your brand image and reputation
  • The malware can pollute your visitors
  • Pay the hacker to remove the ransomware
  • Loss of confidential data
  • Burden your finances
  • Getting listed out on Google that fails your SEO marketing efforts at one shot
  • Additional time, effort, and money to rebuild your site from scratch

How to avoid these costly fails? Invest in the best security plugins. Then, follow these steps that shield your site against any unwanted events. 

We have summarized the article into digestible chunks for your convenience:

  • Use the latest version of WordPress and PHP
  • Update and backup your WordPress site
  • Deploy unique admin names and passwords to strengthen WordPress security login
  • Focus on using two-factor authentication
  • Install Web application firewall (WAF)
  • Use of original themes and plugins
  • Install best WordPress security plugins
  • Go for secured web hosting connections
  • Install SSL certificates
  • Disable file editing options
  • Use .htaccess for heightened security
  • Work on Database security
  • Implement right file and server connections
  • Hide your WordPress version
  • Activate Auto Logout feature for Idle sessions
  • Regular monitoring of user activities
  • Eliminating spam comments
  • Avoiding and preventing hotlinking
  • Disabling XML-RPC
  • Restricting the login attempts

Final Words

You have to note that locking WordPress security is not a one-time activity that can ensure lifetime results. Technologies keep evolving. So do the hackers' routes to find vulnerabilities. 

Until hacking exists, your security assessment and implementation of best practices never end. 

We hope that this well-researched and curated article helps you realize the significance of security measures and the know-how of the implementation.

Are you looking for WordPress website design or development services? Please do ping us an email, and we promise to respond at the earliest.

Do you have any other suggestions to include in this list? Do you have any questions to ask us? If yes, do let us know in the comments below.

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