If you want to create a website that will keep visitors returning, you’ll need to commit a significant amount of time and possibly money to the endeavor. After all, the last thing you’ll want is to see your site compromised or hacked. Simply put, ensuring your site’s security should be a top priority – both during its development and afterwards.
Fortunately, WordPress makes the job of securing your site relatively easy. There are a number of simple steps you can take, along with a myriad of reliable plugins you can use that provide more advanced security features. Overall, shoring up your site will require surprisingly little effort, and you’ll likely reap the benefits in the long run.
To get you started, we’re going to explain five vital tips for tightening up your WordPress site’s security. Let’s begin with the basics!
1. Back Up Your Site Regularly
It’s important to start by acknowledging that no matter what you do to protect your site, there’s always a chance something could go wrong. In short, no security measure can provide 100% protection, so it’s vital to keep your site backed up. That way, if disaster strikes you have a way to recover.
It’s also highly recommended to back up your site before making any major changes, which is why we’re addressing this tip first. Most of the suggestions below involve installing plugins and modifying user information, and you’ll want to create a backup before implementing any of them.
To get started, check with your hosting provider, as they may already create backups for you. If not – or for added safety – consider installing a suitable security plugin. We recommend UpdraftPlus for its ease of use and reliability. Whatever solution you choose, put your site backups on a regular schedule and store them somewhere secure.
2. Keep WordPress’ Core, Themes, and Plugins Updated
As with backups, updating your site regularly is a must. WordPress is a prime target for hackers given its popularity, and new security threats appear often. Fortunately, WordPress takes these threats very seriously by releasing and automatically installing frequent security updates.
Choosing WordPress as your platform of choice means you’re already starting off on the right foot. However, it’s still important to make sure that every part of your site is up to date. Major WordPress updates will require manual intervention, since they often make significant changes – and the same goes for any installed plugins and themes. Fortunately, performing these updates is a simple process – just remember to back up your site first!
3. Select a ‘Strong’ Username and Password
When creating a username and password to log into an important service, you’ll want to select hard-to-guess credentials. The same principle holds true for your WordPress website. If a person (or bot) is able to access your account, they’ll have free reign with regard to your site and its data.
It’s also tempting to stick with the default admin username, but we strongly recommend against it. After all, it’s the first thing hackers will guess if they want to crack your password. Instead, go with a username that’s hard to predict or use an email address instead. As for your password, the easiest solution is to use WordPress’ built-in password generator – it will provide you with something both random and secure.
If you haven’t created your WordPress site yet, you can simply implement these suggestions when you perform the install. However, if you already have a site and are regretting the credentials you chose, don’t worry. You can reset your password and change your username whenever you want.
4. Limit Third-Party Access to Your Website
There’s an information security concept called the ‘principle of least privilege‘, which states that you should never give a user or program more access than is necessary. This is a basic but crucial consideration, because it’s the best way to limit the potential for security breaches and misuse of information.
Limiting access is vital when you have many different users accessing your site. However, it plays a role even if you’re the only one running the show, since it applies to plugin access as well. Fortunately, there are some simple measures you can take to limit third-party access:
- Only give users the permissions they need. For example, don’t provide administrator access for someone who only needs to write posts.
- Similarly, only give plugins and themes access to your site when you really need them, and be sure they’re reliable and secure.
- Remove user access for those who no longer need it, and delete themes and plugins when you’ve stopped using them.
- Configure your folder and file permissions carefully.
Plugins and themes are immensely helpful tools, and it can be great to have a team helping you with your site. Just make sure that you ultimately control who is able to access and use your site and its data.
5. Install a Comprehensive Security Plugin
We’ve already mentioned a couple of plugins that perform specific security-related tasks. However, there are other comprehensive options available that will provide most of your site’s security needs. They can be real time-savers, and if you choose one that’s well-supported it will be regularly updated to handle new threats and concerns.
Of course, when you’re looking for a security plugin it’s crucial to choose one that’s reliable and trustworthy. Look for one with excellent user ratings and positive reviews, check out how frequently it’s updated, and consider how much support the developer provides.
You can find plenty of security plugins by searching through the WordPress plugin directory. If you’re not sure which to go with, however, we recommend Wordfence Security. It’s arguably the most popular WordPress security plugin, and offers basic security options, a firewall, and other blocking features. It also enables two-factor authentication, as well as regular scanning and monitoring of your site, data, and traffic.
If Wordfence doesn’t have everything you’re looking for, you can also go with alternatives such as iThemes Security (which also creates regular backups) and Sucuri Security (which monitors and logs everything that happens on your site). Whichever plugin you choose, a quick Google search should turn up a number of tutorials for getting started.
Shoring up your security isn’t the most exciting part of creating a WordPress website, but its importance shouldn’t be understated. The more thought and effort you put into your site’s security, the less likely you are to encounter a disaster. Taking a few basic steps now to protect your site will provide well-deserved peace of mind later on.
Do you have any questions about how to keep your WordPress site safe? Let us know in the comments section below!