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WORDPRESS SECURITY CHECKLIST

WORDPRESS SECURITY CHECKLIST 2020

WordPress is as the largest and most popular content management system, making it the most prone to hacking and cyber-attacks.  In 2018 Sucuri, a security plugin reported that 90% of its clean up requests were from WordPress.

Take the security measures below to avoid data breaches and hacks.

Its always end a lot better when you follow these actionable tips when building your website, so you don’t end up with a non-secure site.

So, we have compiled a checklist of the best wordpress security practices you can adopt to protect your website from hackers. 

WORDPRESS VULNERABILITIES AND MALWARE

Is WordPress secure? The question on every website builder’s mind. 

The problem with WordPress is not faulty code or bad security practices by its developers. Most of the time, the issues come when you combine themes, plugins, and custom codes that usually need updates.

These features often make your website vulnerable.

WordPress REST API Content Injection Vulnerability:

REST API which is short for representational state transfer application programming interface is a newer and lightweight mode which developers use in connecting WordPress with other applications.

This WordPress security vulnerability permits an unauthorized user to make changes to the content of any blog, post, or page within a WordPress website.

Users of the website then believe that the content appearing is legitimate not from an external source, creating an opportunity for the hackers to exploit the user and their trust.

Stored Cross-Site Scripting Vulnerability

This occurs within the WordPress editor, in charge of the creation and editing of posts, pages, and topics. A malicious script is injected on your website that steals session cookies of visitors and ultimately steals sensitive information.

 It acts on behalf of an administrator user, then sends authenticated requests to edit the website’s current PHP code, leading to remote command execution and complete takeover.

Two types of vulnerability scripts are stored. Cross-site scripting and reflected XSS. 84% of all security vulnerabilities on the internet are the results of cross-site scripting. 

SQL Injection & URL Hacking:

WordPress SQL injection ranked as the second most critical security vulnerabilities in WordPress. SQL injection attack caused by inserting commands in a URL that leads to leakage of sensitive information from your database. 

This allows hackers to enter your website and implement changes to your original content. URL hacking triggers unintended PHP commands that lead to injecting malware to your website.

Brute-Force Login Attempts:

This occurs when hackers try to log in to your administrator panel using login guess. The goal here is to acquire valid authorizations for your website and use them to access your websites’ admin panel. Gaining access to your admin panel equals having absolute control over the website. 

Some other malware infections associated with WordPress are 

Backdoor:

A backdoor attack used to get unauthorized access to a website by cybercriminals. The cybercriminals spread the malware in the system through unsecured points of entry, such as outdated plug-ins or input fields. 

They are regularly attributed to cross-site adulteration incidents, that is when websites infect other websites on the same server. These attacks often develop when there is outdated software. 

Filesman is an example of a backdoor that has been associated with WordPress. These backdoors often come in different sizes. They usually don’t come in a definitive format making them tricky and subtle

Drive-by downloads:

These are downloads of malicious codes to your computer or mobile device. They are set to leave you open to Cyberattacks. Most times you don’t have to click on anything, press download, or open a malicious email attachment to become infected.

Drive-by downloads are designed to hijack your device, track your activities, or disable your device.  This kind of attack gets in through out-of-date software, compromised credentials, and SQL injection.  

We have created a well written WordPress webdesign ultimate guide just for you, click here to read.

Pharma hack

This is a type of SEO Spam and is one of the most prevalent infections. Pharma hack makes use of conditional malware that applies rules to what you see. Like most SPAM-type infections, pharma hack is largely about controlling traffic and making money. 

Money can be made through click-throughs and/or traffic. Making them hard to detect. Pharma hack can be injected in such a way that when you click on a benevolent link such as “home”, “about”, it then redirects you to a completely different page.

Malicious redirects

Like the name connotes, this kind of malware functions by redirecting you to a malicious website. According to Sucuri, thousands of WordPress sites gets infected with malicious JavaScript in an attempt to promote scam websites.

When a website redirects you away from the main one you entered, it’s because an infected code has been added by hackers. 

WORDPRESS SECURITY PRACTICES

Now that we have a quick insight into possible vulnerabilities and malware associated with WordPress, here’s a compilation of security practices to adopt. 

Keep your WordPress up-to-date

A quick look at all the malware infections highlighted earlier indicates that outdated WordPress is often prone to hackers.

According to sucuri, 44% of WordPress Sucurity hacks were caused by outdated WordPress site. You should ensure to always update your WordPress to the latest version. Before the update, you must first of all backup all your files and folders in the main WordPress installation.

There are two methods for updating – the easiest is the one-click update, which will work for most people. If it doesn’t work, or you just prefer to be more hands-on, you can follow the manual update process manual upgrade instruction.

Use of strong passwords and user permissions:

Using strong passwords proves to be better means of preventing hacking. People often don’t like using strong passwords because they are difficult to remember. 

Anyway, you can solve this problem using a password manager. Strong passwords prevent brute force attacks on your website.

A strong password should embed the following: at least 1 uppercase character, one lowercase character, one digit, one special character, and at least 10 characters with no more than two identical characters in a row.

Also, limit the number of people who have access to your WordPress admin account unless necessary.

Other login related measures like enabling two-factor authentication, limiting login attempts, adding a captcha, and enabling auto-logout.

Use a secure WordPress hosting

There is a range of WordPress hosting available such as free, shared, VPS, dedicated, and managed hosting. When choosing your WordPress hosting you must consider speed, security, reliability, and ultimately your needs.

Hostings’ like Siteground and HostGator shield their servers from threats, they keep servers up to date and also have disaster recovery for times of major accidents.

Install a WordPress backup solution

Backups save you from the despair of losing your files if things go wrong. a good set of backups will save your website when everything goes wrong. When it comes to backups, your full-site should be backed up to a remote location, not your hosting account. 

Your back up system should also be automated. You can pick one from the various WordPress backup plugins available such as Updraft Plus, Vault Press, Backup Buddy.

Install and audit plugins and themes

WordPress plugins are like apps for your website. Installing plugins is the first step you take after installing WordPress. The best way to install a plugin is to use the plugin search. The Sucuri scanner is known as the best free WordPress security plugins.

Most plugins do the work of scanning your website for infiltration attempts, preventing content theft like hotlinking and altering of files that are likely to leave your site vulnerable.

Also, make sure that the themes you use comply with the WordPress standards. WordPress theme directory is a good source for getting themes for your website.

If you are using a customized child theme that is inheriting functionality from a parent theme, then updating your theme is fairly straightforward.

Simply overwrite your copy of the parent theme with the latest version from the official source. Your customizations will remain intact in the child theme. 

Enable web application firewall:

 One easy way to protect your website and be confident about your WordPress security is by using a web application firewall. Firewalls identify, filter, and block malicious traffic from getting to your site. You can install the web application firewall plugin to protect your webs

SSL & HTTPS:

SSL stands for secure socket layer which is a protocol designed to provide communications security over a computer network.

This communication channel is usually encrypted as the websites are accessed over https, hence making it difficult for hackers to steal information.

To see whether your WordPress site follows the SSL protocol, visit your WordPress site’s homepage. If the homepage URL begins with “https://” (the “s” stands for “security”), your connection is secured with SSL. If the URL begins with “Http://”, you’ll need to obtain an SSL certificate for your website, which you can learn more about in our beginner’s guide to SSL.

Change the default admin username:

 Using a unique username and removing the default admin account makes it difficult for attackers to brute-force their way into your website.

There are three methods you can use to change your username in WordPress; create a new admin username and delete the old one; use the username changer plugin, and update username from phpMyAdmin.

Disable file editing in WordPress dashboard: 

There is an inbuilt code editor that allows you to edit your files, plugins, and themes. This feature stands as a risk on the security of your site especially if it gets into the hands of hackers and attackers.

This feature can be disabled by doing some light coding yourself. You add the code wp-config.php to the end of the file. 

We have covered the necessary practices to keep your WordPress website protected from hackers and have proven that WordPress can be as secure as the protective measures you adopt. 

Furthermore, to implement all these on your website will take time. you will find it an easy win reading our WordPress Webdesign ultimate guide.

Do you have any security concerns or questions? Go ahead and share them with us in the comment section.

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