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In this age of technology, it is important to have a digital presence in the form of a website. Whether you use it for publicity, to sell your goods or services or even as a means of earning money is entirely up to you. However, as you go digital, you always face the risk of someone hacking your website. When your website gets hacked, you might suffer a huge blow financially or even have your reputation affected. With WordPress being the most common CMS out there, we thought we should help you out with some WordPress security tips to keep your site safe from hackers.
Keep a strong password
One of the most basic tips to prevent your website from being hacked is to have a strong admin password. A strong password is one that isn't connected to you in anyway whatsoever. Of course, that makes it harder to remember, but it keeps your cyber identity safe.
To create a strong password, ensure that it is a long one (more than 16 characters), contains both upper and lower-case letters, contains numbers and even special characters. Use a random combination of these to set up a strong password. Remember not to use any words or names in the password to make it even stronger.
It is also important to keep an admin username that isn't easy to guess. Follow similar guidelines to ensure that admin username is also a strong one.
Change the login URL
It is generally quite easy to access the login page for WordPress websites by using the "wp-admin" or "wp-login" suffix. Keeping this default login page makes the job of a hacker a walk in the park. Thus, you need the change the login page to something more complicated like "my_newlogin_page". You could also use the iThemes Security plugin to help you with this.
Ensure your WordPress is up to date.
A common trick that hackers use to get access to your website is to find loopholes in older versions of the software to get in. This is why all applications and software regularly receive updates to ensure that these loopholes are eliminated.
The latest update launched by WordPress is the WordPress 4.9.1 Security and Maintenance Release in late November last year. If you haven't downloaded this one yet, go update it now!
Switch 2-factor authentication login on
In this feature by WordPress, the security of the website is increased significantly by adding another step to the login procedure. Every time you try to log in, you will be sent a one-time password (OTP) to your phone or your email. Once you enter this code, only then will you be able to login to the website.
Thus, hackers will require not only your WordPress password but also your email's password or your mobile phone too. Chances of this are considerably lower which ensures higher security for your website.
Get your website an SSL certificate
Whenever you see a website URL you will see that they either begin with ‘http' or ‘https'. The ‘https' websites are the ones that are protected with SSL encryption. This encryption ensures that any data that is being transferred from the client (like your browser) to the server is encrypted. That way if hackers get the information, they won't be able to make any sense of it. This encryption is especially important if you are planning to accept payments online or if you have multiple users logging into your website.
Be careful about plugins and dangerous links
One of the features that make WordPress so popular is the fact that you can use plugins to enhance the experience. However, since it is so popular, almost everybody is making a plugin for WordPress. Some of these plugins can actually be viruses or other kinds of malware that can severely affect your website.
Another possibility is that the plugin you are using isn't secure enough and might lead to a cyber-attack as well. That is why you should ensure that all your plugins are up to date. It is also a good practice to download new plugins from known sources only that have a considerable amount of reviews and downloads. At the same time, remember to delete old plugins and themes that you do not use anymore.
If you have bad links pointing to your website, talk to an SEO professional at https://www.cymaxmedia.com/colorado-springs-seo/ about keeping a clean profile. Many low quality websites pointing to yours will put your site in a bad neighborhood and make you more prone to getting attacks.
Add users carefully
Running a website isn't an easy job and often you need multiple authors or editors to help you with it. However, this increases the number of liabilities since their accounts may be hacked or they might be the threat themselves.
Hence, before adding any new users, ensure they have a good track record and great reviews to back them up. Moreover, ensure that they are using strong passwords. It helps a lot if these passwords are generated using an application created for this purpose like ‘Force Strong Passwords'.
Be careful about the directory permissions
If you are using a shared hosting environment, then multiple people can access the files or directories hosted by the server. Naturally, this increases the security risks and thus it is a good choice to restrict access to these files and directories.
You can do this by changing the permission codes for them. Experts recommend that the directory permissions should be set to ‘"755" and files to "644" to protect them. Ensure that you do not use the code "777" for any of the files since this gives full access to others.
Keep the wp-config.php file safe
The best way to make the life of a hacker more difficult is by denying them access to the wp-config.php file. This file is crucial to the WordPress installation. The simplest way to keep it safe is to remove it from the root folder and move it up to a higher level folder. The priority order will ensure that this file is still accessed by WordPress at the right time which will keep things running smoothly.
Hide your WordPress version
Depending on how you have set your website up, the WordPress version number is easily visible to both users and viewers. If a hacker gets a hold of this version number, it is like a safecracker getting blueprints to the safe he is supposed to crack. Several WordPress security plugins like "Wordfence Security" can help you hide this version number from people snooping around for it.
Create a backup regularly
Following all the above tips helps a lot, but we cannot ignore the possibility that someone, somehow manages to get past all these security measures and hacks the website. At such times, it is good to have an offline backup that can't be touched by hackers. This will help you start anew if the unpredictable does happen. There are many WordPress plugins that can help you do this. VaultPress creates a backup every 30 minutes thus keeping your offline data up to date with minimal data loss (if any).
These are just some of the tips that will help you keep WordPress safe from hackers. As you can see, even these basic steps are quite a handful. Moreover, you always need to stay updated on new security measures to stay one step ahead of the hackers. That is why we recommend hiring a professional service to help you manage your WordPress security. If you have any questions about the post or a specific part of WordPress security, feel free to ask them in the comments below.
Meredith is a digital strategist, blogger and designer at Cymax Media, a creative agency offering SEO and web development services. Follow her on Twitter or Google Plus as she shares her website expertise.View Meredith M`s profile for more