WordPress is a great system that is often secure, but no system is perfect. Hackers are always finding ways to exploit WordPress’s coding, and it’s only a matter of time until hackers find some way to sneak into the CMS. While WordPress is constantly doing its best to minimize the threat of hackers, you have to do some work to harden your website. It’s not that hard, but you have to be on the ball if you don’t want to be hacked.
The common WordPress installation should be safe, but there is one easy way to mess it up. Never, ever, under any circumstances should you download and install this CMS other than from the official website or a trusted installer (like Fantasico or Softaculous).
Believe me, hundreds of people have been fooled into downloading the WordPress files from another website. While this might be safe, many hackers do this to easy sneak a virus onto your installation. Not only that, but you might also infect your hard drive.
Most users are lazy about updating WordPress and their plugins. It seems like a minor detail and it’s just annoying to sit back and wait for the new software to download. It can also be a problem if you have a slow Internet connection.
However, you should always update any WordPress software as soon as possible. These updates are often released because they fix existing security problems and they tend to harden WordPress from the inside, an area that you can’t change or modify.
These updates will help keep you safe because hackers won’t be able to use known exploits against you.
Also, as a side note, never use a theme that broadcasts your current WordPress version. Hackers have used this information by attacking that version’s known weaknesses.
Only the Essentials
Do you have plugins that are just sitting around and collecting dust? Most users have at least one or two plugins that they aren’t using anymore, but they tend to keep them installed for one reason or another.
It’s time to erase them. Having any software that you don’t use just creates another opening for a hacker. For example, everything about your WordPress installation might be safe, but that plugin might have a known error that a hacker can exploit. This significantly reduces your security and it might make you a target.
I seriously hope you’re not using a weak password like “admin,” “12345” or “password.” A hacker can easily guess a weak password and access your administrative panel. This allows him or her to change, delete and destroy everything.
Use a password that combines letters (upper and lowercase are preferred) and numbers into a nonsensical sequence. For example: “fish2033” is a bad password that any brute force attack software can guess within minutes. A better password would be “f7DeeS986” or “YjjIu6431l.”
These are impossible to guess, would take even the best brute force program days or weeks to guess (if it even can) and most hackers will just give up.
Also, don’t have a username like “admin.” It’s very common and it makes the hacker’s job that much easier.
You need a secure host to keep the hackers off your back. There are some hosts (mainly very cheap ones) that are infested with viruses and malware. It’ll be easy for the hacker to get into your site by going through the server that your website is installed on.
You should also ensure that your host is willing to help you if a hacker gets through your defenses. Lastly, a good host will backup your files so that, even if the website is completely destroyed, it can be easily restored.
Most bots scour the Internet for websites that are easy to crack. Adding a second level of authentication will cause these bots to skip over your website because it will be deemed too difficult.
A good host will make this an automatic option so that you can do it in seconds. If you want to do it manually, then just add an .htaccess file into your WordPress admin directory.
Hardening WordPress so that it’s harder to hack isn’t that difficult, but you have to do the work so that hackers don’t take advantage of your laziness. Most of these steps will only take a few minutes and it will ensure that most hackers don’t even bother with your website. Also, make sure to pick a good host so that they can help you even in the worst-case scenario.