As the most popular content management system of all time, WordPress has ushered in a new age of web development.
Rather than relying on sheer coding skills, anyone today can build a fully functional website with pre-made themes, plugins, and a dash of patience. WordPress also made sure these “building blocks” are readily available in one place, allowing for a more streamlined and efficient web development workflow.
Unfortunately, this unparalleled ease of use has its own downsides.
As WordPress users become accustomed to having tools that help them overcome challenges, some of them may overlook the importance of actually learning the conventions of building and managing a website.
This includes keeping a website secure from the plethora of cyber threats.
The good news is, WordPress security isn’t exactly rocket science. You just need to know the best practices that can protect your website from security breaches.
Here are 5 proven cybersecurity tips that will protect your WordPress website:
1. Keep Your CMS Updated
Truth be told, WordPress isn’t exactly known as the most secure CMS out there.
According to statistics, over 70 percent of all WordPress installations have security vulnerabilities. This may cause would-be website owners to reconsider their decision to choose WordPress as their CMS.
On the flip side, the WordPress team tirelessly works in the background to roll out security patches as soon as possible. WordPress users only need to take the initiative and install these updates once they’re ready.
To view all the available updates for your WordPress CMS, navigate to the “Updates” section under the “Dashboard” menu.
On top of core CMS updates, you can also view available updates for your plugins and themes regardless if they’re active or not. Since patches are downloaded and installed on the server side, updating your entire WordPress ecosystem should only take a couple of minutes to complete.
2. Use SSL Encryption
SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, is a standard encryption technology that can protect transmitted data from hackers.
You can tell if a website uses SSL encryption if its address starts with “https” along with a “secure” indicator rather than just “http.”
Whenever a user tries to access a secure website, the web server shares a public key as part of the website’s SSL certificate. Once the web server’s identity is verified, a unique session key will be generated by the client to encrypt the connection.
To use SSL encryption on your website, the first step is to purchase an SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority or CA.
Most web hosting companies also offer SSL certificates for sale. If you choose to purchase from your hosting provider, contact them and ask if they will handle the rest of the installation process or not.
You can also purchase an SSL certificate from third-party website security companies like Symantec.
As an added bonus, SSL certificates from certain CAs may come with a security seal, which can be displayed on your website. These seals help build buyer confidence and improve the conversion rates on SaaS websites, dropshipping e-commerce stores, or any site that requires users to enter their potentially sensitive data.
3. Use a Web Application Firewall
A Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attack is among the most common forms of cyber threats on the web. It utilizes a network of infected computers—also known as botnets—to flood a web server and deny access to real users.
You might think that your website is too small to be targeted by such an elaborate tactic. However, you may be surprised to learn that DDoS attacks can be launched against you by competitors for as little as $10 per hour from the deep web.
To mitigate attacks, experienced WordPress developers make sure their sites are protected by a Web Application Firewall or WAF.
In simple terms, a WAF functions as a sieve that filters every HTTP request that goes in and out of your website. This can keep your WordPress website safe from hackers, malware, and hijacked traffic.
Although WordPress is teeming with plugins that include a firewall, you should also consider third-party security services that bundle it with other features, such as IP blocking, malware scanning, spam prevention.
4. Vet Your Theme and Plugin Source
Selecting a theme for a WordPress website heavily influences the rest of the development process — not just from a design standpoint, but also in terms of security.
Remember, the WordPress theme and plugin landscapes are dotted with security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. This is one of the drawbacks of having extensive compatibility with third-party website components.
Before you install a new theme and create landing pages for your WordPress site, exercise caution and look for existing reviews. This will allow you to verify the credibility of your source and prevent introducing security vulnerabilities to your WordPress installation.
To save yourself the trouble of background checks, you can always rely on official WordPress directories for your theme and plugin needs. These website resources go through an intricate review process to ensure their security, stability, and compatibility.
5. Regularly Create Backups
When it comes to cybersecurity, you can never be too safe.
You need every layer of protection you can get if you want your WordPress website to continue growing. And as a last line of defense, a backup will make sure you can always restore your website in case a cyber attack manages to get through.
Some of the most popular backup solutions for WordPress are UpdraftPlus, BackWPup, and Jetpack. All three options enable you to set regular backup schedules, which takes away the pressure of having to create a new backup every time you apply changes to your website.
WordPress development is an ongoing learning experience even for veterans. This is especially true considering the ever-evolving challenges of website security.
The strategies above will not only protect your WordPress site from all sorts of cyber attacks, it’ll also give you that much-needed peace of mind as you explore the full capabilities of the CMS.
If you have questions or other tips you want to share, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Cheers!