WordPress Security in 2024: The Essential Checklist for Zero Breaches
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems that powers more than 40% of the total websites on the internet. But the popularity comes with a risk of security breaches.
WordPress has more than 60,000 plugins available in its repository for its users. Hence, it can be a little overwhelming for you to decide where to start. But with so many plugins, it can also be risky when it comes to internet security. More than 56% of WordPress vulnerabilities come with multiple unused plugins and databases.
With my years of experience in blogging, I have researched everything when it comes to security checklists. I have compiled the whole checklist for zero breaches to help you protect your website from cyber threats.
Why protect your WordPress?
You might be wondering why it is important to protect your WordPress website from external vulnerabilities. Some of the reasons are:
1. Protection of Sensitive data
If you are into ecomm business, your site contains sensitive information about your customers, such as banking information, address, and more. That is why you need to make sure that your data is protected from third parties.
2. Helps in building customer trust
Building trust is important to maintain a loyal base for your growing website. If your site is associated with Internet breaches, customers will not trust you or your website for any purchase.
3. Downtime Prevention
When you are vulnerable to an external party, it is more likely that your site will face downtime. This interrupts your seamless operation and damages your website presence.
4. Enhancing the SEO of your website
If you are looking to rank your website on SERP, you need to make sure your website is secure. Google tends to trust sites that prioritize security utmost. Keeping this in mind, you should always get an SSL certificate for your website to improve its visibility on SERP.
Essential Checklist for WordPress Security
You might be wondering what some of the essentials are that you should take care of when running a website.
On a daily basis, you can start by running various security scanners such as Qualys, VirusTotal, and SiteLocks. These sites can help you check minor insecurities and issues that you might face.
You can also try out a few WP plugins, such as Wordfence Security, Sucuri Security, and NinjaScanner, for more detailed malware scanning. On more advanced levels, you can try a few essential checklists for securing your WordPress websites:
1. Updating your WP Themes and Plugins
Outdated applications and plugins can be easily exploited by hackers to get unauthorized access to your website. Simply getting your WordPress admin updated can save you from a lot of trouble. And if you already own a WP site, you know that you can literally update WP in bulk. So, next time you see the “Update plugins” option in your admin dashboard, do not ignore it.
The same goes for your WP theme. You get new features and settings to have control of your theme’s appearance. Updating your theme ensures compatibility with the latest WordPress version and other plugins or features.
If you want to keep your website performance score high, then I recommend that you check out Permatters. Permatters is a performance optimization plugin that can help you speed up your website and improve Google’s Core Web Vital scores. You can even get a 20% discount on the price with the exclusive code “GRABHOSTS”.
2. Stronger Passwords
Keeping a stronger password is crucial for many reasons. It can help you prevent brute-force attacks, which are guessing mostly used characters until you crack the code. This might sound casual, but this is one of the popular ways hackers use to crack down on the code. For these reasons, you should keep your password lengthy, strong, and difficult for others to guess.
I use a password manager, Dashlane, to control and manage all my online passwords. You can also consider apps like LastPass or 1Password to store your complex password.
3. 2-factor Authentication
2FA is a security process that requires 2 forms of identification before you are given access to data. It is a widely adopted method in the blogging industry. For this, you can use plugins such as Melapress login security, CAPTCHA 4WP, and WP Activity Log.
These plugins support many 2FA methods, along with generating codes from Google Authenticator, Authy, and other 2FA apps. You get the option to select from free or premium paid versions.
Another layer of protection can be added by limiting login attempts and setting a time-out for users who are attempting suspicious activities.
4. Keeping Backup for your database
In the worst-case scenario, even if any external third party accesses your data and deletes your database, you will have a backup to restore your website.
To do this, you can start by accessing your files via FTP ( File transfer protocol). You can download all the files from the WP root directory to your local computer. Later, you can access the database using phpMyAdmin (readily available on your hosting control panel).
So, just select the whole database and export it before your database gets compromised.
You can also get a plugin called Updraft Plus for setting auto backups at different time intervals. I do this to keep my data auto-backed up at the desired time.
5. Using Web Application Firewall
A firewall usually blocks out various malicious viewers before it even reaches your site. There are two methods to do this.
A. DNS Level Website Firewall: Only lets real data reach your web server by sending it through their cloud proxy servers.
B. Application Level Firewall: Looks at traffic after it gets to your server but before most WordPress scripts start.
You can choose whichever Firewall plugin you think would best suit your site. I would recommend you to get iThemes Security or Jetpack firewall for effective and efficient work.
6. Good Hosting Provider
Good hosting will give you robust security along with responsive support. When it comes to hosting service, things that you should be looking for are:
- Good Infrastructure security
- SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate
- Auto backups daily
- Network monitoring
- DDoS protection
- Malware scanning
- Isolation between accounts if you are going for shared hosting
7. Change your URLs
By default, wp-login.php or wp-admin make it easy to get to WordPress login pages. Changing this can help keep people from trying to log in without permission.
You can also change the default “admin” username which is usually targeted by hackers. You can do this by creating a new user in your WP. Add a new user role of Administrator and delete the old “admin” user.
8. Turn off the file editing option
You can easily make changes in your plugins, themes, and files using your WP Dashboard. The security of your website will be compromised if someone with malicious goals can obtain access to your files. Therefore, you should disable the editing of files.
With only a small amount of code, this can be accomplished in a matter of seconds. Please include the following in your wp-config.PHP file:
// Disallow file edit
define( ‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true );
define( ‘DISALLOW_FILE_MODS’, true );
You can also use plugins like MalCare and All-In-One- Security to disable file editing with just a few clicks. These plugins can be used if you do not want to change the codes.
9. Disable PHP file execution
Hackers can take over your website by adding harmful files to it. On the other hand, it’s easy to stop PHP scripts from starting by turning off file execution in PHP files.
You can do this by creating a .htaccess text file on your device and inserting the below code in it :
Deny from all
Finally, use an FTP tool or the FileManager app in your cPanel dashboard to add the .htaccess file to the /wp-content/uploads and /wp-includes directories. That way, PHP files won’t be able to run in those folders.
10. Deleting inactive themes and plugins
Plugins that are old and not being used have security holes that are easy to use against you. Hackers can’t use this method to attack your website if you get rid of all the themes and tools you’re not using. Also, make sure you always keep the ones you use up to date.
11. Hide your WP version
If hackers and third parties can see the version of WP you are using, they can easily figure out vulnerabilities that your site might or might not have. For the same reason, you might be seeing that many plugins include an option to hide your WP version number.
12. Disable browsing in the directory
Other users might look for security holes in your files and folders if they can see how they are organized. To stop this from happening, you should turn off directory browsing.
You can do this by changing just one code in your .htaccess file.
The code is – Options All – Indexes.
This will disable your directory browsing, which will reduce the possibility of being hacked.
Wrapping up on the Checklist
With this, we have come to the end of the ultimate checklist, which will help you keep your WordPress secured. To secure your WordPress website, you have to make sure that you frequently scan your website for any malware or external abnormalities. Make sure your password is frequently changed and everything is updated.
You can greatly improve the security of their WordPress sites by following the key security steps listed in the checklist. And you can use a bunch of security plugins to advance the level of firewall you build to protect what’s yours.
WordPress expert. Divi user since 2014. I blog about WordPress and Divi, my favorite WordPress theme. When I’m not working with WordPress or writing an article for this blog, I’m probably learning Italian. You can read more about me here.