With WordPress being so widely used by businesses across the globe it’s no wonder that it’s frequently targeted by hackers.
From WordPress themes, to plugins, files and logins; hackers are keen to find their way into any part of websites that they can manage.
Generally speaking, when we refer to ‘hackers’ we’re not talking about individual people, but often rather automated software employed to crawl the web for sites with weaknesses and vulnerabilities. We often refer to these systems as ‘bots.’
This might deter people from having a WordPress site, believing it to lack security; however this is far from the case. The WordPress community has recognised this increasing trend of hackers and has developed a wide range of tools you can implement to ensure the security of your website and keep your businesses data safe.
Why do WordPress websites get hacked?
Hackers have a wide range of motivations for their actions. Some are just having fun seeing what websites they can penetrate whilst some have more malicious intentions of distributing malware, launching attacks, sending spam or stealing personal data which can lead to identity theft.
There is also another variation of hackers, often referred to as ‘white hat hackers’ who exploit vulnerabilities and weak security of websites in order to highlight their pitfalls and encourage businesses to improve their website security.
Why is WordPress a common target for hackers?
WordPress isn’t the only CMS that is targeted by hackers. That being said, with over 43% of websites on the web being WordPress websites, its popularity makes it a prime target for hackers, especially those with vulnerabilities or outdated software.
Some of the main reasons why WordPress is so often targeted are:
- Outdated software, plugins and themes leaving your site exposed to known issues
- Weak passwords and usernames that can be easily cracked with automated tools
- Unprotected WordPress admin panels (e.g. /wp-admin or /wp-login) with lack of 2FA authentication or a block after a set number of failed login attempts
- Vulnerable folder permissions which means bots can make changes to core files and execute vulnerable PHP scripts
How can you improve the security of your WordPress website?
Introduce a firewall
Firewalls are software that protect your site from hackers; think of it as quite literally creating a ‘wall’ to your website. WordPress has specific firewall plugins like Wordfence, SiteLock and NinjaFirewall to name a few. Each of these plugins will vary slights in how they protect your website from bots, but generally speaking they all provide:
- Login protection
- Protections from malicious IPs
- Reduces website server’s load
- Check user behaviour in line with certain rules
Some of these firewall plugins have advanced features where you can actually identify the source of the bot and the ability to block their IP address or an entire IP address range.
Plugins enhance your website’s functionality and security, however if outdated then they can serve as an open gate to hackers, putting your website at greater risk. It’s essential to regularly update your plugins that developers constantly review to make sure they are less likely to be exploited by hackers.
Staying up to date with the newest versions of WordPress plugins means that potential breach points are better protected and your website is more secure.
Certain WordPress plugins like Sucuri add an additional layer of protection by alerting you to every time someone logs into your website. By having a transparent birds eye view of who is logging into your site, you can identify potentially threatening malicious sources.
Sucuri also alerts you when any files have been changed through its malware scanning feature.
By staying altered and on top of who is trying to access your website and its data, you can quickly block and prevent these potentially harmful sources from hacking your website.
Another effective way of preventing hackers from penetrating your website is by setting a limit on the amount of login attempts a user can carry out. If a user fails to login to your site 3 consecutive times, they can be blocked all together.
Plugin’s like Limit Login Attempts Reloaded enables website authors to block those who incorrectly entered a login username and/or password after a set amount of times. This plugin also enables you to add option email confirmation, XMLRPC gateway protection and IP GDPR compliance for logging in, providing an extra layer of security to your website.
Another important fact to ensure the security of your website is to set automated daily backups of your data. This ensures any event caused by hackers that causes an issue can be recovered with said backups.
WordPress has specific plugins available like UpdraftPlus that can be configured to alert you to daily backups and store them in the Cloud or DropBox. Think of backups as insurance and prepare for the unexpected.
How does ALT Agency ensure your WordPress website’s security?
We take WordPress security seriously at ALT Agency. Building security into our design and development process is at the core of our commitment to our clients. We start by ensuring we’re always building websites with the latest version of WordPress software, themes and plugins. For pre-existing clients we make updating these a core part of our WordPress maintenance packages.
On top of this, we install Sucuri on all of the websites we build and manage. This robust and widely-recognised as a solid piece of software usually covers about 90% of any security issues we might encounter. We update Sucuri as and when a new version is created to make sure it’s always working optimally and providing your site with as much security coverage as possible. We recommend the use of Wordfence in conjunction with Sucuri to all our clients to ensure maximum coverage.
Finally, we also use 2FA for WordPress sites to prevent potentially dangerous or dodgy logins from users or bots trying to hack your site. We have found this 2FA system extremely useful in preventing hackers from penetrating your websites and accessing sensitive data. 2FA is something we use across the board at ALT Agency, both internally and externally, even for things as seemingly simple as email logins from new devices.
This combination has proven highly effective in helping keep your WordPress website secure from hackers and 99% of the time we are able to offer our clients complete security coverage for their website.
Need help ensuring your WordPress security?
Whether it’s improving the security features of your existing WordPress website, or supporting you in the design, development and maintenance of a robust, thoughtfully created and highly secure brand new platform, we have the experience and expertise to help.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our service offerings, why not drop us an email and we’d be more than happy to discuss your project!