As the internet continues to grow and expand, website security becomes an increasingly important subject for everyone who owns, operates, or even visits a website. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and staying informed and proactive about protecting your online presence is crucial.
And because WordPress is the world’s most popular open-source CMS, it is a common target for many miscreants of the web. WordPress is inherently secure at a code level; however, hackers look for websites where users have unintentionally left something unchecked, leaving their sites vulnerable. Defending against the most common vulnerabilities is relatively straightforward in WordPress, which is why we decided to cover some of the security basics in this article.
Avada is a Website Builder actively used by over 875K beginners, marketers, and professionals daily. Therefore, security is tantamount to our development and maintenance process, as this comprehensive changelog shows.
By the end of this article, you will have a basic understanding of WordPress security settings that you can apply with minimal effort to ensure your websites stay secure.
Why Is WordPress Security Important?
WordPress security is paramount to protect sensitive data, maintain trust and reputation, comply with regulations, prevent downtime and malware, and ensure a secure online presence. By following security best practices and staying proactive, you can minimize the risk of cyberattacks and safeguard your WordPress installation.
Below are several important security-related factors for beginners to consider:
Protect Sensitive Data
Ensuring your website’s security helps protect sensitive data, such as customer information, login credentials, and personal details, from being accessed, stolen, or misused by cybercriminals.
Maintain Trust and Reputation
A secure website is critical to maintaining your brand’s reputation and the trust of your visitors. Conversely, a security breach can significantly damage your reputation, losing customers and potential business.
Compliance with Regulations
Website security is often required for compliance with data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Non-compliance can result in penalties, fines, and legal issues.
Cyberattacks and security breaches can lead to website downtime, disrupting your website’s functionality and causing loss of revenue, user dissatisfaction, and damage to your search engine rankings.
Malware and Viruses
Assuring your website security against nefarious motivations helps protect it against malware and viruses that can compromise your site’s functionality, steal data, and potentially spread to your website visitors.
Search Engine Blacklisting
Websites that are compromised or infected with malware can be blacklisted by search engines, resulting in reduced visibility, a decline in organic traffic, and a negative impact on your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
If your website is hosted on a shared server, a security breach can also pose risks to other websites hosted on the same server. Managing your website’s security helps protect your site and other users sharing the same hosting environment.
How Safe Is WordPress?
WordPress is considered inherently safe, primarily when properly maintained and configured. Unfortunately, as the most popular content management system (CMS) powering over 43% of websites online, WordPress is a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals. However, the WordPress core development team proactively addresses security vulnerabilities within the codebase and regularly releases updates to ensure safety.
Therefore, staying vigilant and proactive in maintaining and securing your WordPress installation is essential. By following best practices and staying informed about emerging threats, you can significantly reduce the risk of cyberattacks and ensure a secure online presence.
Common WordPress Security Threats
Addressing common security threats and regularly monitoring your website for vulnerabilities will significantly reduce the risk of nefarious activity. Here are some common potential WordPress security issues that you should be aware of:
Outdated WP core, plugins, and themes: Regularly updating your WordPress installation, plugins, and themes helps protect your site from known vulnerabilities.
Weak passwords and usernames: Using weak or default passwords and usernames can make it easy for attackers to gain unauthorized access to your website. Using strong, unique passwords and avoiding using predictable usernames like “admin” for your WordPress accounts is essential.
Brute force attacks: Hackers may attempt to gain access to your WordPress site by systematically trying numerous combinations of usernames and passwords. To mitigate this risk, you should implement strong authentication measures like two-factor authentication (2FA) and limit login attempts.
SQL injection: SQL injection attacks occur when an attacker inserts malicious SQL code into your website’s database, which can lead to unauthorized access or data manipulation. To prevent this kind of attack, ensure that your plugins and themes follow best coding practices and validate user input.
Cross-Site scripting (XSS): XSS attacks involve injecting malicious scripts into your website to steal user data or modify web content. To protect against XSS attacks, implement a Content Security Policy (CSP) and sanitize user input.
Insecure file permissions: Incorrect file and server directory permissions can expose your WordPress site to unauthorized access and data manipulation. Ensure that you set proper file permissions for your WordPress installation.
Malware infections: This is a widespread exploit, usually added to plugins. Regularly scanning your site and plugins for malware and using security plugins can help detect and remove malware infections.
Unprotected login pages: Attackers often target the default WordPress login page to gain unauthorized access to your site. Protect the login page using a unique URL, implementing CAPTCHA, and enabling HTTPS with an SSL/TLS certificate or using a 3rd party plugin.
WordPress Security Best Practices
Managing your WordPress website security might seem daunting to a beginner. Still, you can effectively protect your online presence with some essential steps and best practices. Here are some valuable tips for managing your WordPress website security:
Keep everything updated:
Regularly update your WordPress core, plugins, and Avada
website to ensure you have the latest security patches and bug fixes, minimizing vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
Use strong passwords and unique usernames: Generate
strong, unique passwords for all your WordPress accounts and avoid using predictable usernames like “admin.” Encourage your users to follow the same practices.
Choose a secure hosting provider:
Choose a reputable web host
that prioritizes security and provides features such as SSL/TLS certificates, regular backups, malware scanning, and firewall protection.
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Enhance your account security by enabling 2FA, which requires an additional verification method (e.g., a one-time code sent to a mobile device) along with a password.
Install a reputable security plugin:
Use a trusted security plugin like Wordfence
to monitor your website for vulnerabilities, implement a firewall, and protect against common threats like brute force attacks.
Implement SSL/TLS encryption: Install an SSL/TLS certificate to encrypt data transmitted between your website and visitors, ensuring data privacy and improving your site’s SEO.
Regularly back up your website:
Create regular backups of your entire WordPress site, store them in a secure off-site location, and test them to ensure successful restoration in case of a security breach or data loss. Some popular backup plugins to consider are UpdraftPlus
Limit user access and assign appropriate roles:
Assign users the minimum required permissions and avoid granting administrative access to everyone. Practice the principle of least privilege to minimize the risk of unauthorized actions. There are numerous plugins
to choose from that will restrict unsolicited login attempts at volume for you to consider.
If you have spent time on the internet, you will have encountered this security feature on many websites. It acts as an extra layer of security when you attempt to log in by verifying that you are a living person. You can use plugins to add a captcha to your site, like reCAPTCHA by BestWebSoft
. If you are using Avada Forms
on your website, deploy the provided reCAPTCHA Element
to protect your forms from spam and abuse.
Monitor user activity: Keep an eye on user activity, especially for those with administrative privileges, to ensure no unauthorized actions are taken on your website.
Set proper file and directory permissions:
Ensure that you set appropriate file and directory permissions
for your WordPress installation to prevent unauthorized access and data manipulation.
Remove unused plugins and themes: Deactivate and delete any inactive or unused plugins and themes, as they can still pose security risks if not properly maintained.
Educate yourself on WordPress security: Stay informed about WordPress security best practices and emerging threats to ensure you can take the necessary precautions to protect your website.
Following these best practices will allow you to effectively manage your WordPress installation security and protect your online presence. Recognize that security is an ongoing process that requires vigilance, proactive measures, and regular maintenance.
By understanding the basics of website security, you can better protect sensitive data, maintain trust and reputation online, and ensure compliance with regulations. Embrace the wealth of resources available, such as password managers, backup plugins, and security plugins, to fortify your website’s defenses. And as you become more familiar with WordPress security, you can delve into advanced practices that will provide even greater protection. Remember, security is a continuing process that requires attention and dedication.
As with all software, we strongly recommend you keep your Avada website updated at all times. Our detailed changelog shows our team’s consistent and regular update and maintenance cycle. Always check and then follow the update instructions for a seamless experience. When applicable, apply maintenance patches that may be released between updates.
Stay motivated, and don’t be afraid to seek help from the community; utilize available resources, or explore the Avada Help Center. Together, we can make the digital world a safer place for everyone.