One of the times I felt most exposed was when someone broke into my car in a busy parking lot. I say “broke in,” but there was no glass. Nothing was broken at all, actually. They took a few expensive things that were in plain sight. However, they did completely miss my tablet case that blended in with the black floor mats. While I was grateful for that, I couldn’t shake that vulnerable feeling.
I learned later that the thief just opened the door. That’s it. There was no damage to the car. No marks showing that a tool was used to unlock the door. There was nothing. I always try to remember to lock my car doors, but there was not any other explanation. I put my vehicle at risk by being negligible. I forgot to lock the doors and I had valuables in plain sight.
I think of this even whenever I think of security in any sense. Even when thinking about website security, I remember that little slip. How is leaving the door unlocked different from having a weak password or giving it out? Having valuable just out in the open is similar to refusing to update my software. In both cases, the problem is carelessness. Just like with cars, to keep your website secure, you need to be vigilant.
If you find yourself saying, “I want to learn how to make my WordPress site secure,” then use the table of contents below.
Table of Contents
What is a Secure WordPress Site?
You likely already know that WordPress is a content management system (CMS) used to build websites. So that would explain what a WordPress site is. But what about a secure WordPress site? The difference here is that the latter follows the accepted standards for keeping your software and information safe and private.
On its own, the WordPress platform is already very secure. It has dedicated teams devoted to security. They maintain the existing security, research potential hacking or malware threats, and update the software to stay ahead of those threats.
What is important to note here, though, is that WordPress is not the only player who decides the security of your website. You are the one who created the site, has the credentials, and makes decisions on how to build the site. WordPress gives you a secure foundation where you build your site. It is up to you to continue that trend of security as you make and maintain your site.
Why is my WordPress Site Not Secure?
Maybe you have noticed that there has been a breach in your website. You might notice someone logged on from a different computer. There could even be a plugin you do not remember adding. Or you might have just seen a drastic increase in spam. Regardless, you might suspect that your WordPress site is not as secure as you thought.
If the WordPress platform is so on top of things, why would your site not be secure? There are a few potential reasons. Let’s start with the basics. How complicated is your password to get into WordPress? Does it have numbers, letters, and special characters? Better yet, is it a random string of alphanumeric characters instead of legible words? Most importantly, is your password unique? If not, one person behind the scenes at one website knows the password to get into your WordPress account.
Of course, there is more to it than passwords. WordPress is friendly to third-party themes and plugins. While the WordPress team takes security very seriously, they cannot control what these third-parties do. An outdated plugin is often the easiest way for a hacker to get into your website. So it is important to make sure your site and add ons are updated.
How to Make My WordPress Site Secure
If you are interested in making your website more secure, there are a few things to keep in mind. Security is not always convenient. It is common to go out of your way to make your website safer.
It starts with your password. Far too often, passwords get people into a lot of trouble. One of the most troubling methods of a password breach is simple phishing. Always remember there is no situation where someone will need your password. In regard to a website, neither WordPress nor your host will need your password. Any request for one is likely someone trying to get into your account.
Sometimes, a hacker does not even need to ask you for your password. Remember that you should not store your password on your computer, especially on cloud storage. Make sure nobody can happen upon your password.
Aside from that, another big issue with passwords is that people like to use the same password for everything. I understand the frustration. It is annoying to remember a different password for every single account you have. But all it takes is one person from one website where you have a login to put every account with that password at risk.
So when you consider a password, make sure it is unique, long, alphanumeric, and random. You can use plenty of services to generate a strong password. Just searching for “random password generator” gives you access to several on the first page. If you are worried about generating a random password through an online service, then just change it around.
Next, you need to stay vigilant regarding your updates. This is another situation where most users refuse to be proactive. They do not even notice when their operating system, WordPress, plugin, theme, or browser have an update available. And when they do, they hold off until they are forced to run it. And that gets people into hot water all the time.
Updates exist for a reason. If software companies didn’t need to update, they wouldn’t. It costs a ton of money to pay engineers to maintain software and release updates. Of course, there are reasons for updates like removing redundancy and cleaning the code in general. However, security is a big factor. When hackers find a new way to break into something, these engineers have to find a way to stop that. And the only way to keep everyone’s account safe is to provide that fix as an update.
WordPress updates consistently, so you need to make sure your website is up to date with WordPress’s latest version. This means keeping track of your plugins and theme too. If you notice your plugin is no longer supported by the maker, then you may need to find a replacement. Hackers are looking for the weakest link in your security. Personally keeping tabs with so many potential updates can be really flustering. Luckily, you do not have to do this yourself. You can get a helping hand if you have the right hosting.
The next step you can take toward website security is by getting a good security plugin. The huge community that makes third-party software for WordPress has many different options. There are plugins that add 2-factor login capabilities so that a code texted to your phone is needed to get inside. There are others that focus on monitoring and scanning for problems.
There are so many options, and the right choice depends on what works for you. Sucuri can scan and clean Malware while monitoring for suspicious website traffic. iThemes Security Pro adds that two-factor authentication and can be configured to limit the number of login attempts. For more of a one-size-fits-all tool, the Jetpack plugin includes a few security measures on top of the other features it is known for.
How Does Hosting Affect my Secure WordPress Site?
While it is easy to forget about our web hosting, it actually has some pull here. Primarily, your website host needs to make sure their own servers are secure. A breach in their system can affect many websites at once. Make sure you find a web host with a reputation for security. You can check for news stories or reviews from users for possible security issues.
There are plenty of other ways your host can help with security. However, there are also many who expect you to primarily manage your hosting. That is why going with a managed WordPress host is the best way to stay on top of it. Considering WP Super Host specifically, we have features to monitor for WordPress updates. We also monitor plugins for the sites we host. This way, the entire burden of making sure you have the most secure site possible is not squarely on your shoulders.
As your managed WordPress host, WP Super Host does more than monitor for potential conflicts. For those deeper into the design or development site, we have staging and dev environments available. We hope to keep your site as secure as possible by offering SFTP access where you are in control of user credentials from your dashboard. And in the case of eCommerce, we offer free SSL to all of our websites.
In case anything does go wrong, we have your back. We have automated daily backups available for everyone who hosts a site with us. We are about more than just providing a server for your site. We work to provide you with the best hosting possible. When it is time to consider hosting for your website, look into the hosting packages you can find at WP Super Host.
You can learn from my mistake all those years ago. Since that incident, I double-check my car locks and hide any valuables. I also stay more careful in regard to other security measures in my life. On the digital side, I am always learning more about how to make my WordPress site secure.
Keep your eyes open. Remember that nobody needs your password, so do not give it out. Keep your software updated. And at the end of the day, a good security plugin can go a long way.