WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management Systems (CMSs) on the market. What’s more, it’s built to be secure. Still, if this is your first time using the platform, you might be worried about common WordPress security risks.
Fortunately, there are a few simple strategies you can implement to protect your site against these threats. For instance, you can improve your site’s security by enforcing strong passwords and regularly scanning your content for vulnerabilities.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to some common WordPress security risks and explain why you need to protect your site against them. Then, we’ll share three ways to protect your WordPress website. Let’s dive right in!
An Introduction to Common WordPress Security Risks
Before we explore any strategies for protecting your WordPress site, let’s go over some basics. WordPress is one of the most widely-used Content Management Systems (CMSs) in the world. In fact, it powers more than 40 percent of websites:
It is open-source software, which means there’s an entire community of developers who are continuously working on it. As a result, WordPress is constantly evolving and improving. It’s also highly secure, yet there are some things that make the software vulnerable to certain threats.
One of the major benefits of WordPress is that you can extend its functionality with plugins. Many of these plugins are free and some can completely transform your website.
For instance, with WooCommerce, you can turn your website into a full-blown e-commerce business. Meanwhile, plugins such as Yoast SEO can help you improve your site’s rankings in search results.
Furthermore, you can install WordPress themes to customize the appearance of your site:
However, since each plugin and theme is created by different developers, they may contain vulnerabilities that compromise your site’s security. Plugins in particular can become infected with malware and hackers may be able to find a way into your site through loopholes or faults in the code.
Additionally, if you run a larger site that has many users, like an online store with registered customers, the risks are higher. Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing whether every user who creates an account on your site is a genuine customer or an individual with malicious intent.
Why You Should Protect Your Site Against Common WordPress Security Risks
You’ll likely face web security risks on any platform. Still, that doesn’t mean you should “accept” or “normalize” these threats.
If you fail to protect your WordPress website, you may fall victim to cyber-attacks. These can have some serious effects, such as:
- Loss of sales. If you run an online store, any disruption of service caused by cyber-attacks can lead to downtime. As a result, you may lose out on sales and revenue.
- Compromised user data. When hackers manage to get access to your data, they likely want to steal personal information like credit card details. This can lead to instances of identity theft, data ransom, and crimes.
- Damaged reputation. If your website’s performance is frequently impacted by attacks, or your user data has been compromised multiple times, it can damage your company’s credibility and reputation. This will likely have long-term adverse effects on your business.
It goes without saying that larger e-commerce websites have more to lose. However, all websites should take security threats seriously. The good news is that if you follow a few best practices and use reliable security tools, you can easily protect your website against hackers.
3 Ways to Protect Your WordPress Website
Now that you know why it’s so important to protect your WordPress website, let’s look at three effective strategies you can employ.
1. Keep Your Software Up to Date
The first iteration of the WordPress CMS, version .70, was released in 2003. There have been dozens of releases since then, and the most current version of WordPress (at the time of writing) is 6.1.1:
Each release contains improvements in the software’s design and functionality, but also in its maintenance and security. In fact, the most current WordPress release had 28 bug fixes in Core and 18 bug fixes for the Block Editor. Therefore, one effective way to protect your site is by keeping the software up to date.
You can easily update your WordPress version in your dashboard. Simply navigate to Dashboard > Updates:
At the top of this screen, you’ll be able to check the current version of WordPress and update it if necessary. You may even want to set up automatic updates.
It’s also important that you update your plugins and themes. If you scroll down the Updates page, you’ll see what software needs updating:
Here, you can make your selections and simply click on Update Plugins. The same goes for themes.
Alternatively, you can update your extensions by navigating directly to the Plugins page. For themes, simply go to Appearance > Themes. Any plugins and themes that need updating will be flagged.
You may also want to enable automatic updates for your plugins. This way, you won’t need to check them every day.
2. Enforce Strong Passwords
As the administrator of your WordPress site, you’ll need to have secure login details. However, if you really want to protect your website, you can go a step further and enforce strong passwords for all your users. This is especially important for larger sites or e-commerce businesses.
You can use a WordPress plugin like Password Policy Manager to do this:
After you install and activate the plugin, you’ll get access to a variety of features to help you manage user passwords on your site. Most importantly, it enables you to set a password policy, requiring users to create passwords that are hard to crack.
You can even set up a password meter, mandatory password changes, and more. You can leverage these features for an unlimited number of users.
3. Regularly Scan for Vulnerabilities
Properly managing your plugins, themes, and user passwords can help you safeguard your site against WordPress security threats. However, even with all of these precautions, there’s still a risk that your site may become vulnerable and infiltrated by malware.
Therefore, another surefire way to protect your site is to regularly scan it for vulnerabilities. Doing this manually would be tedious or downright impossible, especially for larger websites with many moving parts.
Luckily, WPSec can do this for you:
Our powerful security solution runs automated WordPress scans. This way, you can identify any vulnerabilities and remove them from your site before it’s too late.
WPSec uses an advanced vulnerability scanner coupled with a comprehensive database. With the free version, you’ll get automated weekly scans for one WordPress location.
However, if you want to make the most of the tool, you can upgrade to a premium plan. This will provide you with full access to security features. You’ll get unlimited scans and reports for unlimited WordPress locations. Additionally, you’ll have an advanced user dashboard and a variety of additional tools. There is also a new command line client you can try out here:
For example, you’ll be able to configure WPSec to send you notifications when it discovers vulnerabilities. You can receive these alerts as emails or push notifications on a mobile device. So, if WPSec identifies any issues, you’ll be able to react quickly and prevent any damage to your website.
WordPress is one of the most versatile platforms for building a website. You can use it to create anything from a simple professional site to a complex e-commerce store. However, like with any other CMS or website builder, you’ll want to protect your site from common security risks.
To recap, here are three effective ways to keep your site safe:
- Keep your software up to date.
- Enforce strong passwords.
- Regularly scan for vulnerabilities using WPSec.
Do you have any questions about how to protect your site from common WordPress security risks? Let us know in the comments section below!