A Website is the cardinal piece to your online identity. Whether you are a small/large business, e-commerce Company, blogger or a freelancer, having your own website is the pillar to your online identity. It not only gives a central platform for your audiences to land upon but also serves as an extension to what your brand is. From your end, it is essential to provide a safe, interesting and reliable experience to your audiences through your website.
Depending upon the nature of your work, the design, functionality and mobile responsiveness of your website might vary. However, whatever sort of interactions ensue on your website, security remains a critical vista for it. If there are not proper security measures, the credibility of your business might suffer immensely and it can also be disastrous for your customers or audience.
WordPress & Security
WordPress is one of the most secure and reliable Content Management System for building a website. The security team works on great lengths to provide a hassle free secure experience to both users and developers. WordPress especially focuses on responding quickly to any security threats within the core WordPress software and third-party plugins and tools.
However, despite all the measures WordPress take to create a safe and secure CMS, there are still potential risks. From time to time, WordPress releases updates to patch up system fragilities but still the security threats loom over the CMS users.
- Users use third-party tools in tandem with WordPress which open them to a wide possibility of attacks. Third-party tools are not always secure. It does not mean to distrust the third-party plugins, software and themes but to rather put up cautionary defenses to protect your website and its users.
- Generally CMS users believe that they are immune to attacks because they are small businesses or websites with less traffic. However this is not true, hackers attack any website which has a potential opening to bypass security measures. This makes it easier for them to access sensitive user data which is otherwise not accessible to them.
Types of Risks
In order to move along the tangent of security measures, it is imperative to understand what types of risks a WordPress website might run into. A recent Wordfence Survey finds out about what types of attacks the CMS users have experienced. Here is a consolidated chart of their findings.
Figure: Wordfence Survey
It is evident from the survey that hackers do not care for the size of business or traffic density. If there is an opening to take advantage of, hackers will take it. According to statistics From 40,000+ WordPress Websites in Alexa Top 1 Million, more than 70% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to hacker attacks.
Protect Your Visitors
Any website with substantial visitors must have realized that there is a lot of sensitive and personal user data that is transacted over their site. Visitors, unaware of cyber-realities, presume that however they interact with the site, their personal data is protected and kept under anonymity. Thus keeping their confidence intact and conducting their experience securely is an important step towards maintaining you credibility and providing them with a hassle free experience.
1. Select a Reliable Web Host
Investing in a good web hosting service for your WordPress website is taking the first step towards securing your website and protecting your visitor’s privacy. There are many host providers that assure quality site security, 24 hours monitoring, website backups and individual hosting space.
Checking for your host providers reviews and track records for managing security issues is one way to identify if your existing provider grants a secure environment for you and our users. If you are starting a blog/website then it is of prime importance that you select your hosting provider carefully.
2. Set up Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
Once you have identified your web host, check out if they provide a SSL Certificate. Most of the hosting providers offer a SSL Certificate but even if they don’t, you can consider others who issue a free & valid SSL Certificate to your site.
Websites dealing in sensitive information must have SSL set up as it provides for an extra layer of protection via encryption to your users data. It basically bars third-party to gain access to your visitor’s information. SSL certificates also aids in your SEO as Google and other search engines drive traffic towards more secure, valid and trusted sources.
3. Set up a Firewall
I have been stressing again and again on the importance of a good web host. Most of the hosting providers by default install a firewall for your server. Firewalls are a good way to thwart unwanted visitors and hackers. It adds an extra layer of protection to your site.
4. Use a CDN
CDN or Content Delivery Network is commonly associated with faster loading speeds but also provides additional security checks for your website. Generally people consider CDN as additional hosting service which comes at a certain cost but in fact it is a network that sits on top of your hosting and aids in delivering non-static content to visitors.
CloudFlare is one good example of an efficient CDN.
5. DDoS Mitigation Services
If your website handles huge amounts of traffic or it’s a large enterprise, you must definitely consider investing in DDoS Mitigation services. DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. Hackers use Attack Launchpad Security threats to invade your site for the purpose of attacking another one. They generally drive overwhelming amounts of traffic to your site forcing it to crash and consequently denying site visitors any access.
DDoS provides with an extra layer of protection to your website from serious security threats that can result in complete crash of your site and leak of visitor data.
A lot of companies that provide CDN and SSL also provide with a DDoS Mitigation services. You can research well so that all your security measures can be put under one umbrella.
6. Secure your Plugins
Third-party plugins are a vulnerable place through which your website might get hacked. Though WordPress reviews all third-party tool submissions but still it is highly likely that some insecurity might pass through them.
- It is wise to go through the information WordPress collects on plugins. Check for plugin ratings, reviews, active installs, WP compatibility and last update before selecting a plugin. You can also go through negative ratings to see what type of issues might surface.
- If you know PHP then you can go through the plugin script to identify any malicious coding in it. Tools like Defender are highly useful to scan your website for any vulnerability due to malicious script or codes.
- You can use security plugins to monitor other plugins, scan their scripts, monitor their activity and check their access level. Wordfence is a popular option among budding WP users.
7. Clear Your Spam
Spammers can hit you overwhelming dragging down the credibility and reliability of your site. It is best to use plugins that can ward off such spammers by identifying them through known spammer IP addresses.
It is best to not store the IP address of commenters in the first place so that while collecting IP address info from your site, your visitor’s information stays secure. There are anti-splog plugin that prevent fake spammer accounts to come through. You can also use WordPress settings to not “allow link notifications from other blogs” to prevent trackbacks and pingbacks in your comments.00
8. Enforce Stronger Login Settings
Whenever a user is given access to your website, it is highly likely that some users might maliciously try to get into more sensitive and restricted information. To prevent this you can follow simple steps:
- Encrypt users’ passwords with bcrypt hashing
- Secure wp-admin directory by requiring additional username and password
- You can also use Google Authenticator Plugin for two-factor authentication
- Require users to choose a strong password containing letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Limit login attempts and lock out anyone who exceeds a certain number of those attempts.
Securing the private information of visitors and maintaining their anonymity is a crucial factor in developing a reliable, secure and trustworthy business. Any online identity becomes a trusted source only if it provides users with a secure environment.
Security breach is harmful for your users but also is disastrous for you as a brand. It hurts you revenues, SEO rankings, online reputation and your audience’s trust. Ensure that you set up defenses for your website and work with trusted third-parties. Taking precautionary steps to secure your visitor information is an important touch point towards a successful and reliable online presence.