The Ultimate WordPress Security Guide

WordPress security is taken most seriously. Due to its open source in nature, it is important to take some precautions otherwise the security course of WordPress might have seen difficulties.

There are some the very basic security concepts which every webmaster need to understand about it and follow these guidelines in order to make their website perform better in terms of security standards.

Before learning about security we do keep into our mind is that security is not an absolute term. It changes with due course of time and keeps it in different situations with the increasing use of technology. It is about reducing the risks and one should be absolutely clear that there is no way there would be the complete elimination of security risks.

WordPress runs with three simultaneous parameters such as core WordPress application, online behaviour and internal processes. What it does mean is that in order to create one of the most versatile security mechanisms one needs to employ appropriate security control to manage WordPress website.

People, process and technology:
The scope of a WordPress website is limited to people, process and technology. When we analyse all of these three we do find that we cannot predict people and control their knowledge of technology and in the form of the process as the webmaster, you have complete control to move over newer and advance version of web technologies. Technology comes first and then it slowly embedded into newer processes.

When we do see the working of people, process and technology we do find that all of these works in a complete synchronisation manner to put forward the running of the website. There is always a good and bad side of it and as webmaster, your prime concern is the security of your web presence.

As you build your website through these mechanisms slowly you would find the higher presence of threat perception that comes into these mechanisms one by one and you should employ proactive security measures to overcome these. When you decide to build your website on the concept of self-hosted WordPress website then there are many different variants that come into your mind such as dedicated server, shared hosting, cloud hosting and so on.

Security concepts:

There are no straightforward rules that when you go for cloud hosting or for dedicated server everything will be best for you and you need not worry about any such provisions for security then you are completely wrong on this. Similarly, if you are using the website in shared hosting that too has different security considerations. Security parameters of your website completely dependent upon you not upon the host. It is important you should harden website installation parameters.

There are some the well-known security concepts that are continuing with WordPress installation and from these as the webmaster when you install WordPress you should have been choosing one of these security methods. When you employ the least privilege principle which means you allow user or applications such as plugin the legitimate process to use and nothing else after it.

Benefits of least privilege principle are to provide better system stability by limiting the perimeter of changes that can occur in the system. It provides better system security by providing augmented system protection against malware, rootkits, spyware and undetectable viruses. It provides the easier form of deployment in terms of operating in the larger environment. It stops most of the potential issues arising out of the predictive approach.

As webmaster one should always this that there is no shortcut for complete security. There are so many security plugins but all of these would not guarantee you for complete protection. You should go for the complete layered approach of security, so that is at any point of time of attack when one layer of security fails to abort it then comes another layer of security in front of attackers to stop imminent attacks.

Security control through depth defence mechanisms:

First and foremost do not allow administrative rights to each and every one. It is important to limit access as you might provide them subscriber stage but not administrative rights. In this way, you put forward logical control so that proper confidentiality, availability and integrity of the entire system stays in the proper manner.

Like the website, you should consider it as the single entity and you should consider using least number of applications so that scope for functional isolation of processes should be there and this minimise the speed of attack on the system.

Make WordPress backups regularly. From time to time check the authenticity and reliability of backups so that in the case of emergency you should not be in any of difficult times in reviving your website properly.

How to make your WordPress website more secure?

Stay up-to-date with your WordPress installation as well as hosting, cPanel, plugins and themes. In this way, you always stay away from the latest security threats. Hosts offer automatic updates to the latest version and make it automatic so that your WordPress system gets updated always whenever there is scope for updates.

Use and download plugins from trusted sources such as WordPress plugin directories. Do not download plugins from other sources. This might install virus embedded within those plugins. Always be safe and download these plugins from secure sources. As the webmaster, you should always update yourselves with the latest security news and updates in order to stay ahead of attackers. Simple by a good search will land you into the vast repository of knowledge bank.

Then make sure the computer you use is free from viruses and always updated with the latest security updates and it is a good idea to enable automatic updates on your local computer. Use good security software and a good firewall with your computing system.

Use ghostery or no script so that javascript, flash and java will be disabled to secure your browsing experience. Use a good and reliable virtual private network using cPanel and then editing purposes. While moving at the different location and when you use mobile do always remember that while using public wireless networking places one should always be aware that there is always the scope for affecting your mobile and for this it is important not to use open public wireless connectivity.

While using any theme be cautious to use it and most of the times these happen either due to ignorance of author or some of the themes are being discarded or being not updated by the author. It is a safe side to use the theme from WordPress default so that it is being updated and checked for any such vulnerabilities and all of these are free to download.

Similar is to the presence of plugins and it is important to download plugins from WordPress repository and then download plugins from renowned sources so that there would not be any such presence of code errors so that attackers could gain upper hand with it. Avoid plugins that are not being actively maintained. If you find any such errors in plugins then it is a great idea to submit bugs to the author of the plugin as well as to WordPress for proper rectification.

Next is about web server security. Most opt for shared hosting for less cost of hosting. This means some sites are located at the same server and if you find any signs of the advent of viruses due to compromise of the website at the similar server then it is a good idea to contact your web host to manage and remove such viruses on the website of the similar server.

WordPress runs with hosting and database. It is important to secure your database to its fullest so that intruder should not move into it and make the mess of it. Back up your data regularly. Back up database regularly. Inside WordPress installation, the core files and folder permission structure needs to be carefully done. Never ever permit 777 to any file in the directory.

The default permission scheme for the folder should be 750 and for files should be 640. WordPress administration is the place where the administrator of the website has the privilege. It is better to password protect it. If your host is providing leech protection add-on in the panel then you can do it easily.

Open leech protection and then public_html / and then wp-admin and make wp-admin password protected. In this way, through web browser hackers would not be able to browse file structure in hosting set up.

Next, you can use any popular security plugin to have one of front-end security. In the case of the firewall, you can choose from server side third-party firewall such as sitelock or from Norton or from Cloudflare by directing domain to Cloudflare DNS system. The cloud-based firewall such as Cloudflare which offers free to a different professional version for absolute security and this way your host files remain absolute secure.

You can provide your last login details to Cloudflare so that it will allow those internet protocol address which you want to allow and in this way your host files remain intact always. If you connect your website with cloud flare then go to firewall and there add access rule of internet protocol address of your website and in this way, you only allow yours internet protocol address to access cPanel.

Cloudflare can be used by any webmasters who do have the choice of hosting. It does not work directly with blog spot or other subdomain considering if you have your own domain and then followed by sub-domain and if the main domain is connected with Cloudflare then the subdomain too can be connected with it considering it should have the main domain in hosting parameters. If you’re hosting more part is not the partner with Cloudflare then also you could easily add Cloudflare by changing a name server of domains and it does not take 24 to 48 hours to activate but, it does activate with immediate effect.

There is no complicated DNS configuration to change, no hardware and software access to be changed, as you only have to change the name of name servers and then it is all done and your website should be supercharged with accelerated speed and complete security.

If you ever feel disappointed with it than you could easily turn off its features for some time or for a permanent time. The first step of connecting your website with Cloudflare is to create a Cloudflare account and add the website. Everything is easy out here with Cloudflare. First, go to sign in page wwwdotcloudflaredotcom and then click sign up link located at the top right corner of the newly made landing page of Cloudflare.

Then create the Cloudflare account with your email address and password. Then tick on agreeing to Cloudflare term and conditions and privacy policy and then click on create an account.

Then login to your website and then click on add site to start adding website and within a few seconds it should scan existing DNS settings of your webpage and then ask you to change the name server. If your website is then you should write in order to scan for DNS. It should provide you with two name servers that should be installed on your hosting DNS and you should change that. First, note down addresses of these name servers.

Login to your hosting provider and then reach to my account or panel login to find the list of orders. Basically, you should find the names of products such as if you have single domain Linux hosting and domain registration, codeguard or any other add-on, Then click on the name of the website to reach to panel list of orders and ten from domain registration find the name server which manages the domain name uses.

Then click on it and then it should open manage nameservers and from there add the two designated name servers you have from Cloudflare while adding website and you should have noted down it and then in the place of existing hosting provider name server you should add Cloudflare powered name server and for better security or in the case in the future you wish to change it then it is better to note down hosting name servers at the safer place.

Inside of Cloudflare control panel, there had been many tabs and corresponding pieces of information attached thereon. In the analytics segment, one could find detailed website requests from visitors and cached requests which were meant to be reproduced from Cloudflare servers worldwide.

Bandwidth saved from original hosting could be known and that quantity should be there as well as if you have enabled page rules for your website then it should provide fewer servers to Cloudflare as it could cut the costs of hosting as well as that of Cloudflare servers to a considerable extent. The more and more content served from Cloudflare servers provides more and more cached resources and more and more savings of bandwidths as well.

By enabling page rules for website inside the clock-face control panel you could find the presence of use of fewer servers and that expedite the processes of caching of resources in a supercharged manner in order to provide the website at a faster pace. Due to the existence of firewall, more and more website traffics had been rerouted through Cloudflare servers and that cut through bad malicious requests to protect your website to a considerable extent.

Cloudflare has a huge user database. Internet protocol addresses those are considered to be malicious and backed by stronger and dedicated communities who work day and night to make the web faster and safer. If anything suspicious found than those request had been challenged by a CAPTCHA which then sees whether that traffic is an artificial bot or humans.

It checks out bad-requests in the form of browser integrity check. IP range checks through different firewall rules and it had been updated regularly. By using open street map of leaflet it showed the worldwide map and the specific locations from where the bad-requests or malicious request had been reaching and it shows how many such and such request had been blocked and it continues to see and show the results.

In the DNS settings inside Cloudflare, there is one option namely ‘DNSSEC’. It is a good way to safeguard from DNS attacks on the server. If enabled it protects against forged DNS answers as it checks for digitally signed DNS records and the concerned records published by domain owners.

In the firewall tab, the most preferred security level comes upon. Here we do find the presence of a different security level, but the most essential and common ones are the medium security level where it challenges both the moderate threat visitors and most threatening threat visitors with different techniques.

It has been evident that the motto and aim of Cloudflare are to make the web faster, safer and normal. Now, slowly internet had been moving into the stage of the absolute open internet with it. It provides few SSL security for websites, advance web firewall with three free options for page rules, latest algorithm related with compression mechanisms such as rocket loader and most up to date security for websites so that precious bandwidths should never ever be compromised by artificial bots.

In this way, it does provide huge amplification of movement of making the internet more secure and the securest place and this also does help webmasters to continue to concentrate on their work and that makes entire web areas more beautiful and comprehensive.

If you want to use another third-party security firewall such as sitelock then you can also protect your website from hackers and third-party attackers. Sitelock acts as a firewall for the website and continuously stops those intruding hackers from entering into the website. While implementing Sitelock on the hosting side, it would ask you to replace A records of hostname, but it is advisable not to replace A records of hostname but add another A records which Sitelock provides without deleting A record of hosting. If you use Cloudflare CDN which mostly available free with hosting, then delete those C name records and replace with Sitelock C name which they will provide after buying it.

It is extremely important to remove any trace of other CDN services which use C name records to replace with C name record of site lock. As only one C name record per site could be used and it is imperative to use it on site lock by removing other instances. Most of Sitelock Firewall users get its TrueSpeed content delivery network for free and with this combination of firewall and CDN. Site Lock continues to block pervasive spams and bots in order to reduce bandwidth usage of the website completely. With its advanced firewall, it blocks content scrappers who would try to steal important information from your site and also it blocks malicious bots which act as real to hold bandwidth through behavioural analysis.

Sitelock provides its Truespeed content delivery networks to users with its firewall in a single package bundle. Various servers are distributed around the world to reduce extra pressure on hosting services. It provides websites from their nearest geographical locations to reduce load time and increase search engine optimization of websites. It caches static content of the website to various servers of its CDN around the world so that web host would not be hit everytime a visitor reaches your site. It increases the speed of the website and also it reduces the load on the server to keep the website alive most times.

Secondly, it compresses your website to maximum possible limit to reduce the amount of bandwidth transfer through removing unnecessary whitespace and newline characters, remove bots and spam comments to speed up a website to considerable limit and it minifies JavaScript, CSS and HTML of the website which generally takes a huge chunk of loading times and server resources.

The worst thing you want when visitors visit your site and find it red flagged as known malware website and this would reduce visitors to a great level. Site Lock constantly works to protect your site from blacklisting of Google and other relevant search engines. Sitelockconstantly looks to stop email spam, the email you use to with your visitors, as well as it checks SSL Certificate website constantly in order to let the webmaster know that the SSL certificate is not in the expired state.

You do not need to be a technical expert to run site lock on your site. It works on the cloud-based system and easily integrates with your website. It scans your website automatically on a daily basis and its trust seal shows the passing of the website with its date. It provides the further level of protection and provides users with complete access and brilliant management of parameters of the website.

There is any third party firewall for WordPress websites which could be considered through hosting. Personally, I used the site on this website as visitors would have seen the batch on the right side corner and this shows that this website is secure and malware free. Have you used any such third party firewall for the website, if so let me know how you feel it or if you use site lock on your website then let me know how do you feel with it?

Security of WordPress website is a continuous process. As webmaster one needs to constantly update knowledge and be prepared proactively for continuous development of security parameters of their site. Most of the good hosts do provide the option for server-side scanning and this can be done with the scanner from advance settings of cPanel. With it, you can scan mail, scan the entire home directory, scan public web space and scan public FTP space and in this way, if you have such privilege with cPanel then you should not be installing application scanning plugins.

Register your website with Google, Bing, Norton Yandex and Pinterest webmaster tools. Authorise your website with it and then from time to time see the reports there to understand any suspicious activities are out there or not. Especially by going through Google Webmaster tools, you can learn more about it as it provides detailed information about your site presence. Reach security issues to learn about any attacks on your website. Periodically it is important for you to check this and if there is any warning there then rectify it.

WordPress is a fantastic platform and it is important for you to update everything and make sure to secure your hosting area so that your site becomes absolutely secure. From time to do check out for any such newer add-on in cPanel and enable those in order to make it fully secure. Security is a vast phenomenon and while you use this you will slowly know more and more about it and ultimately that will make you more and more practice in dealing with WordPress security.

Secure WordPress:
When we consider setting up for about a perfect and well insulted secure system, it is not about one hundred percentages secure system. It will be the impractical system. It is all about distributing appropriate control at various locations inside the system structure. If at all your system becomes the target of the hacker, still there are ways where you can easily defeat the advent of such system mechanics.

The defence:
Even security plugins can secure applications but when the server is being attacked then those plugins are part of the attacked server and there will be no use of them. It is all about risk-reduction and creating appropriate security environment. Patch the vulnerabilities in the hosting system and if found so then contact your hosting provider about it.

Use a good and updated WordPress them. Use good and renowned plugins and download it from WordPress plugin repository so that there would not be any chance of malicious add-on included with it.

Use a strong password for WordPress administration so that it would not be hacked at any point in time. Thee are some of these defence measures which you need to employ in order to add another additional layer of security.

Make WordPress up-to-date. It is a wise idea to use auto-update through your hosting provider so that there would not be any such worry about yours when to update or not. Back up your website regularly. Enable SSL for WordPress data security. This means with it your website begins with HTTPS and this means the data sent and received are encrypted. Google is fond of website those are having secure connectivity.

Hide WordPress version number by editing the functions.php file. One should remove a readme.html file which also contains the version number of WordPress. It is important as most the hackers by knowing the version number tend to make the hacking process easier. It is also important to remove WordPress reference fro your theme file such as header.php

It is important to disable PHP error reporting from wp-config.php file. If there is any error in theme or plugin this might show the server path and by disabling it the server path will not be displayed in this circumstance. Choose themes and plugins that are actively maintained and download fro WordPress plugin repository only. Delete, unused themes and plugins.

Protection of WordPress login screen:

The potential back door to attacks are each and every theme and plugin and it is important to remove such themes and plugins so that potentiality of attacking to the website is reduced. Leech protect or restrict access to your plugin directory. Generally, your plugin directory structure is like this.

Change the administration username and use a stronger password. Do not use a common password. Do not use dictionary words. Do not use similar passwords on each and every device. For each account, passwords must be unique in nature. Change your passwords regularly. Use two-factor authentication for WordPress administration account and link your phone to log in.

Use a good plugin to limit login attempts and if it continues over a specified period then it is a good idea to implement log in lockdown and internet protocol blocker to block the internet protocol address or stop the hacker from accessing your website. It is a good idea to use CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA on your login screen as this would ask in addition of username and password the captcha and this would easily stop botnets from occupying important server space.

In addition to it, you can add a security question to your log in screen and automatically log ou idle users. In this way hijacking of your website can be stopped. It is important to assign users to the lowest role possible. Do not provide them with editor, author or contributor role as this can directly provide the malicious user in the guise of the user to have complete administrative access to your website.

Use SSL for logins so that the data sent and receive for login users should be encrypted and there will not be any chance of hacking for logged in users.

Secure your database:

WordPress database is an important location where most of the important information regarding the website is stored. Use strong MySQL database names, set strong passwords for your database, change the WordPress database table prefix. Do not use FTP but use SFTP to connect it with your server and if your hosting provider is not providing this then ask them for this as this is the secure form of file transfer protocol.

How to choose the best hosting plan?

WordPress site can be extremely secure if you choose the best hosting plan. That host which will support for the latest PHP and MySQL versions as most of these companies from time and again choose to release newer versions of it in order to secure PHP and MySQL versions. The host which would provide web application firewalls such as sitelock or Cloudflare is the best one and choose the host in accordance with it.

The host should have a good intrusion detecting system with proactive updates and patches to the server. It should have good on the access server monitoring system, It should provide the option for daily backups.

Most of the times this is the generally a normal trend that most of the new users tend to go for low-cost hosting but before choosing the option for hosting it is a good idea to choose the grievance redressal system is good or not and demands for site migration is good or not. On the other hand opening for premium WordPress hosting might be a good idea but in reality, this might not suit pockets for many new webmasters.

With shared hosting and in combination with a content delivery network such as Cloudflare one could in combination make a good hosting and secure hosting.

Always do perfect research before moving into buying of hosting and always be aware of the negativity of hostings also. Use good database plugin cleaning tool to clean transients that makes the database bloat. It is strongly recommended to back up the database before doing any kind of cleaning on your database.

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