6 min to read
WordPress is an open-source website creation platform that is used by millions of website owners across the world (a staggering 835 million, according to recent data), and this number only appears to be growing. But while it’s a great tool for those without any coding experience, its popularity has theoretically increased the risk of a security breach, since hackers frequently target WordPress sites in an attempt to exploit underlying vulnerabilities.
What does this mean for WordPress website owners? Well, the good thing is that WordPress core software is audited regularly by developers and is generally considered to be very secure, but that doesn’t mean a WordPress site is completely hacker-proof. If you’re running a WordPress site, you should be making security a number one priority.
Here, we’ll discuss some of the most effective ways to improve your WordPress website security and prevent any potential threats from hackers or spammers in the future.
Is WordPress safe?
Generally speaking, the WordPress CMS is perfectly safe to use. In fact, in the majority of instances where a successful hacking attempt, malware infection, or any other security-related incident occurs, this is down to entirely preventable measures overlooked by the site’s owner. Instead of thinking, “Is WordPress safe?” consider what you have or haven’t done to block potential attacks.
Why is WordPress security so important?
According to cybersecurity data, an estimated 30,000 websites get hacked every day. With WordPress powering over 40% of all websites in the world, that’s around 12,000 WordPress-based sites that could fall victim to an attack today. If you want to avoid your site becoming part of this alarming statistic, you need to make your WordPress website secure — and that doesn’t just apply to large corporate websites, as small businesses can be (and frequently are) targeted too.
Here are three top reasons why WordPress website security is important.
Google favours secure websites
When it comes to website ranking, the number one search engine prioritises user safety. Poorly secured websites are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, financial and sensitive data theft, and reputational damage. Google penalises such websites and reduces their organic search ranking significantly. Simply put, if you put the effort into securing your website, Google will notice.
You’ll protect sensitive information
If attackers obtain personal information about you or your website visitors, the possibilities are limitless. Nobody wants personal information to end up in the wrong hands, so there’s no sense in taking the risk. A single attack which involves the theft of personal information could have catastrophic consequences, and result in irreparable reputational damage.
Your hard work won’t go to waste!
Imagine putting hours and hours of hard work into your WordPress site but not paying attention to security. Unfortunately, all of your work could be gone in just a few minutes if your website experiences an online attack. Not ideal! To avoid this, implement essential security measures (such as automated backups and WordPress updates) to ensure a) your site is protected from attack, and b) you’re in a better position to recover if an attack does occur.
5 ways of improving WordPress website security
In today’s online world, setting up a website is pretty simple — and theoretically accessible for pretty much everyone. But if you’re serious about running a successful website (whether it’s an online store, a business website, or a WordPress blog), you need to make security a priority.
Here are 5 easy security tips to follow:
1. Install and use a WordPress security plugin
There are many additional tools that you can install on your website (such as those designed specifically for ecommerce stores) and fortunately WordPress comes with a extensive library of available plugins covering everything from SEO, to analytics, to security. These security plugins are a great way of adding an extra layer of protection to your site. There are numerous security plugins available in the WordPress library, but not every plugin will meet your needs: some offer a comprehensive suite of security features, while others focus on more specific functions — do your research and make sure your chosen tool meets your requirements.
Plugins such as JetPack, Security Ninja, and Wordfence Security can improve your site's overall security and make it less vulnerable to attack by implementing features such as firewalls and malware scanners. Plus, this way you’ll be improving your website’s security with relatively little effort, since they’ll be working away in the background with little need for manual intervention.
2. Be careful where you download themes from
Resist the urge to use just any WordPress theme that looks good. Why? Well, there's a risk that it’s riddled with viruses, malicious code, or something similar. Once this has infiltrated your site, who knows what information could be taken — and there’s a chance that your website will be unrecoverable.
You can of course find many attractive, responsive WordPress themes for your site from WordPress itself (or other reputable theme marketplaces). Just be mindful of impressive designs that are free or listed on unsafe-looking sites. If in doubt, see if you can find some reviews from existing theme users, but it's probably better to steer clear of themes that have no (or of course, very poor) reviews.
3. Invest in high-quality hosting
One area that’s often overlooked in terms of making your website as secure as possible is hosting. A good hosting platform is the backbone of any reliable, fast, and safe website. The best web hosting services provide comprehensive security features that prevent the worst from happening, so be careful about which hosting platform you opt for.
Choosing a WordPress hosting expert can provide you with the security features your site needs to remain up and running without the added risk of attacks, data leaks, or a complete shutdown. WordPress hosting by Cloudways offers this peace of mind in spades, with SSL certificates included as standard, as well as firewalls, automatic backups and more. With the core elements of your site shielded from attacks, not only will you protect yourself — but your users too.
4. Ensure there are no gaps in your code
Another important way to improve your WordPress website security is to harden your software and its code. You can do this using a source code scanning tool, such as Sucuri or WordPress Code Inspector, to find any potential issues with your software. Once you find a problem, you can either correct it or report it to the concerned team so that they can fix it.
Outdated themes and plugins can result in vulnerabilities within their codes if not updated.
Version updates often include patches for security issues in the code, so it’s important to always run the latest version of all software installed on your WordPress website. While the task of running updates may seem inconvenient or tiresome, it’s an important WordPress security best practice to follow.
5. Implement strong user authentication
Strong user authentication is another important way to improve your Wordpress website’s security. Website authentication is the security process that allows users to verify their identities in order to gain access to their personal accounts on a website, for example when logging into their account before making a purchase.
However, due to the relationship between authentication and security, it’s one area often targeted by attackers who want to access sensitive information. Instead of asking users to login with an email and password combination, extra security layers such as using a one-time password sent via SMS will make it harder for WordPress websites to be exploited.
6. Educate your team on the importance of security
Another important way to improve your Wordpress website security is to maintain a healthy culture of security awareness. You can do this by regularly holding meetings to discuss the security issues and threats within your business and your WordPress website. Alternatively, if you’re running the site as a solopreneur, then stay up-to-date with the latest security threats and take strict measures to protect your website.
Having a secure website is a must in today's online world. A insecure website can result in a loss of customers, revenue, and brand reputation. The most popular CMS, WordPress, is an open-source platform that is used by millions of businesses and individuals, but it’s also vulnerable to attacks when sites are not secured properly. Luckily, following the above tips can help you be more proactive and maintain security for yourself and your website users.
If you have any doubts on how to keep your Wordpress site secure, of if need a security audit, just contact our team and we are happy to do it for you.
About Bruno Gavino
Bruno Gavino is the CEO and partner of Codedesign, a digital marketing agency with a strong international presence. Based in Lisbon, Portugal, with offices in Boston, Singapore, and Manchester (UK) Codedesign has been recognized as one of the top interactive agencies and eCommerce agencies. Awarded Top B2B Company in Europe and Top B2C company in retail, Codedesign aims to foster personal relationships with clients and create a positive work environment for its team.
He emphasizes the need for digital agencies to focus on data optimization and performance to meet the increasingly results-driven demands of clients. His experience in digital marketing, combined with a unique background that includes engineering and data, contributes to his effective and multifaceted leadership style.
Codedesign is a digital marketing agency with a strong multicultural and international presence, offering expert services in digital marketing. Our digital agency in Lisbon, Boston, and Manchester enables us to provide market-ready strategies that suit a wide range of clients across the globe (both B2B and B2C). We specialize in creating impactful online experiences, focusing on making your digital presence strong and efficient. Our approach is straightforward and effective, ensuring that every client receives a personalized service that truly meets their needs.
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