Once you have your site published publicly on the internet, your website will be exposed to the threat of hackers that have malicious intent. These people or organizations can inflict damage to your website and business’s reputation, legal standing, and financial position simply by breaching your website’s security.
Depending on the laws of governing countries or regions, fines can be applied to your website or business to the tune of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, even though it is the fault of the hackers and not of the individual or organization that owns the website.
For this reason, it is imperative that security is prioritized to prevent the risk of breaches that could lead to bigger consequences for your business and your website.
Web agency Digital Next, which specializes in WordPress security services, shared some prevention measures that will help minimize the risk of security breaches across any websites that you or your organization own or manage.
Use plugins that are trusted and updated
Malicious attacks are usually traced back to security holes caused by plugins. Although several plugins are qualified and trusted on the WordPress repository, the original developer may stop updating the plugin or worse, sell the plugin to a malicious buyer, who may use the plugin to breach your website’s security.
Before uploading plugins to your website, please ensure that you do the following:
Check the plugin is still being updated by the development team
If the plugin exists on the WordPress repository, please check the last time the plugin was updated and also monitor how frequently the updates are made. If the plugin was developed by a private organization, check with their developers to find out how often the updates are made, and details about the plugin’s security.
Check the plugin is compatible with your website
Sometimes, plugins have code that can conflict with other areas of your website, which could expose the site to security breaches. Before publishing the site live to the web, conduct a quality assurance check on the website.
Use a strong password and username
Many people use common usernames and easy-to-remember passwords. Unfortunately, hackers will use password and username generators to attempt to log into websites.
When developing a password, try to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase alphabet letters, as well as symbols and numbers. Avoid using something simple like “Password” or “Dog21”, and aim to use 8 characters or more.
With usernames, avoid using the default username generated by WordPress. Instead, use a custom username such as Admin. You can use your full name or add numbers and symbols, which will make it more difficult for hackers to guess your username and password.
Use secure website themes
Website themes that aren’t updated or that are developed poorly expose your site to security risks. Things such as poorly developed web forms, websites are strung together with plugins, and under-developed code can provide backdoor access for hackers and malware.
Many of these issues occur from free web themes, but these issues do arise with paid themes as well.
When choosing a website theme, check that:
- The theme is regularly updated.
- Reviews about the web theme’s security from other website developers are positive.
- The website’s theme will perform with other integrations securely. (E.g. Plugins, HTML embeds, etc).
Always check who has access to your website’s backend. Sometimes, web managers forget to update the access details for people that are no longer involved. Sometimes, you may find that someone has added themselves as a user without your knowledge, which gives them access to your website’s data.
Your website hosting provider is your partner when it comes to keeping your website secure. If the web hosting company’s servers get hacked or breached, then there is a high probability that your website will be affected.
Before deciding which website hosting provider to partner with, learn more about their security measures. Also, check reviews from web developers about their uptime, downtime, and web security management.
SSL and encryption
Your website will need SSL and encryption from your DNS or web hosting provider, although you will need to configure it on your website at the web hosting level. You need to ensure that the transfer of sensitive information on your website is protected so that hackers don’t harvest sensitive data from your website.
Ensure that the following is implemented:
- Check for any web forms or payment gateways that are being used on your website’s pages.
- Generate an SSL certificate for your website.
- Configure the SSL certificate to your website’s domain addresses (including the canonical redirects).
- Test that the SSL certificate is operating correctly.
Unfortunately, security breaches on the web are common. However, your site doesn’t need to be one of the ones affected. Keep your website protected by implementing the suggested security measures, which will allow you to keep full control of your website, and protect your website’s users from any potential security risks.
Nathan Elly is the branch manager for Digital Next, a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne, Australia. When he isn’t busy optimizing web marketing campaigns, you can find him supporting his favorite football team or enjoying a friendly game of futsal.