If you run a small business and operate a website, there’s a good chance you’ve used WordPress to create that site. WordPress is one of the most popular and simplest tools for website creation, but this popularity and simplicity can also make it a common target for online hackers.
If your site is hacked, information can be stolen, malware installed, it could be slow to load, or your visitors could be redirected to unsavory websites. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to prevent such an attack. Here are just a few of the things you can do to protect your site from hackers and cyber attacks.
- Usernames and passwords should be diverse and complex
- Make sure to upgrade all parts of your website, including themes and plugins
- A firewall is your last line of defense and should always be present
Secure Your Web Host
Websites need a host to operate and store their vast amounts of data. However, many site owners are unaware of the vulnerabilities an insecure web host can cause and so don’t pay much attention to the host they choose. They can also run to the cheapest option, which is usually a shared server, or a server which hosts more than just your website.
This is usually the most affordable option but one which also leaves your site open to attack. An attack on a shared server can affect every site on that server. If you’re currently using a shared server, it’s safest to switch to a private, secure server and check if your preferred web host offers a VPS service.
Upgrade Your Passwords
Many cyber attacks are considered “brute force.” That is, they don’t take much finessing and rely on the error of users and administrators rather than a vast network of hacking and data compiling. Brute force attacks are often possible because companies are still using incredibly weak passwords such as 123456 or password.
These passwords are incredibly easy for hackers to guess and there’s a litany of software which will guess it for them. To keep your site safe and secure, your company should use only strong passwords, which consist of at least eight characters and have a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, in addition to a punctuation mark or two. In addition, you can install a password management tool which will generate and store your passwords for you.
Update Your WordPress Site
WordPress is a great tool because it’s often upgraded and switches over to new, updated versions. However, if your company likes to stick with old and outdated versions of the software, it’s possible that you could be hacked easier. There’s a reason updates exist; older versions of a software will often have an exploitable bug or other piece of vulnerable software, and hackers know exactly how to take advantage of this every time.
The fix to this is simple, you should update your software every chance you get and ensure you’re always running the most up-to-date version of WordPress that you can run. If you’re worried about your website crashing because of an update, you can always test the update beforehand on a staging site.
Update Your WordPress Plugins and Themes
In addition to your general site being vulnerable when it’s not updated frequently, your plugins and themes can also be taken advantage of when you don’t update them. Many plugins and themes you used in the past may have actually been forgotten about or abandoned, which can leave hackers an entry point onto your website.
In addition, your company may have unwittingly installed a plugin or theme from an unsafe or untrustworthy website, which can also give hackers a direct path to your website. You should ensure that every plugin and theme you have on your site has been updated and installed from a safe location. You should also take about an hour per week to make sure every plugin and theme remains updated and inaccessible to hackers.
Diversify Your Usernames
Similar to using common passwords, using common usernames allows for an easy brute force invasion of your website. Many administrators use usernames such as “admin” with a number in front of it. The fix to this is as easy and simple as the fix to the password issue. Simply create more diverse and complex usernames for your administrators to use when they log onto the site.
You can usually change the usernames on your company site through the user management tool. You can delete your old admin usernames and create names which are unique and diversified to stop brute force attacks. In addition, you should only grant site permission to those who actually need it and routinely work on the site.
Create A Firewall
Every website should have a robust, sturdy firewall to keep hackers at bay. Firewalls are a large and formidable obstacle to hackers trying to gain access to your site. They protect back end resources and act as the last line of defense and operate much the same as a security alarm does in your house.
Firewalls are used to monitor any requests coming from a host of IP addresses and can determine if a request is being made from an untrustworthy or suspicious IP address. If you don’t have a firewall installed on your website, you should install one immediately, as well as a malware scanner which can detect dangerous messages and “online packages.”