15 Essential Steps To Secure WordPress Against Malware Attacks

Securing WordPress websites from hackers and hardening its security is a crucial step towards your journey of working with the software. WordPress security vulnerabilities need to be overcome so that hackers cannot exploit the creators’ intellectual property.

But often, individuals and businesses alike neglect security issues and don’t consider it as a concern that needs to be addressed. One needs to understand that this is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done – security is of utmost importance.

One might assume that since they simply don’t have the time, security as an element can be overlooked. Or, it can appear to be too complicated to figure out and thus never integrated into the website at all.

One thing that needs to be made clear – equipping WordPress with security is quite easy. Read on to find out just how it works!


1. Invest in a Reliable Hosting Company

Although it might be tempting as a beginner to opt for a cheap hosting provider, the best way to boost your WordPress site’s security is to choose one that offers multi-dimensional security at the level of the server.

Investing in a reliable and secure web-hosting platform offers various other benefits such as automatic backups and free installation of WordPress, as well!


2. Brainstorm Strong Usernames and Passwords

Having the default username for your WordPress website practically is an invitation for hackers to poke at your site and access your login page with ease.

Using a difficult, unique, and hard-to-crack username and password protects your website from hackers that use “brute force attacks” – a manner by which they attempt to guess the admin and password of your website using automated scripts.


3. Customize the login URL

It is recommended to change your default URL address in order to protect it from threats.

You are allowed to customize, make it more secure and unbreakable. For this, you may come up with a custom URL such as my_custom_login. Or, another option is to install the iThemes Security Plugin – this automatically changes your login URLs.


4. Install a powerful security plugin

Here are a few plugins you can install –

  1. iThemes
  2. All in One WP Security & Firewall
  3. Shield Security
  4. Wordfence

Each of these plugins come with certain features that bring your site’s security to a higher level. They don’t need much time or skill because they have step-by-step configuration wizards to help you through the process.


5. Secure the wp-admin directory

One of the most significant steps involved in ensuring WordPress security is to protect the wp-admin directory. The admin dashboard is what hackers target, hence it needs to be secured.

It’s a good practice to use a password to protect the wp-admin directory. Due to this, a website owner has to submit two different passwords if he/she wants to access their dashboard – one for the login page and another for the admin section.


6. Regularly perform Malware Scans

It is recommended for you to perform a quick malware scan for your site if you notice some drops in inbound traffic, any other performance issues, or even otherwise, in general.

There are several tools available online such as VirusTotal that can perform the check for you.


7. Update your WordPress software & Plugins

Just as the applications and software on your phone are updated automatically on a regular basis, it is essential to do the same for the WordPress software and all its related plugins.

This ensures top-tier security and does away with threats.


8. Use the latest version of PHP

An older version of PHP that is being used by your site is potentially detrimental to its security. Update the PHP version to 7.4.5, which is the version in use currently.

Apart from boosting security, updating your PHP will also increase the performance of your WordPress website.


9. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

To further enhance your security, you may attach a two-factor authentication plugin. This additionally blocks all the IP addresses with the most number of failed logins.

Although it is time-consuming, 2FA is one of the best ways to ensure security on your website. It is recommended that you use the plugin known as Wordfence to enable 2FA that helps you access factor code from your email.


10. Upgrade from HTTP to HTTPS

Single Sockets Layer or SSL implies that the site which you are using and that the transactions being made on it are secure. An SSL certificate makes your URL begin with https:// instead of http://.

This assures search engines like Google that the website is reliable and helps it rank better than the rest when you publish content.


11. Log idle WordPress users Out

If at a particular point in time, you or your employees wander away from the open WordPress link for too long, here are the potential threats to security:

  1. The site may be hacked by those with a malicious intent.
  2. Someone may change the login, thus disabling your access.
  3. Once someone is in, they can make drastic changes.

To prevent something like this from happening, remove the users that are inactive on your site for long periods of time.


12. Disable XML-RPC

XML-RPC files are required to connect your site with web & mobile apps.

Although useful, hackers have been able to use this to strengthen their brutal attacks.

Installing Brute Force Protection with another plugin blocks login attempts by multiple IP addresses – a hacker can try to hack your website 100 times, and his IP address gets blocked many numbers of times.


13. Limit the number of Login Attempts

The default login page allows a user to log in as many times as they would like to so that the authentic user is eventually able to gain access.

Attaching a Limit Login Attempts Reloaded plugin can prevent the number of times a potential hacker can try to log in and thus gain access to your website.


14. Limit Access Control

The parts of your website that are most prone to threats are the index.php, functions.php, and wp-config.php files. The wp-config.php file especially is quite vulnerable as it can facilitate several attacks onto your site.

To prevent this, you can hide these files and disable any controls for editing them.


15. Enable some Security Questions for your login

Enabling Security questions for your login adds an extra layer of security for when you are unable to remember your login credentials. They can range anywhere from “What is your mother’s maiden name” to “What was the name of your first pet”. Basically, only you as a user should know the answer to these questions.

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