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How To Protect Yourself on WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) and accounts for 27% of websites. It’s a great place for small startup blogs as well as well-established ones, and provides a plethora of resources that are quick and easy to use. With that being said, WordPress is the perfect prey for online hackers; they’re like a farm full of livestock, oblivious and waiting to be taken advantage of. With WordPress powering such a substantial amount of websites, hackers are able to attempt hacks on several sites all at once, usually in the form of bots, and attack any loopholes they may find. While security issues are always a cause for concern, WordPress has offered several built-in as well as third party security options for us. Here’s how to best protect yourself on WordPress from hacks, attacks and other vulnerabilities:

How Hackers Attack Your Site

Hackers employ different types of attacks on WordPress, so it’s important to distinguish which ones are more popular so we can work towards finding a fix for them. Here are a number of easily exploitable security threats you may be vulnerable to.

  1. SQL Injections: This is usually caused by SQL queries and statements being entered from your website’s URL.
  2. Brute Force: This approach entails the constant guessing of your username and password.
  3. DOS: DOS, or denial of service means your site is down due to heavy traffic coming from a hackbot.
  4. Open Redirect: A vulnerability that causes a redirect from an owner’s site to a site created from the hacker, which is often a scamming or phishing site.
  5. Malware: Malicious program for the purpose of infecting a site.
  6. Bypassing Authentication: Allowing a hacker to quite literally bypass the login and gain access to a site.
  7. Remote Code Execution: A hacker with the ability to input code from one website or machine to another website or machine.
  8. Uploading Files: When a hacker is able to upload a malicious file onto a server without limitations or restrictions.

Steps To Protect Yourself on WordPress

  1. Be sure to download a computer virus scanner in order to protect yourself from malicious malware. If you don’t want to spend money on one, many scanners come with a free 30 day trial, and also comes with a program to clean up threats that are detected.
  2. If you don’t have one already, install a computer firewall and update it when needed.
  3. Never access your WordPress on a public WiFi service, due to the fact that your credentials could easily be tracked down and used for future purposes
  4. Use a solid and trusted hosting provider that prioritizes reliability and security.
  5. Make sure the people you give admin access to are trusted individuals.
  6. Install security plugins
  7. Backup your site and ensure that everything backed up is working.
  8. ALWAYS make sure your WordPress version is up to date.

Other Overlooked Advice

Beyond the general advice, there are other ways to protect yourself. First, let’s take a look at your username. When you register for WordPress, it automatically gives you the username “admin”. This can be a cause for concern for two reasons: if a hacker ever types in a random password with the username “admin”, they will know they’ve guessed the username right. On top of this, it helps hackers solve half the problem when they’re using a brute force attack (guessing username and password until they get it right). By changing your username, the process becomes significantly harder for hackers.

Another simple but overlooked solution is to check your activity logs. See who logged in when, what they did, and how often they do it. If you find someone is accessing some critical files, you can deal with it in person, or in the worst case scenario, you discover someone is hacking into your account.

Deleting spam is a reliable way of knowing you’re not going to get hit by malware attacks. In some cases, simply opening spam e-mails sent to you can lead to brute force attacks, DOS attacks, and even open you up to security vulnerabilities. Solving this means downloading or installing a security plugin that deals with spam before it even reaches you or your audience.

Using two-factor authentication is the secure way of making sure your website is invulnerable to brute force attack hacks, and offers a second wall of defense most other accounts won’t have. This extra yet simple step means that hackers won’t be able to access your account even if they know your password.

The Reality of Security

While WordPress does provide many options to bolster your security, the reality of it is that no site or system is ever secure. There will always be new loopholes to exploit and dysfunctional security that malfunctions. While you can do everything in your power to protect yourself, know that there is always an off chance you will still get hacked anyways. The important thing is reducing those risks to a minimum.

What are you doing to minimize your risks?

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