How to Hardening WordPress

Security in WordPress is taken very seriously, but as with any other system there are potential security issues that may arise if some basic security precautions aren’t taken. This article will go through some common forms of vulnerabilities, and the things you can do to help keep your WordPress installation secure.

This article is not the ultimate quick fix to your security concerns. If you have specific security concerns or doubts, you should discuss them with people whom you trust to have sufficient knowledge of computer security and WordPress.

What is Security?

Fundamentally, security is not about perfectly secure systems. Such a thing might well be impractical, or impossible to find and/or maintain. What security is though is risk reduction, not risk elimination. It’s about employing all the appropriate controls available to you, within reason, that allow you to improve your overall posture reducing the odds of making yourself a target, subsequently getting hacked.

Website Hosts

Often, a good place to start when it comes to website security is your hosting environment. Today, there are a number of options available to you, and while hosts offer security to a certain level, it’s important to understand where their responsibility ends and yours begins. Here is a good article explaining the complicated dynamic between web hosts and the security of your website. A secure server protects the privacy, integrity, and availability of the resources under the server administrator’s control.

Qualities of a trusted web host might include:

  • Readily discusses your security concerns and which security features and processes they offer with their hosting.
  • Provides the most recent stable versions of all server software.
  • Provides reliable methods for backup and recovery.

Decide which security you need on your server by determining the software and data that needs to be secured. The rest of this guide will help you with this.

Website Applications

It’s easy to look at web hosts and pass the responsibility of security to them, but there is a tremendous amount of security that lies on the website owner as well. Web hosts are often responsible for the infrastructure on which your website sits, they are not responsible for the application you choose to install.

To understand where and why this is important you must understand how websites get hacked, Rarely is it attributed to the infrastructure, and most often attributed to the application itself (i.e., the environment you are responsible for).

Security Themes 

Keep in mind some general ideas while considering security for each aspect of your system:

Passwords 

Many potential vulnerabilities can be avoided with good security habits. A strong password is an important aspect of this.

The goal with your password is to make it hard for other people to guess and hard for a brute force attack to succeed. Many automatic password generators are available that can be used to create secure passwords.

WordPress also features a password strength meter which is shown when changing your password in WordPress. Use this when changing your password to ensure its strength is adequate.

Things to avoid when choosing a password:

  • Any permutation of your own real name, username, company name, or name of your website.
  • A word from a dictionary, in any language.
  • A short password.
  • Any numeric-only or alphabetic-only password (a mixture of both is best).

A strong password is necessary not just to protect your blog content. A hacker who gains access to your administrator account is able to install malicious scripts that can potentially compromise your entire server.

In addition to using a strong password, it’s a good idea to enable two-step authentication as an additional security measure.

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