Website security 2023 - How to make your wordpress website safer

At a time when the volume of digital activity is constantly growing, website security becomes critical. One effective strategy is to create layered security, or deep protection, which uses multiple layers of defence. Here's how to make your wordpress website more secure with multi-level security.

1. Use the Web Applications Firewall (WAF).

A web application firewall is an effective tool that can detect and block a wide range of attacks before they reach your website. Cloudflare and Sucuri, for example, offer such services. These applications act like a shield that keeps dangerous elements away from your website.

WAFs are designed to block the efforts of attackers by monitoring and analysing the traffic coming to a website. This allows them to block suspicious activities that could compromise a website. However, it should be remembered that, as with any security system, WAFs need to be regularly updated and maintained.

2. Update WordPress and back up regularly

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Not renewing means you risk leaving an open door for an attacker to enter. If attackers discover a weakness, they will exploit it. This is why updating is one of the most important parts of website security.

It is very important to keep your WordPress core, themes and plugins updated. Updates often include security patches that fix known security vulnerabilities and bugs. WordPress is an ever-evolving platform, which means its developers are constantly monitoring security issues and developing new fixes.

The entire WordPress website should be backed up regularly. If the website is hacked, a backup will ensure that you can easily restore it. Backups can be done either manually or using a plugin such as UpdraftPlus or BackWPup.

Backups should be kept in a secure location and tested regularly to ensure their reliability. It is important to remember that backups are not a substitute for security enhancement strategies - they are a last resort when all else has failed and the page needs to be restored.

3. Use the Security Plugin

Plugins such as Wordfence, Sucuri or iThemes Security can add many layers of security in a single package. These include features such as malware scanning, IP blocking and more. Plugins are essential because they add specific security features that the WordPress core does not offer.

Security plugins can also protect a website from known threats by constantly monitoring what is happening in the cyber landscape. When they detect a new threat, the plugins are updated to counter it.

4. Strong Passwords

Using strong passwords is one of the simplest but most important steps you can take to improve the security of your website. A strong password contains upper and lower case letters, numbers and special symbols. It should be long enough and unique enough to be difficult to guess. It would be a good idea to update passwords periodically.

Using a strong password may seem inconvenient, but it is necessary to protect your website. To make it easier, you can use a password manager that keeps all your passwords safe and makes them available when you need them.

5. Two-factor authentication or 2FA

Two-factor authentication adds a high level of security to the login process. It requires users to provide two different proofs that they are who they say they are, usually something they know (a password) and something they own (such as a mobile phone).

Two-factor authentication can help to protect a website even when passwords are compromised. It is a useful extra layer of security that can stop attackers who have managed to break through the first line of defence.

6. Peak Login attempts

Restricting login attempts is an effective tool to fend off bruteforce attacks, where attackers try numerous different passwords in the hope that one of them will work. By limiting the number of times a user can try to log in, you can eliminate this tactic.

Restricting login attempts is also a great way to frustrate attackers. If an attacker has to wait between each attempt, they may simply give up and try to attack another site that is easier to get into.

7. Protect your own wp-admin Directory

Consider password-protecting the wp-admin directory at the server level, or restricting access from specific IP addresses. This adds another line of defence to the security of the website, making it harder for attackers to gain access to the wordpress admin area.

Protecting the wp-admin directory is an important step, as it is the so-called control centre of the website. If an attacker can gain access to it, he can cause a lot of damage.

8. Use SSL

An SSL certificate (HTTPS) encrypts data between a website and its visitors. Many hostings offer free SSL through Let's Encrypt. SSL helps to protect the privacy of website visitors and is an important part of a website's credibility with search engines.

The use of SSL has become standard today and is an essential part of security. SSL encrypts all the data that passes between a website and the visitor, preventing attackers from stealing or manipulating that data.

9. Disable XML-RPC if not required

XML-RPC can be used for bruteforce attacks. If the website does not need it (for example for a WordPress mobile app), consider disabling it. This is a feature that WordPress pages used to use before the REST API appeared.

Disabling XML-RPC is a simple step that can increase security. If you don't use this feature, there's no reason to let attackers exploit it.

10. Regular Website Security Audits

Use a service or plugin that regularly scans your website for malware or suspicious activity. Similar to a health check, regular security scans can help detect problems before they become a major problem.

Security audits can also help to identify new threats or detect changes that may indicate that a website has been under attack. This gives you the opportunity to react quickly and prevent major damage or data leaks.

11. Protect wp-config.php File

Move your wp-config.php file one directory level above the WordPress root directory or restrict access to it via .htaccess rules. This file contains some of the most sensitive data on your website and it's crucial that it's protected.

If an attacker gains access to the wp-config.php file, they have the opportunity to change website settings or access sensitive information. Therefore, protecting this file is one of the most important security measures.

12. Use secure FTP

If possible, use SFTP or FTPS, which are secure ways to transfer files compared to regular FTP. Data sent via FTP is not encrypted, which means that an attacker can steal or modify it. The use of encrypted transfer helps to reduce this risk.

13. Hide WordPress version

WordPress leaves a meta tag in the header of the webpage that reveals the WordPress version of the page. This could potentially help an attacker find version-related security holes and give them an easy way to break in. Removing this meta tag can help reduce the risks.

14. Choose the right web hosting

A reputable web hosting provider has strong security measures in place, keeps its server software up to date and backs up the website regularly. If a hosting service does not provide adequate security, it can compromise the security of the website, no matter how strong your own site's security system is.

Keep in mind that no website is 100% secure, but if you add several layers of security, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of your website being hacked.

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