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09 Feb 2019
Out of all the different blogging platforms out there, WordPress is the most popular and perhaps the most versatile. Unfortunately, WordPress is also one of the most popular platforms for hackers to attack you due to its high number of users and its known vulnerabilities (hackers like to share exploits with each other). As a single example, a single piece of malware infected over 100,000 sites last year, and there are plenty more attacks where that came from. Hackers love to attack websites to go after subscriber and reader data, and you have a duty to protect that (or else your reputation will suffer).
Here are a few tips about WordPress security that you might not have known:
You Should Use a Virtual Private Network
No matter how well you protect your computer and your blog, using an unprotected public network can lead to the takeover of your blog. The reason for this is that your account information can be easily intercepted by a hacker using a simple setup in a café or other public place. You won’t notice them, and they’ll be able to take over your blog in a matter of minutes. They might also be able to take your research, your readership data or other vital information not related to your blog (identity theft is a major distraction from blogging).
This is why you should use a Virtual Private Network(VPN) whenever you are out in public or whenever you think you might be at risk. It is a service that allows you to connect your device to an offsite secure server using an encrypted connection that will act as a “tunnel” for your data to safely pass through. The encryption means that hackers can’t use their “sniffer” programs to read what you are sending over a network, protecting your blog at a base level. Once you pick out the best tool for the job and install it on your computer, you can consider the utility of your device improved. Consider it an investment in being able to handle any task at any location.
WordPress encourages you to use the latest version of their platform, and you should listen to them. While you may have passed it off before as WordPress trying to have more control over your blog, the security of your blog is actually a major component of the updates. Hackers find exploits, bugs, and vulnerabilities all of the time when attempting to crack WordPress open, and WordPress responds by launching these updates. While patching for old versions does happen, it simply isn’t as secure.
First, you should check to see what version your blog uses so you know whether to upgrade or not. If you are up to date, then all you need to do is check every once in a while to see if there have been any updates. If your blog isn’t up to date, make the time right now to bring it up to date. It might be a chore, but it won’t get any easier as time goes on.
There are most certainly good plugins out there. They will do things such as protect your website, let you know about any vulnerabilities, optimize certain processes on your site and more. There is no shortage of plugins, and you need to be aware that many of them can harm you in ways you don’t even realize. You know that some of them can be malware, but cybercriminals can be more subtle than that.
The most common problem is that the plugins you know and love do not always update themselves frequently enough to stay safe. As WordPress changes and new exploits and hacking techniques are found, previously safe plugins gain known vulnerabilities that hackers will use at every opportunity. You need to make sure that the plugins that you are using are updated frequently or you need to get rid of them. If you even think a plugin may be a security risk, your blog can live without it.
Brute force attacks aren’t as popular as they used to be, but they are still often used by amateur hackers as a form of practice or used by bots controlled by cybercriminal organizations that can’t be bothered to try something more complex. A strong password will increase the time it will take someone to succeed with this method, but if you lock or time someone out after a certain number of attempts to log in, you will have a reliable defense.
There are safe plugins that will specifically help you with this. WordFence is a great security plugin in general and will take care of just this problem. There are numerous other plugins which are focused exclusively on this feature (just be sure to read up on it first to stay safe). If you always blog from a fixed computer, you can change your settings to only allow a single IP address(yours) to login to your admin account. Whatever solution you think is best will protect you from this particular threat.
There are many different ways to help your WordPress account stay safe, and the above tips are only a sample. Are there any other hidden depths to WordPress that you would like to share with everyone else? Do you have any security tips not mentioned here? Leave a comment below and help make everyone safer with your knowledge.