Websites seem to be more vulnerable to hacking and other security-related issues today than ever before. The rate at which new WordPress software is released because of patches and other security-related updates seems to be at a frenetic pace. I also receive regular reports of unauthorized attempts to access the administrative areas of my website, but thankfully, those attempts have always been shut down.
While I don’t have any hard numbers to show an increased frequency of security-related issues or specific ways that hackers and other malicious sources attempt to bring down websites, it nevertheless seems like a good opportunity to review how you can increase the security on your own website. After all the work you’ve put into it, wouldn’t you hate to lose it because of unscrupulous hackers?
1. Restrict access.
This is something you can do right now before anything else. Limit access to your website (whether domain registration, hosting environment, or administrative area) to those who only truly need it. And in the case of WordPress, you can set the level of access a user has, so only give users as much access as they need to do their jobs.
While you probably won’t have trouble with an employee maliciously destroying your website from within, this still helps prevent trouble from innocent mistakes or a virus on a user’s computer worming its way into your website. A WordPress user account with Author access can’t bring a website down the way an account can with Administrator access.
And while we’re talking about users, please don’t give out your username and password to others or have multiple users share one account. This way, you can revoke one user’s access at any time without affecting other users…and your personal password hasn’t left your control. Also, learn how to create a strong password.
2. Make backups.
Your website and all its files and databases should be backed up on a regular basis. Whether it’s weekly, daily, or hourly depends on how frequently your website changes and what kind of data you have. Automatic backups are terrific because they happen without you even thinking about them. Backups will save your website in case your hosting server crashes, your website is hacked, or your website breaks because of user error.
You can check with your web host to see if they offer a backup service, or you can use third-party services. WordPress websites can use UpdraftPlus or VaultPress, which can back up your website to external storage like Dropbox, Amazon, or Google Drive for a nominal fee. Read more about the importance of website backups.
3. Keep updated.
Whatever software your website uses, whether it’s a site-wide solution like WordPress or an individual application like an email contact form or an ecommerce shopping cart, make sure that they are updated to their latest versions. In addition to new features, security patches and fixes are also applied, which often repair vulnerabilities that hackers could use.
It’s always smart to make a website backup before applying any update because something in the update may negatively affect other areas or the design of your website. If that happens, contact your web developer to help you make your website work like new again.
4. Use only what you need.
Many websites that I’ve worked on have had extra software or applications that aren’t needed or aren’t used. Sometimes, these are set up by well-meaning website developers or are requested by website owners whose plans for the website changed. Any superfluous piece to your website is simply a potential opening for hackers and malicious software. Close those gaps by getting rid of what you don’t need.
5. Look for trouble.
Several security services can regularly scan your website for irregularities and report them to you. Some web hosts offer this service, or you can use third-party services like Sucuri or Wordfence. Often, they can detect issues before they become full-scale problems.
Applying these recommendations and your own common sense can help you prevent problems rather than trying to fix them later. Your website is essential to your business or organization, so take care of it now so that it can take care of you for years to come.