WordPress is popular. It’s easy to use. And, free.
But, with these benefits come some unforeseen risks. As is true for open source software, WordPress acts as a magnet for hackers who keep trying to exploit your website. You do not want to wake up to the news of your website been hacked, find out that it is sending phishing emails or worse still, get suspended for hosting and spreading malware.
The damage to your reputation, even if you do not consider the cost to fix the hack and restore your website to a secure and safe level, can be tremendously high. It may take a long time before you can regain the trust of your customers again. Not only that, but your search ranking on Google can also take a severe hit.
Here, we bring you the top 7 reasons why your WordPress website can get hacked and things you can do about it.
#1 Not keeping your site updated
One of the main reasons why WordPress sites get hacked is that the victims do not keep their sites updated. Security updates for WordPress are configured to happen automatically. However, some WordPress users disable this functionality. The main excuses offered by people who do not update their site regularly are:
- Being too busy which forces them to either delay the updates or ignore them altogether.
- Fear of affecting website performance. They feel that updating their website will slow it down or lead to some errors.
If you fall in the latter category, all you need to do is to take a full backup of your website before running an update. That way, even if something were to go wrong during the update, you would be able to restore it to a previous, stable state. Alternatively, outsourcing the work to a website maintenance service can take care of both, as long as you get help from reliable experts.
#2 Having bad or weak password policies
Are you one of those people who make use of the same password for every site you visit? Well, you need to stop doing that. And this is not a choice, you must do this if you want to stay safe. Also, you need to stop being naïve about where you store your credentials – for example, do not use Google Sheets to save your passwords. Make use of the widely available WordPress plugins to enforce strong passwords across your website for all users.
#3 Not using an SSL certificate
You are exposing yourself to a Man in the Middle Attack if you are not making use of an SSL certificate. An eavesdropper can intercept the data being transferred between the browser and the server. The easiest way of preventing this from happening is to make the switch to secure HTTPs from the insecure HTTP by installing an SSL certificate. This will create a safe, encrypted link between the web server and browser.
Apart from providing extra security, HTTPs also helps to improve search engine rankings. Using SSL not only gives you better security, but it also gets you better SERP rankings.
#4 Not using two-factor authentication
Setting up a strong password is not enough; you should consider switching to a two-factor authentication process for logging in to your website. This would require authentication using another mechanism for logging in. This makes it even more difficult for hackers to spoof and adds another layer of security to your website to foil unauthorized access.
#5 Not protecting wp-admin directory
The wp-admin directory is the most important directory in your WordPress installation. Therefore, you need to provide extra protection for access to this directory. This can be done by adding password protection to the wp-admin directory. You can require the user to provide two passwords before they can access this directory – one for logging in and one for accessing WordPress admin zone.
#6 Using dodgy themes
You may get lured by websites selling cheerful and cheap WordPress themes. It may seem like a cool, money-saving tactic, but you may be getting yourself an unreliable theme. This means that these themes may be poorly coded, lack regular updates, and provide poor support.
You may be compromising your website’s overall security by downloading and installing these random themes. Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Make sure you get your themes from reputable companies, who have been around for a long time and have built up trust in the community. Check for reviews, ratings, and opinions of popular bloggers.
#7 Using insecure web hosting
You get what you pay for. There is a perfect correlation between the price you pay for hosting and the quality you get. Hosts that can afford to hire more experts/professionals are bound to charge more when compared to others. Serious issues like security cannot be ignored or delayed. You must do enough to ensure that your web hosting provider can provide you security and quality services while offering you a convenient budget.
As should be apparent to you now that there are tons of simple things that you can do to protect your website from getting hacked. Some of them are following some basic procedures like making use of SSL certificates, strong passwords, and two-step authentication.
You can consider using an appropriate security plugin that ensures your site’s security and safety. If you’re not that confident with the technicalities of it all or lack the time, hiring a professional for website maintenance is also a good option. Having someone monitor website security on a regular basis & fixing issues as they come up also helps you avoid bigger problems down the line.
Remember, it is often the simple things that are the most useful in preventing your website from getting hacked. What are your thoughts? We hope this article has helped you make WordPress a bit more secure than it was.