WordPress Security Best Practices: Steps for Small Businesses

Small businesses encounter a suite of challenges in everyday life, and security vulnerabilities are no exception. WordPress is a popular content management platform. Almost 43.2% of currently existing websites around the globe run on this software. That said, its popularity attracts hackers who are always trying to infiltrate your system and perform nefarious actions.  

This does not mean WordPress has a vulnerable security system. Security gaps can also emerge from the lack of security awareness. So it is always wise to take precautionary measures before your business site can become a hacker target. Let’s understand WordPress security best practices that you must adopt immediately.

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Understanding the Importance of WordPress Security

Before discussing tips on securing WordPress businesses‘ websites, let’s shed some light on the importance of securing your business sites. 

Around 30,000 websites are hacked on a daily basis. When an attack occurs, it translates into financial and reputational damages worth millions of dollars. In fact, it is estimated that the cost of cyberattacks will reach $10.5 trillion in 2025.

In addition, Google blacklists more than 10,000 websites in a day and 50,000 in a week due to malware detection and phishing attacks respectively. This means that this is the right time to start taking your WordPress security seriously and adopt best practices to deter the harms of cyber attacks.

Identifying Common Threats to Your WordPress Business Site

Small businesses are most prone to cyber attacks as they prefer WordPress due to its easy setup and low development costs. Understanding WordPress security vulnerabilities will help you adopt strategies that best counter these challenges. Here are some common threats associated with WordPress security.

SQL injection (SQLi)

SQL injection attack occurs when hackers inject malicious SQL code into your site’s input fields. This results in manipulating data in the field and gaining unauthorized access to your website’s database.

Brute Force Attacks

Another prevalent security threat to WordPress sites is brute force attacks. Hackers try to gain unauthorized access to your system using a combination of different usernames and passwords until they find the right one. 

Outdated Software and Plugins

Outdated WordPress core files, themes, and plugins are prime targets for cyber attackers. They can exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to your site.

Cross-site scripting (XSS) 

Cross-Site Scripting is another commonly exploited vulnerability in WordPress websites. It enables attackers to inject malicious scripts into your site, turning your site into a transporter of malware. This subsequently affects other users who visit the infected pages.

Cross-site request forgery (CSRF)

It is a malicious attack where an attacker unknowingly tricks an authenticated user into executing actions on a web application. The actions can be as severe as bank transfers. Let’s say you visit a site that does not look harmful but is also logged into your banking site. The website you are visiting might tempt you to click on a certain link or fill out a form. After you perform their desired action, you will unintentionally permit a bank transfer from your account.

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack

This attack involves flooding the site with unwanted requests, rendering the website inaccessible to authorized users. This attack acts as a gateway for more serious and damaging attacks. 

Implementing Basic WordPress Security Measures

Now, let’s discuss some of the best WordPress security practices. These security practices do not involve high-risk investments. In addition, it does not require much technical knowledge; even beginners can perform these simple tasks. 

Choosing the Right Security Plugins for Your WordPress Site

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WordPress plugin is a great way to add beneficial features to your website. There are several great WordPress security plugins available that can help you in preventing attacks. These plugins will add an extra layer of protection to your site.

Though you will find plenty of security plugins on the platform, you should not install all the plugins at once. The reason is too many plugins can slow down your site’s performance. Choose the most effective security plugins and install them on your WordPress site.

Here are the best security plugins for your WordPress site:

  • Wordfence Security
  • Sucuri Security
  • iThemes Security
  • BulletProof Security
  • Jetpack 

These plugins are your best defense against cyber attacks. In addition, you should get rid of outdated themes and plugins as they are more susceptible to attacks. 

Ensuring Safe User Practices for Enhanced Security

To maintain a secure digital environment, it is imperitive to train users about the best practices. Here are a few ways  you can promote safe users activities;

  • Promoting strong password management and installing regular password updates to avoid unauthorized access.
  • Encouraging safe browsing practices among users and keeping them informed of the latest security patches.
  • Regularly reviewing user activity and encouraging users to report suspicious activities immediately.
  • Utilizing input validation and sanitation techniques to prevent Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and SQL injection attacks.

Securing Your WordPress Site with Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is also imperative to reinforce security in your login processes. This approach adds an extra layer of protection as it demands a unique code from users to grant access to your site.

This code is sent to authorized users via a third-party authentication app or text. Install a login security plugin to apply two-factor authentication on your WordPress site. After activating your two-factor authentication plugin, you would need to tap on the “Two Factor Auth’ link that can be found on the WordPress admin sidebar.

You may also need to install an authentication app, such as Google Authenticator, on your mobile phone. 

Regular Backups: A Critical Part of Your Security Strategy

It is always wise to create a WordPress site backup as a mitigation technique if any unwanted incident like a cyber attack or physical damage to the data happens. Your backup data should include all your WordPress installation-based files, such as database and core files. 

You can back up your site on WordPress by installing a plugin, such as All-in-One WP Migration. Once you create and download the backup file, you need to store it in a safe location. You should not store the backup in the same server of your website as the data stored in your web server is accessible to the public, making it prone to cyber-attacks.

Monitoring and Maintaining WordPress Security: Long-Term Strategies

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Securing your WordPress site is not a one-time project. Cyber attacks are ever-evolving, so you should also reassess your site continuously. Risks will always be there, but with proper planning and a prudent attitude, you can reduce security vulnerabilities to a great extent by:

Regular Security Audits

It involves:

  • Scanning your website for malware and suspicious files using security plugins or online scanners.
  • Reviewing server logs and error logs for any signs of unauthorized access or unusual activities.
  • Analyzing user access logs to detect suspicious login attempts.

Continuous Software Updates

It involves:

  • Enabling automatic updates for minor WordPress releases to ensure prompt security patches.
  • Regularly checking for and applying updates to themes and plugins from trusted sources.

Final Words

Cyber attacks can range from Brute force to DDoS attacks. WordPress, in particular, is prone to an array of security vulnerabilities, which requires your due consideration. By installing security plugins, string encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular audits and updates, you can keep the cyber attackers at bay and protect your critical assets on WordPress. 

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