A WordPress website is only as secure as you make it. That is the nature of open-source software. Anyone can access, open, and build a website from the core codebase. This is one of the things our WordPress community is so proud of. The WordPress team works hard to create a site platform that can be secured. But being securable doesn’t mean that your site is secure out of the box. Or that it will stay secure if you don’t stay on your site security updates. Learn more about WordPress security below.
The thing is that hackers are always adapting. Even if your site was secure when you set it up initially, time passes. Hackers learn new tricks and we implement new defenses. So if it’s been a while since your last WordPress security overhaul for your website, there’s a good chance that you’re overdue. But you don’t have to go on just a casual suggestion. Check your policies and defenses against these seven signs that your WordPress site needs it’s security defenses upgraded before the next risk comes your way.
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1) Your Themes and Plugins Haven’t Been Updated in 12+ Months
A hacker’s mission is never complete. Every time we close a security gap or thwart a previous attack route, the hacker community dives right back in. They try and crack a new way into a few thousand WordPress sites. They usually do this by exploiting old codebases and plugins, taking advantage of websites that have old security holes that have yet to be patched with recent core and plugin updates.
Updating your plugins should be an automatic part of your website maintenance, but it isn’t always. If you’re not sure when the last time your WordPress website core and plugins were updated or if that date was more than a year ago, it’s time to get those updates taken care of. And perhaps seriously consider redesigning your WordPress security so hackers familiar with your configuration don’t stand a chance.
2) You Can’t Remember Which WordPress Security Plugins You are Using
Your primary source of website security comes from your WordPress security plugins. These plugins add security functionalities to your website that the core codebase doesn’t have. Things like requiring and helping users to create stronger passwords or protecting your databases from SQL-injection attacks via the website search feature. These plugins provide encryption, close known access points, and some even provide a few handy security monitoring services.
Needless to say, your stack of WordPress security plugins matters both in how much protection you have and how they work together. If you can’t remember which security plugins you have installed or what they do, it’s time to redesign your security. This should be something that is strategic to offer the greatest possible shield between your site and the hackers.
3) Your Firewall Still Has its Out-of-the-Box Default Settings
Another serious consideration is default settings. Every firewall, virus scanner, and security plugin comes with out-of-the-box settings like the admin login, open ports, and system configuration files. These settings should be custom to uniquely protect your website and server. They need new login credentials, to align only with the ports you intend to be open. They need to be configured to suit your server size, operating system, and certain choices you’ve made for your WordPress site customization.
If you’re still working with out-of-the-box default settings for your security assets, this is bad news. Hackers know what those default settings are. Many of them specialize in attacking sites that haven’t known about the need to custom-configure. Which means it’s time for you to work with WordPress security professionals who know what your ideal security configurations should be.
4) An Increasing Number of Accounts are Chatty Spam Bots
A default WordPress site or one with outdated security measures is not necessarily immune from bots. Bots are automated programs that pretend to be users. They are often designed to make themselves accounts on commonly configured and very popular website platforms like WordPress and MediaWiki. The most benign type of bot usually just clogs up your blog comments and forum posts with advertisements for Viagra.
But here’s the thing. If a “harmless bot” can make an account and get in with little to no direction, what else can automatically make an account and start poking around your site as a logged-in user?
5) Your Site Has Been Hacked or Infected Since Your Last WordPress Security Update
No website on the planet is safe from hacker attention or attempts from automated virus programs that spread freely over the internet. Your site may be attacked at any time and weathering a hack is a very common thing. But if you have been hacked recently or since your last security update, someone is overlooking a serious problem.
A security hole once identified is like bait for future hackers. If word gets out that you have data to steal and an access point to sneak through others will come. It is vital that you not ignore the clear signs of a previous hack that future hacks are possible. If you have been hacked or your systems infected with malware since your last security upgrade, it’s time for a WordPress security overhaul.
6) Dormant Accounts That Still have Admin, Editor, and Author Permissions
Another serious security risk are dormant accounts with high-permission roles. This can happen when members of your team move on or a privileged user-admin stops logging in. But an unused authoritative account is just waiting for a hacker to steal the login and step into that role. The last thing you want is for there to be an unmonitored, unused account with administrator or even editor or author privileges where the user would not notice if a hacker started using their account in their name.
You will need to clean up any accounts that belonged to now-gone team-members. You should also downgrade inactive user-mod accounts and keep tabs on any account that has not been used in a few weeks. Just in case a hacker buys the most common password for that username on the darknet and waltzes right into your once-secure admin settings.
7) No One is Currently Monitoring Your WordPress Security Right Now
Finally, if any of the previous things are true then there is a good chance that no one is currently taking active responsibility for your WordPress site security. WordPress websites need to be kept updated and monitored in order to provide the most effective defense against hacking attacks. A website that is up-to-date on all its code, themes, and plugins will form a greater wall to stop hackers in their tracks. And a website with a live human ready to respond to red-flag activity is one that can adapt quickly. They can prevent malware disasters and active hacking attempts.
If your website is not currently being monitored, updated, and secured against cybersecurity threats then it’s time for a WordPress security overhaul. Time to rethink your security plugin stack. Make sure your firewall is configured and your server security software is up-to-date. And if you don’t currently have anyone on staff who’s up to the job, that’s very normal, and we can help. Contact WP Suites today to find out more about how to outsource your WordPress website security so you can go back to doing what you do best: Running your business.