Building a WordPress site has become a streamlined process. The platform has worked hard to create a plug-and-play system where any brand or independent designer can make a functional site in the span of a single afternoon. But just getting your pages and blog articles to display online is the easy part. Securing your website from hackers and keeping it secure is the hard part. There are dozens of potential WordPress plugins out there that can enhance and actively protect the security of your site, but it can be challenging to choose the right collection for your needs and priorities. Part of making this decision is knowing the features to look for and comparing security features on a one-to-one basis.
Today, we’re spotlighting the features to look for in your WordPress security plugins. Not every plugin includes all of these features, but with the right combination, you can cover all your bases and keep your site consistently protected.
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Trustworthy Hosting with Security Features
The key starting point for any secure WordPress website is trustworthy hosting. There are many discount hosting options available on the internet that can get your WP site online and available to the masses. But not all of them offer active security protection for your server and your website.
Start by making sure that you are working with a trustworthy and reputable hosting service. It’s usually safer to choose one of the big names like AWS, Azure, DigitalOcean, or HostGator. But do your research nonetheless. Make sure the hosting service you choose not only has a strong history of not getting hacked but that they also offer you a valuable package of website protections.
WordPress core contains a basic amount of security, but the many recent WordPress hacks are enough to prove that greater security is necessary. WordPress security plugins that feature website hardening measures have been designed to close any known security weaknesses in WordPress core and to add new complex layers of security meant to foil known hacker techniques.
Active Malware Scanning
One of the most popular WordPress hacking techniques is the insertion of malware into a site to perform illicit functions. These malware programs can be designed to steal customer data, steal your server resources to mine cryptocurrency, or steal your SEO with hidden metadata, among many other malware capabilities.
For this reason, you need security plugins that feature active malware scanning. Plugins that constantly analyze your site, seeking out malware that may have been inserted and hidden in the last few days. This significantly increases your chance to catch malware before it has a chance to do harm.
Malicious File Scanning
Hackers also like to insert malicious files onto your server. Sometimes, they’ll even use your own website features for users, like the ability to upload a photo or add content to editable pages. At least one of your WordPress security plugins should include file scanning to detect malicious files that have been uploaded or inserted onto your web server. If your site accepts user-added files (like profile pictures), then you’ll also want a plugin that actively scans each user-added file before it is accepted on your database.
Brute Force Attack Protections
Brute force attacks are when a hacker uses a relentless bot-driven hacking method to crack your site. Cracking a password by trying every possible number/letter configuration is a form of brute force attack. So is DDOS, where a hacker uses a server network to access your site over and over in rapid succession in order to overload your server and make your website unavailable for legitimate users.
Several high-quality WordPress security plugins feature brute force attack protection. This type of protection can be implemented to reject rapid access to your site from the same IP address over and over again. In other words, if a hacker tries to use their computer to slam your site with hacking attempts, a brute force defense can simply deny the aggressive IP address access after a certain number of website calls in a short period of time.
Backups and Website Recovery
Backups and recovery are hugely important for web development of any sort, even in a world where hacking is no issue. Backups protect you from mistakes, errors, and data corruption just as effectively as they can allow you to quickly recover from a hack. A comprehensive backup and recovery system takes a snapshot of your entire website file structure along with a timestamp. Having an archive of recent backups can make it easy to quickly restore to your previous versions, whether you’re working on development or wiping your server to get rid of some ransomware.
Core WordPress can provide user accounts, but there are no requirements for a strong password in the core design. But just one hacked user password can put your entire site at risk. This is why strong passwords are so important for your WordPress site and, believe it or not, security plugins can help.
Truly strong passwords of sufficient length and complexity can improve the security of your WordPress site. Especially if every single user is required to make themselves a strong password.
2 Factor Authentication
2-factor authentication is another approach to password-style security. The first factor of authentication is almost always entering a password. But because hackers can steal or figure out a password alone, WP plugins can make it possible to add a second type of authentication to double-check with your users and ensure the logins are coming from the right people.
The second factor usually involves sending a key code to email or mobile phone to fully confirm an authentic login.
Blacklist monitoring is among the most mysterious of common WordPress security features, especially if you’re new to website ownership. Essentially, blacklist monitoring is a security plugin feature that scans online blacklists of known hackers. If your website ever appears on one of these sites, it will tell you so that corrections can be made. Legit company and personal sites can wind up on blacklist sites when malware has infiltrated and begun using your domain name for ill purposes, which can put your domain unfairly on a blacklist.
If this happens, you will be alerted so that you can do a full malware scan of the website and restore your brand’s sterling reputation.
Malware Quarantine and Removal
Finally, there’s malware quarantine, sometimes referred to as post-attack security options. When your WordPress plugins include this feature, you won’t always have to fully wipe and restore your server after a cybersecurity attack. Instead, the plugin will identify the malware, quarantine it, and give you options for removal without needing to reinstall your operating system to get rid of it.
Stacking WordPress Security Plugins
Building the right stack of WordPress security plugins is key to keeping your site, data, and subscribing users safe from the epidemic of WP-targeting hackers in today’s online ecosystem. And if you’re not sure how to choose the right plugins or how to implement them for optimal security benefit, we can help. Contact us today for expert WordPress security advice for your website.