WordPress Security Integrity requires constant vigilance. The greater the convenience of a website to build, the more careful you must be that others don’t use that convenience against you. This is why secure WordPress sites are built like fortresses with all the conveniences hidden on the inside of sturdy walls. Even so, it’s important to regularly double-check your WordPress security to make sure that there are no new vulnerabilities with each update or uneven sets of updates throughout your plugins.
Hackers are devising new ways to crack into WordPress sites all the time. Unfortunately, there is always a chance that malware has already slipped in and created a backdoor. Instead of trying to make an unhackable website (we’ll let you know if that’s ever proven to be possible), it’s more practical to do constant ‘patrols’ of your website to check for malware, vulnerabilities, or signs of recent hacker activity.
And today, we’re here to show you how. Let’s dive into five of the best methods to patrol your WordPress security integrity.
Table of Contents
1) Penetration Testing Your WordPress Security
It has been said that penetration testing is the most fun an admin can have without going black-hat. Penetration testing is like playing “To Catch a Thief” with your own web server. Admins take on the role of would-be hackers and look for any kind of vulnerability they can find and exploit. Use your intimate knowledge of the website and every tool at your disposal. Try to crack through your own firewalls or find a back-door to slip through. See if you can read data in-transit or find your way in through an unsecured user’s login.
Use every trick in the book, then delve into the darknet for the WordPress hacking guides that Google won’t even link to. You need to know what’s out there and what hackers will try. Then, you can close up every loop-hole in your defenses and secure every unsecured channel.
When you’ve done absolutely every penetration test you can think of, including trying to brute-force and SQL-inject your own site, it’s time to invite a buddy to try. Get a few other admins who are less familiar with the site to test their black-hat skills on a test environment of your WordPress site. And if you’re not a security admin and don’t know any security admins, outsource!
Penetration testing is one of the best possible ways to prepare your WordPress security system for real attacks, especially if you test on a regular basis.
2) Vulnerability Scanning
Vulnerability scanning is a completely different approach to the same problem. This type of test is done with advanced software. It examines your code and probes your software to see if there are any programmatically detectable gaps in your security. You can bet that some of the most determined hackers have something similar in order to find their way into WordPress sites they want to invade.
A vulnerability scan almost always comes back with a few listed weak-spots that can be bolstered up, even if they are not full gaps in your WordPress security. These will likely involve plugins that haven’t updated in a while or areas of your server that are only protected by one or two layers rather than four or five. Once you get the vulnerability scanning results, assign a team to track down ways to close the identified weaknesses. Hunt down updates to older plugins, replace older plugins or even write your own security patches to cover the gap.
3) Phishing Drills with Your Admin Staff
Let’s stop halfway through for a ‘lunch break’ and talk about social hacking. Phishing, vishing, and whaling are all variants of social hacking. This is when a hacker turns scam-artist and convinces an employee or user to simply let them waltz right in. Phishing often involves tricking someone into clicking a malicious link while they are connected to your web server. When you click, you allow the hacker to upload a virus that will attack the server or open backdoors for them to invade later.
While your WordPress security team is playing ‘black hat’ with penetration testing, have them whip up a few phishing probes. Use these to see if your team knows what to do when a suspicious email comes along. Preface this with training and teach everyone on your team or internal network to report instead of clicking. Then, do a few more phishing drills. Eventually, the team will get the hang of identifying a phishing expedition when they see one. They will be well-prepared to defend your website security if a real hacker ever comes along.
4) WordPress Security Network Monitoring
Back to the technical nitty-gritty. Network monitoring is one of your best possible tools for detecting malware and hacker activity, as long as you know how to use it correctly. Network monitoring keeps an eye on everything from server core temperature to user logins. And, if you know the red-flags to look for, your network monitoring software can identify a potential hack or malware activity that is ongoing.
For example, your network monitoring system might register unusual CPU and memory usage when no official program or function is running. This can be a clear sign of malware trying to run invisibly in the background. A login detected across the globe on an unknown device is very likely to be someone trying to access stolen login credentials. And, someone accessing the network without an account is almost assuredly a hacker.
Properly configured and managed, network monitoring is incredibly powerful for WordPress security. It helps you keep an eye out for lurking malware and detect illicit hacker activity the moment it occurs.
5) Data Security Compliance Testing Tools
Finally, look into data security compliance testing tools. PCI, among other regulating organizations, may offer tools that will try to determine if your website and network are in compliance with data security standards. If you get a negative reading stating that your WordPress security is not in compliance, then it’s time to hunt down whatever is holding you back. If you are in compliance, then pat yourself on the back, instead.
Keeping your WordPress security tight requires constant vigilance, a vigilance that you can display, hire, or outsource for yourself. Contact us today for more about website security and improving your WordPress website!