There are various reasons why website owners and managers love WordPress. But one important reason why even hackers love it is its popularity. Hackers are constantly searching for methods to break into WordPress websites. Fortunately, there are some measures you can take to protect your site from such threats. WordPress hardening is a proven method that makes it harder for hackers to attack your website.
So what is WordPress hardening? How difficult is it? How can you harden WordPress websites?
This complete guide to WordPress hardening will help you understand all this and more.
13 Ways to Harden a WordPress Website
Before we start, what is WordPress hardening? Simply put, it’s a collection of steps that strengthen a WordPress website to protect it from malware and attacks
.How to harden your WordPress website
This article will find 13 best practices for hardening your WordPress website.
Let’s start with six simple website hardening methods that don’t require deep technical or WordPress knowledge.
1. Install an SSL certificate
An SSL certificate is short for Secure Socket Layer and means that the previous HTTP notation is replaced with the more secure HTTPS notation (with the secure padlock). That ensures that all data between your user’s browser and your website is encrypted and, therefore, secure. Even Google suggests that every website has an SSL certificate to ensure user safety.
How can you convert your website to HTTPS?
You must install an SSL plugin like Let’s Encrypt on your WordPress website, and you’re ready to go.
2. Use strong passwords
That is probably the easiest and most effective way to protect WordPress websites. Ensure all users, including WordPress administrators, configure login passwords that are at least eight characters long and include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and unique characters.
You can also install a password monitoring tool like LastPass to automatically generate and store strong passwords. Also, change all user passwords regularly, about every three months.
3. Use two-factor authentication (2FA)
WP-Hardening is not complete without protecting your login page from brute force attacks. Two-factor authentication is an excellent practice for securing any WordPress login page. With 2FA, users logging into their account must go through a two-step verification process:
- Enter the correct username and password.
- Please enter a unique verification code that is sent to their mobile device.
How do you enable 2FA? For WordPress websites, install a 2FA plugin like Google Authenticator.
4. Limit login efforts
By default, WordPress allows a limitless number of login attempts, which brute force attacks take benefit from it. You can harden WordPress login pages by restricting the number of failed attempts.
To do this, you can use the Limit Login Attempts Reloaded WordPress plugin or use security plugins like MalCare that provide built-in protection for login pages.
You can even restrict attacks by hiding your WordPress login page.
5. Establish a WP firewall
WordPress firewalls block any hacker before they can forcibly gain access to your site. A firewall can detect malicious IP addresses or those used by hackers worldwide and block any IP requests sent from those addresses.
Want to know how to protect WordPress websites with firewalls? Popular WordPress security plugins like MalCare have a built-in web application firewall that can be easily enabled for your website.
6. Use a WP security plugin
Security plugins are a great way to detect and fix current issues and prevent future attacks on your WordPress website. Since they are created exclusively for WordPress, they detect security issues that are advanced, lesser-known, or easy to overlook.
WordPress hardening plugins like MalCare or Sucuri combine several security practices so that you can protect your website with just a few clicks. MalCare, for example, offers malware scanning and automatic malware removal, a built-in 2FA feature, firewall protection, and an easy method to update your WordPress plugins, themes, and core for multiple websites.
Installing a security plugin is a great way to take charge of your website’s security without relying on technical experts.
This completes our list of six easy ways to harden WordPress.
Now let’s look at seven slightly more advanced ways to harden WordPress security to improve your website’s security.
7. Block PHP execution in untrusted folders
It is a bit technical but relatively simple. After hackers gain control over your website, they often insert their malicious PHP functions to corrupt your backend files. You need to block the execution of PHP files from unknown folders of your WordPress installation.
How can you do that? Locate the .htaccess data in your WordPress installation and paste the following code using a text editor:
deny from all
8. Disable the file editor
Hackers can not only insert their PHP functions but also modify backend files and plugins/themes once they gain control over your website. Then they release attacks like SQL injections and spam hacks by placing their malicious code or scripts via your file editor. These attacks diminish your website’s credibility, alienate your users and even harm your SEO ranking.
The great protection against such attacks is to disable the file editor. To do this, open the wp-config.php file in your WordPress installation and add the following code:
define( ‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true );
9. Change the security key
WordPress websites often store user credentials, so registered users don’t have to enter their username and password whenever they access their account. To protect these credentials, WordPress stores them in encrypted form instead of plain text. Security keys are random variables used to encrypt these credentials. Hackers try to control these security keys to decrypt user credentials and obtain illegal access to accounts.
As an efficient WordPress hardening measure, it is a good practice to change these security keys regularly. To do this, use the Secret Key link to generate your security keys, then add them to the secret-key section of your wp-config.php file.
10. Secure WP admin
Hackers often use bots to launch attacks on the WordPress admin page (/wp-admin). For this reason, your admin panel must have an additional layer of security.
The best way to secure your wp-admin panel is first to install the SSL certificate and then add the following code to your WordPress installation’s wp-config.php file:
While this step looks simple, it can lead to complications with the plugin later on; we recommend that you do this with the assistance of a WordPress technical expert.
11. Backup wp-config.php file
As we have seen in previous steps, hackers often try to control websites via the important wp-config.php file. To secure WordPress, you must protect the wp-config PHP file at all costs.
Here are some ways you can protect the wp-config.php file in your WordPress installation:
- Hide the file by moving it up one level from the current installation folder so that hackers can’t find it in the default location.
- Prevent access to the wp-config.php file by adding the following code to the .htaccess file:
order allow, deny
deny from all
12. Carefully assign user roles and permissions
Usually, hackers try to break into accounts of WordPress administrators, as they have the highest permissions. Once they gain control of an administrator account, hackers can do maximum damage compared to breaking into user accounts with lower privileges.
In addition to the super administrator and administrator roles, WordPress supports four other user roles – including editor, author, contributor, and subscriber – with lower permissions.
To implement the permissions with the lowest privileges, you should limit the number of administrators and assign lower roles to other users. Limiting the number of administrators can minimize the damage caused by hackers even if they perform an effective hack.
13. Transform the default username from “admin
Most WordPress websites use the default username like “admin” or “webmaster” for administrators. It makes it easier for hackers to guess administrator credentials and launch attacks on administrator accounts.
You can harden WordPress administrator accounts by changing the default administrator account name, which is harder to guess. You can perform this task:
Via the SQL tool phpMyAdmin.
Or by running the following command on any MySQL client:
UPDATE wp_users SET user_login = ‘newuser’ WHERE user_login = ‘admin’;
Next to you
Suppose you’re searching for an easy way to ensure WordPress security. In that case, security plugins offer a great way to combine most of the WordPress hardening steps described in this article with ways to detect lesser-known malware or attack types. It’s essential to remember that website security is ongoing, as hackers always develop new ways to attack and damage websites.
We hope that this guide to WordPress hardening will make implementing WordPress security easier and simpler for you.
If You Want To Make Your Website Security More Robust, You Need To Think About Hardening. To Harden, Your Website Means To Add Different Layers Of Protection To Reduce The Potential Attack Surface. With Website hardening, the Fix Hacked Site team can apply vulnerability-agnostic patches to any website.