Top 10 WordPress Security Mistakes (and How To Avoid Them)
wordpress security mistakes

Top 10 WordPress Security Mistakes (and How To Avoid Them)

WordPress powers more than 40% of all websites, making it the most widely used content management system (CMS) online. WordPress websites are a popular target for hackers and cybercriminals due to their enormous user base. Prioritizing security measures can prevent your WordPress site from being compromised, which can result in data breaches, site crashes, and even total data loss. Because of this, it’s crucial to take WordPress security seriously and defend your website from any dangers.

In this article, we will talk about the top 10 WordPress security mistakes that website owners often make and provide actionable tips on how to avoid them. We will explore the most common mistakes that can endanger your website, including failing to update WordPress core and plugins, using insecure hosting, and using weak passwords. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your website is secure, stable, and protected against potential threats. So let’s get started!

1. Neglecting to Update WordPress Core and Plugins

One of the most common WordPress security mistakes that website owners make is failing to update WordPress core and plugins. It is essential to understand that WordPress is continuously evolving, with new updates being released frequently. These updates not only introduce new features but also fix security vulnerabilities and bugs that could potentially harm your site.

Similarly, plugins are an important part of the WordPress ecosystem, as they provide functionality to your site. However, they are also susceptible to security risks, and new vulnerabilities are frequently discovered. Many website owners neglect to frequently update their plugins, despite the fact that plugin developers release updates to fix these vulnerabilities and enhance functionality.

Failure to frequently update WordPress core and plugins can expose your website to potential security risks. Hackers are constantly searching for vulnerabilities to exploit, and outdated versions of WordPress core and plugins can provide them with a simple entry point. Once they gain access, they can steal your data, inject malware, or take over your site.

How to avoid this mistake

To avoid this mistake, ensure that you frequently inspect for WordPress core and plugin updates. Checking for updates at least once per week is advised. Set up automatic updates for the WordPress core and plugins, but be sure to test your website after each update to ensure that everything is functioning properly. Additionally, consider removing deactivated plugins and themes, as they may pose a security risk if left neglected.

2. Using Weak Passwords

One of the most frequent mistakes website owners make about WordPress security is using weak passwords. Passwords are the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your website, and they can be readily guessed or cracked using automated tools.

A weak password is any easily guessed password, such as “123456,” “password,” or “qwerty.” If you use a weak password, you are essentially leaving the front door of your website wide open to cyber criminals. 

How to avoid this mistake

To avoid this mistake, ensure that your passwords are complex and difficult to predict. A strong password should be at least 12 characters long and include uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals, and special characters. Common words and phrases are simple for hackers to predict. Never use the same password for multiple accounts, as a compromised password could compromise all of your accounts.

A password manager is a useful tool for creating and safely storing complex passwords. Password managers are software that generates and safely stores complex passwords. Using a password manager, you need only remember a single master password to access all of your other passwords. This facilitates the use of strong, unique passwords across all of your accounts without requiring you to remember them all.

3. Using Insecure Hosting

Insecure hosting can lead to data breaches, website defacements, and other security problems. Your hosting provider is responsible for securing your site’s server, and if they do not implement the essential security measures, your site may be at risk.

Although the vast majority of shared hosting environments are secure, some do not correctly separate user accounts. If user accounts on a shared server are not correctly separated, a single compromised account could bring down every website hosted on that server.

Your host should be diligent in implementing the latest security patches and adhering to other server and file security best practices.

Hosting can be insecure for a variety of reasons. Some hosting providers might use outdated software or hardware that is susceptible to attacks. Others might not provide sufficient security measures, such as regular backups or malware detection. 

In addition, some hosting providers might not provide support for the most recent versions of WordPress, leaving your site vulnerable to known security vulnerabilities.

How to avoid this mistake

Choose a reputable hosting provider that takes security seriously to avoid making this mistake. Consider hosting providers that provide SSL certificates, regular backups, and malware scanning. Ensure that your hosting provider maintains up-to-date server software and hardware and provides support for the most recent WordPress versions. In order to ensure that you select a dependable and secure hosting provider, you can also read reviews and ratings of hosting providers prior to making a decision.

4. Using Unsecured Themes and Plugins

Vulnerable WordPress plugins or themes are the biggest security mistake you can make with WordPress. Keeping your themes and extensions up-to-date is a crucial component of any security strategy. Version updates are not limited to bug fixes and new features. Additionally, updates may include critical security upgrades. Without the repair, your phone, computer, server, router, or website is vulnerable to attack.

Hackers target vulnerabilities that have been addressed because they are aware that users do not update (including plugins and themes on your website). As a standard in the industry, vulnerabilities must be disclosed publicly on the day they are resolved. After a vulnerability is disclosed publicly, it becomes a “known vulnerability” for unpatched and out-of-date software versions. Hackers can easily exploit software with known vulnerabilities.

Hackers prefer easy targets. Having outdated software with known vulnerabilities is equivalent to delivering a hacker step-by-step instructions on how to compromise your WordPress site.

The leading cause of compromised WordPress websites is having a vulnerable plugin or theme for which a repair is available but not applied.

How to avoid this mistake

To avoid this mistake, always use themes and plugins from trustworthy sources. Before installing any theme or plugin, ensure that others have had a positive experience with it by reading reviews and ratings. In addition, ensure that your themes and plugins are always up-to-date, as developers frequently release security updates to address vulnerabilities.

Use a security plugin or service to analyze your website for vulnerabilities on a regular basis. This can help you identify themes and plugins that may contain vulnerabilities and remove or replace them prior to their exploitation by an adversary.

5. Not Using HTTPS

HTTPS is a protocol that encrypts communications between a website and a user’s browser. Without HTTPS, any data transmitted between the website and the user’s browser can be intercepted and read by unauthorized parties, compromising sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card information, and personal data.

Your website may be susceptible to attacks such as man-in-the-middle and session hijacking if HTTPS is not used. These attacks can result in the theft of sensitive data, identity theft, and other serious security violations.

How to avoid this mistake

To prevent this mistake, make sure your website is using HTTPS. This can be achieved by getting an SSL certificate and setting up your web server to use HTTPS. In addition to securing your website, HTTPS has additional benefits, such as boosting your SEO ranking, increasing user trust, and enhancing website performance.

6. Failing to Backup Website Data

A backup of your WordPress site taken prior to an attack by malware or ransomware can save your data, despite the fact that backups and security are unrelated. 

Failing to create regular backups of your website’s data is a serious mistake. You risk losing all of your website data, including content, images, and other crucial files if your website is hacked or has a technical problem. This could be very detrimental to your business or online presence.

Ransomware assaults are carried out for financial gain; as a result, they render your website inaccessible and compromise its security. With a thorough backup, you can avoid paying the ransom that hackers may demand to restore your site and provide you access.

How to avoid this mistake

The data on your website needs to be regularly backed up to avoid making this mistake. This can be done manually by exporting the data from your website and storing it in a secure area, such as a cloud storage service or an external hard drive, or it can be done using plugins like UpdraftPlus.

It’s also important to confirm that your backups are current and functioning correctly. Test your backups frequently to make sure they can be recovered in an emergency. For automatic backups, set the backup mode to Auto.

You can minimize potential harm and downtime by frequently backing up the data on your website, ensuring that it can be swiftly restored in the event of a problem or attack.

7. Allowing Unrestricted Access to WordPress Admin Dashboard

Allowing unrestricted access to your WordPress admin dashboard is one of the most serious mistakes you can make in terms of WordPress security. This indicates that anyone with your login credentials can access and modify your website. This is especially risky if multiple users have access to your site, as any one of them could be compromised, putting the entire site at risk.

Allowing unrestricted access to the WordPress admin dashboard can expose your website to a variety of security risks, such as brute-force attacks and unauthorized access to sensitive data. This can occur if you grant too many users access to the interface without limiting their privileges, or if you use weak passwords for your administrative accounts.

How to avoid this mistake

One of the most effective methods to avoid this mistake is to restrict dashboard access to only trusted users and grant them the appropriate permissions. For instance, you can create separate accounts for various users, each with varying dashboard access levels. 

In addition, you must ensure that all passwords for these accounts are strong and difficult to predict. Consider implementing two-factor authentication to add an additional layer of protection.

Using plugins for security that allow you to restrict dashboard access is a second method for avoiding this mistake. These extensions can limit access by IP address, login attempts, and suspicious activity. In addition, it is essential to regularly monitor your website for any suspicious activity and to take immediate action if any is detected.

8. Not using two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is an important security feature that adds an additional layer of protection to your WordPress site. It requires users to provide a second form of identification, such as a verification code sent to their phone or email, during the login procedure. Unfortunately, a large number of WordPress users disregard this security feature, leaving their sites vulnerable to attack.

Hackers use a variety of methods, including password guessing and brute force attacks, to obtain access to user accounts. You can substantially reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your WordPress website by enabling two-factor authentication. Without the verification code, a hacker who steals your password won’t be able to access your account.

How to avoid this mistake

Most WordPress security plugins now include support for two-factor authentication, and enabling it is a relatively easy process. You can also use a third-party authentication app such as Google Authenticator or Authy to increase the security of your login process. 

You can substantially reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your WordPress website by enabling two-factor authentication. It is an easy and effective strategy for enhancing your website’s security and protecting your users’ data from unauthorized access.

9. Failing to monitor your website for security threats

Many WordPress users make the mistake of not keeping their sites under constant surveillance for potential security issues. This includes not taking any measures to ensure that their site is secure against common threats like viruses and malware. There are still a few mistakes that could put your site at risk, despite the fact that WordPress includes built-in security features like automatic upgrades, user roles, and file permissions.

How to avoid this mistake

Use a trusted scanning tool, such as Sucuri, SiteLock, or Wordfence, to keep an eye on your website on a regular basis. These tools look for malware signatures and other signs of abnormal behavior on your website. They typically provide real-time alerts if problems are detected, allowing you to act quickly.

This can help you prevent losing critical data, having your site go down, receiving negative SEO results, and having your reputation damaged as a result of a hack.

10. Installing Software From Untrusted Sources

WordPress significantly depends on plugins, themes, and other third-party applications to improve functionality. Many website owners mistakenly believe they are saving money by downloading these items from unofficial sources. 

However, malicious code is frequently embedded in these unofficial programs, making security vulnerable and data theft possible. Developers may not disclose whether a theme or plugin contains malicious code, so even those who believe they have located trustworthy software may still be vulnerable to attacks. 

In addition to traditional viruses, fake themes and plugins frequently direct consumers into scams for “support” services. 

How to avoid this mistake

You should strictly adhere to installing plugins and themes from the WordPress repository.  In addition, before installing a new extension, you should always read up on it by checking its ratings and reviews on sites like Wordfence. If nothing suspicious is found throughout such searches, then verifying the item’s legality by comparing it to its original source is helpful. 

Conclusion

Just because you’ve installed a firewall and other security plugins doesn’t mean your WordPress site is safe. The primary focus should be on preventing hackers and cyberattacks.

Using discretion and caution, you can avoid all of the common WordPress security mistakes.

Avoiding these mistakes and adopting preventive measures to secure your WordPress site will keep your customers’ information safe and shield your business from any damage that might result from a data breach.

Implementing these procedures now will result in fewer issues later on, regardless of the size of your organization.

You could require assistance from a knowledgeable WordPress support team if this becomes too much for you to deal with. You can contact our WordPress experts to find out how we can take care of your security, maintenance, and updates.

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