How to Securely Host WordPress on a Dedicated Server
WordPress is undoubtedly the most popular content management system (CMS) used around the world today. Launched in 2005 by Mark Dawson and Mike Little, the free and open-source WordPress software provides bloggers and online publishers with a fully-featured publishing platform and a suite of highly-useful admin tools.
Due to its extremely flexible architecture and large feature set, WordPress is the perfect choice for webmasters, bloggers, and content creators who are looking for a Content Management System that can grow with them as their websites and blogs evolve.
However, as with any other piece of software, there are some security threats that are unique to WordPress and some that are common to all web-based applications and services.
In this guide, we will discuss some of the most common threats and the ways in which you can secure your WordPress installation against them. We will also introduce you to some of the more advanced concepts that can be applied to further enhance your website’s cybersecurity.
The Popularity of WordPress Creates A Vulnerability Target
One of the major downsides to the popularity of WordPress is that it makes its users attractive targets for cybercriminals and malicious hackers. People, companies, and organizations around the world have spotted the rising trend of web-based attacks and have started to take preemptive action.
These hackers often prey on weaknesses in commonly used programs and plugins such as WordPress itself, as well as the frequent use of weak or default passwords by users. While many WordPress users are oblivious to the fact that their site is under attack, the large numbers of people using the platform means that it’s becoming increasingly prominent on the web as a whole.
Due to its popularity, WordPress is well-known to be one of the biggest targets for cybercriminals and other malicious hackers. These criminals look for ways to compromise websites using WordPress as a jumping off point because it provides them with a fully-functioning blog (with the addition of a few customizations) as well as a highly-trafficked website.
Since WordPress is open-source and freely available to the public, anyone can easily download it and use it to build a website or blog. Due to this reason and the fact that it’s very easy to use, anyone can become a victim of a WordPress attack. And because there is such a large audience of people using the platform, that makes it even more vulnerable to hackers.
The bottom line is that if you’re using WordPress to build your website or blog, you’re inevitably going to be a target of cybercriminals and other malicious hackers. And, to be frank, you’re probably going to end up becoming one yourself if you don’t take the time to secure your WordPress installation.
The Vulnerabilities In WordPress
Before we begin discussing ways to secure WordPress, it’s important to understand the various security threats that it faces. In order to do this, we need to take a look at how WordPress works and how it can be exploited by cybercriminals and other malicious hackers.
WordPress is an open-source content management system, which means that it’s built upon a freely-available programming framework, called PHP. This framework allows developers to create content-rich environments, which can be accessed via a web browser.
The framework is, in fact, extremely powerful and can be configured in a variety of ways to create fully-featured websites and blogs. And, due to its open-source nature, it means that it can be easily accessed and modified by any hacker or developer who knows what they’re doing.
In order to use this framework to its full potential, WordPress needs to be installed on a web server and configured to accept requests from the public via a website or domain name. This way, whenever a person visits the site, their requests are handled by the web server and the WordPress software. Once this has been done, the individual can then access and modify the content as they see fit, regardless of whether they’re logged in or not.
From here, they can install various WordPress plugins that extend the functionality of the platform and create full-blown blogging environments or simple websites with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Due to its open-source nature and the fact that it’s installed on a web server, WordPress is always going to be at risk of being hacked or infected by a virus. This is why it’s a common target for cybercriminals and other malicious hackers.
Tips To Secure Your WordPress Installation
While it’s great that you’ve decided to secure your WordPress installation, you need to bear in mind that it’s not going to be easy. Not only does it require a certain measure of technical know-how, but you also need to set yourself some time constraints to ensure that you keep on top of any threats that may arise.
It is vital that you take a few moments to secure your WordPress installation before you proceed to install and use the software. This means taking the time to change your email password, using a strong and complex password, ensuring that all your online accounts are secure, and installing security software on your computer.
The first and most important step is to change your WordPress email password. This is usually done from your WordPress dashboard, but if you’re unable to visit this section because of a login issue, then you can change your password via the email form provided on the WordPress site. Remember, the longer the password, the stronger it will be. As an industry standard, WordPress recommends using a complex mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols, and at least six characters.
Once you’ve changed your email password, you can move onto the next step, which is to use a strong and unique password for all of your online accounts associated with WordPress. This ensures that, if an attacker does obtain access to one of your accounts, then they won’t be able to use this access to compromise your other accounts. You should consult with your account administrators to establish a list of passwords that you can use, as well as the ones that you’ve forgotten about or lost for some time.
Installing Security Software On Your Computer
Installing and using antivirus software on your computer is an excellent way to secure your WordPress installation, and we would recommend it. Having said that, not all antivirus software is created equal, and some will do more harm than good when it comes to protecting your WordPress installation.
For example, AVG Anti-Virus is a well-known product that is often used to guard against malware and viruses. However, a lot of people have reported problems with this software when it comes to WordPress. These people claim that AVG Anti-Virus causes WordPress to slow down the overall performance of their computer.
Therefore, if you’re planning on using this particular antivirus product to secure your WordPress installation, you may want to consider alternatives. We would recommend using Mozilla’s free and open-source antivirus extension, which can be downloaded from the Chrome or Firefox web browsers.
This antivirus extension is better than AVG at protecting your WordPress installation and doesn’t have the same devastating effect that AVG Anti-Virus has on your computer’s performance. Additionally, it offers the same security features as AVG, but without AVG’s overly-aggressive marketing and sleazy practices.
Keeping Track Of Changes
If you’ve been doing any kind of web development or have created any kind of WordPress website or blog, then you will know that making any kind of change to a website or blog can have unforeseen consequences. Especially when changes are made without thinking through the entirety of the consequences. This can lead to a completely different experience for the person who visits the site and makes changes compared to how the person who originally designed the site intended for it to be used.
Keeping track of these changes can be difficult, and if you’re not careful, it can rapidly become overwhelming. In this case, creating a changelog that tracks every change made to the site can be a great way to keep track of what was altered and when it was altered. This log can then be used to reverse any changes that were made without authorization.
Regular Backups And Upgrades
Regular backups are a great way to ensure that your site is safe and that it can be easily recovered from in case of a catastrophic event. Backups can be done either manually or automatically using various software or services.
One of the simplest and most convenient ways to create a backup of your site is to use a service called Webly, which is a free and open-source tool that allows you to create backups via email. Simply visit the Webly website, create a free account, and you’re good to go. You can then follow the simple instructions to set up automatic backups via email.