How to Prevent Malware on Your Website with WordPress
WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS (content management system), and one of the biggest reasons behind its popularity is its anti-hacking features. This is due in part to the fact that WordPress has one of the largest community of developers who constantly work to protect the platform and its users from cyber attacks and malware. In fact, in most cases, these attacks can be prevented through some simple WordPress security measures.
In this article, we will discuss how to prevent malware on your WordPress-based website, along with some best practices for keeping your site secure.
WordPress Security Features
WordPress has a variety of security features that can be customized to fit any needs. One of the biggest selling points of WordPress is its constant “security updates” that make it a lot harder for hackers to break in. The updates are released on a regular basis, and in many cases, prevent zero-day attacks.
There are a few essential security features that you need to have on your site to prevent malware. We will discuss a few of these below.
Use a Strong Password
This one may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people forget about this basic tenet of security. Using a strong password is the best way to prevent malware on your website. A strong password should be a combination of alphanumeric characters and special characters. It should also be a different password for each account that you have on the site (e.g., your email, blog, and other online accounts).
For instance, if you use the same password for all of your accounts, then an attacker will simply have to get access to one account on the site to gain access to all of them (even if they try to hide their malicious motives behind an appearance of goodwill).
To help you remember your passwords, many web-based services now offer Password Managers. These services generate and store complex passwords for you, making them much easier to remember. Using a password manager is highly recommended if security is a concern.
Use A VPN To Protect Your Data
A VPN protects your data while you are online, which makes it a valuable tool for security. Allowing only trusted devices to access your data through VPN is the safest approach, especially if you are not sure how to protect your PC or laptop from malware. Most people use a VPN to prevent online privacy leaks when using public Wi-Fi (especially in areas where data collection is a concern).
VPNs are also helpful in cases where you are engaging in activities that are risky or potentially harmful (e.g., doing business with questionable individuals or countries, or using public Wi-Fi in places where data collection is a concern). In these cases, using a VPN is a must.
Monitor All Communications Channels
Depending on your site’s security needs, you will need to monitor all of your website’s incoming and outgoing communications (e.g., emails, forms, etc.). This can be done through the use of web applications like Firewalls or HTTPS Pro. Incoming communications should be monitored closely, as this is where most malware comes from (e.g., spam, phishing emails, etc.).
Outgoing communications should also be monitored, as this is where most of your visitors will disclose their personal information. It is essential that no personal information is disclosed through your site’s communication channels (e.g., no login details, passwords, or credit card numbers should be passed through email). In most cases, this information can be retrieved by the original sender, so the need for additional monitoring is minimal.
It’s a good practice to make regular back-ups of your site’s data (e.g., backups of your database, files, etc.). The best way to do this is through the use of an online backup service. These services allow you to easily back up your site’s files (through the use of a simple interface), and restore them if needed. Some services also allow you to perform regular “snapshots” of your data, which can be very useful if your site is large or experiences heavy traffic (e.g., daily backups or weekly snapshots).
By regularly making back-ups of your data, you give yourself the opportunity to recover from unexpected crashes, or other issues that might occur on your site (e.g., malware infections, or hardware failures). This is especially important if your site stores any kind of important information (e.g., financial data, customer information, etc.).
Protect Your Site With Firewalls
One of the most important things that you can do to secure your site is to install a firewall. A firewall prevents outside threats from accessing your site (e.g., hackers, malware, etc.).
Installing a firewall on your site is pretty straightforward – you will simply need to visit the control panel for your web host, and change the settings for your domain to point to your firewall. Do not forget to do this on both your main and sub-domains (if you have more than one). In most cases, your web host will provide you with instructions on how to properly set up your firewall (through the use of a control panel).
Once you have implemented a firewall on your site, it is important that you maintain it regularly (e.g., reboot your device or server every week). This will ensure that your firewall is always up to date, and prevent any possible security issues.
Use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) For All Communications
Another important security feature to have on your site is to use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) for all of your incoming and outgoing communications (e.g., emails, forms, etc.).
Using SSL for all of your incoming and outgoing communications is extremely important (and free) because it encrypts all of your data, ensuring that it cannot be read by anyone else (e.g., eavesdroppers, hackers, etc.). SSL also provides you with an additional level of security over unencrypted connections (e.g., passwords and credit card details can be stolen through hacks against unencrypted connections).
It is important to note here that not all “SSL Certificate” are created equal. Make sure that you purchase a reputable SSL certificate, from a certificate authority that is well-known in the industry. For instance, Let’s Encrypt is one of the most well-known Certificate Authorities, and their certificates are highly recommended for use on sensitive sites.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) can be an additional layer of security that protects your site against online threats. Simply put, 2FA requires that you enter a code (generated by an authentication device, e.g., a YubiKey, Google Authenticator, etc.) in addition to your password, in order to access your account or perform certain functions on the site. In most cases, this additional code can be entered through text messages, faxes, or emails.
If you use Google Authenticator, for instance, whenever you visit your site, you will notice a little circle with a pound symbol inside (e.g., ). Click this symbol to generate a six-digit code that can be used with your Google account.
This extra code serves as an extra layer of security, providing an additional step to confirm your identity before accessing your account. As long as you follow the rules and guidelines for using 2FA, it cannot be hacked, and provides an extra layer of protection against online threats (e.g., phishing, malware, etc.).
Use All Current Antivirus And Spam/Phishing Protection
It is important to keep your computer (and your website) protected from malware and spam. To do this, you need to use all available tools, including antivirus software and spam filters. Anti-virus software detects and stops malware before it can do any real damage (e.g., steal your personal information, or infect your computer with a virus).
Spam filters prevent unsolicited emails (i.e., junk email) from being sent to your inbox. These are important tools, because they ensure that your email is useful and relevant to you. Depending on your site’s sensitivity, you might also need to consider using a content filter.
If you use email to communicate with your customers or other individuals, then content filters can also be used to prevent certain words or phrases from being included in your emails (e.g., “marketing emails”). The use of content filters is highly recommended for high-security sites, or sites with customers from all over the world.