HomeBlogWordPressThe Ultimate WordPress Security Guide – Step by Step

The Ultimate WordPress Security Guide – Step by Step

As a business owner, eCommerce professional, or entrepreneur, you understand the importance of WordPress security tips in safeguarding your website. With cyber threats on the rise and hackers becoming increasingly sophisticated, it’s crucial to stay informed about best practices for protecting your site.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into why WordPress sites are often targeted by hackers and provide actionable WordPress security tips that will help you minimize risks. You’ll learn how to strengthen your login credentials, choose secure themes and plugins, regularly scan for malware, monitor site activity with specialized software tools, protect essential files like wp-config.php file and much more.

By following these expert recommendations on enhancing your site’s security posture, you can confidently prevent unauthorized access and maintain trust among users who visit your online presence.

How safe is WordPress?

Although WordPress is a secure content management system, it can still be susceptible to attacks if proper measures are not taken to protect the site. Unfortunately, websites that use WordPress are often targeted by cybercriminals. According to Wordfence’s security report on WordPress, their firewall service blocked 18.5 billion password attack requests on these sites. This highlights the importance of investing in website security and proactively safeguarding your online presence.

Why WordPress Gets Hacked

Understanding why hackers target WordPress websites is essential to implementing effective security measures. Common reasons include the platform’s popularity, outdated plugins and themes, weak passwords, and lack of regular updates.

The Popularity of the WordPress Platform

WordPress powers over 40% of all websites on the internet, making it an attractive target for cybercriminals. Due to its high usage, hackers have a greater potential for exploiting victims on the WordPress platform. Additionally, due to its open-source nature, attackers can easily study its codebase in search of vulnerabilities.

Outdated Plugins and Themes as Vulnerabilities

The extensive ecosystem of plugins and themes available for WordPress users provides both functionality and customization options but also poses significant risks if not properly maintained. Outdated or poorly coded plugins/themes can introduce security holes that hackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access or inject malicious code into your site.

Tips for Keeping Your Plugins & Themes Secure:

  • Delete any unused or inactive plugins/themes from your website.
  • Regularly update all active plugins/themes – always make sure you’re using their latest versions.
  • Purchase premium products from reputable developers who provide ongoing support & updates.
  • Avoid downloading freebies from untrusted sources; they may contain hidden malware/backdoors.

Weaker Passwords Making It Easy For Hackers

Password strength plays a crucial role in securing your website against brute force attacks – where attackers systematically try multiple combinations until they find the correct one. Weak passwords, such as “admin” or “123456,” are easy to guess and provide an open invitation for hackers.

Creating a Strong Password:

  • Use a combination of uppercase & lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Aim for at least 12-16 characters in length – longer is better.
  • Avoid using easily guessable information like your name, birthdate, or common phrases/words.

In addition to these factors, lack of regular updates can leave your WordPress site vulnerable to attacks. Always ensure that you’re running the latest version of WordPress core files and have applied all security patches provided by developers.

How to Secure Your WordPress Site

Avoid Free Themes or Templates

Free themes or templates may seem attractive to many website owners, especially those on a tight budget. However, they often come with hidden risks such as malware injections or built-in backdoors that allow unauthorized access to your site. 

Risks Associated with Using Free Themes/Templates

  • Malware injections: Some free themes and templates contain malicious code that can infect your WordPress site upon installation. This can result in various difficulties, including sending out spam to visitors, stealing confidential information, or even taking over your complete website.
  • Built-in backdoors: Unscrupulous developers may include hidden backdoors in their free themes and templates that grant them unauthorized access to your site anytime. Hackers can exploit covert entrances that are hard to spot and use them for malicious activities.
  • Poor coding practices: Many free theme/template creators do not follow best coding practices, resulting in slow-loading pages, compatibility issues with plugins, and increased vulnerability to hacking attempts.
  • Lack of updates & support: Unlike premium options where developers provide regular updates and customer support services when needed, users relying solely upon freely available resources face challenges regarding maintenance aspects throughout their online journey.

Premium Options Offer Better Protection

In contrast to the potential dangers posed by free WordPress themes/templates, investing in a premium solution offers several advantages that ensure enhanced security levels while maintaining optimal performance standards across all devices/platforms. Here’s why choosing paid alternatives makes sense from both practicality & safety perspectives:

  • Regular updates & support: Premium theme/template developers are committed to providing regular updates and prompt customer support, ensuring that your website remains secure and up-to-date.
  • Better coding practices: High-quality premium themes/templates follow best coding practices, resulting in faster loading times, fewer compatibility issues with plugins, and improved overall site performance.

To protect your WordPress site from potential security threats associated with free themes or templates, consider investing in a reputable premium option such as those offered by ThemeForest, Elegant Themes, or StudioPress. These providers offer a wide range of professionally designed themes/templates backed by reliable support services – ensuring peace of mind while you focus on growing your online presence.

Regularly Scan Your Site for Malware

Scanning your WordPress website regularly helps identify potential threats before they cause significant damage, ensuring you maintain optimal performance levels while keeping user data safe from malicious intrusions.

Importance of Scanning in Early Threat Detection

Maintaining a secure WordPress site requires constant vigilance against various forms of cyberattacks. By scanning your site regularly, you can quickly detect malicious threats and security vulnerabilities and take necessary steps to mitigate any damage. Early detection of any potential threats is essential in order to take steps and avoid further damage.

In addition to protecting your site from hackers, regular scans help improve its overall performance by detecting outdated plugins or themes that may be slowing it down. This also ensures a better user experience for visitors and higher search engine rankings.

Recommended Tools/Plugins for Malware Scanning

To keep your WordPress site safe from threats, consider using one or more of the following reputable malware scanning tools:

  • Wordfence Security: A comprehensive security plugin offering real-time protection through firewall features and scheduled scans.
  • Sucuri Security: Offers free and premium plans with features like file integrity monitoring, remote malware scanning, blacklist monitoring, effective security hardening measures, and post-hack action guidance.
  • iThemes Security: A popular security plugin that offers various features like malware scanning, file change detection, and strong password enforcement.
  • MalCare: An advanced WordPress security solution with automated daily scans, one-click malware removal, and a powerful firewall to protect your site from threats.

By regularly scanning your WordPress website for malware and other vulnerabilities using these tools/plugins, you can maintain a secure environment for both you and your visitors. Remember to stay vigilant in monitoring the latest cybersecurity trends so that you’re always prepared against new threats as they emerge.

Installing Site Monitoring Software

A crucial aspect of securing a WordPress site involves continuously monitoring its activities through specialized software solutions designed specifically for this purpose. These tools enable quick identification and resolution whenever suspicious activity occurs on the platform itself, ensuring your website remains safe from potential threats.

Secure Your wp-config.php File

The wp-config.php file is a critical component of your WordPress installation, as it contains sensitive information such as database connection details and security keys. This file is a desirable target for cybercriminals aiming to disrupt the safety and reliability of your site. In this section, we will discuss how to protect the wp-config.php file and emphasize the importance of regular backups.

How to Protect the wp-config.php File

To secure your wp-config.php, follow these steps:

  • Change file permissions: Set the correct file permissions (chmod) on your server by changing them to 600 or 640. This ensures that only you (the owner) can read or write to this important configuration file.
  • Add .htaccess rules:Add specific rules in your site’s root directory’s .htaccess file that prevent unauthorized access from external sources. Insert the following code snippet into your .htaccess to prevent unauthorized access from external sources:
    <Files wp-config.php>
          order allow,deny
          deny from all
  • Create an additional layer of protection:You can also move the entire content of ‘wp_config’ outside public_html folder so no one could access it directly through URL. To achieve this,
  • Move `define(‘ABSPATH’, dirname(__FILE__)` line at the top after opening PHP tag.
  • Then cut everything between ABSPATH line and closing PHP tag except last two lines (require_once…) and paste above ABSPATH line.
  • Now save changes, close the file and move it to one directory above public_html.
  • Now create a new wp-config.php in the root folder with only two lines:
    define(‘ABSPATH’, dirname(__FILE__) . ‘/’);
    require_once(ABSPATH . ‘.,wp-config-outside-webroot.php’);

Importance of Regular Backups

In addition to securing your wp-config.php, it is crucial to maintain regular backups of your entire WordPress site, including its database. This will help you recover quickly in case of any security breaches or data loss incidents. There are several backup plugins available for WordPress, such as UpdraftPlus and BackWPup. These tools automate the process by scheduling regular backups and storing them securely on remote locations like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Taking these measures to protect your wp-config.php file can significantly enhance the overall security posture of your WordPress website. Additionally, performing regular backups ensures that you have a reliable safety net should disaster strike.

Protecting your WordPress site from malicious attacks requires that you secure the wp-config.php file, which should not be neglected. Implementing 2FA can add an extra layer of safety for anyone accessing the website, providing further security to your site.

Implement Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Adding an extra layer of protection by implementing two-factor authentication can significantly reduce unauthorized access risks. 2FA requires users to verify their identity through additional methods like SMS codes or mobile apps before granting access. In this part, we will look into the perks of utilizing 2FA on WordPress sites and introduce some widely used plugins that can enable it.

Advantages of Using 2FA on WordPress Sites

  • Enhanced Security: By requiring a second form of verification, you make it much more difficult for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your site, even if they have your password.
  • User Accountability: With 2FA enabled, users are held accountable for their actions since any login attempt would require their password and physical possession of the device used for verification.
  • Better Protection Against Brute Force Attacks: Since attackers need both a valid username/password combination and access to the user’s second-factor device, brute force attacks become far less effective when targeting websites with 2FA in place.

Popular Plugins That Enable 2FA

To implement two-factor authentication on your WordPress website, consider using one of these popular plugins:

  • Two Factor: This plugin offers multiple options for secondary authentication methods such as email codes, time-based one-time passwords (TOTP), FIDO Universal Second Factor (UAF), and backup codes.
  • miniOrange OTP Authentication: miniOrange provides a comprehensive solution for 2FA, supporting various methods like Google Authenticator, SMS/Email verification, and QR code-based authentication.
  • UNLOQ Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): UNLOQ offers three different types of two-factor authentication: push notifications, time-based one-time passwords (TOTP), and email codes. The plugin also includes features such as custom login URL support and IP whitelisting.

To further strengthen the security of user accounts and data on your website, two-factor authentication is an invaluable tool. By choosing the right plugin that fits your needs, you can easily add this additional layer of protection to safeguard both user accounts and sensitive data on your site.

Implementing Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is an essential step to secure your WordPress site. Adding an extra layer of security with 2FA can help thwart malicious attacks and unauthorized access. Now, let’s take a look at disabling XML-RPC functionality which can be another important part of keeping your website safe from potential threats.

Disable XML-RPC Functionality

Disabling XML-RPC functionality in WordPress helps prevent attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities within its codebase, thereby reducing the chances of successful brute force attempts and other types of malicious intrusions targeted towards your online presence. In this section, we will discuss the importance of understanding what XML-RPC does and provide steps to disable such features permanently.

Understanding What XML-RPC Does

XML-RPC is a remote procedure call (RPC) protocol that uses XML to encode its calls. It allows external applications and services to interact with your WordPress site by sending HTTP requests. While it can be useful for certain functionalities like trackbacks, pingbacks, or connecting your blog to mobile apps, it has become less relevant over time due to the introduction of more secure alternatives like WordPress REST API.

The main issue with XML-RPC is that it provides an additional attack surface for hackers who might try exploiting known vulnerabilities in this feature. This makes disabling it a crucial step in securing your WordPress website.

Steps Involved When Disabling Such Features Permanently

  • Edit .htaccess file:One way to disable the XML-RPC functionality is by adding the following lines of code at the end of your .htaccess file located in your website’s root directory:
    <Files xmlrpc.php>
          Order allow,deny
          Deny from all
  • Use a security plugin: Another option is to use a security plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri Security, which often include features that allow you to disable XML-RPC with just a few clicks.
  • Create a custom plugin:You can also create your own simple custom plugin by adding the following code snippet into a new PHP file and uploading it to your WordPress plugins directory:
          Plugin Name: Disable XML-RPC
          Description: Disables the XML-RPC feature in WordPress.
          add_filter( ‘xmlrpc_enabled’, ‘__return_false’ );

By disabling the XML-RPC functionality on your WordPress site, you are effectively reducing potential vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit. This is an essential step towards securing your website and protecting it from malicious attacks.

Regularly Review User Accounts and Permissions

To ensure security, it is essential to regularly audit user accounts and permissions on your WordPress site in order to grant appropriate access levels only for authorized individuals while eliminating inactive profiles. This ensures that only authorized individuals have appropriate access levels while removing inactive profiles altogether. In this section, we will discuss some best practices regarding account management.

Best Practices for Account Management

  • Audit user roles: Periodically check the assigned roles of each user on your website. Make sure they have the correct role based on their responsibilities. For example, not everyone needs to be an administrator; consider assigning editor or author roles when possible. Learn more about WordPress Roles and Capabilities.
  • Delete unused accounts: Remove any inactive or unnecessary accounts from your WordPress site to minimize potential security risks associated with unauthorized access or compromised credentials.
  • Password policies: Enforce strong password policies for all users by requiring them to use complex passwords that include a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You can also set up periodic password resets as an added layer of protection using plugins like Password Policy Manager.
  • Limited admin access: Limit the number of users who have administrative privileges on your website since these users can make significant changes that could potentially harm your site’s security if misused.
  • User activity monitoring: Keep track of what actions are being taken by different users within your WordPress dashboard using plugins such as Stream or Activity Log. Regularly monitoring user behavior can help to identify any potential threats and take the required steps to reduce risk.

Top 3 Essential Security Tips

Implementing these top five essential security tips will help protect your WordPress website from being hacked. Take measures to ensure your website’s security by employing basic management techniques.

1. Use Strong Passwords and Change Them Regularly

To prevent unauthorized access, it is crucial to use strong passwords that include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Furthermore, changing your password frequently adds more protection against potential threats.

2. Choose Unique Usernames for Admin Accounts

Avoid using common or default usernames like “admin”, as hackers easily guess them. Create usernames unrelated to personal data, such as names or emails.

3. Keep Your Software Up-to-Date (WordPress Core, Plugins, Themes)

Maintaining the latest versions of WordPress core files and installed plugins and themes ensures you have the most recent security patches in place to combat vulnerabilities. Regularly check for updates on your WordPress dashboard.

FAQs about WordPress Security Tips

Some effective methods for securing a WordPress site include using strong passwords, updating software regularly, limiting login attempts, installing SSL certificates, and implementing two-factor authentication. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid free themes/templates and consider investing in premium options with better security features.

The main security issues with WordPress involve outdated plugins/themes, weak passwords/usernames, and vulnerabilities in XML-RPC functionality. These can lead to unauthorized access or malware infections on your website. Ensuring regular updates and following best practices can help mitigate these risks.

WordPress has built-in security features that provide a solid foundation for keeping websites safe. However, it is crucial for users to take additional steps like maintaining updated software versions and implementing recommended security measures such as strong passwords and two-factor authentication to ensure optimal protection.

The most critical aspect of securing a WordPress site involves staying vigilant about updates (core platform/plugin/theme), using robust login credentials (passwords/usernames), monitoring user accounts/permissions closely, and employing advanced tools like malware scanners/site monitoring applications for early threat detection and prevention.


In conclusion, securing your WordPress site is crucial in protecting your business and customers from potential threats. By following the essential security tips outlined above, such as using strong passwords, keeping software up-to-date, regularly scanning for malware, implementing two-factor authentication, and disabling XML-RPC functionality, you can significantly reduce the risk of a security breach.

Remember to also avoid free themes or templates and regularly review user accounts and permissions. By taking these steps seriously and staying vigilant about website security best practices, you can keep your WordPress site safe from hackers.

If you need help with securing your WordPress site or any other development needs, contact Amadeus Consulting today!

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