Whether you create your own website using our professional best WordPress themes or get someone else to do it for you, the security of your site should always remain near the top of your priority list.
But, as many site owners are painfully aware, there is more to keeping a site up and running than adding content, processing orders, and executing the marketing plan.
Security breaches can range from the annoying, such as SPAM email messages through contact forms, to costly, like in cases where your site is offline and unable to earn revenue.
At the most extreme end of the spectrum, a security breach may even lead to dangerous results, exposing information and further compromising the online security of your visitors.
Fortunately, keeping a website safe and secure does not need to be costly or time-consuming. Tens of thousands of other website owners make their site security the top priority and, in the free market, this means a whole host of plugins and services to choose from.
They combine to keep your site online and maintain visitor confidence, no matter what bad actors may send in your direction. This article is specially describe the security checklist before launching a website.
Here are four important considerations to make before putting your site live. They also apply even if you’re already online, as they are easy to deploy onto existing sites – and when it comes to site security, it is always better late than never!
The Security Checklist – 4 Things to Consider Before Creating WordPress website
1. Start With an All-in-One Security Plugin
As mentioned in the introduction, at a time when there is a WordPress plugin for everything, site security was never going to miss out.
According to Security Week, 18.5 million websites are infected with malware at any given time. The same source goes on to say that the average website is attacked 44 times every day.
That was back in 2018, and with an average of half a million new sites launching daily, the numbers are impossible to ignore.
New site owners may potentially make the mistake of assuming that their site is of no interest to a would-be attacker. However, it is worth considering that nobody wants to run a site that nobody visits.
Whether you add your URL to printed materials, optimize your content for search engines or shout about the launch on social media, the goal is usually to attract the attention of your target audience. Unfortunately, in doing so, it is inevitable that your site will also be exposed to bots.
For the most part, website security breaches are rarely manual. Those willing to invest time and effort into getting into the backend of a site when they shouldn’t usually identify specific targets.
Instead, the bulk of breaches, especially on smaller, newer sites, stem from bots and scripts. They use the same search engines users do and often execute the same, relatively basic attack patterns with which they have found success in the past.
The good thing about patterns is that they are easy to identify when someone knows what they are looking for. The developers behind popular security plugins are the perfect people for the job, and they analyze these attempts to ensure robust protection.
Wordfence, iThemes Security, and Sucuri are all immensely popular choices, and they each boast both free and paid options.
Of course, the paid upgrade is often worth it, but if you are on a budget or want to wait to see how a site performs before investing further, the free versions are infinitely better than nothing.
2. Ensure You Have Installed SSL Encryption on the Site
One of the most things of security checklist is SSL Encryption. Some site owners may feel like installing SSL encryption is a technical challenge. However, web hosts now make it as easy as possible to configure this functionality on a WordPress website.
Some hosts make it possible with just a single click and ensure your certificate stays valid in perpetuity. At worst, it is only necessary to follow a few instructions and copy and paste a couple of security keys. Most importantly of all, it is worth doing.
As covered in greater detail by Kaspersky, an SSL certificate ensures that connections between websites and visitors are secured.
Once only considered essential for those processing financial transactions on their websites, SSL is now virtually a standard in its own right and results in HTTPS protection across all communications.
Indeed, if a site claims in its code to have a certificate but appears to be errors in its legitimacy, browsers like Google Chrome will display a full-page warning, advising a potential visitor to turn back.
Of course, many users will also utilize a VPN to protect their communications with a site, but that is not an excuse to forego HTTPS protection.
While there is a clear difference between HTTPS and a VPN, the former is down to the site owner to implement, while the latter is an added protection layer on the visitor’s part.
Online legislation is evolving rapidly, and online privacy has been a hot topic for several years. In owning a website, an individual has a responsibility to do what they can to keep user information safe.
This does not have to be expensive or technically intensive, but a responsible site owner should, at least, ensure that they have taken reasonable precautions to protect data.
SSL integration is a critical step in doing so. Such a precaution is also considered a ranking factor by Google, and adding one may result in a slight boost to search performance.
3. Protect the Login Page
Unless there are more severe faults in how a website has been designed, or a more focused attack is underway, such as a DDOS (Distributed Denial-of-Service), most would-be attackers require access to the backend admin area of a WordPress installation to do severe damage.
One minor annoyance of WordPress is that the default login page is usually the same across every site, with ‘/wp-admin/’ appended to the primary domain.
Those bots and scripts we mentioned previously are conditioned to attempt to access this page as standard. A quick fix to reduce their potency is simply to move it.
You have the benefit of being able to bookmark it, note it down, or change it as often as you prefer. If changed to a random location, an automated attack would have just as much difficulty finding the page as working out the password.
Many of the security plugins mentioned previously enable users to change their default login page with a few clicks. It is also possible to hand-code the change using CSS and independent plugins like LoginPress.
While taking this step, it also makes sense to double-check your credentials. Before a site goes live, it is tempting to make the login procedure as seamless and straightforward as possible.
However, when a site opens up to the world, it is equally attractive to make life more difficult for would-be attackers.
Ensure that you use a strong password for every account with login privileges – and potentially save them with a password manager such as LastPass or RoboForm. Try to avoid obvious login names too – ‘admin’, ‘editor’, and the site’s name should all be avoided.
Remember, the name appended to posts does not have to be the same as the name used to log in, so no worries surround making it publicly viewable.
4. Arrange for Regular Backups
If securing a WordPress website was a quick, easy and infallible job, nobody would bother to carry out the tens of millions of automated attacks that take place each day.
But, unfortunately, sometimes there are security gaps, while those scripts get particularly lucky at others. Therefore, it makes sense to keep regular backups of your site and, most importantly, keep them somewhere other than on the server.
Backups also combat one of the most often overlooked elements of securing a website – user error. Even the most experienced website owners get things wrong, and a simple misclick can easily compromise otherwise robust defenses.
Making a habit of regular backups also minimizes damage in cases beyond security. Sites going down and becoming irretrievable are rare and of little concern, but when a specific code change can take down a large website, it can often be easier to revert the changes than take time to identify the issue.
This may mean losing a few days of data collection and publication, but that is often a small price to pay in exchange for an uncompromised website.
Unsurprisingly, plugins are often the best solution here once again. Updraft Plus backup is unquestionably the most popular.
While there is definitely a learning curve to getting the most out of it, the plugin measures up well to its security counterparts in offering both free and paid versions with the former doing an excellent job on new sites.
In addition, it can be configured to backup entire sites and then email them or store them in one of a number of cloud storage accounts.
Overall, a great WordPress website does not just catch the eye and incorporate amazing content but puts the security of themselves and their visitors at the top of the priority list.
The article is about security checklist before launching your new website. With so many plugins out there that are every bit as easy to use and configure as our own, even virtual WordPress novices can create a site that is secure and ready to launch.