WordPress Security Plugins Can Save Small Blogs

Did you know that every week Google blacklists about 20,000 websites for malware and 50,000 for phishing?

You can protect your blog with WordPress security plugins, but let’s cover the basics first.

To be honest, WordPress security is not a sexy theme. It suggests something you’d rather not dwell on or experience, ever.

When you think of WordPress security plugins or conducting a WordPress security check, somewhere in your subconscious there’s probably a negative image.

I hate to break it to you, but your subconscious is right – cybercrimes are an everyday reality. Even if you are just a small blogger, you can’t assume that you’ll never have to deal with any serious security breach.

It’s a highly dangerous assumption. Unless your blog has an invisibility cloak.

To help you avoid that, I’ll look at the most common attacks and some blog security measures you can take to protect your blog from digital villains, be they bots or humans.

After reading this article, you’ll be equipped with vital information on how to protect your blog. You’ll also know how to avoid mistakes new bloggers make.

Is Securing Your WordPress Blog Important?

best wordpress security plugins

The issue of blog security is not only vital but also urgent, and you need to take it seriously. Hackers target WordPress sites a lot because they know that millions of websites use this CMS. And they are not lenient to small blogs. They’re not ethical or compassionate.

Sometimes, the attacks are automatic – they’re using bots that are indifferent to the size or type of blog.

But you have invested a small fortune in building and running your small digital business.

You have invested precious months or years of your life.

You have sacrificed a lot for it.

A single security breach could crush your dreams – or at least result in a substantial loss. But don’t just take my word for it. Have a look at these statistics:

  • 43 percent of attacks are on small businesses
  • Six months after a cyber-attack, about 60 percent of small businesses fail
  • Only about 14 percent of small business have adequate security
  • Every 39 seconds, a hacker attacks a digital asset
  • 95 percent of breaches in 2016 affected retail, tech, and Government
  • The average cost of a data breach in 2020 will exceed $150
  • Since 2013, 3,809,448 records have been stolen during breaches
  • 4000 ransomware attacks are carried out every day
  • Cybercrime costs the global economy over $600 billion per annum

These stats are scary, if you ask me.

One of the smartest decisions you can make today is to prioritize WordPress security.

Common WordPress Security Breaches

website security check

Before we look into the most common forms of breaches, here are some interesting statistics that provide an overview of the key forms of breaches:

  • WordPress plugins account for 52 percent of the attacks
  • Core WordPress accounts for 37 percent of the attacks
  • WordPress themes account for 11 percent of the attacks

These are the most common breaches:

  1. Brute Force Attacks
  2. SQL Injections
  3. Cross-Site Scriptings
  4. Malware
  5. Fire Inclusion Exploits

Don’t worry, I’ll explain what each means below.

1. Brute Force Attacks

Your WordPress login screen is what hackers target when they use brute force to attack your blog. It’s a trial and error method. Here’s how it works. The hacker or the bot programmed for the task keeps entering different combinations, trying to guess your username and password. Multiple attempts are made until a fitting combination is arrived at.

2. SQL Injections

WordPress uses MySQL in the operation of its database and website data. A hacker gains access to this database and from there creates an admin-level account, through which it logs into the website and can do harm.

3. Malware

The “mal” in the word says a lot. Malware is short for malicious software. It’s introduced into your blog to cause disruption or damage to your files. It has to be manually removed when this occurs, and then a backup copy can be used to restore your blog, or you may need to install a fresh version of WordPress.

4. Cross-Site Scripting

The most common vulnerabilities found in WordPress plugins are Cross-Site Scriptings, which account for about 84 percent of the vulnerabilities on the Internet. A hacker lures a user to open a page that contains insecure Javascript scripts. The script is then used to steal data from a blog or website. Some hackers use this to add forms on other people’s blogs, so when an unsuspecting user inputs their data into such a form, the data is promptly stolen.

5. File Inclusion Exploits

WordPress plugins and themes are written with PHP, a programming language that unfortunately presents some vulnerabilities. This is what File Inclusion Exploits target. The hacker uses code to load remote files. These then act as a bridge to access your blog.

Now that you know what the main threats are, I’ll explore key steps you should take to protect your blog.

Steps to Protect Your Blog

wordpress security strategies

While it’s tempting to assume that WordPress will just protect itself, that’s not actually the case. You must be proactive with your site to ensure your defenses stay current and effective.

1. Update Your Blogs Regularly

WordPress updates itself on a regular basis if the updates are small. But for major updates, you need to manually perform them. You also need to update your plugins and themes. Blogs that are not updated often are more vulnerable to attacks.

2. Use Strong Passwords

lastpass password storage locker

You need to use strong passwords for your login page and all other pages through which you access and work on your site. Ideally, you should also have different passwords for different accounts.

You can suffer a huge loss if you use just one password for all your digital assets. Once hackers are successful in using a password, they’ll probably try it on your other accounts, too.

If you’re concerned about whether you’ll be able to remember all passwords, you can use a password manager such as LastPass. And if your blog is being used by many people, you need to be careful about the kind of privileges you grant them. Ensure that you alone have access to your admin area.

3. Backup Your Site

Make sure that you back up your website offsite on a regular basis so that, in case of an attack, it will be easy for you to reinstall it and continue seamlessly. UpdraftPlus will automatically backup your website every day, week or month to a remote server.  With your backups stored on Amazon S3, you don’t have to worry about hackers corrupting them – even if they break into your website.

4. Limit Login Attempts

Brute Force Attacks, as we noted earlier, use trial and error to guess your login details. This is done over and over until the hacker is successful. If you limit login attempts, this will prevent those attacks. There are WordPress plugins you can use to protect your forms from multiple login attempts.

5. Use a Reliable Hosting Company

Hosting companies are a dime a dozen. You may think they’re all created equal, but they’re not. You need a hosting company that’s proven and ensures your WordPress blog is secure.

bluehost review

Bluehost is one such company.

It offers dedicated WordPress hosting. It’s been selected by wordpress.org several times as one of the ideal hosts for WordPress blogs. It’s currently home to 850,000 sites.

That says a lot.

6. WordPress Security Plugins

wordpress backup plugin

Wordfence and Sucuri are some of the best WordPress security plugins. Wordfence has been downloaded over 100 million times. It protects over 2 million WordPress sites and has some unique features that make it highly dependable. Its Threat Defense Feed is one of its most powerful features.

From the 2 million sites it protects, the plugin (the paid version) can have real-time access to the latest updates on how hackers are trying to compromise WordPress blogs, and this information becomes a tool for protecting other blogs using the plugin.

This is in addition to its endpoint firewall and scanner. The web application firewall identifies and blocks traffic that’s suspicious from accessing the network. This endpoint firewall cannot be bypassed, it does not leak data, and it does not break encryption.

Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow

This is not the kind of post you read and relax. I know it’s easy to procrastinate and tell yourself you’re going to handle it next week.

But you should take action now. Literally.

You may feel as if there’s a ton to do to secure your site. But if you did just two things each day, in the next three days, your blog would be safe and free.

Hackers won’t send you a notice that they’ll be coming to pay a visit. It’s smart to remind yourself of the Scouts motto:

Be Prepared.

Jonathan Green
 

Living the dream on a tropical island, Jonathan is the author of Serve No Master and the host of the Serve No Master Podcast.

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