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How to protect your wordpress website from possible hacks

In today’s digital era, where every piece of information is just a click away, the significance of website security is paramount. Every second, cybercriminals are on the prowl, seeking vulnerabilities to exploit, databases to breach, and reputations to tarnish. For businesses, bloggers, and webmasters, a compromised website can lead to data breaches, loss of customer trust, and significant revenue decline.

Now, consider the behemoth that is WordPress – powering over 40% of the web. Its vast ecosystem and open-source nature, while being strengths, also make it an attractive target for hackers. Given its widespread use, it’s no surprise that WordPress sites often find themselves in the crosshairs of nefarious entities. But with this immense popularity comes a robust community and an array of tools dedicated to safeguarding WordPress websites. In this guide, we’ll delve deep into understanding these threats and arm you with strategies to fend off potential attacks.

Why WordPress Websites Get Hacked

1- The Popularity of the Platform

To begin with, the sheer ubiquity of WordPress makes it an attractive target. When a platform powers a significant chunk of the internet, it naturally becomes a hotspot for cybercriminal activity. Think of it as a city with vast treasures – the more abundant the city’s wealth, the more thieves it attracts.

2- Outdated Themes, Plugins, and Core

One of the most common reasons for a WordPress site to get compromised is outdated software. Many users tend to install themes and plugins and then forget about them. Over time, as these tools get updates to patch known vulnerabilities, sites that don’t keep up become low-hanging fruits for hackers. Similarly, not updating the WordPress core can expose the website to known threats, turning it into an easy prey.

3- Weak Passwords and User Permissions

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Passwords are often the first line of defense, and unfortunately, they’re also the most commonly overlooked. Many users still resort to using ‘password123’ or ‘admin’ as their password. This, combined with a lack of two-factor authentication, presents a direct open door to potential hackers.

Additionally, not managing user permissions can be risky. Every user doesn’t need to be an administrator. By giving unnecessary permissions, you could inadvertently be giving a hacker the keys to your kingdom should any account get compromised.

4- Vulnerabilities in Third-party Tools

The open-source nature of WordPress means that many third-party developers create tools and add-ons for the platform. While this results in a rich ecosystem of plugins and themes, not all developers maintain the same security standards. Some third-party tools might come with vulnerabilities right out of the box, or they might develop vulnerabilities over time.

In essence, while WordPress as a platform offers robust features and a vast array of functionalities, it’s the responsibility of the site owner to ensure they’re not making their website a sitting duck. Awareness is the first step to prevention, and understanding these common pitfalls can go a long way in keeping your WordPress site secure.

Essential Steps for Securing Your WordPress Website

1- Regular Updates (Core, Themes, and Plugins)

Consistent and timely updates are the bedrock of any secure WordPress website. The WordPress community is active and vigilant; vulnerabilities, once detected, are quickly patched.

But these patches can’t protect your site unless you apply them. Always ensure your WordPress core, themes, and plugins are updated to their latest versions. Also, consider using a staging environment to test updates before applying them to your live site. This way, you’ll ensure that updates don’t break your website while maintaining top-notch security.

2- Using Strong, Unique Passwords and Consider Password Managers

It can’t be stressed enough: a robust password is your site’s first line of defense against hackers. Avoid common and easily guessable passwords. Instead, opt for combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Given the difficulty in remembering such complex passwords for various online platforms, it might be beneficial to consider using password managers. These tools not only store your passwords securely but also generate and remember strong, unique passwords for every site you use, reducing the likelihood of brute force attacks.

3- Implementing Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-Factor Authentication adds an additional layer of security to the standard password method of online identification. With 2FA enabled, after entering the password, the user is required to enter another piece of confidential information only they would know or have access to.

This could be a code sent to their phone or generated by an app like Google Authenticator. Implementing 2FA ensures that even if a hacker gets hold of your password, there’s still another line of defense in place.

4- Setting Up Correct User Roles and Permissions

Every person who accesses your WordPress site should have an appropriate role defined by their tasks. WordPress comes with a set of predefined roles – Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber – each with its set of capabilities. It’s crucial to assign roles judiciously.

For example, not everyone needs the power of an Administrator. Limiting the number of Administrators and carefully assigning roles can significantly reduce the risk of an internal compromise or a hacker gaining high-level access through a compromised account.

By implementing these foundational security steps, you’ll significantly enhance the protection of your WordPress site against potential threats. Remember, in the digital realm, it’s always better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to security.

Advanced Security Measures

Taking basic precautions is crucial, but if you’re serious about fortifying your WordPress website, consider implementing these advanced security measures:

1- Installing a Reputable Security Plugin

There are several robust security plugins available for WordPress that can help shield your site from potential threats. Plugins like Wordfence and Sucuri offer a suite of tools, from real-time traffic monitoring to malware scanning. They also alert you of any suspicious activity, ensuring that you can take immediate action if something seems amiss.

2- Implementing a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A WAF acts as a shield between your website and all incoming traffic, filtering out malicious requests and thwarting attempts to exploit vulnerabilities. Some security plugins, like those mentioned above, come with built-in firewalls. However, there are also standalone firewall services like Cloudflare that can add an additional layer of protection.

3- Regular Backups with Secure Storage Solutions

While backups are primarily for recovery purposes rather than security, they’re crucial when it comes to dealing with hacks. In case of a severe compromise, having a recent backup allows you to restore your website to its pre-hack state. Use reliable backup plugins or services and ensure backups are stored in secure locations, away from your primary server, to prevent them from getting tainted.

4- SSL Certificate Installation and Ensuring HTTPS

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encrypts the connection between your web server and visitors, ensuring data like login credentials and personal information is secure from eavesdropping. An SSL certificate also lends more credibility to your site and can even improve your SEO rankings. Most hosting providers offer free SSL certificates, so there’s no reason not to have one. Once installed, ensure that your site always loads via HTTPS rather than HTTP.

Hardening WordPress

Hardening involves taking additional steps to enhance security:

  • Via .htaccess: Modify the .htaccess file to limit access to crucial areas of your website or block specific IP addresses.
  • Through wp-config: The wp-config.php file contains sensitive information about your WordPress installation. Moving it from the default location and changing the authentication keys and salts can further secure your site.
  • Adjusting File Permissions: Ensure that your directories and files have the correct permissions set. This limits the ability of malicious actors to alter content or insert malicious code.

Each of these advanced measures adds an extra layer of defense, making your WordPress website a fortress against potential cyber threats. Remember, the more barriers you put up, the tougher it becomes for hackers to penetrate your site.

Recognizing Signs of a Compromised Website

A hack isn’t always a blatant defacement of your website with a taunting message from the culprit. In fact, most cybercriminals work subtly, aiming to exploit your website for as long as possible without drawing attention. Therefore, it’s vital for website owners to recognize the less-obvious signs that their WordPress site might have been compromised. Here are some indicators to watch out for:

Unusual Admin Activity

Monitor your WordPress dashboard for unexpected activity. For instance, if posts or pages are being edited, deleted, or published without your knowledge, it could be a sign of unauthorized access.

Redirection to Unfamiliar Sites

One common hack is to redirect visitors from your site to another, often for phishing or advertising purposes. If your visitors or analytics tools indicate such unsolicited redirections, it’s a glaring red flag.

Unexpected Changes in Website Content or Layout

Always be on the lookout for minor alterations that you didn’t authorize. This could be as subtle as a changed link or as evident as an entirely new page. Hackers might modify content to include malicious links or to promote something unrelated to your website’s purpose.

Suspicious User Accounts

Regularly review the user accounts on your WordPress site. If you spot accounts that you didn’t create, especially with administrative privileges, it’s a significant cause for concern.

Website Access Issues

If you or your visitors experience difficulties accessing your website or if the site doesn’t open at all, it could be a result of a compromise. Such issues might stem from malicious scripts or altered site configurations.

Payment Gateway Anomalies

For websites with e-commerce functionalities, always monitor your payment gateways. If there are unauthorized transactions or if customers report discrepancies, it could be an indication of a security breach.

Unusual Server Logs

Regularly reviewing server logs can give insights into any suspicious activity. Look for repeated failed login attempts, unfamiliar IP addresses, or unexpected resource requests.

It’s worth noting that sometimes, issues like site redirections or layout changes might result from plugin conflicts or other non-malicious technical glitches. However, it’s always safer to investigate any irregularities as potential security threats. If in doubt, consult with professionals or cybersecurity services like WPSiteMakers, who can offer expert guidance and solutions.

What to Do If Your Site Gets Hacked

Realizing your website has been compromised can be a harrowing experience. The sooner you act, the better your chances of minimizing the damage. If you suspect or confirm that your WordPress site has fallen victim to cyber attackers, follow these critical steps:

1- Seek Professional Help Immediately

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If you’re unsure about the technicalities of restoring a site, it’s wise to get in touch with experts who specialize in website security. They’ll have the tools and knowledge to assess the situation and provide appropriate solutions. WPSiteMakers, for instance, has a team of WordPress experts who can help rectify security issues.

2- Restoring from a Clean Backup

One of the best defenses against a hacked site is having regular, clean backups. If you’ve maintained this practice, restoring your site can be relatively straightforward. Ensure you’re using a backup that predates the suspected hacking incident to avoid reintroducing vulnerabilities.

3- Identify and Fix the Vulnerability

Simply restoring your site doesn’t guarantee safety from future attacks. It’s vital to ascertain how the hackers gained access in the first place. Was it an outdated plugin? A weak password? Once identified, take immediate measures to fix the vulnerability to prevent a recurrence.

4- Inform Users if Sensitive Data was Potentially Exposed

Transparency is key, especially if you believe that personal or financial data of your users might have been accessed. Inform them of the breach, potential implications, and the steps you’re taking to resolve the issue. Encourage them to change their passwords or monitor their financial accounts if necessary.

5- Regularly Monitor and Update

Post-recovery, it’s crucial to keep an even closer eye on your website. Regularly update your WordPress core, themes, and plugins. Monitor user activity and server logs for any irregularities. And, consider investing in security plugins or services to beef up your defenses.

In the world of cybersecurity, vigilance is paramount. While the steps above can aid in damage control and recovery, proactive measures are your best bet against potential attacks. Ensure that you prioritize the security of your WordPress website to protect both your content and your reputation.

Regular Maintenance and Monitoring

Keeping your WordPress website secure isn’t just about the initial setup or immediate actions after a breach. Ongoing monitoring and regular maintenance play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of your site in the long run. Let’s dive into what this entails:

Monitoring User Activity and Login Attempts

Keeping a keen eye on user activity can help you spot any unusual patterns or behaviors. There are plugins available that alert you to multiple failed login attempts or when someone accesses the admin area from an unfamiliar IP address. This can be instrumental in preventing brute force attacks or catching unauthorized access early.

Keeping Track of Website Health

WordPress, in its recent updates, introduced the Site Health tool, which provides a report on how your website is performing, potential security risks, and areas of improvement. Regularly reviewing this can keep you updated about potential vulnerabilities.

Regularly Auditing Website for Vulnerabilities

Every now and then, conduct a thorough audit of your website. Check for outdated plugins, ensure that themes are up-to-date, and make sure that any custom codes haven’t unintentionally introduced vulnerabilities. There are dedicated security plugins and services that can automate these scans for you, offering both peace of mind and proactive protection.


When it comes to website security, ongoing vigilance is not just advisable but essential. With WordPress powering a significant portion of the web, it remains an attractive target for cybercriminals. By understanding the risks and taking proactive measures, you can significantly mitigate the chances of your website being compromised.

It’s essential to remember that the cost of prevention is always going to be more affordable, both in terms of money and peace of mind, than the cost and chaos of cleaning up a hacked site. Invest in regular maintenance, stay informed about the latest security practices, and ensure that you’re always one step ahead of potential threats.

For those who may find all of this overwhelming or simply want to ensure they have the best protection in place, consider reaching out to experts in the field. WPSiteMakers offers insights, services, and solutions tailored to WordPress, ensuring that your website isn’t just functional, but fortified against potential threats. Dive into the world of WordPress with confidence, knowing you have the tools and expertise needed to keep your online presence secure.

Karim Frikha

Karim Frikha is the lead developer at WpsiteMakers.com, a website dedicated to sharing knowledge and secrets on WordPress-related topics. With over four years of experience in coding and a keen eye on the new AI era, Karim is on a mission to make WordPress adapt to the modern world. He focuses on building optimized and appealing websites that rank well and provide the best services for his clients.

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