If you run a website, then website security is probably on your mind regularly. As technology becomes more integrated with our lives, news about security breeches, DOS attacks and hacks has become more frequent. The need for being proactive about protecting your website has never been stronger. Here are some of my favorite security plugins, most of which are free, even if the free version is limited is definitely something every WordPress website should have installed. Check back as I’ll keep this list updated as things change, plugins are added or in the case any are sadly removed!
A Simple Captcha Can Help Deter Attacks.
Brute Force Attacks occur no matter what host you’re with, and no matter how strong your password is. The first step to protecting your website from a successful brute force attack is setting up a strong user name and password.
(Helpful articles: Is my password strong enough? and How to Create a Strong Password You Can Remember)
Step two in protecting your website from brute force attacks is adding an extra layer of difficulty to the bot attempts at cracking your login is adding a Captcha, which can be as simple as a basic math question (or not so simple if it’s before coffee). I recommend the Captcha by BWS plugin, which will add a simple captcha form to your login page. You can learn more about it here: BWS Captcha plugin and download from WordPress repository, here.
Secure your Login.
Adding a captcha to your login page is good, but what’s even better is limiting the number of login attempts anyone tries making to get into your WordPress admin area. For this I highly recommend Login Security Solution. This plugin logs IP addresses of attempted logins, and will systematically slow down the login process to those IPs. The delay is a ‘survival of the fittest’ method, meant to deter attackers, steering them away from your site to move on to the next one that may be an easier target. The beauty of this plugin is, if they DO manage to break in, the plugin recognizes the user as a miscreant and kicks them out, anyway!
Stay in Control of Your Site Security.
As an added measure of security, I also recommend using the WordFence plugin. It works well especially if you set it up to work in conjunction with Login Security Solution. This plugin offers lots of options, and while it has some great pro-active features, some features come in very handy during an attack.
Proactive features I’ve found most useful are the ability to block aggressive search engine spiders like Baidu and Sogou, which can be resource hogs.
There is a live traffic tab that will allow you to see current activity on the site, and if you’re undergoing a brute force attack, you’ll be able to see the IP addresses of the attackers. Combined with the tab to manually block an IP or IP range, you can do something about it.
Scan your site for Potential Problems.
If you’re running a free theme and want to check for possible exploits in the code, you should definitely install and run the “Exploit Scanner” plugin, written and maintained by Donncha Ó Caoimh, a highly respected WordPress developer. This plugin runs a deep scan of your database and will give you a lot of detail about anything suspicious. It can be overwhelming and not every warning is an indication that you have malicious code, and may require a more trained eye to work with, but is a great and powerful tool.
Compromised Website? Get Help Sooner Rather Than Later.
Sometimes you don’t need to run a scan – you notice things like advertisements for the latest variety of Viagra or similar being prominently displayed on your site, or maybe just the mobile version of your site. If you want to run a test to be sure, here’s a site that will let you run a scan of your site to check for malicious activity or malware. Be patient, it takes awhile to complete. (It took about 5 minutes for my test to run).
Viruses, especially database injection viruses, can get evil and messy very quickly. If you suspect your site has been compromised and you don’t have the technical know-how to fix it, it’s better to get help from someone who does sooner rather than later. Every moment your site exists with a virus allows that virus to propagate through your site and make it harder to clean later on, so consider it important to treat this as an urgent matter.