WordPress Security: 8 Steps to Secure Your WordPress Site in 2023

Oct 23, 2023 | Website Optimisation

Did you know that an unsecured WordPress site is a goldmine for hackers? With the increasing number of cyber attacks targeting WordPress websites, there’s no better time to ensure your site is well-protected. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the essential steps to fortify your WordPress site, from understanding security risks to implementing strong passwords and user access control.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of various WordPress security elements, including regular updates, web application firewalls, SSL certificates, HTTPS, monitoring and scanning, backup and recovery strategies, and spam protection. So let’s dive in and ensure your WordPress site is not just visually appealing but also secure from potential threats.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand WordPress security risks and implement best practices to prevent unauthorised use.

  • Utilise password managers, multi-factor authentication, web application firewalls (WAF), SSL certificates & HTTPS for enhanced security.

  • Implement a backup and recovery strategy with local/external backups plus anti-spam plugins to protect forms/comments from spam.

Understanding WordPress Security Risks

Picture your WordPress website as a castle – it’s eye-catching and magnificent, but it’s not immune to attacks. Cybercriminals target vulnerable aspects of your site, such as outdated software, weak passwords, or misconfigured web server configuration files. So, what are the risks that you need to shield your castle from?

Some of the most common types of attacks on WordPress websites include:

  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks

  • Cross-site scripting (XSS)

  • Ransomware

  • Password compromises due to weak passwords or brute-force attempts

Getting a handle on these security risks paves the way for preventing unauthorised use of your website, safeguarding sensitive data, and avoiding a major security incident.

Employing security tools, keeping abreast of the latest updates, and scrutinising your website’s traffic helps in thwarting these threats and maintaining a secure website, ensuring your site’s security.

The Importance of Regular Updates

One of the most effective ways to strengthen your WordPress site’s security is by keeping it up to date. Regular updates help address security vulnerabilities, reducing the risk of potential hacking and cyberattacks.

You might wonder how to efficiently update not only your WordPress core software but also the plugins you use. Enter automatic updates and managed hosting services.

Automatic Updates

Automatic updates are like a vigilant security guard, keeping an eye on your WordPress website and ensuring it’s always up to date with the latest security fixes from developers. Enabling automatic updates ensures your site remains protected against known vulnerabilities. However, there are potential risks associated with automatic updates, including technical issues, compatibility problems, and unexpected changes to your site.

To stay informed about updates, consider using a plugin like WP Updates Notifier, which sends notifications via email when updates are available for your site’s plugins or WordPress core.

Managed Hosting

Another way to keep your WordPress site secure and up to date is by utilising a managed hosting provider. Managed hosting providers take care of your site’s technical aspects, such as updates, backups, and security configurations. Working with an reputable hosting provider ensures that your servers are secure, backed up, and regularly maintained, thus minimising the chance of data breaches.

Comparing managed hosting to shared hosting, managed hosting offers a more comprehensive and personalised service, handling updates and other technical aspects, while shared hosting requires more control and responsibility from the website owner. Opting for managed hosting allows you to focus on growing your business, confident that your site is secure and up to date.

Our preferred WordPress managed hosting for websites in Australia is Dreamhost’s DreamPress.

Implementing Strong Passwords and User Access Control

Weak passwords are like leaving your front door unlocked – it’s an open invitation for hackers to access your website. Implementing strong passwords and user access control is crucial for WordPress security.

Using password managers and multi-factor authentication ensures only authorised users can access your site and keeps your login credentials secure.

Password Managers

Remembering complex and unique passwords for every account can be a Herculean task. That’s where password managers come in handy. These tools:

  • Generate strong passwords

  • Securely store them in an encrypted database

  • Configure your password manager to generate random characters – comprised of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols – resulting in a virtually unbreakable password.

Using a password manager offers several benefits:

  • Helps you create and store secure passwords

  • Alleviates the stress of remembering multiple login credentials

  • Provides peace of mind knowing your login information is safe and secure

With a password manager by your side, you can focus on building your WordPress site.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is like adding an extra lock to your front door – it provides an additional layer of security beyond just your password. MFA requires users to provide two or more forms of identification before accessing an account, making it more difficult for hackers to gain unauthorised access. Implementing MFA on your WordPress site enhances its security and provides peace of mind for both you and your site’s visitors.

Several MFA apps are available for WordPress, such as LastPass Authenticator and Authy, which offer the ability to back up accounts to the cloud. Implementing multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection to your WordPress site, thereby keeping cybercriminals at bay.

Utilising Web Application Firewalls (WAF)

A web application firewall (WAF) is like a protective moat around your WordPress castle. It keeps a close watch on all incoming HTTP traffic to your web app. Any attempts to exploit security vulnerabilities are blocked instantly. WAFs can block a variety of malicious traffic targeting web applications, such as:

  • automated bots

  • spam

  • malware

  • cross-site request forgery (CSRF)

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

  • file inclusion

  • SQL injection (SQLi)

  • distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

While WAFs aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution, they play a vital role in safeguarding your WordPress site from a range of security threats. Incorporating a WAF into your website security ensures a secure browsing experience for your users and shields your site from potential attacks.

SSL Certificates and HTTPS

Think of SSL certificates (secure sockets layer) and HTTPS as the armoured car service of your WordPress site, ensuring that sensitive data is securely transmitted between your website and your users’ browsers. SSL certificates encrypt data during transmission, guaranteeing that the data is sent to the correct server and not intercepted by malicious actors.

Implementing SSL certificates and HTTPS is essential for protecting sensitive information on your WordPress site, such as login credentials, financial data, and personal information. To obtain a free SSL certificate, you can approach hosting providers, domain registrars, or certificate authorities like Let’s Encrypt.

Securing your site with SSL certificates and HTTPS not only protects your users’ data but also boosts their trust in your website.

Monitoring and Scanning Your WordPress Site

Regular monitoring and scanning of your WordPress site can help identify vulnerabilities and potential threats, ensuring that your site remains secure and protected. In this section, we’ll discuss free malware scanning services and security plugins available for WordPress that can give you an upper hand in detecting and mitigating security risks.

Free Malware Scanning Services

Free malware scanning services, such as:

  • Sucuri

  • Jetpack Protect

  • Wordfence Security

can help you scan your WordPress site for malicious code and other security threats. By conducting regular WordPress malware scans at least once a week, you can stay ahead of potential security risks and safeguard your site from cyberattacks.

Utilising free malware scanning services can provide an additional layer of protection for your WordPress site. It enables you to:

  • Identify and address security vulnerabilities before they escalate into more significant issues

  • Regularly scan your site to proactively maintain its security

  • Ensure a safe browsing experience for your users.

Security Plugins

Security plugins are like a Swiss Army knife for your WordPress site, offering a range of features and tools to enhance its security. Popular security plugins include:

  • Sucuri

  • Wordfence

  • iThemes Security

  • Jetpack

  • All In One WP Security

  • MalCare

These plugins provide features such as malware scanning, login security, firewall protection, and more.

Installing a security plugin on your WordPress site takes a proactive approach to protect it from potential threats and vulnerabilities. A well-configured security plugin can help you:

  • Stay up to date with the latest security measures

  • Ensure your site remains secure

  • Focus on growing your business while your site’s security is taken care of.

Backup and Recovery Strategies

A comprehensive backup and recovery strategy for your WordPress site includes:

  • Having local backups stored on your server or computer

  • Creating external backups stored on a separate server or cloud storage

  • Regularly testing your backups to ensure they are working properly

  • Implementing a well-prepared recovery plan in case of an attack or data loss

  • Minimizing downtime and data loss to ensure your site’s security remains intact.

Local and External Backups

Creating local and external backups of your WordPress site is like having digital insurance for your data. Local backups are stored on your local computer or server, while external backups are stored on cloud service providers like Amazon, Dropbox, or Stash. You can create local backups using a backup plugin like Duplicator or by manually compressing your site’s files.

Creating a backup for website files is highly essential. It should be stored in a secure area, away from other web files. Having both local and external backups of your site ensures that your data remains safe and can be quickly restored in case of an attack or system failure, thereby minimising downtime and any potential damage to your site’s security.

Recovery Plan

Having a well-crafted recovery plan is like having a fire escape plan for your WordPress site in case of a cyberattack or data loss. A recovery plan outlines the steps you need to take to restore your site and minimise the impact of a security incident.

Essential steps in developing a recovery plan for a WordPress website following a cyberattack include:

  1. Assessing the extent of the damage

  2. Restoring an uninfected backup

  3. Eradicating malicious scripts

  4. Purging the sitemap and database

  5. Reinstalling plugins and themes

  6. Deleting compromised user accounts

  7. Enhancing security measures

  8. Notifying stakeholders and customers about the incident

Having a robust recovery plan in place prepares you to act swiftly and decisively in the face of a security breach, ensuring your site’s security remains intact.

Protecting your forms and comments from spam

Imagine your WordPress forms and comments section as a garden – without proper care and protection, it can easily be overrun by spam weeds. Protecting your forms and comments from spam is crucial for maintaining a secure and user-friendly website, as spam can not only harm your site’s reputation but also pose security risks.

Using anti-spam plugins like:

  • CleanTalk (more effective)

  • Antispam Bee (more privacy friendly)

effectively shields your WordPress site from spam, ensuring a pleasant browsing experience for your users and maintaining your site’s security. These plugins use a combination of techniques like CAPTCHA services and machine learning algorithms to filter out spam and keep your forms and comments clean and secure.w


In conclusion, securing your WordPress site is not just a one-time effort but an ongoing process that requires vigilance and the right tools. By understanding security risks, keeping your site up to date, implementing strong passwords and user access control, utilising web application firewalls, SSL certificates, HTTPS, monitoring, scanning, backup and recovery strategies, and protecting your forms and comments from spam, you can effectively fortify your WordPress site against potential threats.

Don’t let cybercriminals breach your digital castle. Take action today and implement these security measures to ensure your WordPress site remains secure, allowing you to focus on growing your business while your site’s security is well taken care of.

Frequently Asked Questions

How secure is WordPress?

WordPress is secure as it encrypts all WordPress.com sites with strong encryption and does not offer the option to disable it. This ensures users’ data is protected, maintains one’s reputation, and avoids SEO penalties.

How do I prevent malware on WordPress?

To prevent malware on WordPress, always use a professional security plugin, keep all software updated, use strong passwords, only install trusted themes and plugins, regularly scan for malware, implement a web application firewall, secure file and database permissions, and monitor your website.

What is website security?

Website security is the process of protecting a website from cyberattacks, hackers, malware, scams, phishing and errors. It is an ongoing process that must be maintained to keep websites safe.

What are the most common types of attacks on WordPress websites?

The most common attacks on WordPress websites are DDoS, XSS, ransomware, and weak/brute-force passwords.

How often should I update my WordPress site?

To ensure maximum security, it is recommended to update your WordPress site at least once a week, based on what core and plugin updates are available.