The best way to Protect Your WordPress Website From Hackers

From the nightmare scenario. You go to your website only to find a nasty message from a hacker boasting about hacking your site. And nothing else. As far as you can tell your content is gone and you can’t even find a way in order to log into your WordPress dashboard.

Would your business survive your website being turn off, even temporarily?

It Happens

Which exactly the situation that my friend of mine found herself in lately.

Fortunately we were able to help her out, rescue (most of) her files and get her back up and running relatively quickly. But that isn’t always the case.

Turns out she might have done some things to better protect herself. Fortunately she learned her lesson well and she’s in much better shape today than the lady was before the attack.

Have You Really Been Hacked?

A lot of times people visit me saying, “My site’s already been hacked, ” when it really hasn’t. With WordPress sometimes plugin clashes can cause issues that seem to the user just like a hacker has messed with something. This is most common when upgrading to some new version of WordPress if a plugin hasn’t been made compatible with the newest version yet.

While that can trigger your site to crash, it’s not caused by hackers.

Not only that, but most of the sites I’ve seen that have been hacked weren’t just taken down by them. The majority of the malicious hacks I’ve seen involved injecting some code into the web site, usually with the end goal to refocus site traffic to some other website.

The Symptoms

Without going into the gory details, my friend’s case was a small different. Her site actually demonstrated an all white screen with an mistake message along the lines that a plugin conflict might produce and the hacker just wanted to crash her web site. Turns out he was into robbing something else.

When I did some troubleshooting I was able to get her site back up and running in fairly short order. In her words:

I must add here, that it only required Chris 45 minutes to decipher and fix what was a rather sophisticated crack!
While I’d never promise to be able to recover a hacked site that quickly, I do have a good track record recovering hacked WordPress sites.

Protecting Yourself

Here are some things you can do to minimize the probabilities you’ll end up getting hacked and increase the chances to fully recover quickly when your site crash (for whatever reason).

1 . Use Strong Passwords.

I actually honestly think this was my friend’s biggest mistake. Again in the girl words,

This is what got me — I just used numbers and words and the password was – well – kinda obvious.
Make your own passwords not only hard to guess, yet make them more difficult for sophisticated cyber criminals to break as well. Randomly mix in exclusive characters (found on the number tips with the shift button) as well as figures and upper and lower case letters. Strong passwords make a huge difference.

Both WordPress and cPanel will tell you how strong your password is. Stronger security passwords offer better protection.

The trouble will be, having strong passwords also causes them to be harder to type in. That’s why I use 1Password to manage my passwords on my Macs. I can use actually strong passwords and I don’t have to remember them or type them in. 1Password will auto fill internet forms for me. It’s the best of each worlds: good security & user friendly.

2 . Keep Your WordPress Updated.

One of the most common ways WordPress websites obtain hacked is because their owners may keep their software up to date. What goes on is that older versions of Wp can have known security weaknesses. These weaknesses are fixed by newer releases of the software.

But if a person update your software, you keep yourself exposed.

This also holds true with plugins and themes. Besides, the newer versions of WordPress create keeping everything up to date remarkably easy. There’s not much of an excuse to help keep you from updating things.

3 or more. Backup Regularly and Often.
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A good back-up can cover for a ton of other issues by making it feasible to revert back to how items were before your site crashed. With regards to WordPress you need to back up your

Database
Theme Files
Plugins
Media Uploads
There are several different plugins and solutions to handle backups of your WordPress site.

But the point is backup earlier and backup often!

Bottom Line

We don’t believe any site is completely “hack proof. ” A determined hacker with enough resources can break into most anything. Just watch a good episode of NCIS!

But if you choose to do these three things you will greatly reduce your risk of being hacked and make it much easier to recover if you do encounter a problem.