Quite a large proportion of us run blogs, typically WordPress if we want a degree of control or growth, whether for techie stuff or political agitation.
Whenever I work anywhere, I try to make sure the top priority is security. There’s no point doing anything unless you’re secure. The recent Typeform breach shows anyone is liable and their breach exposed data from Monzo bank. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t the end of the world: no passwords were leaked.
If you’re running WordPress and therefore relying on somebody else’s software, these are the things you need to do to stay secure:
- Install a security plugin. Yes, it’s a pain in the neck getting daily emails to update your site as themes and plugins update but given (1) above, it’s useful. I use Wordfence.
- Make sure you use SSL. As well as Google encouraging us to use SSL and gain SEO advantage, being secure is just generally a Good Thing. Worried about SSL certificates? Don’t be. Just hand your DNS management over to Cloudflare and gain SSL, DDoS protection and much more for FREE. My favourite price.
- Use strong passwords. Better still use something like Lastpass to generate secure passwords and store them for you safely.
- Use two-factor authentication. Make it one step harder to get into your site. Now they won’t get in unless they have your phone. There’s a plugin for that. We use the Google Authenticator.
- Keep up to date. 54% of WordPress vulnerabilities belonged to out of date WordPress. You should also keep themes up to date, things like cross-site-scripting exist, and plugins also.
- When installing plugins go for the widely used ones, ones with 4*-5* ratings and thousands of satisfied users. Make sure if you go down, LOADS of people go down with you too!
- Remove unused plugins and themes. I did that with my personal site and sped it up hugely. Same goes for browser plugins but for different reasons.
- Do backups. Second to security. It won’t prevent hacks but it’ll let you get back in the saddle quickly if something awful happens. I use Jetpack which does loads of other stuff too. Make sure you test restoring a backup! Write-only backups are so 90s.
- Change the “admin” name”. Trivial but will prevent 99% of brute force attacks.
- Limit the number of login attempts. Again, trying to foil brute force.
- Don’t let people get at your wp-config file. Put this in your .htaccess file:
<files wp-config.php> order allow, deny deny from all </files>
- And don’t forget, if you find a security hole, report it! That’s how stuff gets better. Finally, make sure you’ll keep the government happy and please don’t provoke GDPR emails.