The internet has been called the wild west of the modern world, a new world full of opportunity where the rules have yet to be set in stone. But as with anything new there are risks to go with the potential rewards and every day people realize the dangers of our new information age. The internet may be home to inventors, artists and entrepreneurs but it also has hackers, identity thieves and other dangerous individuals.
I don’t say this to scare you, knowing about these dangers is the first step to protecting yourself against them. Fortunately there are all sorts of things you can do to protect your WordPress site, and some steps can be taken in just a matter of minutes.
Use Smart Passwords
Your password is your first line of defense online. Today the average person has dozens of passwords for all sorts of web pages. Passwords protect your personal email, your bank account and now your WordPress site.
Try and come up with a password that is original and would be next to impossible to guess. Including numbers, symbols and capitalization can dramatically increase the safety of your password. If this seems too hard consider picking a sentence that is easy to remember but would be too long for hackers to guess or brute-force.
Make sure that your WordPress password is different from your other important passwords. Having to remember a dozen different passwords is difficult so it’s natural for people to use one password for a variety of different sites. While this might make things easy for you it also puts you at risk. If you use the same password for your email account and your WordPress site if a hacker gets into one they can get into the other, and from there you never know what sort of damage can be done based on the information they get.
While you’re changing your username also make sure that you change your admin username. If you leave it as “admin” then you’re just making things easier for hackers.
Update WordPress Regularly
Do you ever get annoyed by the fact that some programs seem to ask you to download an update every time they use them? Going through the update process regularly can feel like a hassle but it’s absolutely crucial.
Many people don’t feel these updates are important because the program in question doesn’t feel that different after the update, but the fact that you don’t notice any differences doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Most of the upgrades that occur are “under the engine,” in the areas of the program that the average person might never touch. This is where hackers look for weaknesses to exploit.
The team at WordPress is constantly looking for any problems that may arise in their program and fixing them as quickly as they can. But as with any human endeavour perfection will always be out of reach, so as long as you have your site you need to keep updating it so your site isn’t left open to attack.
Only Use WordPress Themes Made By A Reputable Professional
Most people who start a WordPress blog use one of the thousands of free themes available online. As you look at these themes you should ask yourself why the themes are free and who made them. The majority of themes out there are safe and made by people who might just want to advertise their design services with a small link at the bottom of your page but there is a small but dangerous minority that might try and sneak questionable code onto your page.
WordPress themes may seem like a simple set of cosmetic changes but they can actually get quite elaborate. It doesn’t take many lines of malicious coding in a theme to put you or your visitors at risk. This may seem self-serving coming from a company that designs WordPress sites but whether you use our services or not make sure your site is designed by someone who has your best interests in mind. Always ask, if you aren’t paying for the theme what is its designer getting out of the deal?
Keep Various Site Backups
Imagine that you’ve done what you could to protect your site but one day you log on and find that your site has been infested by a virus. What do you do?
Many people have found themselves in this situation and as a website owner you need to have a plan. One of the best things to do is wipe what you have online and replace it with a recently saved copy of your site. The problem is that many people don’t backup their site so if something happens they have to invest time and money into attempting to salvage or rebuild their site.
Another mistake people make is just keeping one backup of their files. The problem with this is that sometimes viruses and other problems can take time to show themselves. Your might only see the signs of an infestation after it’s been on your site for a month. If you catch a virus too late you might have already replaced your last clean backup with one that still has the virus. By keeping multiple backups that cover days, weeks or months you can be confident that you can restore your website while minimizing losses.
Keeping Safe Online
Entire books have been written about online safety so no article can cover everything needed to keep your site as safe as possible but if you use the steps listed here as a starting point you can end up with a site that is much more secure. Don’t feel like you have to be perfect, every step you take towards greater security is worth taking.
You should also take the time to make sure that you are logging onto your site from secure locations. Even if your site is as safe as possible it could still be open to attack if you have malware on your computer. When it comes to internet security any weak-link in the chain could put everything at risk so stay vigilant.
With all of this said it’s also worth noting that the majority of people do little to nothing to protect themselves online. If you follow just a few of these suggestions you will be ahead of the game, and hackers would rather go after the majority of sparsely protected sites rather than invest time and effort trying to get into a well-protected site.
Now is the time to start upgrading your site’s security. Even if you don’t think anyone would want to hack your site at this moment investing in security measures and developing good habits now will serve you well for years to come.
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