How to Perform a WordPress Security Audit (Complete Checklist)?
WordPress is very stable outside of the box. If you believe, however, that something is wrong with your website, then you might want to conduct a full security audit to ensure that your website is secure.
In this post, we will show you how to conduct a security audit of WordPress easily without downloading your site.
What is a WordPress Security Audit?
The method of reviewing your website for signs of a security violation is the WordPress security audit. To look for suspicious behaviour, malicious code, or an unexpected output drop, you can perform a WordPress search.
The basic protection of WordPress includes simple steps that you can manually perform.
You may use a WordPress security audit tool for a more comprehensive audit to run the tests for you automatically.
There are also WordPress security audit services available that you can use to test the security of your website.
If you find a suspicious thing, then you can isolate it, delete it, and repair it.
When to Perform a WordPress Security Audit?
You can conduct a security audit of WordPress at least once a quarter. And before they cause any trouble, this helps you to keep on top of it and close security gaps.
However, if you see anything unusual, then you can immediately conduct a security audit.
Some of the signs that suggest you will need a security audit are as follows.
- Suddenly, your website is too slow and sluggish,
- You see a drop in traffic on websites
- New accounts, forgotten password requests or login attempts on your website are suspicious.
- On your website, you see suspicious links appearing
That being said, let’s take a look at how to conduct a security audit of WordPress on your website easily.
Safety Audit Checklist for WordPress
The following are some of the steps that you should take on your website to conduct a simple WordPress security audit.
1. Updates to applications
For your website’s safety and security, WordPress updates are very necessary. They fix vulnerabilities in security, add new features and boost performance.
Make sure that the main program of your WordPress, all plugins, and themes are up to date. By visiting the Dashboard » Updates page inside the WordPress admin area, you can do that easily.
If any updates are available, WordPress will check and then list them for you to install. See our guides on how to properly update WordPress and how to properly update WordPress plugins, if you need more help.
2. Check accounts and passwords for users
Then, by visiting the Users » All Users tab, you need to check WordPress user accounts. You’ll search for suspicious user accounts that aren’t supposed to be there.
If you run an online store, a subscription site, or offer online courses, your customers can have user accounts to log in.
If you run a blog or a company website, however, then you can only see user accounts for yourself or any other user you have added manually.
If you see suspicious user accounts, then you need to delete them.
Now if your website doesn’t require users to create an account, then you need to visit Settings » General page and make sure that the box next to the ‘Anyone can register’ option is unchecked.
As an extra precaution, you need to change your WordPress admin password. We highly recommend adding two-factor authorization to strengthen password security on your website.
3. Run a WordPress security scan
Checking your website for security vulnerabilities is the next phase. Fortunately, there are many security scanners online that you can use to search for malware.
We suggest using the IsItWP Security Scanner, which scans for malware and other security vulnerabilities on your website.
These tools are fine, but they can search only your website’s public-facing pages. Later in this post, we’ll show you how to do deeper audits.
4. Check the analytics for the website
Website analytics lets you keep track of the traffic on your website. They are a pretty good predictor of the health of your website as well.
If search engines have blacklisted your website, then you will see a sudden decrease in your website traffic. If your website is sluggish or unresponsive, then it will also decrease your average page views.
To track your website traffic, we suggest using MonsterInsights. Not only does it show your total page views, but you can also use it to track registered users, customers of your WooCommerce, form conversions, and more.
5. Check or set up backups for WordPress
If you haven’t already done so, then you need to set up a backup plugin for WordPress immediately. This means that, in case something goes wrong, you still have a backup available.
On the other side, after setting it up, many beginners forget about their WordPress backup plugin. Often, without any warning, backup plugins can stop working. Making sure that your backup plugin is still running and saving backups is a good idea.
WordPress Security Audit Automatically Performs
The above checklist helps you to go through a security audit’s most critical aspects. It is not, however, a very comprehensive procedure, which means that your website can still be vulnerable.
It is hard to maintain a manual record of all user behaviour, file discrepancies, suspicious codes, and more, for example. This is where you need a security auditing plugin to automate and keep a record of everything.
With the help of a few WordPress security and monitoring plugins, you can automate this operation.
1. WP Activity Log
WP Activity Log is the best WordPress activity monitoring plugin on the market.
It allows you to keep track of all user activity on your website. You can view all user logins, IP addresses, and what they did on your website.
You can track WooCommerce users, editors, authors, and other members who have an account on your website.
You can also turn on events that you want to track and switch-off events that you don’t want to monitor.
The plugin also shows you a live view of all the users logged in to your website. If you see a suspicious account, then you can end their session right away and lock them out.
For more details, see our guide on how to monitor user activity in WordPress using WP Activity Log.
Sucuri is the best plugin on the market for WordPress firewall, and it is also the best all-in-one WordPress protection solution you can get for your website.
By blocking malicious activity right before it hits your website, it offers real-time security against DDoS attacks. This eliminates the load from your server and increases the pace/efficiency of your website.
It comes with a security plugin built-in that scans for malicious code in your WordPress files. You also get a thorough look at your website’s user behaviour.
Most notably, with all their paid plans, Sucuri provides malware removal for free. This ensures that their security experts will clean it for you, even though your website is already affected.
We hope that this article has helped you learn how to conduct a security audit for WordPress on your website. For step by step guidance on how to secure your website, you might also want to see our complete WordPress security guide.
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