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WordPress Security Audit: 8 Steps For Securing WordPress Website

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You once sat down and performed a full WordPress security audit on your site. It wasn’t something you wanted to do, but you had no choice if you wanted to keep the evil hackers at bay.

Since the gurus said so, you went ahead and installed a WordPress protection plugin on your website.
Since you know what happens if you don’t, you downloaded all of your WordPress plugins and themes.
You researched website security measures and introduced the ones that would last.

In a nutshell, you were certain that your website was completely safe and protected from hackers.

Then, a few months later, you awoke expecting everything to be back to normal…

After which you discover that your website has been compromised.

It could be none at all. It’s possible that it’s a malicious redirection to another website. Alternatively, you can discover that popups on your website are attempting to sell you something that has nothing to do with your business.

That’s when you know you haven’t secured your website properly.

Most WordPress site owners are familiar with this situation. And if you’re in this situation, you’ve come to the right place.

The thing is, your only blunder was assuming that the WordPress security audit will be a one-time event. You figured it was all finished and dusted when you crossed off all the boxes on the list.

The truth is that website protection is similar to advertising in that it is a continuous process. You wouldn’t go out of your way to promote your business, would you?

While website security tools and preventative measures are improving all the time, hackers aren’t going to sit back and let you take care of your company. It’s your business, and you’ll have to fight for it on a daily basis.

The best way to find out what’s working and what isn’t is to conduct a WordPress security audit. Is it possible that the security procedures have become obsolete?

Without regular WordPress security checks, the chances of a hacker breaking into your site and causing damage to your company are far higher.

But don’t worry, you can stop all of this by keeping the security measures up to date. We’ll show you how to conduct a good WordPress security audit on your website today.

TL;DR (short version) – We suggest using a security plugin to fully protect your WordPress account. Install MalCare and use it to search and track your website on a regular basis. It will also protect your website from hacking attempts. Yes, it also performs a regular WordPress security audit on your behalf.

What Is A WordPress Security Audit?

Most WordPress websites will experience security problems at some stage. Mods and themes, for example, may create bugs that hackers can use to break through your website.

They can divert your traffic, show illegal content and advertisements, defraud your customers, and steal personal data once they gain access to your site, among other things.

A WordPress security audit will assist you in quickly identifying these issues so that you can take steps to close any security vulnerabilities on your site. When you conduct a security audit, you will examine your website’s current security measures. Then figure out what additional security measures you should put in place on your website to keep it secure.

If you don’t have a procedure and a checklist in place, a full security audit will take several steps and turn into a shambles.

It’s very likely that you’ve already performed a WordPress security audit. The aim of this article is to assist you in setting up a process that you can replicate every three months. A WordPress security audit should ideally be performed on a regular basis. However, to be safe and yet be fair, we suggest doing this once a month.

Today, we’ll walk you through our WordPress Security Auditing Guide step by step. You will be able to perform a full and thorough audit of your website using this audit trail.

How To Run A Successful Security Audit

We’ll examine the security of your website in depth during this audit. Let’s get started.

  • Evaluate your security plugin
  • Test your WordPress backup solution
  • Examine your current admin setup
  • Remove unused plugins installed and active
  • Delete Extra WordPress Themes Installed
  • Evaluate your current hosting provider and plan
  • Check users who have FTP access
  • Check your WordPress Hardening measures

1. Evaluate your security plugin

The protection plugin on your website is your first line of defence. Consider installing a security plugin on your site right away if you don’t already have one. WordPress websites are protected from hackers and bots using a security plugin. There are several options available. However, not all of them are reliable, so you must select the appropriate protection plugin. A list of features that your protection plugin MUST have is as follows:

1. Malware scan – Hackers are constantly on the lookout for plugins that are vulnerable. We strongly advise you to use a plugin that can search your website on a regular basis. It should run a deep search of your website, checking every file and folder, including your database.

2. Offsite scan – The scanning process consumes a significant amount of server resources. If you run the plugin on your own server, the scan will overburden your site and slow it down. Look for a plugin that scans your site using its own servers.

3. Firewall – Your website needs a firewall that will proactively block hackers, malicious bots, and IP addresses attempting to break in. Technical knowledge is needed to set up a firewall. Protection plugins, on the other hand, will instal and unlock it for you.

4. Login security – Hackers often target your login page and try a variety of usernames and passwords to gain access to your website (known as a brute-force attack). Such attacks should be blocked by the protection plugin.

5. Real-time warnings – If your site experiences suspicious behaviour, the plugin can detect it and notify you right away. You will be able to act quickly as a result of this.

6. Malware cleanups – Using a good security plugin, you can easily clean your website. It should be able to absolutely clean your website.

7. Activity log – A WordPress security audit log keeps track of user activity on your site, including who signed in, details of unsuccessful login attempts, and what WordPress users did. When you need to find out how your site was compromised or what modifications were made to cause it to malfunction, an activity log comes in handy.

If your protection solution isn’t cutting it, you should opt for one of the best security plugins on the market.

We suggest MalCare because it includes all of these features. It has one of the most advanced malware scanners available, capable of detecting any form of malware. Furthermore, you can remove any malware infection in a matter of minutes!

2. Test your WordPress backup solution

If something goes wrong with your WordPress account, you’ll be glad you have a backup. You can quickly restore your backup and restore your website to its previous state.

What happens, though, if your backup fails? What if you are unable to restore it?

This is why it’s so important to test your backup. If you’re using a host backup, you may not be able to verify it. Here’s what we suggest for testing your backup:

On your WordPress account, instal the BlogVault backup plugin. It will take a full backup of your site on its own.

The first backup, which will copy the entire website onto its own servers, may take some time. It uses incremental technology, which backs up only the changes made, so subsequent backups are much quicker.

Access the choice ‘Test Restore’ from the BlogVault dashboard once the backup is complete.

It will notify you that your restore was effective once it is completed.

3. Examine your current admin setup

WordPress enables many individuals to collaborate and contribute to the production and maintenance of the platform. However, not every WordPress user needs full access to the platform. A writer, for example, would only need access to write and publish material. Other adjustments, such as installing plugins or changing the theme, are not needed.

WordPress has six different user positions that you may delegate to prevent giving any user on your site full access: Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. Permissions are assigned to each role on a scale of one to ten.

The users you’ve added to your WordPress site should be the first thing you look at during your WordPress security audit.

  • Determine how many of these users have administrative privileges.
  • Determine how many people need administrative access.
  • Change the user functions of those who don’t need to be administrators to restrict access and give lower permissions.
  • Ensure that all users on your dashboard are identifiable. Delete any users you don’t recognise because they might be rogue accounts set up by hackers.

Next, make sure that no one who is an administrator on your site uses the username “admin.” This is the most common username for WordPress administrators. Hackers are well aware of this and may attempt to gain access to your site using the tag.

You’ll need to build a new user account for that individual if you want to change the name from “admin” to something more special. You may allocate all content to the newly created WordPress consumer. The old ‘admin’ account can then be deleted.

4. Remove unused plugins installed and active

We’ve seen several cases of WordPress websites being compromised due to vulnerable plugins in our over a decade of working with WordPress.

Third-party developers make WordPress plugins, which they manage and upgrade. However, as with any programme, bugs emerge over time. Developers are typically quick to correct the problem and release an update. This update will include a security patch that will fix your site’s vulnerability.

If you put off the update, your website will remain vulnerable.

  • Check the list of plugins you have installed during your audit. Many website owners enjoy experimenting with new themes and plugins. We don’t use the majority of them, but they’re still present on our platform. Remove any plugins you aren’t using. This will eliminate unwanted elements from your site and reduce the likelihood of hackers breaking in.
  • Make sure you’re familiar with all of the plugins you’ve mounted. If any plugin is unfamiliar to you or your team, we recommend removing it. This is because hackers can instal their own plugins when they break into your site. Backdoors in these plugins enable them to gain unauthorised access to your website.
  • If you have any pirated or nulled plugins enabled, remove them right away. When you instal such software, it often contains malware that infects your website. Hackers spread malware using pirated software.

Now that you just have the plugins you need, make sure to keep them up to date as developers release new versions.

5. Delete Extra WordPress Themes Installed

As website owners, we also try out various themes before we find one that we like. However, we always forget to uninstall the ones we don’t need. Themes, like plugins, are susceptible to security flaws.

We recommend removing all other themes and only keeping the one you’re currently using. Make sure you’re using the most recent edition of your active theme.

6. Evaluate your current hosting provider and plan

More people can now build websites without having to spend a lot of money thanks to shared hosting. Shared hosting plans are less expensive and designed specifically for small WordPress pages.

You may have started with a shared hosting plan, but as your business grows, you’ll need to decide whether or not you need to upgrade.

Shared hosting arrangements imply that your website would be hosted on the same server as other websites. You have no influence over the behaviour of the other websites that share your server. If their site is hacked, it can use up too many resources on the server. This will slow down and degrade the output of your website. Any malware infection has a chance of spreading to other sites that use the same server. If you can afford it, we recommend upgrading to a dedicated server.

You may compare different hosts and see if you want to move your website to a better one if you aren’t happy with your current host’s operation.

7. Check users who have FTP access

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and it is a protocol that allows you to link your local machine to your website server. You have access to your website’s files and directories and can make improvements to them.

Since FTP access allows you to add, change, and remove files on your WordPress account, it should only be given to people you trust and who have a legitimate need for it.

We suggest reviewing the list of FTP users and, if necessary, changing your FTP passwords. To do so, go to your WordPress hosting account’s cPanel > FTP accounts section.

You’ll see a list of all the FTP accounts that have been generated for your website here. You may exclude those who don’t need entry.

8. Check your WordPress Hardening measures

Certain hardening steps that make the website more safe are recommended by WordPress. There are some of them:

  • Disabling file editor in plugins and themes
  • Disabling plugin installation
  • Resetting WordPress keys and salts
  • Enforcing strong passwords
  • Limiting WordPress login attempts
  • Implementing two factor authentication

If you need more details, we suggest reading our WordPress Hardening Guide.

We suggest ensuring that these safeguards are in effect during your WordPress security audit. If you’re using a plugin to restrict login attempts or 2 factor authentication, for example, make sure it’s still functional and up to date. Check to see if there are any better alternatives.

The implementation of many of the hardening steps necessitates technological expertise. If you use the MalCare protection plugin, however, you can harden your WordPress site in just a few clicks.

These are the eight most important things to complete on a daily basis. An audit should be performed at least once a year, preferably twice a year. Here’s a checklist to help you remember everything we talked about:

Checklist For WordPress Security Audit

1. Security Plugin – Take a look at your security plugin to make sure it’s up to date. MalCare is a programme that we suggest.

2. WordPress Backup – Verify that your website backup can be restored. The test restore option in BlogVault is recommended.

3. Admin Users – Take a look at the new admin configuration. Ensure that only those who want administrative rights have them. Delete any users that are no longer around.

4. Plugins – Uninstall and deactivate any plugins that are currently installed and working. Just keep the plugins you really use, and make sure they’re up to date.

5. Themes – Remove any additional WordPress themes that have been installed. Just use the active theme on your blog, and make sure you’re using the most recent edition.

6. Web Host – Review your existing hosting service and provider. We suggest using a dedicated server plan and trusted web hosts.

7. FTP – Verify which users have FTP access. Only allow access to those who need it.

8. WordPress Hardening – Make sure the WordPress Hardening steps are up to date and in working order.

Last Thoughts

We hope that this article has assisted you in developing a repeatable WordPress security audit procedure. We guarantee that if you follow this procedure on a regular basis, you will be able to keep hackers from breaching your site’s security.

Yes, performing a complete WordPress security audit is a time-consuming and boring job. However, the fact is that it will help protect your company for a long time.

If you find a WordPress security audit to be too time consuming, the MalCare plugin will help you automate the process. MalCare provides a robust range of security software that can do a lot more than a WordPress security audit, unlike most other website security plugins.

MalCare automates a number of time-consuming and manual security tasks, including malware scanning and removal, routine site backups, firewall and bot safety installation, and WordPress hardening.

All of this can be accomplished with just a few clicks on a cutting-edge, user-friendly dashboard.