We are living in a dangerous online world that although seems to be working smoothly and efficiently from above, the story is entirely different in the background. Hackers are incessantly trying to gain access to your WordPress websites by malware & brute-force attacks, phishing and by exploiting the vulnerabilities in your theme and plugins.
They have learned and evolved to counter the advanced security measures despite the regular address of the vulnerabilities in the themes and plugin codes.
There were vast numbers of hacking attempts in 2017. Therefore, it becomes essential to take the things into your hands and lock down your WordPress website to keep it off limits to the hackers and their evil plans.
Guide to Keep Your WordPress Theme and Plugin Code Secure:
Employ data validation
The contact and other forms on your website can be a potential portal for injecting malicious code into your theme or plugin. With a proper validation, your forms will not accept any input other than the valid one. Although this feature is inbuilt in the WordPress already, you may need to custom code the solution by incorporating the data validation feature when creating customized input boxes.
For example- If you entered something other than an email id in the box designated for an email address, you will get an error message ‘one or more fields have an error, please check and try again.' This is how data validation works.
Regularly update your themes and plugins
As soon as you set up a blog or business website, with website builders or manual code editing, its security relies on all of the backend components of your blog; WordPress, Theme, and Plugins.
For the safety of your website, upgrading theme and plugins play a significant role. Their upgraded versions come with newer fixes to bugs and vulnerabilities and hence, make the unauthorized access more difficult.
Uninstall theme and plugins that you no more use
Keeping unnecessary themes and installed plugins not only consumes your available resources but lets them act as the doors to gain control of your site. It could also affect the performance of your WordPress Website.
Therefore, you shouldn’t keep those doors as additional risks, and delete/uninstall those plugins/themes, not just deactivate.
Prefer the actively maintained themes and plugins over unmaintained ones
The themes/plugins that are actively worked upon by their developers and receive regular updates are called the maintained ones. Such themes and plugins come with fixes to the loopholes in their codes and functionalities and therefore stand firm against the current security risks.
Disable your theme and plugin editor
With convenient features come great responsibilities and on the top of that, more risks. The inbuilt theme editor of your WordPress dashboard is what I am talking about. Although it is convenient to tweak the code from there without having to access your cPanel, it also carries a risk as it can be used to bring your site down.
Most of the users don’t use this feature and therefore should be safely disabled by inserting this code into your wp-config.php file
// Disallow file edit define( 'DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true );
Restrict the access to your plugins directory
A hacker would look for the vulnerabilities in your plugins for which he needs info on the plugins your WordPress website uses.
No problem, hackers can easily do it through this address www.your-domain.com/wp-content/plugins/
The next step for them would be to seek the vulnerabilities in those plugins and bingo! For him, your website is gone.
What can you do to restrict the access?
- Upload a blank index.html file to your directory, or;
- Access your .htaccess file in your root folder and add Options –Indexes at the start.
Assign the user capabilities carefully
WordPress has a feature that lets you assign roles to the users to define the actions the user can carry out. You should, therefore, check on their capabilities before you allow their access.
Not doing so, you can accidentally allow someone with evil intentions to delete your website’s content or even to inject exploit code into your theme.
Conceal your WordPress version
Each WordPress version comes with some vulnerabilities and bugs that if known to a hacker can be used to tailor-build an attack for that WordPress version of your site.
Finding your WordPress version number is quite easy as it just requires one to view your website’s source.
You can use plugins such as Hide my WP or WP Hide & Security Enhancer to hide your WordPress version number.
Use Website logging
The chances of things going wrong increase proportionally with the number of users involved in your site. A tiny mistake, whether unknowingly or intentionally, may wreak havoc on it. So, it is reasonable to employ the website logging to keep a record of everything on your site. This way you can easily track the source of problems.
Use the plugins such as WP Security Audit Log, Activity Log and Simple History for activity logging on your site.
Disable PHP Error Reporting
Although PHP error reporting is a terrific way for troubleshooting, it might create security risks.
What is PHP error reporting?
Your theme and plugins create error messages when they malfunction or face issues in their working.
How is it risky?
With each error message, included is your server path information, that if gotten into the wrong hands, can get your website hacked.
How to disable PHP Error reporting?
Add this to your wp-config.php file-
The vulnerabilities in your themes and plugins are an excellent way to get in the control of your WordPress website. Alongside beefing up the security with the ways mentioned above, you can also take certain other steps:
- Don’t use nulled premium themes/plugins from the unverified or unauthorized sources; there is a chance that the theme or plugin might have malware or exploit code.
- Regularly scan your website on virustotal.com (Multiple antiviruses analyze your site for any malware).
Follow all these points, and your WordPress website will be more secure than ever.