October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This is a time to draw awareness for everyone to be aware of cybersecurity threats and have general refreshers on best practices to keep yourself, your identity, your computer networks and your website as safe as possible. To that end, here are 5 quick tips on how to keep your WordPress website safe and secure, and how CU*Answers Web Services helps.
1. Use Strong Passwords.
The bad guys know when your website is using WordPress (or any other content management system) and they will attempt to brute force guess your passwords. They also have access to leaked password lists of passwords you have used on other services. As a publisher on your WordPress site you should always use a strong password, and the longer the password the better. You should also not reuse passwords across multiple services. Make your password unique to each service you use and use a Password Manager so you do not even have to remember them.
2. Protect Against Repeated Attacks
Even though you have a unique, strong password on your site. The bad guys are still going to do repeated guesses (often called a brute force attack) on your login page. CU*Answers Web Services sees this traffic and has implemented several layers of protection to keep the bad guys out, and also make our websites less attractive to target. The WordFence security plugin, which is a required plugin for all our hosting clients, offers brute force protection. It will block repeated attempts to guess passwords on your site. Likewise, at the server level we have similar systems that will block the offending IP addresses for periods of time. This slows down attackers and makes our sites less desirable to probe. The side effect of these systems is sometimes they accidentally lock valid users out, but all you need to do is give CU*Answers Web Services a call and we can get you unblocked. The inconvenience of a temporary block is worth the tremendous problems caused by a compromised site.
3. Use a Web Application Firewall
A Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a piece of software that protects your site against attacks. In this case, CU*Answers Web Services has you covered too. We use a WordPress specific WAF on each site through the WordFence security plugin. Again, this plugin is required on all our hosting client sites. In addition, we use a general purpose WAF at the server level that has a wide range of rules to protect the entire server and underlying operating system. Occasionally, these do block legitimate traffic which can be inconvenient. The most recurring issue we see if use of the word “union.” Since most hosting clients are credit unions this word gets published quite often. Unfortunately, “union” is also a word from SQL that can be used in SQL injection attacks, so it does cause unintended blocks from time to time.
4. Back Up Your Website
CU*Answers Web Services and Network Services has you covered here. Our shared hosting servers are backed up nightly through our automated systems. While not fool-proof, having a backup from last night gives us a fallback in case something drastic happens to your website. In addition, clients with access to the CU*Answers Web Hosting Control Panel have access to create on demand backups also.
5. Keep your WordPress and Plugins Current
This is the one security principle that gets repeated over and over again. Keeping your WordPress core and Plugins — or really any software — up to date protects you against security issues. Sure, new ones might be introduced, but over time the security of software should continue to improve. CU*Answers Web Services has built special shared hosting servers specifically for WordPress. We have protocols in place that update WordPress core and all plugins every Sunday night. This keeps all of our sites on current releases. We track this information in a couple of dashboards and can see what updates are pending in case we suspect a conflict of some kind. Finally, our infrastructure also allows us to deploy updates as needed in case there is a critical update that needs to go out immediately.
There is no such thing as a 100% secure website, but hopefully these tips and your understanding of how CU*Answers Web Services is working to keep all of our sites protected gives you confidence in your choice of hosting and website management providers. If you have any questions or concerns, certainly reach out to the CU*Answers Web Service team.