10 recommended steps to lock down and secure WordPress
The following 10 steps will help you secure and protect your WordPress website against hackers.
1. Use a strong password
Minimum password recommendations:
Example weak password: secret1
Improved strong password: Z#hupsZ2M4!Z
Take a look at how to create a secure WordPress admin password for easy steps.
2. Change default WordPress admin username
When installing WordPress by default the administrator user has the username of admin.
The botnet attack is currently only targeting this default username, so even having an administrator username of admin123 could significantly reduce the likelihood of your site being succesfully logged into by a malicious user.
3. Lock down WordPress admin access with .htaccess
Utilizing a WordPress brute force plugin for this type of attack is not very efficient, and in some cases can actually lead to your site becoming unavailable due to the large amount of processing power used to attempt to challenge each and every malicious login attempt.
Setup a secondary level password to prevent unauthorized WordPress wp-admin and wp-login.php attempts.
Or you can rely on the information we have on limiting WordPress admin access with .htaccess.
4. Temporaily disable CPU intensive login limit plugins
Blocking this attack with .htaccess rules is the preferred method, as login limiting plugins can not only lead to issue with triggering our own internal security rules, but they also will not be effective in this type of large scale attack.
5. Scan website for hacks, check Google Safe Browsing
If your WordPress site had been successfully compromised, a clear indication will usually be found either by a surface security scan of the website, or it will also get reported to Google's Safe Browsing.
Scan your website with an online malware scanner like sitecheck.sucuri.net/scanner
Check Google's safe browsing for your domain, at google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=example.com
6. Setup CloudFlare DNS level protection
Due to the large scale of this botnet attack, CloudFlare has offered DNS level filtering for this attack on all of their free accounts.
While probably not an ideal solution if you have many WordPress sites due to having to update the name servers for each domain, and then waiting typically 24-36 hours for DNS propagation. Single site owners might benefit greatly from this type of protection which should block the botnet requests from even making it to the server in the first place.
7. Backup WordPress
At this point it's probably a good idea to backup WordPress just in case. That way, as the attacks continue, you're ensured that you always have a good point to restore back to in the event something goes bad.
Backing up your data
Restoring your data
8. Update everything WordPress
To protect yourself from any known exploits to WordPress you should update everything related to WordPress:
Necessary updates to make:
9. Clean up hacks
If your website has been the victim of a hack, you can follow my guide on how to reinstall WordPress after a hack for steps on cleaning it up and getting back in business.
10. Other general WordPress recommendations
- Optimizing WordPress with W3 Total Cache plugin
- Log out of WordPress admin dashboard when not in use
- Limit or disable WordPress revisions
- Disable WordPress autosave
- Install and use Better Delete Revision WordPress plugin
Hopefully your WordPress website should be locked down and secure now, which should help prevent our own internal security rules from blocking your own access to your WordPress admin.
If you're blocked out of your own account and were directed to this article via a warning message be sure that you followed step #3 Lock down WordPress admin access with .htaccess in order to regain access.
2015-04-17 6:15 am
I'm using All In One WP Security & Firewall on my website. I saw that in the last period some suspicious traffic on this webpage, and installed this plugin, configured and now is gone. What was that?
2015-04-17 9:07 am
I am having trouble understanding your issue. Please be a little more detailed so we can better understand and attempt to assist.
Also, if your question does not specifically deal with the topic of the article, please create a new question so we can keep things organized for you and our other visitors.
2015-04-17 11:40 am
Hello Scott. I has received about 50 visits from spam referral bots on this page in the last month. After installing the plugin, the referrals are gone. It's coincidence or the plugin blocked the bots?
2015-04-17 12:51 pm
None of tje steps above specifically block bots, so my first guess is that it is a coincidence. Keep an eye on it to see if they return.