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Strengthening the Admin area of WordPress


There is no denying the fact that the WordPress CMS is a highly popular website building platform. So many websites being hosted on the CMS also makes it a soft target for malicious hackers who are looking to inject their codes or simply hack a website for fun. The Open-source nature of the platform makes it even more comfortable to get into the WordPress admin dashboards, worldwide.

Despite the threat, a lot of famous brands such as TechCrunch, Sony Music, Microsoft News Center, cPanel Blog, etc. use WordPress for their website base. This does let out a message that by hardening the security of our WordPress sites, we can make things happen. 

The very first step towards hardening the security of a WordPress site is to strengthen its Admin area. 

So, how do we make sure that our own site's Admin area is completely secure? Let's find out.

Set up super strong login credentials

This one is quite basic. The first thing to pursue while strengthening your website's security is to choose strong login credentials. The default Username for your WordPress admin dashboard login is ‘admin'. You need to change it and also implement the selection of a Password that is a combination of Letters, Symbols, random numbers, and special characters.

Most importantly, make a note of your login credentials in a secure digital vault such as the LastPass. If you are new to blogging, you must especially take care of this directive. 

Hide your WP Login Page

Your WordPress site's login page is probably straightforward to access. A comparatively more accessible location to initiate a brute force attack, the security of the Admin login page can be easily compromised.

To fix that, you can either install WordPress in its own directory (a somewhat complicated task) or choose to use a page hide plugin called as WPS Hide Login Plugin. The plugin is quite popular, and it lets you use a custom URL rather than the standard login URL for logging into your WordPress site's Admin Dashboard.

Always update the WordPress version.

Always make it a point to update your WordPress version as soon as an update is released. A new version makes up for the loopholes or security issues/bugs from the past version which makes your WordPress site way more secure.

If you find it difficult to keep up with the schedule of updating your WordPress version, you can use a WordPress plugin such as the Easy Updates Manager that auto-updates the newer versions as and when they are released. 

Restrict the number of login attempts

Ever heard of brute force attacks on a website? 

These happen when hackers try to make a forced entry by guessing your login credentials. This means that with the flexible count of login attempts, they can take all the time in the world to make a guess. 

One of the best ways to strengthen the security at this point is to limit the number of login attempts on your website by the use of Brute force attack combat plugins. If you are a fan of the excellent WordPress plugins, you can choose to entrust them here as well. Here are the best ones:

WP Limit Login Attempts temporarily blocks the IP of an intruder who has surpassed the number of permissible login attempts.

JetPack Security to combat Brute force attacks.

SiteGuard WP Plugin specializes in Brute Force attack protection.

WordFence Security is one of the most robust site security plugins in the WordPress repository. Highly recommended, WordFence features a Web Application Firewall, an endpoint firewall and a malware scanner, and Threat Defense Feed arms among other login security measures.

Website Application Firewall (WAF) can help.

When people are trying to access your website, a request is generated over the Internet. Not all requests are genuine, and some of them might be malicious, looking to alter the normal working of your website. Such requests might be looking to inject some malicious code and disrupt your site's functioning. However, if you have a Website Application Firewall (WAF) in place, you need not worry.

WAF acts to block such malicious requests after carefully monitoring the traffic. If you are looking to incorporate this, you can opt Sucuri's cloud-based WAF service to protect and speed up your website. Alternatively, NinjaFirewall (WP Edition) plugin is a stand-alone firewall that sits in front of WordPress to protect your site from malicious attacks.

Incorporate Two-step verification

Two-factor authentication works like a charm when it comes to hardening your site's Admin area. Adding yet another layer to your secure login credentials, it makes sure that the hackers don't have an easy game while they are trying to crack your site down. This even lays down the basis for the study of Wix vs. WordPress where you might contemplate the security superiority of one website builder over the other.

To get started with Two-step verification for your WordPress site login, you will be required to install and activate the Google Authenticator plugin. Once you have configured it well, you will be prompted with the following login screen every time you log in.

Since the plugin will have to be configured to receive the verification code generated by the Google Authenticator app on your phone, you will always need your phone to log in. Hence, added security. 

Setup WP User roles cautiously

This step is a relatively simple one. If you want to make sure that your site's admin area is protected and never compromised, you will have to assign the user roles for your site carefully. You can consider the trust factor before you provide core powers to other users onboard. 

To help you set up these roles with just a few clicks, WordPress has some plugins such as the User Role Editor plugin and the WPFront User Role Editor plugin.

IP Address validation for essential users

If you are clear in your mind about a specific set of users apart from you who can be entrusted with the security of your site's Admin area, you can allow their IPs by adding the code below to the .htaccess file and adding their IPs. 

AuthUserFile /dev/null

AuthGroupFile /dev/null

AuthName "WordPress Admin Access Control"

AuthType Basic

<LIMIT GET>

order deny,allow

deny from all

# whitelist Syed's IP address

allow from xx.xx.xx.xxx

# whitelist David's IP address

allow from xx.xx.xx.xxx

</LIMIT>

Conclusion:

To combat hacker attacks on your WordPress website, you must begin with hardening the entry-point to your website, i.e., the Admin area or the WP Login page. Once you have adopted one or more of the ways mentioned above, you can stay assured of your site's security. Only after squaring in on the safety front, you will be able to implement advanced website security measures for a secured website that performs like a beast.

Kiera Hayes is a passionate Blogger and Web Developer. She enjoys reading and writing articles whenever she gets time from her work.

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