How To Protect Your WordPress Website From Brute Force Attacks

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Owning a website can be likened to leaving your car packed in a crime-ridden neighbourhood. What measures do you have in place to protect it?

Your sites is resting in a web server somewhere, in a neighbourhood bursting with all sorts of cyber-criminals. There’s no enough emphasis as to why you should be having tough security measures in place if at all you’re concerned about the safety of your website and its content.

There’s so much at stake here. Besides losing your site and web content, you’re also at risk of exposing the private information of your users to hackers. And who knows what they could do with the information they find. Worse is when your site stores your users’ credit card info. Not forgetting the possibility of hackers hijacking your site and using it as a botnet for attacking other websites.

Whichever the case, there’s still an urgent need to keep your site protected – whether you’re running a simple minimalistic website or a commercial multi-channel website.

WordPress is NOT an exception in this. And the fact that almost a half of all the websites you interact with online are built on the platform, makes it a prime target. Confirming this statement is a Sucuri report which went on to point out WordPress as the most infected CMS, with infection rates rising from 74% in 2016 to 83% in 2017.

Brute Force and how it Works

Brute force falls among lower level attacks that a WordPress user can experience. What happens is that attackers come up with a series of automated attacks that they’ll be randomly aiming at WordPress sites. Among them is trying to log into the accounts with some of the commonly used usernames and passwords.

This is usually done using bots. First, they’ll try to come up with a dictionary file that will be listing all the top names and usernames WordPress administrators use to log into their dashboard. The generated bot is then made to run and try out all the combinations until one of them lands, granting them full access to your site.

So unless you have solid security measures in place for your WordPress site, then all an attacker needs to gain access to your admin panel is a few moments of their time to run the attack.

Protecting Your Site from Brute Force Attacks

If you haven’t employed any security measure to protect your site from brute force attacks, then there’s a whole lot you’re risking. Key among them is losing the site.

Imagine with all the effort you’ve been pumping in to grow your site to the level it is now, then you wake up one morning to find everything gone or that you’re being bombarded with lawsuits from clients who are convinced you leaked their private info. Worse yet, when you’re being held as a prime suspect after your site was used as a botnet for targeting other sites.

To stay safe, here’s a list of things you can do to protect your WordPress site from orchestrated cyber-attacks:

Change the URL for the login page

The first thing hackers target is your login. The default setting (www.yoursitename.com/wp-admin) makes it easy for them to find your login page. After which, all they’ll be doing is trying out different username and password combinations until they’re finally able to access your WordPress dashboard.

Luckily for you, WordPress has a number of plugins that you could use to hide the login page and prevent hackers from finding it. One such example of a plugin is Hide Login. All you have to do is install the plugin then follow the simple instructions provided to hide your login page and ta-da! Your login page is now protected from brute force attacks that will be targeting to steal their way into your site.

Choose a Secure Web Host

Not all web hosting companies are the same. While it’s always wise to look for a cheaper host with the best performing resources and other parameters, there’s an increasing need to also consider the security measure the underlying web host employs

A reputable web host will have a team dedicated to strengthening the security protocol of the company. Plus they’ll have programs advising their current customers on the same.

InMotion is a classic example of a company that steps out of their way to tighten their hosting security. They also run a series of training programs that strive to educate their new members on protecting their sites from cyberattacks.

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It shouldn’t worry you if you had already hosted your site. Migrating your site to a more secure web host should only take you minutes. And if done right, then there’s a possibility of registering zero downtime.

Learn to Test Your Website from Time to Time

In addition to applying a series of preventive measures to safeguard your site from brute force, it’s important to test these measures to find out if they’re actually working. You can hire a web security agency to run security audit on your site and find out if it’s vulnerable to attacks. Another approach would be to try using security scanning tools such as WPScan to simulate possible attacks and point out a number of sections whose security needs to be beefed up.

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For a thorough scanning of your website for possible attack loopholes, consider visiting hacker target. Here, you’ll simply be required to enter your site’s URL, which will be parsed by a number of free scanning tool for a series of vulnerability low impact tests.

Install a Security Plugin

One good thing with WordPress is that all it takes to handle some of the most complicated tasks is a simple installation of the right plugin. The online security of your website is NOT an exception in this.

The plugin section has a broad range of security defenses that you can easily install and beef up your site’s security. Examples include Malcare, designed to protect your site from almost all kinds of brute force attacks.

Read this bearing in mind that while there are free plugins that you could use to achieve the same, Malcare is NOT free as you’re expected to shell out US$8.25 every month to stay protected. In addition to protecting your site from brute force attacks, the plugin also allows you to blacklist IP addresses, harden your site, and manage your firewall.

Set up CloudFare CDN

CloudFare basically helps you to serve your web content to clients from multiple servers instead of depending on one. This ensures that your site loads even faster with minimal downtime.

What is still NOT known to many is that CDN can also help your site become more resilient to attacks. This is the case considering most the time brute force attacks will overwhelm your site. But thanks to additional resources offered by CDN, your site can withstand the attacks and still load up just fine at the end of the day.

It’s a Wrap

Majority of web owners running their websites on WordPress pay little to no attention to their site’s security. They simply assume attackers have no reason to attack them. But nothing could be further from truth – reasons for attacking your site abound. All that hackers need is an open door to lounge their attacks.

And when this happens, NOT only will you be losing the site, you’re also risking the site being used as a central hub for lounging further attacks that will be targeting other people’s sites.

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Even with doing all this, it’s also important that you remember to always keep a backup of your site, just in case anything happens.

For more information concerning your site security, feel free to reach out to MediaOne today for free site security consultation.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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