How to Perform a WordPress Security Audit

When was the last time you performed a WordPress Security Audit on your website? Do you want to learn how to perform a WordPress security audit and ensure your website is secure?

You will be pleased to know WordPress is in fact very secure out of the box. However, that’s not to say its perfect and sometimes the worst can happen. You might suspect that something is not right with your website, and before speaking to an expert like me who can perform a complete security audit for you. You might want to have a go yourself, to make sure that your website is secure.

In this post, I’ll show you how to perform a simple WordPress security audit on your website and better still you can rest easy that you won’t cause any further harm.

WordPress Security Audit

What is a WordPress Security Audit?

A WordPress security audit is a process of checking your website for signs of a security breach. In some cases, you won’t be able to visually spot something untoward with your WordPress site. So by performing a series of checks to look for suspicious activity, malicious code, or an unusual drop in performance you can identify the problem.

There are many basic WordPress security checks that you can perform manually. For a more thorough audit, however, you may consider a WordPress security audit tool to automatically perform the checks for you or work with a WordPress expert.

When Should you Perform a WordPress Security Audit?

It’s a good idea to perform a basic WordPress security audit every few months. This allows you to stay on top of everything and ensure those minor problems like outdated plugins don’t turn into bigger issues and a potential security breach.

However, if you notice something suspicious, then you should perform a security audit immediately.

The following are some of the signs which can indicate that you may need to perform a security audit today.

  • Your website is unresponsive, it appears sluggish and you can’t manage back-end features or browse the frontend with ease.
  • You see a drop in website traffic
  • You are receiving suspicious or more frequent notifications.
  • There are suspicious new accounts, forgot password requests, or login attempts on your website
  • You see suspicious links appear on your website

Now you know what to look for, let’s take a look at how to easily you can perform a WordPress security audit on your website.

My WordPress Security Audit Checklist

The following are some of the steps you can take to perform a basic WordPress security audit on your website.

1. WordPress updates

WordPress updates are really important for the security and stability of your website. They fix security vulnerabilities, add new features, and improve website performance. It’s worth remembering that if you neglect to install updates for an extended period of time it may be questionable whether your WordPress website is worth fixing.

You should make sure your WordPress core software, all plugins, and themes are up to date regularly. You can easily do that by visiting Dashboard » Updates page inside WordPress admin area.

WordPress Security Audit

WordPress will lookup if any updates are available and then list them for you to install. But remember don’t install any updates without first running a full backup of your WordPress files and your database.

2. Check or set up WordPress backups

If you haven’t already done so, then you need to immediately set up a WordPress backup plugin. This ensures that you always have a back up available in case anything goes wrong.

UpdraftPlus allows you to create a complete backup of your WordPress site and store it on the cloud or download it to your computer.

The plugin supports scheduled backups as well as on-demand backups. You also have the option to choose which files you want to backup. Besides backing up your WordPress website, UpdraftPlus also allows you to easily restore backups directly from your WordPress admin panel.

I see many instances in which clients have installed a backup plugin but simply not finished configuring it to backup properly. This often leaves them with a false sense of security. Sometimes your backup plugin may stop working without any notice. So it’s a good idea to make sure that your backup plugin is still working and saving backups. If your backup solutions allow you to store your backups in the cloud, this is definitely an option you should be using for added security.

3. Run a WordPress security scan

The next step is to check your website for known security vulnerabilities. Luckily many large security companies offer free online security scanners that you can use to check for malware.

I recommend using IsItWP Security Scanner which checks your website for malware and other security vulnerabilities.

These tools are good, but they can only scan the public-facing pages of your website. You may require a WordPress expert to perform deeper audits if you don’t detect any issues but still suspect your site is venerable.

4. Generate New Strong Passwords

The most common WordPress hacking attempts use stolen passwords. You can make that difficult by using stronger passwords that are unique for your website. Not just for WordPress admin area, but also for FTP accounts, database and WordPress hosting account.

Many clients neglect to use strong passwords because they’re hard to remember, or they use the same password for all their online accounts. This presents a massive weakness if one of your accounts is compromised. I suggest using a Password manager like LastPass which can generate strong passwords and store them in a secure vault.

5. Install a Security Plugin

After backups, the next thing we need to do is set up an automated security system that can scan, monitor, and protect.

Wordfence is a WordPress security plugin that helps you protect your website against security threats like hacking, malware, DDOS and brute force attacks.

It comes with a website application firewall, which filters all traffic to your website and blocks suspicious requests.

It has a malware scanner that scans all your WordPress core files, themes, plugins, and upload folders for changes and suspicious code. This also helps you clean a hacked WordPress site so if you don’t already it’s worth installing as soon as you suspect something.

The basic Wordfence plugin is free, but it also comes with a premium version that gives you access to more advanced features such as country blocking, firewall rules updated in real-time, scheduled scanning, etc.

Installing Wordfence is easy and something I fully recommend.

Still, experiencing problems with your WordPress Website?

I hope this blog helped you learn how to perform a basic WordPress security audit on your website. But if you’re still experiencing problems and concerned your website might not be as secure as you’d like then please Get In Touch.

Has your WordPress Website been hacked?

If you think your Website is vulnerable, or just want to have a chat, please get in touch.

I believe in honest communication and working with dedicated passionate people to create meaningful changes that have a measurable impact on your business.

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