Millions of sites are built on the WordPress platform, ranging from blog and forums to e-commerce websites. That’s millions of users round-the-clock, around the globe using this content management system simultaneously.
With the widespread use and popularity of WordPress, users are faced with a valid concern: site security. Webmasters rely heavily on WordPress and its plugins for the safety and security of their sites but can’t help but fear for their blogs and e-stores should hackers launch attacks against the platform itself. Online shops are especially vulnerable to these shrewd hacking schemes.
Because e-commerce websites are often repositories of customer information, credit card data, and payment transaction records, the online trade business is undoubtedly a prime target for lucrative criminal activities. Online entrepreneurs stand to lose their earned profits, customers, and even their businesses altogether if site security is not thoroughly strengthened.
If your e-commerce website is running on WordPress, know that you are not facing this risk alone. However, you can be assured that there are several measures that you could take to enforce your site’s protection against hackers.
Here are some tips to reinforce your WP e-Commerce site’s security:
1. Use Security Plugins
Probably one of the best features about WordPress is its ability to have its functionality customized and extended by using plugins. This applies to security measures as well. All you need to do is choose among the wide array of top-rated security plugins. From there, proceed to download, install, and configure.
These plugins will dutifully screen your site’s activities and will promptly notify you of any suspicious activity, transaction, failed login, or unauthorized access attempt. Some plugins block IP addresses of users who try to login to your page as an administrator or who send doubtful queries.
However, when choosing the right plugin, make sure to read and consult the relevant ratings and reviews. Don’t let yourself be swayed by advertisements of free, new and “shiny” plugins. To be on the safe side, it is best to go with plugins that have been rated by webmasters as safe and reliable.
Once security or anti-virus plugins are in place, make sure to keep them up to date. Be on the lookout for upgraded versions and patches, and regularly update your installed plugin and virus definitions.
On a side note, other plugins check installed themes for backdoor malware and viruses. Yes, some hackers target specific themes and exploit bugs to gain access to your site. That’s why it’s also a good idea to get your WordPress themes from highly reliable theme repositories such as ThemeForest.
2. Reinforce Passwords
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out a password of “123456” or the reverse of that. Using these simple terms as passcodes will give hackers unrestricted log-in access as administrators of your site.
On the other hand, a good password doesn’t have to be 20 or 30 characters long. Reinforce your password protection by utilizing a strong code that contains a combination of letters, numbers, and characters. You can also use varying capitalizations and numbers to make your password statistically difficult to guess by brute force. Avoid using your own name, place of residence or business address as a password.
Don’t just protect your site on the front-end. You can also protect your customers’ information from hackers who can steal their data by attacking from the back-end. To keep your consumers protected, encourage your customers to enter strong passwords especially when your site requires them to supply personal information.
3. Protect and Limit WordPress Admin Access
By default, WordPress assigns “admin” as the default site administrator username. Leaving this unchanged is like opening your website’s door for hackers to freely walk in. Protect your site by changing the administrator name to one that is hard to crack. Also, secure administration access by using strong passwords that are difficult to guess.
You can also strengthen administration protection by actively hiding your site’s admin name. Don’t give hackers the keys to your site by leaving this critical piece of information out in the open.
4. Obtain SSL Certificates
A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate serves to confirm the identity of a website and to secure user data entered on the site by encrypting the information provided. By using SSL certificates, you can be assured that data are protected and are transferred through secure connections.
SSL certificates are necessary in order to guarantee protection of confidential and vital information such as credit card details, login credentials and payment transaction particulars that are collected, stored and accessed by your e-commerce site.
If your site stores and accesses confidential financial information of your customers, then you need an SSL certificate to secure the payment transactions, whether these are processed by your site itself or forwarded to third party gateways.
Using SSL certificates also earns and increases the level of trust and confidence of customers in your website because they know that their shopping information will be kept safe and protected from threats of credit card fraud.
5. Be PCI-Compliant
Merchants or organizations that accept, store or transfer payment card information (whether credit card or debit card) are mandated to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requirements to warrant that every information is properly safeguarded. This ensures payment security and guards against credit card fraud.
As an online vendor, you are responsible for the card information of your customers. Therefore, be sure that your site adheres to the security standards prescribed by PCI DSS by complying with the validation requirements and submitting your site to regular quarterly network scans.
PCI scans help guarantee that your site is not vulnerable to hacking attempts, and so it is critical to keep your PCI services or software consistently updated.
6. Use Payment Gateways
If you’re not technologically savvy or if you don’t want to go through the hassle of having to study up on SSL certificates and requirements for PCI compliance, then eliminate these burdens altogether by not having your site collect payment and by not storing any payment card information at all.
You can instead redirect payment to a third party payment gateway such as PayPal or Stripe, which will be responsible for storing and accessing information, and processing the transactions on your behalf.
Using payment gateways also assures your customers that their shopping is ultra-safe because they know that their transactions are carried out by trusted and reliable payment partners.
7. Make Site Backups
Should your site get hacked, the first thing you will need to do is to restore it. Unfortunately, you won’t have anything to put back online unless you perform regular backups of your site, including directories and databases.
There are several available plugins and services that can do this for you. All you need to do is set a schedule and the plugins will run the automated backups. It is recommended that you backup as frequently as you run site maintenance.
Though this does not in itself offer a protection against hacking, it does offer you a safety net. You can be assured that should all your efforts fail, you still have a copy of your site’s information and you can put your business back online in no time.
Following these basic tips will help protect your business. Strengthening the security of your e-commerce site is a proactive and responsible step that you should take, not only to stay clear of hackers but also safeguard the information of your customers.