5 Key Tips for 2021

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Brute force attacks are a common occurrence and a nightmare for any website owner. Once an intruder breaks into your admin area, they might hijack your site, inject malware, or steal your users’ personal information. Therefore, it’s worth learning about WordPress brute force protection to keep your site secure.

A brute force attack typically involves bots attempting to log in to your site by testing countless username and password combinations in hopes of guessing a correct combination. Fortunately, there are several preventative measures you can take to disrupt such malicious activities.

This article will discuss five ways you can implement WordPress brute force protection on your site. Let’s jump right in!

Tactics for WordPress brute force protection

Here are the five tactics that we’ll cover:

  1. Hide your login page
  2. Use two-factor authentication
  3. Use a WordPress firewall
  4. Update WordPress regularly
  5. Use a strong password

1. Hide your WordPress login page

Your WordPress login page is where you enter your credentials each time you want to access your admin dashboard. For instance, if you want to log in to yourdomain.com, you can typically do so at yourdomain.com/wp-login.php. It’s a default URL structure in WordPress, which, unfortunately, intruders can guess easily.

One way to make hackers’ lives more difficult is to change your default WordPress login URL to something less obvious. However, we would not recommend doing it manually, as messing with your .php files could break your site (unless you’re an expert).

Fortunately, you can use a plugin such as WPS Hide Login, which enables you to rename your login URL without touching any core files. You can also return to your default settings at any time by deactivating the plugin.

You can follow our guide on how to hide the login page with WPS Hide Login to set this up.

Note that this technique alone is not enough to protect your site from brute force attacks. However, it can be highly effective combined with the precautions below.

2. Add two-factor authentication (2FA) to your site

Once you’ve hidden your login page, it’s worth adding two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure your site. This method prevents unauthorized access, thanks to additional verification steps users must complete before logging in.

For instance, suppose an intruder got hold of your credentials. With 2FA measures in place, you would have an extra security layer protecting your site from unauthorized access, such as confirming a user’s identity with a code sent to them via email or SMS. It’s unlikely that the hacker will have all these details at hand, which spares you from a potential break-in.

Two-factor authentication example on PayPal's website.

You can implement this method with trusted security plugins such as miniOrange. This handy tool offers multiple options, such as verification via text, QR code, Google Authenticator app, and many more.

If you’d like to learn how to set up 2FA on your site, make sure to check out our in-depth miniOrange tutorial, where we take you through every step.

3. Install a WordPress firewall plugin

Our next recommendation is to set up a WordPress firewall plugin. In short, a firewall is a type of software that protects your site from unauthorized access using pre-configured rules.

For instance, you can limit the number of users who can simultaneously enter your site, which keeps you safe from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. A DDoS attack attempts to disrupt your server, simulating unexpected traffic jams that your bandwidth can’t handle.

As a result, your website may go down, or you may experience account suspension if you’re on a shared hosting plan. This can be extremely frustrating and costly, so it’s smart to protect your site from such attacks.

Some hosting providers might already include firewall services in their packages. Otherwise, installing a plugin such as All In One WP Security & Firewall will get the job done. Apart from the firewall feature, this tool also gives you other security perks, such as spam prevention, ‘login lockdown’ to prevent excessive login attempts, and more.

Note that for this method to be effective, you’ll need to configure your firewall correctly. Therefore, it’s smart to consult relevant documentation or consult your hosting provider.

4. Update WordPress regularly

Even if you equip your site with multiple security plugins, your efforts may not make much of a difference if your WordPress installation is out of date. In fact, using an old version of WordPress core, themes, or plugins opens up unpatched security loopholes, making it easier for intruders to attack your site.

WordPress is extremely popular. Therefore, the platform faces many bugs and hacks that might compromise its security. The good news is that developers work hard to discover these vulnerabilities, so each WordPress update usually includes new security patches. You can check for available upgrades via the Updates section in your admin dashboard:

Checking for regular Updates section in the WordPress admin dashboard is a key tactic in WordPress brute force protection.

In an analysis of hacked websites, Sucuri found that 61%[1] of successful attacks in its sample happened because of outdated system versions. Even established sites like Reuters have fallen victim to malicious attacks due to an outdated WordPress installation. Therefore, it’s smart to take advantage of new version upgrades as soon as they are available.

Updating your WordPress site and associated tools will likely benefit your site’s performance and user experience (UX) due to new features and system improvements. However, if you’re worried that updating your site might affect its functionality, you can typically defer new major updates (version X.X) for 30 days while you identify potential conflicts. However, you should always apply minor security updates right away (version X.X.X).

Also, it’s smart to always back up your website before you proceed with any changes.

5. Choose a strong username and password

Finally, if you don’t already use a strong password to access your site’s admin area, you’re making a hacker’s job much easier. Moreover, if you use the same details for every other website you have an account on, you risk theft of your sensitive information such as personal or banking details.

To put things in perspective, up to 80%[2] of data breaches happen due to stolen or weak passwords. Therefore, it’s smart to use strong credentials unique to your WordPress login page, social media accounts, email, and so on.

Keep in mind that your username is just as important as your password. After all, it’s another layer of security that might keep intruders at bay. Therefore, it’s best to avoid obvious usernames such as ‘admin’ as they’re too easy to guess.

Fortunately, your login details don’t have to be indecipherable and consist of random letters and numbers. Using long-tail memorable phrases can be just as effective, as long as you avoid using personal information. Besides, you can use a password manager such as LastPass, which also enables you to store your credentials safely.

Implement WordPress brute force protection today

Whether you run a small blog or a large eCommerce business, learning about common website security threats should be a top priority. Fortunately, WordPress brute force protection is relatively easy to implement with a few tools and practices.

In this article, we’ve discussed our top five tips to protect your WordPress site against brute force attacks:

  1. Use a tool such as WPS Hide Login to disguise your login page.
  2. Prevent unauthorized access with 2FA.
  3. Use a firewall service to protect your site against DDoS attacks and limit login attempts.
  4. Keep WordPress core, themes, and plugins up to date.
  5. Use strong login credentials that are difficult to guess and unique to your WordPress site.

For some other ways to secure your site, check out our collection of useful WordPress security tips.

Do you have any questions about WordPress brute force protection? Let us know in the comments section below!

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