WooCommerce is a great plugin for WordPress to build an online store. With an entire eCommerce ecosystem and a dedicated global community, it has achieved the reputation of an industry standard. Still, this doesn’t mean that nothing can go wrong, especially if you ignore essential security precautions. Here are ten tips on how to make your business (and your customers’ data) safe.
Despite considerable progress in the domain of cybersecurity, data breaches and leaks are still very common. Besides operational disruption, the most aggravating effect of these attacks on businesses is financial losses.
Some estimates put the total cost of data breaches for more than $2 trillion, covering everything from recovery and mitigation costs to stock decline. On top of that, a breach erodes customer trust, impacting brand reputation in the long run. In this light, taking a few precautions is a reasonable thing to do if you plan on growing your business.
1. Choose Reliable Hosting
All the content of your online storefront is managed by the hosting provider. So, no matter how many security measures you add to the mix, the data will only ever be as safe as its custodian.
The most concerning issue is the loss of your customers’ personal credentials. For instance, a recent suspected breach reported by Hostinger put 14 million customers at risk. Fortunately, most hosting providers nowadays offer information about their security policies. Make sure you take some time to check whether you are happy with what you see before choosing.
2. Create Strong Passwords
Perhaps the most widespread cybersecurity advice, which somehow remains ignored. A recent report by Verizon Data Breach Investigations has revealed that more than 80% of data breaches occur due to the use of weak passwords.
This is particularly baffling because of how easy it is to create a strong, reliable password. Most software products with authentication functionality, including WordPress, have built-in tools for generating them. On top of that, there are plenty of services to manage passwords and share them with the team, so there’s literally no reason to skip on it.
3. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, is a simple yet effective safety measure that will add an extra layer of protection to your store. Essentially, this is an additional step to confirm that the access to the account is made by you – usually via a verification code on your phone.
The only reason you may be tempted to deactivate 2FA is that it makes logging in a bit longer. Still, once you remember what’s at stake, the delay is well worth the time.
4. Harden the FTP Connection
Hosting providers offer a way to access your WordPress account through FTP (file transfer protocol). When used right, this method provides a convenient way of communicating with the server. However, it can also be used by perpetrators to gain unauthorized access.
To eliminate the risk, check who has the permission to access these four locations:
The WordPress documentation actually provides detailed instructions on how to configure access.
5. Limit Login Attempts
Even with a strong password, your store is still vulnerable to brute force attacks. To be fair, the chances of having your password cracked are slim. Still, there’s no reason to leave it to chance if you can fix it.
The easiest way to prevent the brute-force attack is by limiting the number of login attempts. In WordPress, this can be achieved with one of several plugins. Not only will it make the website more secure, it can also reduce the load and improve the store’s performance.
6. Use Security Plugins
Aside from curbing the brute force attacks, there are a variety of plugins for WordPress that can enhance your store’s security. These range from minimalistic free tools to extensive cloud-based solutions that offer a range of enhancements, including:
In most cases, ready-made plugins will cover the needs of any e-commerce store. And even if those won’t cut it for you, there are always WordPress development services that can create custom solutions specifically for your case.
7. Keep Your Store Updated
Speaking of update automation, this is another useful habit that will make your storefront safer. Updates might not look like they don’t change a whole lot – at least on the surface.
In reality, however, they often contain fixes to discover vulnerabilities that will put your data at risk. Even if the threat seems minor, in the wrong hands, it can pave the way for the perpetrator. To exclude this possibility, set a schedule of updates and stick to it, or use a plugin that will do the job for you.
8. Keep Backups
Even with a top-notch security setup, there are many things that can go wrong. From an update failure to a deliberate attack by hackers, the effects on performance can be devastating.
Now, the easiest and most reliable method to get it up and running again is by restoring a backup. The trick here is to have several of those. Otherwise, you may end up with a rollback to an equally broken website. Fortunately, most security solutions for WordPress already have this feature and can be configured to suit your needs.
9. Invest in a Premium Theme
WordPress has a great selection of free themes. On average, these offer a decent level of security and will work for general use. In the case of a store, however, decent may not be enough.
Thus, you’ll be better off using a premium theme. Not only are they SEO-optimized, but these themes are also updated quite regularly and come with support and maintenance. In this light, paying a premium should be viewed as an investment.
10. Add SSL Certificates
Secure socket layer (SSL) certificates, which enable an encrypted connection, are an essential component of online security. So much so, in fact, that modern web browsers will straight away label your store as insecure if it doesn’t use SSL.
In this light, SSL is important for two reasons. First, it protects sensitive information from prying eyes. Second, it shows your audience that you care about their privacy and can be trusted.
Running a busy store is certainly difficult, which is why security can sometimes take a back seat. Yet, in the long term, it is among the cornerstones of a successful and proliferating business. Fortunately, as you can see from this list, hardening your website is not that difficult. All it takes is the strategic perspective, attention to detail, and a little bit of time – a small price to pay for success.
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