Austin WordPress Meetup – 5/9/11 – Security FAQs
How can I protect against the ‘Brute Force’ attacks you mentioned in your demonstration?
As Nick Batik explained during our live demonstration, mounting a simple “Brute-Force Attack” against a WordPress site that had not used WordPress Security Best Practices during the initial installation and setup is amazing easy. Simply stated, bad WordPress security hygiene is an invitation to be hacked. In this series of Security FAQs Nick shared a review of the most common, and easiest, WordPress Security Best Practices for the install and setup of your site.
Change The Default “Admin” Username
As Nick have demonstrated, Brute force is one of the easiest ways to break a password. The method is simple: try as many different passwords as possible until the right one is found. Users of the brute force method use dictionaries, which give them a lot of password combinations.
Knowing your username makes it easier for them to guess the right combination. This is why you should always change the default “admin” username to something harder to guess.
Versions of WordPress starting with 3.0 let you choose your desired username by default, so there should be no excuse for not doing it right. If you have a site that was created with an older version, Admin renamer extended.
Pick Secure Password for Admin
Changing your admin username to something else is not a guarantee that people will not be able to guess it. For instance, if you use your username as the displayed meta data in every post, or you enable author specific page in multi-author blog, you will reveal your user name to the world.
With that assumption, you should pick secure password for your WordPress login. Combine upper and lowercase characters and numbers.
Remember: You can change your password after your site is installed. You may even want to to change it on a regular basis. I recommend the plugin WP Security Scan because it has a password generator.
Populate wp-config.php Properly
Go through each line in wp-config.php, not only the first block for database configuration.
Use WordPress secret key generation tool to generate random salts for WordPress cookies. These keys are used to insure better encryption of information stored in WordPress user’s cookies.
There is an automatic generator for these at: https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/salt/
You also want to modify the WordPress table prefix to something other than wp_. Adding random characters and numbers to the end of wp, such as wpRbX3i_ obfuscates it enough but still allows you to recognize the tables as those belong to WordPress.
Nick also shared his slides and notes on the Austin WordPress Meetup site: wpaustin.com.
To learn more about common entry points for hackers see Nick Batik’s answers to other WordPress Security FAQs
WordPress Security – The Mind of a Hacker
WordPress Security — How to Prevent Directory Browsing
WordPress Security – Locking Down Your Site
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