So you have set up your WordPress website, installed WooCommerce, and decked the whole thing with a brilliant WooCommerce compatible theme – awesome. You are about ready to start selling great products/ services and generate profit for your business. Those first steps are sure great.
But when it comes to eCommerce, many entrepreneurs (especially the ones who are not programming savvy) will often forget that with any website comes the responsibility of maintaining and keeping your digital property secure. Your WordPress eCommerce store counts as one, so have you paid due attention to all the little security details?
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Although diligent team of developers have made WooCommerce as well as WordPress secure on their own, no platform or technology (or pretty much anything in the known universe, really) is infallible. Therefore it falls on you to protect and secure your WooCommerce store and all the customer information, product database, and every bit of your content.
In this post, I have listed a few precautions you ought to take in order to secure your WordPress WooCommerce store. Read on:
1. Choose a good host
It seems so obvious in retrospect, but many people forget that a website (even one built on WordPress’ awesomeness) is only as good as the server it’s hosted on. The quality of your web host (directly and otherwise) accounts for your WooCommerce store’s integrity, performance and user experience, and of course, security.
Make sure to choose the best available hosting plan from a host of web hosts (sorry, bad joke) available to you. Web hosts that scoff at maintenance and make virtually impossible and unrealistic claims are the ones you need to back off from with all haste. This is because every bit of data and content on your WooCommerce store and WordPress site is saved on servers – including sensitive customer/ user, store and transactions details, and so on.
A single infected website on a shared server can put thousands of others at huge risk. So make sure your web host has features like attack monitoring and continuous reviews, safety and prevention, proactive security hardening and patching vulnerabilities and threats, consistent updates (runs on latest PHP MySQL versions), website isolation (prevention measure), etc. apart from the usual storage and bandwidth allotments.
2. Create strong passwords
The first line of defense against the most common website attacks (brute force algorithms) is made of strong login credentials – Long and complex string of characters for both username and password.
Again, this is obvious to many WooCommerce store owners… in hindsight. But the easiest way for an attacker to gain unauthorized access is through brute forcing your access points themselves. These access points are different depending on User roles and capabilities (WordPress core feature for backend administration and front end separation alike).
Make sure to enforce secure password rules for WooCommerce (feature built in). Encourage all your store administration personnel and customers as well to use a good mix of capital and lowercase letters, allowed special characters, and numbers for passwords and that they should make sure that it’s of sufficient length. Steer clear of actual words or using personal information for creating passwords.
As an admin, you have a whole lot of tricky passwords to remember. This can be taken away by using a password manager like LastPass to keep all your passwords safe in one convenient place on your device.
3. Enable 2FA
2FA, for those of you who don’t know it already, stands for Two Factor Authentication. This is one of the most foolproof ways to secure various login/ access points from brute force attacks.
The premise is simple: 2FA works by adding a second layer to the password validation process. Essentially, so if an attacker does manage to crack the password and username, he/she will still need the second OTP (One time Password) to gain access, which is only sent to the user’s registered device (generally a smartphone). Without this second password, the attacker won’t be able to gain access despite having cracked the actual login itself.
Although it’s slightly tedious and makes logging in even more of a hassle than usual, it is, I reiterate, one of the most foolproof ways yet known to keep websites and user accounts safe. This is why Google, Facebook, and major eCommerce portals like Amazon and net-banking (online transactions through a bank account) providers all rely on it.
There are various plugins to enable 2FA on your WordPress WooCommerce store – 2FA (the name), Duo Factor Authentication (another plugin), and built in features for some high end security plugins like Sucuri and Wordfence will also do the same.
4. Use Jetpack Protect module
Jetpack is freely available with all WordPress installs, and it’s optional Security module is an underrated beauty when it comes to WordPress security.
The module can handle limiting login attempts, activity monitoring and tracking, IP white listing (for instant access to certain trusted personnel), and more. It’s lightweight and fast, so don’t worry about performance. Did I mention that it is free?
So many WordPress site owners (especially those with WooCommerce) are (not without cause) apprehensive about the idea of updating – simply because if something breaks, there’s so much to lose.
Not really though. If you run maintenance regularly (and you should!) then updating WordPress core, all plugins (including WooCommerce and all its extensions) and theme should be easy.
Ignoring updates not only deprives you of cool new features in core/ plugin/ theme, it also puts you at great risk from vulnerabilities in the previous versions, which by now will have become freely known to all aspiring attackers. You are offering your WooCommerce store on a silver platter to them if you don’t update.
Create a backup, find good WordPress development companies that create update friendly WooCommerce setups (themes and plugins) and CMS customizations, maintain regularly, and in no time, your website and WooCommerce store will have become as attack proof as possible.