If you run an online business or an eCommerce site, every minute of downtime affects your business. But it’s not just downtime that you risk with a hack. You could lose your customer data, transaction data, your customers, their trust, and even your hard-earned SEO rankings.
With the highest market share for online businesses, WooCommerce sites are a preferred target for hackers. In this article, we address a common question site owners have: Is WooCommerce safe? Read on to know more about the steps you can take to improve WooCommerce security.
Let’s get started.
Is WooCommerce secure?
As a WordPress plugin, WooCommerce is in, and by itself, is safe. It’s the popularity of the platform that makes it hackers’ favorite. However, a WooCommerce store is also a part of the overall WordPress environment. WooCommerce security issues boil down to WordPress security issues that can be fixed with better security understanding and practices.
So, if you’re looking to improve WordPress WooCommerce security, we share 11 trusted and recommended security tips to secure your WordPress site.
11 of the best WooCommerce Security Tips for your online store
These steps are an effective way to work towards building a secure WooCommerce site.
1. Use secure hosting
A WP web host stores your website files and database and facilitates users to browse through your online store and purchase your products. Pick the wrong host and you put your site and your users at risk. A competent and reliable hosting provider should have measures in place to protect your website and its files from hackers and malware.
Pick a host that specializes in WordPress or at least understands it well enough to know how to ensure website security. Most reputed and reliable WordPress hosting providers focus on website speed and security measures to keep the hosting environment safe.
2. Create strong passwords
This is the easiest of the WooCommerce security tips to implement. It’s also probably the most obvious. And yet, it needs to be said. Cybercriminals take advantage of weak passwords to break into WooCommerce accounts using brute force attacks.
Here is how you can configure strong passwords for each of your users:
● Configure a unique password for every user.
● Configure complex passwords with a mix of capital and lowercase alphabets, numbers, and symbols.
● Passwords should be at least 8-12 characters long.
● Modify your user’s passwords regularly (for example, every 3-6 months).
● Use password management tools like 1Password or LastPass to generate and store strong passwords for every user automatically.
3. Enable Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
Hackers try to guess your username and password to sign in to your WooCommerce account and take complete control of your online store. With Two Factor Authentication or 2FA in place, you can make this part harder for hackers.
2FA requires users signing in to perform an additional verification step. They need to enter a unique code or one-time password that can be retrieved only from their mobile phones. Despite all their innovation, hackers will not have access to each user’s device.
You can implement 2FA for your WooCommerce store by installing a 2FA plugin like Google Authenticator on your website.
4. Limit login attempts
A compromised login page can expose your backend files to hackers. For a WooCommerce site, this is critical as hackers could then get their hands on your customer data.
How do hackers target WooCommerce login pages? They use automated bots to try to sign in multiple times using various username-password combinations till they guess the correct login credentials.
How can you prevent such brute force attacks? You can limit the number of failed login attempts to a maximum of 3 attempts. You can also install the industry-accepted CAPTCHA tool to quickly detect if automated bots are trying to access your WooCommerce account.
These three WooCommerce security tips — strong passwords, using 2FA, and limiting login attempts — are the best ways to stop hackers from gaining access to your WordPress account.
5. Use a security plugin
Despite these measures, hackers and malware could make their way to your site in other ways. Most types of malware remain undetected on sites for too long. It needs a WordPress expert to be able to detect their presence on your site.
Security plugins like MalCare or Sucuri scan your website to detect and pinpoint the exact malware infection. MalCare also makes it easy for you to clean your site without relying on external technical support with an automated cleanup. It also includes additional security features like an in-built firewall for detecting harmful requests from suspicious IPs and also comes built with security measures like CAPTCHA protection and a 2FA feature so you don’t have to install separate plugins for them.
6. Keep your website updated at all times
Applying WordPress updates regularly is a critical step for ensuring your store’s safety. This includes updating the Core WordPress and all the installed themes and plugins including WooCommerce. Why is this necessary? For instance, WooCommerce plugin developers regularly release security fixes and patches that fix any weakness or vulnerability in the version before hackers exploit them.
Here are some best practices when it comes to applying WordPress updates:
● Always update your components to the latest available WooCommerce version.
● Always take a backup of your WooCommerce site before applying an update. You can use a backup plugin to make this easier for you, especially since WooCoomerce sites need frequent backups to avoid any loss of data.
● Set aside time to perform updates regularly or use the “automatic update” feature in WordPress.
7. Regularly back up your WooCommerce store
Though not strictly a security measure, a backup is the best way of quickly restoring your shopping website and avoiding downtime. You can use a WordPress backup plugin like BlogVault to perform both backups and restores whenever required for WordPress sites. BlogVault has some features that make it ideal for WooCommerce sites. It lets you:
● Take daily or hourly backups of your website automatically.
● Use real-time backups that are automatically created whenever any transaction is performed on your store. For example, when a new product is added to your store or a shopper purchases a listed product. This ensures you never have to worry about missing website information.
● Restore your WooCommerce store through its 1-click “Restore” functionality.
8. Add an SSL certificate
eCommerce shoppers always find it safe to perform transactions on SSL-certified WooCommerce stores. SSL (or Secure Sockets Layer) certification ensures that all sensitive information like credit card details and user passwords are always encrypted when being transmitted between the WooCommerce site and the shopper’s browser or app.
SSL certification makes it harder for cybercriminals to steal sensitive data from eCommerce stores.
How can you obtain an SSL certificate? You can either request one from your current web hosting company or install an SSL plugin like “Let’s Encrypt” or “Really Simple SSL” on your WooCommerce website.
9. Change your default username “admin”
By default, WordPress assigns every new WordPress administrator with the username “admin.” If you continue to use this username for your WooCommerce admin, hackers can take advantage of it to log in.
As a security measure, change your default administrator username to something more unique (along with a strong password). This makes it hard for hackers to guess your admin credentials and gain access to your WooCommerce website.
How can you change your default admin username? The easiest way is to create a new administrator (with admin privileges) and then delete the previous admin user.
10. Harden your website
In addition to the above security measures, the WordPress team recommends a set of website hardening measures for all WordPress websites, including WooCommerce stores. Each of these hardening measures is complex and should be implemented only by those with the necessary technical know-how. They include hardening measures like disabling the file editor, blocking plugin installation, and changing security keys.
If you have already installed the MalCare security plugin, it is easy to enable the hardening steps. You can simply log into your MalCare dashboard and apply the recommended hardening measures in a few clicks.
11. Monitor your site activity
The final step to improving your WooCommerce security is to monitor all user activity on your website. By tracking all site activity, you can track any website changes made by users and identify any malicious or suspicious behavior on the WooCommerce store. Similarly, WordPress administrators receive a timely alert whenever an unknown user tries to access your store.
How can you monitor your website activity? For WordPress sites, install the WP Activity Log plugin that provides a real-time user activity log.
Final thoughts about preventing your WooCommerce site from being hacked
The 11 steps in this article provide a solid foundation for your WooCommerce safety and website maintenance plan. They are simple, easy to implement, and guaranteed to bolster your site’s security.
However, there’s no such thing as 100% protection from hackers as they continue to find new ways to attack and damage websites. One way to deal with this is by investing in a security plugin. Security plugins like MalCare have advanced algorithms that keep evolving to be able to detect the latest malware and hacks so you have one less thing to worry about.
We hope you find this article helpful. Need help with your eCommerce site? Reach out.