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Why Your Site Needs HTTPS: Better To Be Safe Than Sorry

In this day and age, all the most successful websites are highly reliant on user data and user experience. Everybody is worried about cybersecurity, as connections between browsers and servers aren’t always as fully encrypted as they should be. So how can data be handled safely?

HTTPS is an essential piece of digital architecture to maintain a user’s right to privacy, which provides three different layers of protection:

  • Encryption: While a user browses, it’s possible for people to “listen” in on what they’re doing. Any exchanged data will be encrypted to keep it safe from hackers and eavesdroppers.
  • Authentication: HTTPS websites prove to users that they are communicating with an honest website that’s not fake. It protects anybody from middleman attacks and promotes user trust, helping to grow an online business.
  • Integrity: Data transferred via HTTPS can’t be corrupted or modified during transfer without being detected.

Here in this article, we’ll find out more about these layers. We’ll take you through what HTTPS is, why you need it, and how you can implement it. Ready? Let’s find out more.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS is a secure version of common Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP. It’s a system that allows you to send information between browser and server, transferring everything that’s needed securely, whether it’s credit card details or login IDs.

The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’, meaning that your data will be encrypted and almost impossible for a hacker to get their hands on. An HTTPS address will have an SSL certificate attached with it, showing the world that this is a secure site. Think of it as your site’s personal security guard or camera.

Distribution for websites using SSL providers

Using a web server such as Apache or Nginx can work as a middleman to establish secure back and forth communication between server and browser. Servers such as these are highly customizable due to their open-source nature.

As a web developer, you can use its source code and adapt its many modules to suit your site’s needs, e.g. specific modules to help with security, password authentication, URL rewriting, and more.

Website integrity and trust

You’ll want to use HTTPS if you need intruders and potential hackers to be kept at bay. They need to be far removed from tampering with your website. From scripts and images to cookies and HTML, any unprotected resource that travels between website and user can be exploited by a hacker if you don’t have HTTPS protection.

SSL Certificates Categories:

  • Extended Validation: Entrust EV is currently the most popular technology in this category.
  • Root Authority: LetsEncrypt is the most trusted by all major certificates.
  • Wildcard

An intrusion can occur at any time and at any part of the network, including a Wi-Fi hotspot, user computer, or mobile phone to name a few. When you have an SSL certificate and HTTPS website protection, the browser will display a green lock right by its URL bar. This increases the audience’s trust in you – people only visit secure websites that they can feel safe at.

A lot of WordPress hosting services will offer their SSL certificates for a nominal fee, allowing successful website https configuration and your site’s HTTPS status to be shared for the World Wide Web. More expensive certificates are also available that can be registered to specific web properties. Different services offer different types of certificates for different prices.

Flexible SSL vs Full SSL

As an example, with a content delivery network such as Cloudflare, your site can gain HTTPS status for free if you use a multi-domain SSL certificate. Services such as Cloudflare are useful for developers who don’t want to keep up to date with SSL certificate expiration or run into problems configuring their SSL, as all of this can be managed with a click of a button.

User privacy and security

One of the most common misconceptions about people who create websites is that HTTPS is only needed to handle sensitive data and communication, but this is not the right way to look at the whole picture. Any unprotected HTTP request can reveal a lot of info about the user identity.

Hackers can aggregate data about your site’s users and make inferences about their intentions and behaviours, working to de-anonymize user identity. If a user visits an unprotected fake website, for instance posing as a real medical site, they could disclose an array of personal health information to their employers.
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Search Engine Optimization

Whether you’re running an artisanal bakery or casino lastschrift with WordPress, it’s of utmost priority for your website to pop up on either the first or second pages of Google search results. People need to find what they’re looking for, and they cling to these pages for guidance.

One of the most common methods to improve your ranking is to analyze keywords and see what people are searching for, using online tools such as Google Analytics. You can add the most popular and trending keywords to your images, titles, paragraphs, and much more.

But how does HTTPS affect Search Engine Optimization and boosts your website’s ranking? We can look at the most popular search engine Google for an answer. This company wanted a way that secure sites could be more easily found, so the search engine goes through and looks at HTTPS. It’s now one of the most important factors that will lead users to sites through a Google search, so if your website is protected by HTTPS, it’ll be visible on most search engines, and most likely, high up in the pecking order, too. If your website is similar to a competitor’s in almost every way, but they don’t have HTTPS and you do, you’ll have an obvious advantage.

So what about mobile devices? Google is indexing mobile devices, making their algorithms turn towards the mobile versions of sites and giving these a greater weight in SEO rankings. For mobile sites to be indexable, Google recommends migrating toward secure sites that implement HTTPS.

PCI compliance

If you’re in charge of eCommerce websites, HTTPS is vital if you want your site to be compliant with Payments Card Industry standards. The PCI is a set of operational and technical requirements mandated by credit card companies and banks to ensure that card transactions can be processed securely across the internet. The main set of rules known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards was established to keep credit card user data safe.

Requirement 4 of these standards recommends that all the best website builders need to use strong cryptography and security measures so that transmitted data is never intercepted or compromised – this is where HTTPS configuration comes into play. The requirement forbids card payments from taking place anywhere other than on HTTPS sites with SSL certificates.

When you’re looking at getting an effective SSL certificate for your site, you should look for the following:

  • TLS versions higher than 1.1
  • Cyphers of at least 128 bits in size
  • DH parameters of at least 2048 bits
  • Strong cypher suites
  • Strong private keys
  • No export suites
  • No anonymous key exchanges
  • No insecure compression or renegotiation
  • A trusted company from a trusted Certificate Authority

To configure your SSL certificate and use HTTPS, there’s no hocus pocus to it, you’ll simply want to follow these steps:

  • Create private and public key pairs.
  • Prepare a CSR (Certificate Signing Request), including any information you have about the organization and the public key.
  • Based on your CSR, request an HTTPS certificate from an appropriate certification authority.
  • Install your signed-and-certified HTTPS certificate on your web server.

Your website will be better off with HTTPS

Along with an increase in internet traffic comes ever more increasing complexity – hackers, SEO, data, and much more. The internet is full of surprises, but we hope that you’ve taken our thoughts on board and will incorporate HTTPS into your site. By encrypting your traffic to WordPress site with SSL certificates, nobody will be able to snoop on user data, and the green lock icon in their browser bar will be seen as a symbol of trust.

In combination with this, everybody will be able to find your trustworthy site, as search engines such as Google will give priority to HTTPS sites. These are all great reasons to get familiar with HTTPS and incorporate it into your site today. Here at Ninja Team HQ, we recommend using Cloudflare SSL to get your WordPress sites to work with TSL vulnerabilities at scale.

When you’re choosing a website builder, what do you look for? Tell us your thoughts on website builders or anything on HTTPS in the comments section below.

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Guest Author

Thomas Glare is a passionate freelance content writer, always striving to inspire others and bring insight into the endless possibilities of the modern times we are currently living. He continues to improve his knowledge and is the co-designer of a Book of ra deluxe, one of the most popular games from Novomatics.

10 Best WordPress Security Plugins For Complete Peace Of Mind

When it comes to WordPress security, it can be overwhelming looking at all the available options. In contemporary cybersecurity, it can seem like there are so many options for attackers that as soon as you close one door another opens.

A WordPress security plugin will go a long way to locking out the bad guys with malicious attempts. If you opt for an insubstantial choice there’ll be holes in your site for hackers to exploit, but picking the beefiest tool out there can often cause your site to lag.

To pick a plugin that’s right for your WordPress site you need to know what’s out there, and what your specific needs are. In this article, we’ll help you assess both sides of this coin.

First, we offer a guide for figuring out How to pick the right WordPress security plugin. Then we take a look at the best ones out there. Your site security is just around the corner.

What to look out for

When you’re exploring security plugins for your WordPress site it’s important to have a good understanding of which features and tools you need before you dive in. The best security plugins are sizable additions to your site’s back end, and the bigger they are the more impact you’re going to see on loading speed. In order not to cripple your site’s speeds, it’s important to choose a WordPress security plugin that does what you need it to do, and not more.

Some hosting providers will be bundling security features in with your hosting. Find out what you are getting from your host so that you don’t double up on your WordPress plugin, costing you money and speed in the long run. Updates, firewalls, malware scans and automatic backups are all often included in a host’s package. If you have a thorough security foundation from your web host then you don’t need the beefiest security plugin, you can choose something a little more streamlined and ensure your site stays nippy and agile.

Some more tips

Considering your budget is also an important driver of which plugin you’ll ultimately opt for. The most comprehensive security plugins are also the most expensive. If you only need a few features here and there, it might not make economic sense to splash out on a plugin that isn’t optimized for the features you need.

Remember, you can even combine plugins to find the right balance – sometimes two or three lightweight plugins that fit your precise needs can be cheaper and more efficient to run than the heavyweight security plugin that features loads of excess options.

Armed with an understanding of which features you need, which are optional extras and which are already provided by your web host will allow you to make the best choice for your WordPress site. We’ll start out looking at the big hitters that will cover all your bases, and narrow it down from there. Here are the 10 best WordPress security plugins to keep your site secure.

1. Sucuri Security

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Sucuri Security is one of the best-respected WordPress security plugins out there, and there are many good reasons why you may opt for this big hitter. If even after assessing the protection provided by your web host, you’re still unsure about where there may be gaps in your security, Sucuri offers one the most comprehensive security plugin tools so you’ll be able to rest easy, knowing your site is in good hands.

Sucuri’s free version offers a ton of tools to protect your site: front-end malware scanning, file monitoring, and security notifications to name a few. For malware scanning of your server and firewalls, however, you’ll need an upgrade. Firewall access is available for $9.99 a month, and for complete peace of mind, you can make an annual payment of $199.99 for the full Sucuri package.

Key features

  • Comprehensive free features
  • Great established reputation
  • Security notifications
  • Server and firewall malware scanning
  • Front end malware scanning
  • File monitoring

2. WordFence Security

Wordfence is my favorite WordPress security plugin

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WordFence Security provides another comprehensive option for WordPress site security, and this, like Sucuri, is a beefy tool that leaves no stone unturned in cybersecurity. WordFence’s free version is even more comprehensive than Sucuri, so for site operators on a budget it can provide the perfect option for cover. The free version includes a web application firewall to act as a first line of defence on your site, so malicious attacks are stopped in their tracks.

For the complete WordFence package, you’ll be shelling out $99.99 a year. As well as WAF and the other free tools, this gives you access to an array of advanced features including spam protection and high-frequency malware scans so that nothing is missed. WordFence is also incredibly easy to use, making cybersecurity simple.

Key features

  • Firewall for web applications
  • Frequent malware scanning
  • Protection from spam
  • Ease of use
  • Free features

3. WP Umbrella

WP Umbrella Plugin free version

WP Umbrella is a new monitoring plugin for WordPress. The plugin constantly checks your WordPress website uptime, performance and PHP error logs.

If something is wrong (ie: downtime), you instantly receive an email or Slack alert. The freemium version of WP Umbrella includes Monitoring WordPress error logs, will help you to keep your website secured and fast. It’s also an excellent way to ease websites deployment. The plugin is thus ideal for digital agencies working with WordPress. All the data are available in the plugin and you can access them from the WordPress admin panel.

Combining a monitoring solution like WP Umbrella with another security plugin is the best pay to keep your website safe and running!

WP Umbrella dashboard for monitoring your WordPress website uptime downtime

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Key features of WP Umbrella:

  • Uptime monitoring
  • Performance monitoring
  • WordPress error logs monitoring
  • Weekly performance report
  • Reliable alerting systems
  • Advanced WordPress health check

4. MalCare Security

MalCare WordPress security plugins for free

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Although MalCare Security is less comprehensive than either of the above tools, this can be a fantastic option as part of a broader toolkit of WordPress security plugins because what it does, it does exceptionally well. MalCare is a dedicated malware scanner, although other features such as firewall protection are also incorporated into its plugin.

Functional malware scans are included in the free version of MalCare, but to make the most of this tool the premium version is needed, starting at $99 a year. With the premium version, you’ll have access to MalCare’s clean-up tools for post-scan sorting and can eradicate dangerous files with the click of a button. MalCare is a functional and easy-to-use malware scanner that gives you peace of mind in cybersecurity.

Key features

  • Paid post-scan cleanup tools
  • Free malware scanning and diagnosis
  • Firewall protection
  • Focused functionality

5. All In One WP Security & Firewall

all-in-one-wordpress-security-plugin

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All In One WP Security & Firewall is a regularly updated WordPress security plugin that can handle most of the security features you’ll need for your WordPress site. All In One stands out because it’s completely free – there is no premium version, behind which certain features are locked away.

File protection, spam prevention tools and firewall protection are all included in All In One’s free tool.  For site operators on a budget, especially if your web host offers strong security to begin with, it’s an excellent option.

Key features

  • Regular functionality updates
  • Firewall protection
  • Prevention of spam
  • File protection
  • All functionality completely free

6. iThemes Security

iThemes security plugin for WordPress

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With over one million installs, iThemes is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in WordPress security plugins. It has a comprehensive selection of features and is an affordable option for those seeking premium security, coming in at $80 a year for the complete package.

As well as offering malware scanning and other background security options, iThemes also enforces good security practices by encouraging strong password usage and, with the premium version, offering two-factor authentication options. This makes it a strong option for being well protected from brute force attacks.

Key features

  • Optional paid two-factor authentication
  • Encourages usage of strong passwords
  • Great malware scanning

7. VaultPress

VaultPress is a WordPress security plugin by Automattic

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VaultPress is a fantastic option for site operators with a tight budget as licenses for Professional and Premium services start at just $40 a year. Even VaultPress’s free package offers a good array of options and functionality WordPress sites.

With VaultPress you’ll be protected from brute force attacks and can rest easy knowing your plugin is monitoring site activity and providing spam protection. There are a few maintenance elements with VaultPress that provide extra peace of mind: regular site backups and one-click restoration mean that in the case of an attack, your files are protected. And because VaultPress is run by Automattic, if you purchase the premium version you’ll also gain access to Automattic’s other plugin, Jetpack.

Key features

  • One-click restoration post-attack
  • Regular automatic backups of your site
  • Protection from spam
  • Site activity monitoring
  • Brute force attack protection
  • Affordable extras, but core functionality is free

Related: If you notice something wrong with your WordPress media library content, check out this post on how to troubleshoot WordPress media library not loading.

8. WP Security Audit Log

Maintain a safe WordPress site with WP Activity Log

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WP Security Audit Log is a specialized monitoring plugin. Although it doesn’t claim to have the comprehensive features of some of the plugins explored above, it will provide top tier monitoring for your site. The free version of WP Security will enable you to monitor your site’s activity, bringing anything suspicious to your attention and allowing preventative measures to be taken so your site stays safe.

Licenses for WP Security Audit Log’s premium version start at $89 a year. This will give you access to real-time information of anyone logging in and out of your site, as well as other specialized monitoring features. If site monitoring is an important element of your security program, this could be a great plugin to prioritize.

Key features

  • Comprehensive free features
  • Array of specialized site monitoring features
  • Real time user log in and log out information notifications for your site
  • Site activity monitoring

9. Defender

WordPress security plugins by WPMU DEV

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Defender offers a lightweight free version that includes some, but not all, of the features you’ll want for site security. This includes core file scanning, brute force prevention and the ability to blacklist IP addresses that are the culprits of repeated attacks.

The premium version is accessible with a $49/month membership. Although this seems pricey compared to other plugins we’ve explored, for this price you get access to over 100 WordPress plugins. That’s a comprehensive package for your WordPress site.

Key features

  • Prevention of brute force attacks
  • Scanning of core files
  • Ability to blacklist IP addresses that attack repeatedly
  • Access to more than 100 paid WordPress plugins

10. WP Site Partner

Maintaining your website can be bothersome, and it’s easy to get entangled especially when you don’t know which you’ve just made are wrong.

In order to keep your WordPress website secure and up-to-date, WPSitePartner is of great help. They can provide you with deep care for every aspect you’re expecting. Daily backup, security scanning, malware removal, frequent updates, monthly reports, etc. are all included in their one and only plan. 

If you don’t want to handle WordPress security plugins or find it too hard to choose the most suitable one. Feel free to contact them, too!

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Conclusion

WordPress site security is too important to be overlooked as bad factors are constantly innovating new ways to attack your site.

Therefore, you need ultimate web security, and you need a reliable, regularly updated plugin to provide it. If you understand the full security offerings from your web host, you’ll be better able to choose a WordPress plugin to suit your needs and budget.

Stay safe out there.


Guest Author

Katherine Rundell is a writer at UK Custom Writing Services. She is a freelance cybersecurity advisor for businesses across the UK. When she’s not in front of a screen, she takes time away. Exploring nature and hiking in the hills around her home are her favorites.