How To Stay Secure When Using WordPress Plugins

Bloggers across the world are using WordPress. You can’t really ignore the statistics. As it stands, almost 17% of Alexa Internet’s top 1 million websites are using it, whilst 22% of all new websites utilize the open source content management system.

Plugins can enhance your experience of using WordPress. The amount of flexibility you get from additional software means that there’s almost nothing you cannot do with the application. Design, functionality and usability can all be manipulated with the right plugin.

In addition to flexibility, there are other benefits to using WordPress Plugins:

  • Dramatically increase your site speed
  • Improve SEO benefits
  • Make visiting your site a more rewarding experience

It is important to keep in mind however, that like any program you want to download, there are inherent risks. If you want to maintain your site security, then remember a few simple things when using plugins:

1. Minimize the exposure

For a start, decide if, at all, you actually need to use plugins. WordPress offers a very good degree of customization already and plugin bugs account for around 40% of WordPress security issues.

If you are using it for basic things then there might be no need to risk a security breach through downloading unnecessary software. Remember, more plugins can mean your site is more vulnerable.

Using fewer plugins is probably best practice, but if you are using a lot and finding there are issues with your site, then try systematically turning each one off at a time to discover which is giving you the problem.

2. Reviews are there for a reason

Use them. By checking the reviews, you can gain insight into whether the plugin you want to install is worthy or not. Poorly developed plugins are one of the main reasons a site security can fail.

Consider the following as positive signs of a trustworthy plugin:

  • wide adoption rate
  • consistent update track record
  • Author credibility

If you can’t find any reviews, and are still considering the plugin, then you need to really look into the author. Their past work and experience can provide you with a secure starting point. You are placing your trust with the author, so it’s important to gain some background information first.

3. Hard Code Functionality

If you have development expertise with an understanding of PHP or MySQL then creating your own plugins and functions code could be a viable alternative. After all, if you can’t trust yourself then who can you trust?

4. Keep Your WP Plugin’s Up to Date!

Just because software companies offer updates doesn’t always mean it’s specifically for functionality or bug fixes.  A lot of times security fixes are put into place to fix known security flaws.  It’s usually a better idea than not to replace your plugin and upgrade it to the latest.  Of course there can still be security flaws with a newer version that haven’t been attacked yet, but if you’re getting your plugin from a reliable source they will fix it quickly or have a secure plugin.

David Ingram is a part of the Digital Marketing Team at HANDD.co.uk, a leading provider of data security solutions. They specialize in data loss prevention and secure file transfer products.

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