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10 Best WooCommerce Security Tips to Keep Your Online Store Safe

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WooCommerce powers over 30% of online stores, making it the world‘s most popular eCommerce platform for WordPress. With eCommerce sales exploding to nearly $5 trillion in 2021, WooCommerce stores have become a prime target for hackers and cyber attacks.

As a certified cybersecurity professional and WordPress expert, security is my top concern for businesses running WooCommerce. While WooCommerce has robust default security, I always recommend store owners go above and beyond the basics.

Implementing these 10 security tips will help harden your WooCommerce site against data breaches, malware infections and other threats targeting online businesses today. I‘ll share my insights from securing hundreds of WooCommerce sites over the years so you can protect your livelihood.

1. Invest in Managed WooCommerce Hosting

The hosting provider you choose is the foundation for securing your online store. Cheap, low-quality hosting is one of the biggest risks you can take. Instead, invest in managed WordPress hosting designed specifically for high-traffic WooCommerce sites.

Here are the key security features I recommend looking for in a managed WooCommerce host:

  • Web application firewall (WAF) – A firewall closely monitors incoming traffic and blocks common attacks like brute force login attempts, SQL injection and cross-site scripting. This adds an extra layer of protection at the network perimeter.

  • Malware scanning – Daily scans check for backdoors, suspicious files and other indicators of compromise. The host can remove infections before they impact your site.

  • Auto backups – Your host should perform daily backups of your entire site, including files and database, and store them off-server. This ensures you can easily restore your store if disaster strikes.

  • Server-level caching – Caching static elements of your store makes it far more difficult for attackers to find vulnerabilities to exploit. It also improves performance.

  • SSL certificates – I only recommend hosts that make SSL installation a one-click process. Encryption should be enabled by default for security and SEO.

  • 24/7 security monitoring – Around-the-clock monitoring detects issues like an overload of traffic, resource exhaustion attacks, or strange spikes in traffic that could indicate malicious activity.

I highly suggest going with a well-reviewed managed WooCommerce host like Kinsta. Their enterprise-grade security and developer-friendly features make them my top choice for protecting clients.

2. Add a Web Application Firewall Plugin

In addition to the network firewall from your host, I recommend installing an application-level WAF plugin directly in WordPress. This gives you an extra layer of protection right at the application code level.

Wordfence and iThemes Security both have built-in WAF functionality like virtual patching for security flaws, IP blacklisting and firewall rules to block common exploits. These plugins are like having a 24/7 security team monitoring and protecting your site.

Make sure to enable the firewall feature and review the default settings. For example, you may want to adjust the number of failed login attempts before blocking an IP. This hardens WordPress at the core.

3. Limit Login Attempts to Prevent Credential Stuffing

Brute force attacks to guess passwords have become incredibly common. In fact, over 20% of login attempts on WordPress sites are unauthorized bots trying to break in.

To stop these automated credential stuffing attacks in their tracks, I always install the Limit Login Attempts plugin. This lets you specify how many failed logins are allowed before that IP address gets blocked for a period of time.

Attackers can try millions of combinations per second, so I suggest limiting failed logins to around 5-10 attempts per IP address. This significantly raises the difficulty for credential stuffing without impacting legitimate users.

4. Require Strong Passwords and Set up 2FA

Here are some quick stats on passwords that highlight why strong credentials are non-negotiable for security:

  • 81% of data breaches involve weak or reused passwords
  • 3.5 million new phishing sites are created each month
  • 71% of people use the same password for multiple accounts

For that reason, I always enforce strict password policies on sites I secure. Require at least 12 characters, upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

In addition, make sure every account with admin access has two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled. Popular 2FA plugins include Google Authenticator and Authy.

With 2FA, if a password does get compromised, the attacker still can‘t access the account without verifying through a second step like an authentication code or biometrics. This adds a critical additional layer of protection.

5. Maintain Up-to-Date Software

Here‘s an alarming statistic – over 90% of WordPress sites are running outdated software with known vulnerabilities. Just one exploit can lead to a site takeover.

I constantly stress the importance of keeping WordPress, themes, plugins and WooCommerce updated. Sign up for software update notifications so you know as soon as a new version is released.

Not all updates are security related, but you should still aim to install updates within two weeks, and immediately for critical vulnerabilities. This ensures any security issues or bugs get patched right away.

6. Review Default WooCommerce Settings

While WooCommerce has great out-of-the-box security, I recommend store owners do a full review of their settings and make adjustments to harden their configuration.

Here are some key settings I would evaluate and lock down:

  • Disable file editing – Completely disable the file editor for all user roles except admins. This prevents malicious file changes.

  • Limit REST API access – Only allow API access to essential user roles. Restricting the API makes it harder for attackers to harvest data.

  • Disable XML-RPC – XML-RPC is rarely needed and has been exploited in attacks. If you don‘t use it, disable it.

  • Adjust cookie settings – I suggest enabling ‘Secure‘ cookies and setting ‘Duration‘ to 24 hours. Also limit cookie access.

Taking the time to fully lock down your settings takes WooCommerce security to the next level.

7. Install an SSL Certificate

SSL certificates encrypt all data transmitted between your WooCommerce store and customers. This includes sensitive information like login credentials and payment info.

Without SSL, this data can be intercepted through man-in-the-middle attacks, allowing cyber criminals to steal customer data. SSL also provides trust and confidence for shoppers.

Most managed WooCommerce hosts make installing SSL certificates a quick one-click process. I recommend enabling the strictest HTTPS settings for optimal encryption.

8. Monitor User Accounts and Activity Logs

No matter how hardened your site is, I still advise monitoring for unusual activity indicating a breach. Cybercriminals are constantly developing new attack methods.

Regularly review your WordPress site activity logs for signs of unauthorized access attempts, odd traffic patterns or spike in database errors. These are signals something may be awry.

Also closely monitor user accounts. Watch for any new accounts suddenly created, or suspicious role changes like assigning admin privileges. If a hacker gets in, their next step is escalating privileges.

Catching a breach early allows you to change passwords, revoke access and prevent major damage. Don‘t assume your security measures make monitoring unnecessary.

9. Perform Off-Site Backups Daily

Despite all your precautions, a cyber attack could still happen. Whether it‘s a vulnerability exploit, malware infection or rogue admin, compromised sites often have data destroyed or altered.

That‘s why I recommend implementing automated daily backups of your entire WooCommerce site, with backups stored off-server and tested regularly.

This gives you the ability to quickly restore your store with minimal data loss and interruption to business in the worst case scenario of a breach. Don‘t wait until it happens to think about backups!

10. Create an Incident Response Plan

I advise all businesses I work with to develop an incident response plan for security events. Include steps like contacting your host, restoring from recent backups, forcing password resets and notifying affected customers.

Having a plan makes handling a breach much more straightforward. The faster you can recover operations and secure data, the less damage is done.

Prior planning also ensures you have the tools and knowledge needed when an emergency hits. Don‘t scramble to figure out next steps when your site‘s been hacked.

Take a Proactive Approach to WooCommerce Security

Securing your online business goes beyond setting up WooCommerce and hoping for the best. Ecommerce sites face continuous threats from hackers seeking your sensitive customer and business data.

By taking a proactive approach to locking down your store with these layered security tips, you can help protect your livelihood and your customers‘ information from constantly evolving cybercrime.

The tips I outlined above offer a comprehensive plan to harden your WooCommerce site without significantly impacting usability or performance. Security requires constant vigilance, but is worth the peace of mind of knowing your business is well-protected.

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