DDoS Attacks 101: How to Protect Your WordPress Site
DDoS attacks have changed a lot and become harder and much more powerful. Now learn how to protect your WordPress site from DDoS attacks properly
The term DDoS is nearly as old as the internet itself. But it is still a relevant topic when discussing cyber attacks today. The term Distributed Denial of Service attack was first coined in the 1990s. That’s when a computer at the University of Minnesota was suddenly overwhelmed by 114 others. Those devices were infected with malware that made them send data packets to the computer, rendering it useless. Now learn how to protect your WordPress site from DDoS attacks properly
How TO Protect Your WordPress Site From DDoS Attacks?
DDoS attacks have changed a lot over the years and become more complicated as well as much more powerful. Those with an agenda (as well as internet trolls) still use them to shut down websites and services. For example, GitHub recently suffered the biggest DDoS attack ever. And it only lasted for 20 minutes. Also, the Chinese government launched DDoS attacks against forums and messengers during the Hong Kong protests.
WordPress website owners aren’t exempt from this threat. And seeing as WordPress is one of the most popular website builders in the world, its users are a prime target for attackers. But not to worry, there are ways to protect against this threat. Even smaller businesses with limited resources can stay safe.
Take a look at this short guide to see how WordPress businesses can protect themselves against the threat of a DDoS attack.
How Does a DDoS Attack Work?
During a DDoS attack, compromised devices or systems request data from the target website or server. In the case of WordPress, cybercriminals would center such an attack on the hosting server of the site.
These requests are so frequent or so many in number that it overwhelms the resources of a server. Sometimes it only slows the server or network down. But if the attack is large enough, then it can bring the entire server, and hence the whole site, to a stuttering halt.
DDoS attacks are a form of DoS attack that takes advantage of many devices that work together to overload the intended target. These devices could be computers or smartphones infected with malware. Or they could be IoT devices like smart cameras with poor security and open ports.
Attackers use whatever devices they can to mete out these attacks. And sometimes they do it out of sheer boredom. But most DDoS attacks do have a purpose — either for some political agenda or to extract “ransom” money from the victims.
How to Prevent a DDoS Attack on a WordPress Site
There are two main things a WordPress site owner can do to mitigate DDoS attacks. There’s no way to prevent them entirely. But with these precautions in place, most site owners never have to deal with such an attack.
1. Use Security Plugins
It’s usually pretty hard to realize when a DDoS attack is happening, especially in its early stages. It’s even harder to catch and block every suspicious IP on your own. It is one of the reasons why security plugins exist for WordPress sites.
One of the essential plugins against a DDoS attack is a website application firewall. A WAP is a go-between the website and visitors. Good firewalls are always checking for bad IP addresses and suspicious requests. They block them in an instant.
2. Disable XML RPC in WordPress
XML-RPC gives third-party apps access to a WordPress site. Most of the time, the WordPress mobile app uses it to allow site owners access to their website via smartphone. But many people never use this feature, so it’s safe to disable it.
Disable XML RPC by adding the following code to the .htaccess file of your website:
1 | # Block WordPress xmlrpc.php requests
2 | <Files xmlrpc.php>
3 | order deny,allow
4 | deny from all
5 | </Files>
Furthermore, if you suspect that your site is under attack, then you should contact your firewall service or security provider. They may not be aware of the attack yet and be able to help faster.
Upping WordPress Site Security is a Must
DDoS attacks aren’t the only threats that WordPress site owners face. Security plugins are a must for most site owners, and especially for e-commerce sites. They may draw some of the resources from your server, but they’re worth it when it comes to protecting against threats.
Other security tools like VPNs add another layer of protection. Many WordPress owners use VPNs (NordVPN seems to be the preferred option) to protect their servers and databases from man-in-the-middle and similar attacks.
To sum up, keeping a WordPress website safe requires a multi-pronged defense plan. And while that may sound expensive, it’s quite manageable for any business, no matter their size or revenue.