When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme, most website creators look for two things in particular: looks and functionality. However, another arguably more important factor that most people overlook is security. Picking a secure WordPress theme is one of the best ways to protect your website from hackers.
There are, of course, many ways to reduce your risk of a website hack. In particular, creating a safe development environment will go a long way in protecting you. Using a VPN is one great way to secure a site-in-progress. It masks your IP address and encrypts your traffic, preventing hackers from gaining access to your computer while you’re logged into your admin panel. If you need help finding the best free VPN service providers, we have you covered.
However, if the theme you’ve chosen isn’t secure, your website will still be a target for cybercriminals once it’s online. And, while any website can be hacked, WordPress sites are some of the most vulnerable. With over ¼ of all active websites on the internet powered by WordPress, it’s no surprise that hackers dedicate a lot of time to learning how to break into the system. Whether they hack your site to steal data, take your site offline, or anything in between, having your website hacked could ruin your reputation and potentially your livelihood.
That’s why it’s important to choose a WordPress theme with great security, lowering your risk of attacks.
But What is a Secure WordPress Theme?
You may be wondering, what makes a WordPress theme secure? There are lots of small factors that contribute to overall security, but in general, secure WordPress themes meet the following two criteria:
- They’re well-coded according to WordPress standards. A theme’s code should be airtight with no flaws that make it vulnerable to attacks.
- They’re regularly updated to keep them compatible with your WordPress version and your site’s plugins. Outdated themes won’t be protected against newer hacks, and incompatibility between versions could cause vulnerability glitches.
So, How Can You Choose a Secure Theme?
Thankfully, choosing a secure theme doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you’re cautious and do your research, you should have no problem finding a theme that looks great, functions well, and keeps you safe from hackers.
Let’s take a look at 4 top tips for picking a secure WordPress theme.
1. Use a Reputable Website
When choosing, buying, and downloading a theme, make sure you only browse themes from reputable websites that check their themes for possible exploits.
A great place to start is the official WordPress Theme Directory. It’s filled with thousands of themes, both free and paid, and everyone is thoroughly vetted for security issues before being listed.
Another popular site is ThemeForest by Envato. The Envato screening process isn’t as thorough as the WordPress Theme Directory, but it’s well-trusted by thousands of website owners. If you’re making an e-commerce website using WooCommerce, you can also try WooThemes.
There are many other directories out there filled with secure themes. Just make sure you do your research on each one before making a decision to use it. Google search ‘review’, ‘hack’, ‘problems’ and other related terms along with the store’s name to find any reported security issues.
2. Be Wary of Free Themes
While both free and paid themes can be unsecure, free themes are the riskiest. Often, they’re harmless. Many developers use them to draw in customers for their paid themes, or simply to offer back to the community. However, there are also many hackers who use the attractive offer of a free theme to con website creators into downloading maliciously coded themes. These themes have malware, ads, redirects, bots and more written right into their code.
Pirated themes are an even bigger risk. If you find a website offering paid themes for free, remember that it’s rare to get something for nothing. Many pirates take safe paid themes and inject malicious code into them for their own profit or gain.
3. Check What Others Think
Another great, easy tip for choosing a safe and secure theme is to follow the lead: look at what other buyers have said about the theme you like.
It’s best to steer clear of newly uploaded themes with no downloads or reviews unless you want to be a guinea pig. Instead, try filtering your search to find the most popular themes. Then, look at the reviews and comments on those themes—particularly the negative comments. Scan them to see if you can find any mentions of security flaws, lack of updates, and other issues. If a theme has hundreds or thousands of downloads and no one has reported any security problems, you’re most likely in the clear.
4. Stick with Active Developers
It’s important that you choose a theme created by an active developer who puts time and effort into improvements. Outdated and incompatible themes are very vulnerable to hacking, so you’ll want to be sure your theme’s developer will keep the theme up to date.
When you’re on a theme’s sales page, look for the Changelog. This shows you all the past updates for a theme, allowing you to see how often it’s been improved and fixed. If you see multiple updates over the last year, you know the developer is on top of keeping the theme secure. You should also check the theme’s comments to see that the developer takes note of customer bug reports instead of leaving them to become big vulnerabilities.
While it may take a little extra time and consideration to find a secure WordPress theme, it’s well worth the effort. A secure theme will keep your site much safer and greatly reduce your risk of damaging problems in the future. Also if you hosting itself Virtual Private Server, you need know how to securing web server and use ModSecurity with rules.
As a bonus tip, if you’re still not sure whether you can trust your theme, download the Theme Check plugin and install it on your website. This software will run a pass/fail scan to determine whether your website’s theme is safe and secure, giving you extra peace of mind. Also you can scan files with PHP Signature’s that there is not backdoors and injected malware code.