Ensuring Your Site’s Passwords Stay Secure

When it comes to securing your WordPress site, there are dozens of tasks and best practices to follow. However, one area that many people neglect to consider is the passwords. Today, I am going to give you 6 tips for keeping your site’s passwords secure.

Do not use words in your password

I was working with a user the other day and his password was his name followed by a number. It was something similar to Frank55. When a hacker is using a brute force attack, he or she will usually first go through every word in the dictionary and combine with various characters and numbers. This is referred to as a dictionary attack. By using words in your password, the hacker will be able to get into your site after running a quick dictionary attack script.

Do not use short passwords

When hackers are using a brute force attack, they are cycling through every possible password. When you use a 2 character password such as PW, the hacker only has to try roughly 2,500 possibilities which only takes less than a second using a script. When using a 6 character password such as aT4h*q, the hacker has to try roughly 15625000000 possibilities which takes a few seconds. When creating a password, you should have at least 15 to 20 characters in the password. For example: 3)S’Fb2rVa:?Sc-t@~D&. This creates 9.536743164×10³³ possibilities which will take much much longer.

Use multiple types of characters

When creating your password, never use all numbers or all letters. You should always have a variety of lower-case letters, upper-case letters, special characters, and numbers. For example, a strong password could look something like this: W4:5~Bkt9;KL:Rqt. Luckily, there are plugins to help when creating your passwords. The plugin I use on all of my sites and highly recommend is Strong Password Generator. This plugin will add a button to generate a strong password. This button will appear when creating users and when changing passwords.

passwords photo
Photo by Lulu Hoeller

Change passwords regularly

If your password is comprised, the hacker will not always use your password immediately. Also, the longer you have the password, the more people/services that you may have given it to. You should have all users change their passwords at least every 3 or 4 months. Fortunately, there are plugins that help with this. I personally use Expire Passwords which allows you to require users to change their passwords after the interval you set. I usually require user to change their passwords every 90 days. This includes all admins and myself as well.

Do not give your password out

I see this one quite a bit. Your password should only be used by you in most cases. The more people that you have using your password, the more chances of it being comprised. Also, the way you give your password to people can also be comprised. Never send your password to someone through email or IM. If you have someone that needs access to your site, such as a developer, always create a temporary developer account for them. Once they are finished, delete the temporary user. Never give them your password.

Use different passwords for each site and service

I see this quite a bit. It may be convenient to have the same password for your website, your bank account, your email account, and your IM account so you don’t have to remember multiple passwords. However, if one gets comprised, the hacker will immediately look for other accounts you have to see if the password works there also.  Always use a unique password for every account you have.

Do you have any best practices or tips for password security that you follow? Be sure to comment below!

The Challenge of Staying Motivated

Staying motivated to accomplish your goals is hard. There are difficult days. Heck, there are difficult weeks and even difficult months. Your team can miss a deadline, your product may not be taking off as fast as you would like, you could be having trouble balancing your personal life and work life, and your computer can break. How can you continue to be motivated when, at times, nothing seems to be going right?

Some people say to write yourself a check for $1 million and tape it to your computer monitor but that isn’t going to make you feel better when you are having a rough month. In fact, that would make me feel worse thinking that I was failing at achieving my dream of writing that check. Instead, I have come up with a list of 6 smaller and more attainable ways of staying motivated.

Make a list of why you want to achieve your goals

Many people will tell you to make a list of your goals to stay motivated. This is useful to stay on track but when you need motivation, a list of things that you are not achieving isn’t going to make you feel better. This is why I recommend making a list of the reasons why you want to achieve those goals. When you make lists like these, you tend to spend a bit of time thinking about the reasons you want to achieve your goals. Thinking over these reasons gives you a boost of momentum to get things done. I keep a list of my reasons in my desk drawer. When things start looking dire and rough, I pull out the list and remember the reasons why I put in all these hours and why I take on all this stress. For me, my first reason on the list is because I want to provide a better life for my daughter than I ever had. Thinking of things like that tends to get me pumped and ready to take on my challenges.

Break down your goals into attainable chunks

Sometimes you lose motivation because you just do not feel that you are accomplishing anything. When you have goals like “Build my company website”, that is quite a large thing to accomplish. Halfway through, you may start to lose motivation because you feel like you haven’t achieved your goal yet. However, if you break it down to things like “Find and purchase a domain” and “Find and purchase hosting” and “Install WordPress”, you will see a list of smaller goals. So now, halfway through the project, instead of seeing one goal on your to-do that isn’t finished, you see a list of goals many of which are already checked off.

Talk to someone in a similar situation

Getting out and meeting people in similar situations as you is critical for coming up with ideas and solutions to challenges. However, it also is very important to help you stay motivated. When you go out to a Meetup or have lunch with a few friends in similar situations, you talk about your accomplishments and challenges. Knowing other people have encountered the same struggles that you have and they have survived them is always helpful for getting motivated again.

Write these lists down

If you are keeping your lists of reasons and lists of goals in your head, it isn’t having too much of an impact on your morale. When you write down (or type) your lists, you have a way to check them off. You now have a way to look them over and see all the things you have achieved. A way to stumble upon your list of reasons and read them over during the day. Being able to physically see your reasons and goals helps immensely when you begin to struggle with motivation.

Celebrate the little things

Once you have broken your goals down into attainable chunks, you should reward yourself when you accomplish your goals. Even something small like “Find and purchase hosting” should be rewarded. It may be something small like patting yourself on the back or eating a piece of candy. Doing something positive when you achieve goals and complete tasks reinforces the fact that you are accomplishing things. Celebrating these little accomplishments will keep you motivated to get to the next goal.

Stop worrying about things you cannot control

This is the hardest thing on this list but is one of the most important. In the life of an entrepreneur, you are juggling dozens of things each day. There will be successes each day but there will also be failures. If you stress about every little detail, you will get burnt out. You cannot let the things that are not in your control become your focus. Doing so will only add to your stress. Just let these things go and move forward.

motivated photo
Photo by burrows.nichole28

Staying motivated

Things will get challenging. There will be days that are stressful. However, doing small things to keep your motivation going can improve the way you take on those challenges. Remember, you are never in this alone. If you are ever truly down and unmotivated, go out and talk to someone. It could be your spouse, your mother, your neighbor, colleague, or even your barber. Be sure to comment on what ways you keep motivated!