As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, organizations big and small are placing a stronger emphasis on security. Increasingly, WordPress websites are coming under the spotlight due to their widespread usage by many modern businesses.
Monitoring and tracking are two essential aspects of any security policy, with OWASP listing insufficient logging and monitoring as one of the top 10 risks websites face.
This article will go through the fundamental building blocks required to build a solid strategy, including the critical tools and plugins to help you achieve better security through logging and monitoring.
The principles behind WordPress security and monitoring
Protecting your WordPress website from malicious actors is one of the most important steps you can take, whether you have a small blog or a large e-commerce website. Automation tools used in the discovery process by those with malicious intent do not necessarily discriminate by website size.
Having your ear to the ground comes with several advantages. Not only will you be able to stop potential attacks in their tracks, but it also allows you to address any risks before they become issues. To this end, logging and monitoring can work together to make sure you get as wide a field of view as possible.
Of course, this does not mean that logging and monitoring are the end of the story. A comprehensive WordPress security strategy looks at every facet of your website, but it’s an excellent place to start.
A checklist for monitoring and logging
Being strategic with monitoring and logging can help you ensure you’re collecting the right metrics while avoiding a deluge of data that can lead to paralysis by analysis. While no two websites are the same, you need to understand and consider what’s important and relevant to your website. The basics tend to stay the same regardless of the nature of the website or business.
To this end, we have prepared a checklist that can act as a springboard as you develop your own policy in line with your website or business.
Uptime & performance
Monitoring your site’s uptime and performance will let you know when responsiveness becomes an issue – whether the website is entirely offline or taking too long to respond.
Many factors can lead to your website or portions of it being unavailable. For instance, your site could be affected by a DDoS attack, someone could gain unauthorized access to your site to post unauthorized content, or a plugin update could break the website.
Manually checking your website might not be feasible; after all, performance degradation can happen anytime, day or night. It makes more sense then, to have a service doing the monitoring for you and alert you should something require your attention.
You may not realize that your site has gone down until visitors complain to you, or you check it out yourself. In general, the longer your site is down before you fix it, the more likely you are to lose visitors and revenue. Additionally, you may also lose search engine rankings.
Monitoring WordPress allows you to stay informed about its status, so you can then address the problem before anyone else notices it.
WordPress error log
WordPress plugin conflicts, poorly coded themes, and mistakes in custom coding can put your website at risk. That’s why you should always keep an eye on the WordPress error log.
Error logs can help you troubleshoot WordPress errors and identify the plugins or scripts that are causing them. Once identified, you’ll be in a better position to make informed decisions to improve your website performance and security.
It’s essential to monitor WordPress error logs since these can increase the risk of an attack. For example, an outdated version of PHP can cause errors and performance degradation and open your website to security risks.
WordPress activity log
A typical WordPress website experiences a lot more activity than you may realize. When it comes to security and troubleshooting, keeping track of activity on your website is crucial.
An activity log is a chronological list that keeps track of events and changes over time. Your WordPress activity log records user and system interactions and events that take place on your site.
Monitoring activity logs is critical because it will help you to quickly identify events that had taken place before your site went down.
Two solutions to help you with monitoring and logging
WP Umbrella – Monitor WordPress sites from a single dashboard
WP Umbrella is the most comprehensive monitoring solution for WordPress. Once connected, this plugin will monitor your WordPress uptime, performance, PHP errors, and plugin updates. It will also alert you if anything goes wrong.
You can configure WP Umbrella to send you emails or slack alerts should your website go down. Furthermore, comprehensive information about your WordPress websites will be accessible from a single dashboard.
WP Umbrella also monitors several WordPress functions that can put your WordPress websites at risk. These include WP_DEBUG, WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY, and WP_DEBUG_LOG, among others.
WP Activity Log – Keep track of your WordPress logs
WP Umbrella is perfect for giving you, at a glance, everything you need to know about multiple WordPress websites, but sometimes, the devil is in the details!
The WP Activity Log plugin records every detail of your activity log. Changes initiated by users and systems are recorded, allowing you to troubleshoot and manage your WordPress website more accurately.
Besides recording the changes made, the WP Activity Log plugin also records additional information that can give you great insight, including the date and time and from which IP address the change originated.
Final thoughts on WordPress security
Monitoring WordPress websites is essential, and you should not think twice before implementing some monitoring solutions. Downtime and malicious actors can strike your website at any moment, and being prepared is always an advantage!
Combining WP Umbrella and WP Activity Log allows you to mitigate downtime costs and prevent most of them from happening!