If you own a WordPress website, a sudden and unexpected rise in traffic can be something you are really looking forward to. However, if that happens, chances are that you are actually targeted by a DDoS attack.
This type of attack is hard to detect and especially effective at taking down websites. DDoS attacks have been on the rise in recent years when it comes to both frequency and efficiency. Modern technologies allow hackers to execute attacks on a massive scale, enough to topple even websites like Google or Amazon.
In other words, you need to be prepared to detect and prevent DDoS attacks at any time. This article will focus on the methods you can use to protect your WordPress website from DDoS attacks. However, in order to understand how to successfully mitigate such attacks, first, you need to understand exactly what they are and how they work.
What Is a DDoS Attack?
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to overload your servers with requests. Hackers use networks of hijacked devices (also known as bots) to send a huge amount of fake traffic to your server. As a result, your server tries to process each request but is quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number of them. Thus, the server essentially stops functioning, making your website inaccessible.
There are several different types of DDoS attacks, but they all follow the same formula. Such attacks are often used not only to take down websites but also as a cover-up for attempts at data theft. Here are some of the consequences you might suffer if your business website falls victim to a DDoS attack:
- Customer loss due to inaccessible website
- Damage to brand reputation
- Loss of revenue due to missed sales
- Damage to your internal system architecture
Overall, you should not overlook the importance of preparing your WordPress website in case you become a target.
How to Prevent DDoS Attacks on WordPress
There are many ways in which you can provide your WordPress website with some protection against DDoS. While no method is 100% effective on its own, a combination of precautions and active measures can make your site less susceptible to a DDoS attack. Let’s take a look at six basic things you need to do in order to minimize the risk of becoming an easy target.
1. Disable Rest API
Rest API is an architectural style that allows plugins to access, edit, and even delete WordPress data and content. It is a potential security risk, especially when it comes to DDoS attacks. It comes enabled for all users in a WordPress website, even if they are not logged into the system.
You can disable Rest API with a plugin like Disable WP Rest API or WP Hide & Security Enhancer. You simply need to download and activate one of those plugins — there is no configuring involved. They will effectively disable Rest API for everyone except logged-in users.
2. Disable XML-RPC
XML-RPC is a specification that allows third-party software and apps to interact with your WordPress website. It is also useful for pingbacks and trackbacks, but it is not essential in any way. XML-RPC is required for running the WordPress mobile app — however, even if you are using the app, we recommend disabling it nevertheless. XML-RPC can make your website a relatively easy target for DDoS activity.
You can quickly disable XML-RPC by editing your .htaccess file. It is accessible either via FTP or via the file manager that comes with your hosting. Once you open .htaccess, simply paste the following code:
# Disable xmlrpc.php requests
deny from all
Make sure you save the changes. Now XML-RPC will not be active on your website, making you better protected against DDoS attacks.
3. Activate Website Application Firewall (WAF)
A Website Application Firewall is a security software that effectively puts a barrier between your server and incoming malicious traffic. A WAF uses complex algorithms to catch and filter out suspicious requests before they even reach your website. It is especially effective at filtering out bots, thus making your server safer from DDoS activity.
An industry-grade WAF will help you deal even with large DDoS attacks since it will automatically detect the fake traffic. There are plenty of great WAF services out there, so make sure you do your research before committing to a solution.
4. Get a Secure Hosting Provider
Your hosting provider is not only responsible for the speed and performance of your website. It also plays an important part when it comes to website security and defense against DDoS attacks.
Unfortunately, many people go with the cheapest hosting options available, which often leaves their websites at risk. We recommend going with a premium and trustworthy hosting provider that makes security a priority. When choosing, look for features such as 24/7 monitoring and malware scanning.
5. Install an Anti-DDoS Plugin
There are plenty of anti-DDoS plugins out there that do a great job at improving the security of your website. Many of them actually come with the WAF functionality we mentioned earlier. On top of that, look for plugins that offer the following features:
- Setting login attempt limits
- Malicious IP address detection
- Bad URL detection
- Detection and redirection of bots
All those will help immensely with DDoS mitigation. While there are some free anti-DDoS plugins available, we recommend going with a paid version. After all, you need the best security you can get for your website.
DDoS attacks are a threat that is not going away anytime soon. On the contrary, experts predict that such malicious activity will only get more frequent and more powerful in the years to come. If you are running a WordPress website, make sure you implement whatever defenses you can. The methods outlined in this article are an excellent starting point to a broader anti-DDoS plan.