When it comes to WordPress security, most website owners and developers tend to focus on big-ticket items, like strong passwords and SSL certificates — however, one critical component of WordPress security that often goes overlooked: WordPress salts.
At their most basic level, salts are just random characters added to passwords and other sensitive data before they’re hashed and stored in the database. However, These small, seemingly insignificant strings of random characters are vital in keeping your site safe from attacks.
The purpose of salts is to make it much more difficult for hackers to crack passwords and gain access to your site. Without salts, a hacker could use a “rainbow table” to easily decrypt passwords stored in plain text or hashed without salt. However, with salts in place, it will be virtually impossible even if a hacker obtains the hashed password.
In this blog post, we’ll explore WordPress salts, how they work, and why they’re crucial for WordPress security. Let’s go ahead without any further ado!
What are WordPress Salts?
WordPress salts are unique and complex random data for securing sensitive information such as passwords and authentication cookies. They are an essential part of protecting the security and privacy of WordPress users, as they add an extra layer of protection against unauthorized access and malicious attacks. Using unique salts for each user, WordPress ensures that the entire system is not at risk, even if one password is compromised. This helps to create a safer and more secure online experience for everyone using WordPress.
WordPress salts add random data bits to the password before it is hashed. These security keys make it extremely difficult for hackers to crack passwords as the salt changes with every login attempt. It’s like adding extra layers of security to protect your website and your users’ data. Using salts, WordPress ensures that passwords are not exposed even if an attacker manages to access the database. It’s a clever and effective way to keep your website secure.
Why are WordPress Salts important?
The Importance of WordPress salts for website security cannot be overstated. These salts help make sensitive information harder to break. They help protect your website from hackers and other malicious attacks and are essential to any comprehensive security strategy. By using WordPress salts, you are taking an active role in safeguarding your website and its sensitive information. Creating a safe and secure online environment for yourself and your users is essential.
How to Generate WordPress Salts?
Generating WordPress salt keys can initially seem daunting, but anyone can do it with guidance. You’ve got a couple of options when it comes to creating WordPress salt keys:
- Using WordPress Salt Generator
- Using a Plugin
Using WordPress Salt Generator
The official WordPress salt generator is a reliable way to generate salts and security keys for your WordPress website. This handy page can randomly generate four security keys and four salts.
Please make sure to copy those salt keys. Then you’ll have to connect with your website’s server through FTP and open the wp-config.php file. Subsequently, you must swap out the old keys in your wp-config.php file. Simply copy and paste the new security keys and salt keys generated by WordPress.org’s salt generator.
After pasting the keys and salts from the WP salt generator, the appearance may seem unchanged except for the random character sequences, which will be altered. Don’t forget to save the modifications and re-upload the wp-config.php file if required. That’s all.
Using a Plugin
There’s a simpler alternative if you’re not keen on going through the manual process mentioned earlier. You can use a plugin to alter your site’s salts instead. The Salt Shaker plugin is a widely-used and free option with a significant advantage over the manual method: The flexibility to customize the schedule for automatic salt changes to your liking for some extra security pizzazz. Alternatively, you can also manually change the salts as needed. It’s up to you!
Access the WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins → Add New, Search, install and activate the Salt Shaker plugin. Once you install the Salt Shaker plugin, it will take you to Tools → Salt Shaker.
To start changing your salts pronto, you only have to give that “Change Now” button a good ol’ click. It’s that simple!
For those who value-added layers of protection, there’s also an option here to utilize the Scheduled Change feature to update your salts on a predetermined schedule automatically. Choose from various scheduling options, including daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly (every three months), or biannually (every six months), to ensure your security measures stay top-notch.
When should I change WordPress salts?
It’s always a smart move to change your WordPress salt keys every month or quarter.
For those of you who have websites that experience heavy traffic or those who update their plugins and themes frequently, it’s even more critical to change WordPress security keys more often. This is because these plugins and themes can sometimes have security issues that could put your website at risk. If you have outdated plugins or themes, they may still use old encryption keys.
Security experts have provided valuable insights on how often you should change your salts in WordPress.
- According to WordPress.org, changing your salts every month or quarter is recommended.
- Sucuri suggests that you should change them every month or two.
- WordFence suggests changing them every month or three months.
Although the decision of how often to change your salt keys ultimately falls on you, it’s advisable to follow the recommendations of these experts to ensure maximum security for your WordPress website. This will help keep your site’s security measures up to date and ensure that your login information remains safe and secure at all times.
Additional Tips about WordPress security keys
- Don’t forget to create a backup of your wp-config.php file before tweaking it! It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- It’s important to ensure that the WordPress security keys you choose are distinct and not easily predictable by others.
- After altering your salts, it’s essential to give your website a thorough check to ensure that all features are operating smoothly.
In conclusion, WordPress salts may not be the most glamorous aspect of website security, but they are crucial in protecting your site from malicious attacks. By generating unique and random encryption keys, salts make it extremely difficult for hackers to crack passwords and gain access to sensitive information. As a WordPress user, taking advantage of this feature and ensuring your site is adequately secured is essential.
So, next time you log in to your WordPress dashboard, take a moment to appreciate the unsung hero of WordPress security: the humble salt.