If you’re running a WordPress site, you probably have some forms floating around—contact forms, sign-up forms, survey forms, you name it. They’re great for interacting with your users and gathering necessary data. But let’s face it, these forms can attract some unwanted attention too—from bots and hackers. Yikes!
But no worries! We’ve got your back. Today, we’ll share with you how you can ramp up your form security and give those pesky intruders the boot.
What is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to determine if a form is being filled by a human or a bot? CAPTCHA. CAPTCHA, which stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, is a system that presents a test – usually in the form of distorted text, images, or puzzles – that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot.
By adding a CAPTCHA to your WordPress form, you’re essentially adding a gateway that only humans can get through, keeping bots on the other side. CAPTCHAs are designed to be easy for humans to solve, but almost impossible for bots. This means that even the most sophisticated bot will be stopped in its tracks, while your users can continue unhindered.
reCAPTCHA even has a version (reCAPTCHA v3) that works in the background, without requiring any interaction from the user at all. This way, you get all the security benefits of a CAPTCHA, without any potential disruption to your user’s experience.
By adding a CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA to your forms, you’re adding a robust layer of security that will keep bots at bay, ensuring only real humans are able to submit your forms.
Utilize field validation
Field validation is a powerful tool in your security arsenal. It’s all about setting rules for what can and can’t be entered into your form fields. This helps ensure that the information collected is valid and relevant, but it also serves a valuable security purpose.
Let’s say you have an email field in your form. You can set a validation rule that requires a valid email format to be entered. A human user will understand this and enter their email correctly. A bot, however, might try to enter random characters or inject malicious code. The validation rule will prevent this, as the entry won’t meet the set requirements.
But field validation isn’t just about security. It also helps improve the quality of the data you collect. By ensuring each field only contains the type of data it’s meant to, you can reduce errors and improve the accuracy of the information you’re collecting.
Secure Sockets Layer, better known as SSL, is a protocol that encrypts data transmitted between a user’s browser and your website. When a user submits a form on your website, their information—which could include sensitive data such as email addresses or credit card numbers—is sent to your server. Without SSL, this data is transmitted in plain text, which could be intercepted by malicious actors.
When you have an SSL certificate installed on your website, however, this data is encrypted before it’s sent. Even if a hacker were to intercept the transmission, all they would see is a jumble of meaningless characters.
In addition to the security benefits, using SSL can also help to build trust with your users. Most browsers display a padlock icon in the address bar on sites with SSL, indicating that the site is secure. This can reassure users that their data is safe with you, encouraging them to complete your forms.
Use anti-spam plugin
Another crucial step in securing your WordPress forms is to employ a quality anti-spam plugin. These plugins work by automatically detecting and filtering out spam submissions, reducing the likelihood of a successful attack by bots and hackers. They use various techniques such as IP blocking, comment filtering, and even machine learning to effectively weed out spam.
Anti-spam plugins can be particularly useful for forms where users are allowed to enter free text, such as comment sections or contact forms. By automatically blocking suspicious submissions, these plugins can save you a lot of time and effort in manually moderating submissions. They can also help protect your site from harmful content, such as links to malicious websites.
Remember, bots and hackers are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated in their methods. An anti-spam plugin can be a valuable tool in your security arsenal, helping to keep your WordPress forms safe and your site running smoothly.
Keep your form plugins up-to-date
Keeping your plugins, including form plugins, updated is a critical part of maintaining the security of your WordPress forms. Developers regularly release updates for their plugins that not only add new features and fix bugs but also patch security vulnerabilities.
Hackers are always on the lookout for sites running outdated software, as these often have known vulnerabilities that can be exploited. By keeping your form plugins up-to-date, you ensure that you’re protected against these known vulnerabilities.
Remember, security is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. Regularly check your WordPress dashboard for updates, and apply them promptly to keep your forms secure from bots and hackers.
Keep an eye on form submissions
No matter how many security measures you put in place, it’s always important to keep an active eye on your form submissions. Why? Because abnormal activity is often the first sign that your forms are being targeted by bots or hackers.
For instance, if you notice a sudden influx of submissions or submissions with nonsensical or repeated data, it’s a good chance that you’re dealing with a bot. Similarly, if you receive form submissions with malicious content or code, it’s a clear sign of a hacker at work.
By monitoring your form submissions regularly, you’ll be able to quickly spot any potential threats and take action before any serious harm can be done. Remember, when it comes to securing your forms from bots and hackers, vigilance is key.
Securing your WordPress forms from bots and hackers is an essential task in today’s digital landscape. The strategies we’ve discussed – using CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA, employing field validation, adding an SSL certificate, keeping your form plugins up-to-date, monitoring your form submissions, and using an anti-spam plugin – all contribute to making your forms, and therefore your website, more secure.
Remember, security is not a one-time fix but a continuous process. Keep yourself updated with the latest security practices and trends. Stay vigilant and proactive about the security of your forms, and don’t hesitate to invest in it—the safety of your user’s data and your website’s reputation depend on it.
At the end of the day, it’s about creating a safe environment for your visitors to interact with your website. By securing your WordPress forms, you’re taking a significant step in that direction. So, consider these tips, apply them, and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for doing your part in maintaining web security.
Looking for a form-building solution that prioritizes security as much as you do? Meet Happyforms, your trusty partner in creating and managing secure forms. Not only does Happyforms provide an intuitive interface for form creation, but it also implements all the strategies mentioned in this post. That means you get the peace of mind you deserve while keeping your users’ data safe and sound. Secure, user-friendly, and reliable—Happyforms has got you covered!