WordPress Salts – What They Are and How to Use Them

As a WordPress user, you know the importance of having a secure website. From protecting your own data to ensuring that your website income isn’t at risk, security is crucial. One aspect of WordPress security that is often overlooked is the use of WordPress salts and security keys.

In this article, we will delve into the concept of WordPress salts and why they are essential for protecting your website against potential security breaches and hackers. We will provide an in-depth explanation of how salts work and how they can help to make your passwords strong enough to withstand attacks. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the role that salts play in securing your WordPress CMS and the steps you can take to ensure that your website is as secure as possible.

Content:

  1. What are WordPress Salt Keys?
  2. Why you should change them regularly
  3. How to generate and change WordPress salts manually
  4. How to change WordPress salts automatically
  5. Other security measures to follow
  6. Conclusion

What are WordPress Salt Keys?

WordPress salts and secret keys are used to enhance the security of your WordPress website by encrypting your login details and passwords. These keys consist of eight variables that are used to encrypt and secure data stored in browser cookies and PHP sessions.

WordPress salts and security keys

One of the main benefits of using WordPress salt keys is that they make your website immune to brute-force attacks, which are common hacking method used by malicious actors to gain access to a website by guessing passwords. By adding an extra layer of protection in the form of randomly generated, hashed, and encrypted strings of characters, WordPress salt keys make it much more difficult for a hacker to successfully guess a password and gain access to your website.

In addition to protecting your login credentials, WordPress salt keys can also be used to secure other sensitive data stored on your website, such as user information and payment details. These keys work by generating unique, hashed strings of characters for each piece of data, making it nearly impossible for a hacker to decrypt and access this information.

To use WordPress salt keys on your website, you will need to add them to your wp-config.php file. This file is located in the root directory of your WordPress installation and contains important configuration information for your website. When you add your WordPress salt keys to this file, they will be used to encrypt data stored in browser cookies (such as the wordpress_[hash] cookie) and PHP sessions (such as the wordpress_logged_in_[hash] session).

Why you should change them regularly

When it comes to ensuring the security of your WordPress website, changing your security keys and salts on a regular basis is an important step that should not be overlooked. There are several reasons why it is beneficial to change these keys and salts periodically, and doing so can help to protect your website against potential security breaches and hacker attacks.

One reason to change your WordPress security keys and salts regularly is to prevent hackers from gaining access to your website through multiple devices and browsers. If you use the same security keys and salts on multiple devices or browsers, a hacker could potentially use this information to gain access to your website from any of these devices. By changing your security keys and salts on a regular basis, you can make it much more difficult for a hacker to gain access to your website through multiple devices or browsers.

Another reason to change your WordPress security keys and salts is to prevent malicious actors from gaining back-end access to your website. If a hacker is able to gain access to your website’s back-end, they could potentially steal sensitive data or make unauthorized changes to your website. By changing your security keys and salts periodically, you can help to prevent this type of unauthorized access.

How to Change WordPress security keys and salts

There are two main ways to change your WordPress security keys and salts: manually or automatically. To change them manually, you will need to edit your wp-config.php file and update the keys and salts with new, randomly generated strings of characters. Alternatively, you can use a plugin or tool that will automatically change your keys and salts for you on a regular basis.

Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to periodically change your WordPress security keys and salts to ensure the security of your website. This is especially important if you use a public computer or log out users on a regular basis, as these actions can increase the risk of unauthorized access to your website.

How to generate and change WordPress salts manually?

Generating WordPress salts using the manual method is as easy as one-two-three. It involves three major steps. The first step is to generate WordPress salts.

The next is to locate wp-config.php file (this config file contains your website’s configuration details).

Finally, paste the generated keys in the wp-config.php file. The three steps are described below in greater detail.

Step 1: Generate the keys by visiting this weblink. You will see a set of randomized variables on your screen.

Generate WordPress salts

You don’t need to understand what you see, just copy the values on your screen. Then, paste them into your wp-config.php file.

Step 2: This step will teach you how to access the wp-config.php file. The file is located in the root of your WordPress directory.

Information within the wp-config.php file includes database names, database host, usernames, and passwords.

To locate this file, login to your cPanel (contact your WebHost for access details). When in, click File Manager.

cPanel

There is a folder with the name; public_html on the left-hand side of your screen. This is most often the folder containing your WordPress files. Click to open it.

Scroll to find the wp-config.php file inside the public_html folder. If you prefer nor to use cPanel to get this file, You can use FTP.

Right-click on the wp-config.php file and select Edit

Step 3: Last of all, substitute the security keys and salts with the new values you generated in step 1

Changing WP salts

It’s that simple. You have successfully generated new secret keys and salts for your WordPress website.

But note that updating your keys & salts will invalidate any user logged in to the site, forcing them to log in again.

How to change WordPress salts automatically

There are times you may forget to update your site’s security keys. To cover for this,  automate the process.

You can change WP security keys on a regular schedule using WordPress plugins designed for that purpose.

One of such is the Salt Shaker plugin created by the WordPress foundation. Install and activate the plugin using the following steps.

Step 1: Log into your WordPress dashboard and scroll down to plugins. Click Add New.

WP dashboard

Search for the Salt Shaker plugin using the search option at the top right corner of your screen. Then click Install and Activate.

Install and activate plugin

After activating it, open Tools » Salt Shaker page to set a plan and make other necessary settings.

Salt Shaker Plugin settings

Set a schedule by ticking the box and selecting an option from the drop-down. You may decide to change your WP salts keys daily, weekly, monthly, four times a year, or twice a year.

There is no specific rule to this. But, we recommend changing the WordPress salts and security keys monthly. You can also click on the ‘Change Now’ button to change them immediately.

Henceforth, you do not need to bother about manually changing your WP salt keys. You have automated the process.

Other security measures to follow

The process of changing your WordPress security keys and salts already gives you an edge against hackers. However, other security measures you should incorporate are as follows:

  • implement two-factor authentication
  • Stop users from installing plugins and WordPress themes
  • Install and update WordPress security plugins like the ithemes security pro
  • Use a WordPress firewall
  • Update your WordPress software, plugins, and themes regularly
  • Never download plugins and themes from unreliable sources
  • Prevent third-party access to your wp-config.php files
  • Detect any hack-attempt quickly, and take action
  • Do a WordPress file and database backup regularly
  • Use a valid SSL certificate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are WordPress salts?

WordPress salts are random pieces of code that are used to enhance the security of WordPress sites. They are used to encrypt passwords and other sensitive data stored in the WordPress database.

How do WordPress salts work?

WordPress salts work by adding random data to the encrypted passwords and other sensitive data stored in the WordPress database. This makes it much harder for hackers to crack the encryption and gain access to sensitive information.

Why do I need to use WordPress salts?

Using WordPress salts enhances the security of your WordPress site. Without salts, your passwords and other sensitive data are stored in a way that can be easily hacked by cybercriminals. WordPress salts add an extra layer of security to your site.

How do I add WordPress salts to my site?

WordPress salts can be added to your site by editing the wp-config.php file in the root directory of your WordPress installation. You can generate unique WordPress salts using the WordPress Salt Generator tool provided by WordPress.org.

Can I use the same WordPress salts on multiple sites?

No, you should use unique WordPress salts for each WordPress site that you run. Using the same salts on multiple sites can make it easier for hackers to gain access to your sites.

Will adding WordPress salts slow down my site?

No, adding WordPress salts will not slow down your site. The process of adding salts to your site is very simple and does not require any additional resources from your server.

How often should I change my WordPress salts?

It is recommended that you change your WordPress salts every 90 days. This ensures that your site is as secure as possible and makes it harder for cybercriminals to gain access to your sensitive data.

What happens if I don’t use WordPress salts?

If you don’t use WordPress salts, your passwords and other sensitive data are stored in a way that can be easily hacked by cybercriminals. This puts your site at risk of being compromised and can result in data breaches and other security issues.

Conclusion

In this article, we have explained how important WP salt keys are. They are particularly useful for adding an extra layer of protection to your login information.

We also showed how you can change them manually, as well as on an automatic schedule.

To improve your security, do well to reset WordPress salts from time to time. To further beef up your security, follow the additional suggestions in the section above as well as read our WordPress security guide.

More Resources:

  • How to Create and Manage Custom Navigation Menus in WordPress
  • How to Use Tags in WordPress
  • WordPress Image Editor – How To Use It

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