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Strategies for Creating Secure WordPress Forms

4 Proven Strategies for Creating Secure WordPress Forms

by Lindsay Liedke on Jul 18, 2018

Are you wondering whether your WordPress forms are secure? Making sure you have secure web forms on your site not only protects you, it protects the data of your site visitors. If people feel your forms aren’t secure, they won’t fill them out.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best strategies for creating secure WordPress forms.

Are WordPress Forms Secure?

In the past, we’ve discussed the fact that WordPress forms are much more secure than putting your email on your site for visitors to use when they need to get in touch.

Adding to that, if you use a secure form builder, such as the one that comes with WPForms , you’ll have a bunch of built-in security measures that add extra layers of security to your already secure web forms.

That said, here are some things to think about before jumping into securing your online forms:

  • Form Security Is Up To You. Despite using a reliable WordPress form plugin, form security is really up to you. Though WPForms takes every measure to secure your site’s data, how you handle security on your own WordPress site is going to play a role in how secure your forms are.
  • Your Server Plays a Role. There’s a reason why investing in a high quality WordPress web host is important. The servers used to store your site’s data on need to be secure. This includes having an SSL certificate, database encryption, and proper user management on your part.
  • Email Can Be Insecure. It’s not uncommon for people to have forms and their data emailed to an administrator for review after submission. Yet, this defeats the purpose of having a secure server, since email is entirely separate and can get caught up in malicious activity somewhere during the process. The better solution is to send out secure form notifications that simply let you know when a user submits a form. From there, go into your WordPress dashboard and see the form entry.

As you can see, there are many things that play into whether your WordPress forms are secure. But, there are many things you can do to make them as secure as possible.

Let’s take a look at how to create a secure web form.

1. Customize Field Inputs

Input validation is the act of making sure that what your site visitor is supposed to be putting into each form field is all they’re entering.

For example, if you’re asking users to submit their phone numbers, you should make sure that the form field asking for a phone number only accepts numbers and characters related to phone numbers such as parenthesis and hyphens.

If you fail to check the field inputs, you risk a hacker coming to your site, entering random data into your form fields, exposing any vulnerabilities your site might have, and gaining access to your website.

This would be especially harmful if you had a custom login form on your website.

If a hacker can get past the login form by entering rogue data, they can get into your website and wreak havoc.

Luckily, WPForms lets you customize your form fields by creating custom input masks so the data you want entered into forms fields is the only data that can bet entered.

Input Mask Example

2. Enable CAPTCHA

There’s no denying that email service providers have done a lot to combat the amount of spam emails people receive in their inboxes everyday.

However, spam form submissions are an entirely different thing that WordPress website owners are finding themselves having to deal with.

Spammers looking to submit your WordPress forms have two main goals:

  1. To find vulnerabilities on your website, sometimes caused by not updating your WordPress core, plugins, or themes, so they can hijack your web form and use it to send spam messages to those that subscribe to your email list thinking you have control over it.
  2. To break in to your site and leave spam elsewhere, such as in comments, hidden on posts and pages, on your site’s forum, and more.

If this happens, your site suffers in many ways:

  • Your website will look unprofessional with spammy comments and links all over the place
  • User will quickly unsubscribe once they realize you’re sending out spam emails, even though it’s not you that’s doing it
  • Your site’s design and functionality may suffer, or worse not look or work right, if a hacker gains control of your site
  • Your SEO rankings will drop significantly, and you may even find yourself in trouble with Google

In an effort to combat form spam, WPForms has two built-in features that you can easily enable.

The first is traditional reCAPTCHA that forces all site visitors submitting a form on your site to click the “I’m not a robot” checkbox before clicking submit.

reCAPTCHA Example

For help with this, check out our easy to follow tutorial on how to add reCAPTCHA to WordPress forms.

There’s also a Custom Captcha addon you can use if you prefer to customize the questions and answers as Captcha on your forms.

If you don’t want to add reCAPTCHA to your WordPress forms, because you feel it’s hurting your form conversion rate, check out this tutorial on how to build a spam-free form without CAPTCHA.

3. Enable Double Opt-in

One way to make your WordPress forms more secure is to make users subscribing for the first time double opt-in before you add them to your email list.

This ensures that spammy or fake emails that are being used by hackers can’t be verified.

It also ensures that people that haven’t subscribed to your email list don’t report you to SPAM blacklists and ruin your reputation because of unwanted emails.

With double opt-in, a user will submit your subscribe form and then receive an email asking for them to verify their subscription. Usually, this includes a verification link that the user will click on.

Once clicked, the user is added to your email list. If the link is never clicked, because the email is not real or the actual owner of the email didn’t subscribe, they will never be added to your list.

Most times double opt-in functionality is set by your email service provider. That’s because some email service providers don’t have double opt-in functionality available.

That said, all of the email providers that integrate with WPForms allow you to enable double opt-in:

For help doing this, refer to your email service provider for help.

If your email service provider is not on this list, that’s okay! With our Zapier addon, you can create custom Sendy subscribe forms, Mad Mimi subscribe forms, ActiveCampaign subscribe forms , and more.

4. Secure File Upload Forms

File upload forms are helpful for many reasons. For example, you might have a job application form or a request a quote form on your website that requires people to upload files.

File Upload Form Field

Or, you may let users submit blog posts to your website using a form you have on your website, which also requires user to upload files directly to your WordPress form.

That said, if a hacker can tap into your file upload form field, and inject something that is to be used maliciously on your website, you’re going to find yourself in a lot of trouble very quickly.

That’s why if you want to have a file upload form on your site, you should try to require users to registered and login before being able to upload any files. This way they have to get past the honeypot feature or reCAPTCHA you have in place on your login form.

In addition, you can restrict the types of file extensions you’ll allow so hackers can’t just upload any file type.

File Upload Form Best Practices

Lastly, limit the size of files that people can upload to your forms.

And there you have it! 4 proven strategies for creating secure WordPress forms so that both your website and your users’ data is safe from hackers with bad intentions.

If you’re looking for a secure way to send your WordPress form notification emails using Gmail, check out this guide to using Gmail SMTP with WP Mail SMTP.

So, what are you waiting for? Get started with the most powerful WordPress forms plugin today.

And don’t forget, if you like this article, then please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments

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