In Information Technology, the Principle of Least Privilege means that people should have only the level of access and capability that they truly need. When people can access more info than they need, or have abilities that they don’t need, there’s a greater potential that they’ll cause damage (accidentally or deliberately). Also, never underestimate the risk of someone’s account being hacked. If someone nefarious gets access to an account, you don’t want that account to have any more permissions than it should!
In my years in IT, I dealt with enough security issues in small businesses and corporations to know firsthand the importance of the Principle of Least Privilege. Following it more closely would’ve prevented many problems and saved a lot of time and money! I’ve been saddened to see the same laxity in how companies handle their websites. Don’t worry, I’ll put you on the path to fixing that right now!
It’s wise to apply the Principle of Least Privilege to your website and other online accounts. To do this effectively, each user should have a separate account. That way, you can set granular (specific) permissions. When you share accounts, it’s harder to do that. See 3 Reasons to Never Share Your WordPress Login and What to do Instead.
Let’s look at how to apply the Principle of Least Privilege to a few specific accounts related to your WordPress website.
Have each user use a separate account. Use the lowest possible user role. Don’t make someone an Administrator if they only need to be an Editor. For more granular control, use the User Role Editor plugin, or try the Webmaster User Role plugin.
If you use User Role Editor, don’t edit the default roles; instead, copy a role to create a new one. For example, copy Editor and add only the capabilities the new role needs.
Have each user use a separate account. Give that account access to the lowest/deepest directory/folder necessary. For example, don’t give access to the /public_html/ directory if the user only needs access to /public_html/website_folder/.
By the way, use SFTP or FTPS, not plain FTP. SFTP and FTPS are secure; FTP is definitely not; it sends your password in plain text over the Internet (not good).
Give the user access to the lowest level necessary (View, Property, or Account). See Add, modify, and delete users.
Grant the user the least permissions necessary. See User permissions.
Google Search Console
Create the user as a User, unless they truly need to be an Owner.
If you create a User, give the least permissions necessary. See Managing users, owners, and permissions.
Protect Your Website!
Now that you know why and how to protect your website using the Principle of Least Privilege, do it! As always, if you need help securing your WordPress website, please contact us.