If you’re a blogger there’s a good chance that your blog is powered by WordPress.
If it is, I recommend that you check the version of PHP that’s currently active on your web server. If it’s running a version that’s lower than 7 you really need to update it to at least PHP 7.0 before the end of December.
If you’re unfamiliar with PHP, that’s the web programming language that the WordPress core files are written in. In other words, PHP is the engine that powers your WordPress blog.
As with virtually everything else that’s related to WordPress, older versions of PHP will eventually be retired and stop receiving security updates. And that’s about to happen with PHP on December 31, 2018.
That means your blog will be vulnerable to hackers after December 31 unless you update your server’s PHP version to at least 7.0!
If your web hosting company is on the ball there’s a good chance that your server is already running PHP 7.0 or higher.
Luckily, you can quickly find out by installing a plugin called Display PHP Version. Just follow the steps below:
1 – Log in to your WordPress Dashboard.
2 – Click Plugins>Add New.
3 – Type display php version into the search box.
4 – You should now see the Display PHP Version plugin listed at the top of the search results. Click the Install Now button.
5 – Click Activate.
6 – Now click the Dashboard link to display your blog’s Dashboard screen. You should now see your server’s current PHP version displayed in the “At a Glance” section.
If the PHP version you see is anything lower than PHP 7.0 I strongly recommend that you update it to at least 7.0 ASAP.
Depending on your web hosting plan, you might be able to update your server’s PHP version yourself via the server’s Control Panel. If not, your web host’s tech support folks can do it for you.
Be aware that some WordPress themes and plugins aren’t compatible with PHP 7 even if they have been updated to the latest versions.
That means your blog could possibly stop working correctly after you update to PHP 7 if it’s using one or more of those incompatible themes or plugins.
If that happens, don’t panic. You should be able to downgrade the PHP version back to the version you were running earlier long enough to track down and replace the theme or plugin that’s causing the problem.
If the thought of updating PHP yourself (and possibly breaking your blog in the process) makes you uncomfortable (and I can certainly understand why it would), your web host’s tech support folks should be able and willing to do it for you. Just be aware that they might charge you a fee for the service.
Bottom line: Hackers are constantly probing WordPress blogs looking for security vulnerabilities to exploit. You can eliminate one potentially huge security risk by updating your web server’s PHP version to at least 7.0 before January 1, 2019.
And by the way, updating to PHP 7 will also make your blog load faster. Something to look forward to!
Bonus tip #1: This post offers several other tips for protecting your WordPress blog from hackers.
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