When I first started doing support for WordPress sites, in order to have everything at my fingertips, I needed administrative access to my clients’ sites.
Many clients had such trust in me that, without a moment’s hesitation, they sent me their own username and password. In fact, I recall one email I received with the login to not only their site, but six social platforms, their MailChimp account, their FTP and their hosting login.
Providing too much user access is an avoidable security risk.
As much as I appreciated their confidence in me and their willingness to share all their personal data, after I recovered from my shock, I recommended that they create a new username and password solely for me, something they could easily delete when I was done.
Despite this recommendation, I found that many clients never deleted my login credentials. Sometimes I would get notified of updates to their site, which told me that I was still an authorized user. Or they would contact me a couple of years later for more support, and seemed surprised that I didn’t keep my original user access credentials.
Just the other day, someone asked me about deleting the user account of the person who created her site. Things had turned in their relationship and she no longer wanted him to have access, but she didn’t know if there would be negative implications if she removed him. I told her to make sure that when she deleted his account, she assigned his content to her username; she was still afraid that something would go wrong. No one should be put in that position.
The fact remains that there will be times when you need someone to go into your site. Whether you are granting full or limited user access, there is a process for safely sharing access to your site.
Create a NEW username and password for them
Sending your own login information is risky, but it’s easy to create a new one and assign them the appropriate level of user access. Normally, you can just tick the box to send them their login. If you choose to do it another way, make sure to copy that password down before adding them as a user.
Assign limited user access
There are several plugins for WordPress that allow you to create or edit user roles, like the User Role Editor. It makes editing existing roles or creating new ones easy. You will be able to choose what capabilities that specific user role gets.
For example, you could give them access to everything, but not allow them to be able to delete any posts or pages while they are in there. It can be fine-tuned down to the smallest detail.
It’s important to delete those users to whom you have given access to your site when they are no longer needed. It’s not always an easy thing to remember. That is where a plugin like Support Me comes in handy. This plugin will let you create that support user name and add an expiration date to make sure it gets deleted. It can be set to expire in minutes, hours or even days. If you aren’t sure of how long the account will be needed, set it for a minimum amount of time. You can always give them additional access time if needed.
You are giving people access to your site. This can be a scary thing.
Don’t post a problem on Facebook and let some stranger pop into your admin with full access. As much as we would like to think that we can trust most people, a lot of damage could be done in a short amount of time.
One last tip: Before you let anyone access your site, always do a full backup. Better safe than sorry!
Also published on Medium.