What are Security Keys?
Security Keys in WordPress are sequences of random characters that serve two main functions: authorization and encryption of cookies. This task is paramount, as it directly relates to the overall security structure of a WordPress site.
Interestingly, these keys can be defined by users at any point in their journey of using WordPress, contributing to a system where the user has direct control over their site’s safety.
Do Security Keys Need to be Defined During WordPress Installation?
In the initial stage of setting up a WordPress site, it might surprise some to learn that the provision of Security Keys isn’t obligatory.
Users are not required to provide these keys during installation, allowing the site to run smoothly even without user-defined Security Keys.
In instances where the user doesn’t input these keys into their wp-config.php file, WordPress steps up to the plate and automatically generates these keys.
This automatic generation underscores WordPress’s commitment to maintaining site security, even when the user hasn’t defined these keys.
Defining Security Keys
Security keys are declared within the wp-config.php file. Here is an illustration of how this definition process looks like:
- define(‘AUTH_KEY’, ‘put your unique phrase here’);
- define(‘SECURE_AUTH_KEY’, ‘put your unique phrase here’);
- define(‘LOGGED_IN_KEY’, ‘put your unique phrase here’);
- define(‘NONCE_KEY’, ‘put your unique phrase here’);
- define(‘AUTH_SALT’, ‘put your unique phrase here’);
- define(‘SECURE_AUTH_SALT’, ‘put your unique phrase here’);
- define(‘LOGGED_IN_SALT’, ‘put your unique phrase here’);
- define(‘NONCE_SALT’, ‘put your unique phrase here’);
These eight lines of code show how to define the four primary Security Keys (AUTH_KEY, SECURE_AUTH_KEY, LOGGED_IN_KEY, and NONCE_KEY) and the accompanying SALTs, which act as an additional protective layer for these keys.
It is crucial to note that the phrase ‘put your unique phrase here’ should be replaced with unique phrases obtained from the WordPress key generator.
Remember, the responsibility of generating these unique security keys rests solely with the user.
Benefits of Defining Security Keys
Defining these keys in your WordPress site brings along several benefits. The standout among them is their use as a tool for managing user sessions.
By deleting or resetting these keys, a WordPress admin has the power to force a logout for all users currently logged into the website.
This comes in handy in situations where the admin wants to ensure that all user sessions are terminated for reasons such as a potential security breach.
Understanding Security Keys and Salts
In total, there are four security keys and four salts. Salts are additional strings that provide an extra layer of protection, acting as an extra password for these keys.
The combination of keys and salts results in a robust security system that ensures your WordPress site’s safety.