The latest version of iThemes Security includes a new time-saving security feature: the ability to easily change WordPress security keys and salts. To take advantage of this new feature, you’ll need to be running iThemes Security v4.6+ or iThemes Security Pro v1.14+.
You’ll find the latest versions available as an automatic update from the WordPress dashboard (for free and licensed Pro sites) or as a manual download from the iThemes Member Panel (for Pro users).
A Brief Overview of WordPress Keys & Salts
To better protect and ensure encryption of the login information stored in your WordPress cookies, WordPress includes secret authentication keys and salts in your wp-config.php file. Essentially, these are additional passwords for your site that are long, random and complicated—so they’re nearly impossible to break.
If you want to dig in a bit more to the technical explanations of cookies, secret keys and salts, you can check out these resources:
Changing Your Keys Every Now & Then Adds An Extra Layer of Ongoing Protection
Updating your keys and salts on a regular basis is another way to harden WordPress. Again, while the existing keys are extremely difficult to break, changing them every so often adds another layer of complexity.
Updating your keys & salts will force all logged in users to log in again, because changing them automatically invalidates the login of any user logged in to the site. For example, if you have any suspicions of trouble, updating your keys and salts will force the logout and reauthentication of all user logins. If someone with higher-level access to your site accidentally clicks “remember me” in their browser (say on a public computer), no unauthorized user will be able to gain access to the site due to information stored in the same browser.
How to Change Your WordPress Keys & Salts – The Manual Method
Before this update to iThemes Security, updating your keys and salts required you to manually edit your wp-config.php file. Here’s an explanation of what’s involved in making this change on your own:
1. As always, before you make any changes to important core files on your site, make a backup of your site with BackupBuddy. With BackupBuddy, you can even easily restore a single file, so you don’t have to worry if something goes wrong while making this edit.
2. Using an FTP client, open your wp-config.php file and locate the Authentication Unique Keys and Salts section.
3. Generate new keys using this secret key and salts generator from the WordPress API. Copy the new keys information from the generator.
4. Paste the new information into your wp-config.php file to overwrite the existing set. Save the file.
How iThemes Security Makes it Easy to Update Your WordPress Keys & Salts
iThemes Security makes updating your WordPress keys and salts easier in two ways:
- You get a reminder every 30 days to update your keys and salts – iThemes Security will send you a dashboard reminder to update your keys and salts so you never forget.
- You can update your keys and salts straight from your WordPress dashboard – iThemes Security allows you to update your keys and salts from within the plugin, so there’s no more having to manually generate a new set of keys and edit your wp-config.php file.
Update Your Keys & Salts with Two Clicks
Within the iThemes Security dashboard, click on the Advanced tab. On this screen, you’ll see the WordPress Salts section. Click the option to Change WordPress Salts and then click the Change WordPress Salts button.
That’s it! iThemes Security will go to work updating your keys and salts for you. Again, note that updating your keys & salts will force all logged in users to log in again.
Also—here’s a shoutout to our favorite office beach bum, Gerroald Barron, for his work as a new contributor on this feature. Way to go, Gerroald!
Get iThemes Security Pro
With iThemes Security Pro, you get great additional features to secure your WordPress site, including:
- Two-Factor Authentication – Easily add two-factor authentication to your WordPress site with Google Authenticator and iThemes Security Pro.
- Scheduled Malware Scanning – Get peace of mind knowing you have scheduled scans of your WordPress sites. iThemes Security will let you know if anything malicious is detected.
- reCAPTCHA – Integrate Google’s new reCAPTCHA with your WordPress site to add an extra layer of protection to your WordPress login pages.
- And lots more! Check out all the iThemes Security Pro features.
Kristen has been writing tutorials to help WordPress users since 2011. You can usually find her working on new articles for the iThemes blog or developing resources for #WPprosper. Outside of work, Kristen enjoys journaling (she’s written two books!), hiking and camping, cooking, and daily adventures with her family, hoping to live a more present life.