How To Automatically Change WordPress Salt Keys

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WordPress is a widely-used content management system (CMS) that powers over 40% of all websites on the internet. One of the security measures that WordPress uses to protect its users’ data is the use of salt keys, which are randomly generated strings of characters used to encrypt sensitive information such as passwords and cookies.

However, the default salt keys in WordPress are static, which means that if a hacker gets hold of them, they can potentially use them to decrypt the encrypted data. To avoid this, it is recommended to change the salt keys periodically. In this article, we will discuss how to automatically change WordPress salt keys.

How to automatically change WordPress salt keys:

Create a salt key generator script

To change the salt keys automatically, we need to create a script that can generate new salt keys. You can create a simple PHP script that generates a new set of keys using the following code:

echo base64_encode(openssl_random_pseudo_bytes(64));

This code generates a random string of characters and encodes it using base64 encoding.

Set up a cron job

Once you have the salt key generator script, you need to set up a cron job that runs the script periodically to generate new salt keys. A cron job is a time-based scheduler in Linux that allows you to automate tasks.

To set up a cron job, follow these steps:

1. Connect to your server using SSH.

      2. Type the following command to open the crontab file:

      crontab -e

      3. Add the following line to the crontab file to run the script every month at midnight:

        0 0 1 * * php /path/to/salt-key-generator.php

        4. Save the file and exit.

        This cron job will run the salt key generator script every month at midnight and generate new salt keys.

        Update the WordPress configuration file

        Once the new salt keys are generated, you need to update the WordPress configuration file to use the new keys. The WordPress configuration file is located in the root directory of your WordPress installation and is named wp-config.php.

        Open the wp-config.php file in a text editor and locate the following lines:

        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');

        Replace the values of these keys with the new salt keys generated by the script.


        Changing WordPress salt keys periodically is an important security measure to protect your website from potential hacking attempts. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set up a cron job that automatically generates new salt keys and updates the WordPress configuration file. This ensures that your website remains secure and your users’ data is protected.

        Things To Consider When Automatically Change WordPress Salt Keys

        Frequency of salt key changes: The frequency of salt key changes should be decided based on the level of security required and the sensitivity of the data stored on your website. Changing the salt keys every month or every quarter is a good practice to follow.

        Back up the old salt keys: It is important to backup the old salt keys before updating them with new ones. This is because some plugins or custom code on your website may be using the old salt keys, and updating them without a backup can result in unexpected issues.

        Use a secure method to store the new salt keys: When generating and storing the new salt keys, it is important to use a secure method to ensure that the keys are not compromised. One way to do this is to store the new salt keys in a separate file outside of the WordPress root directory, which can be accessed by the WordPress configuration file when needed.

        Test the new salt keys: After updating the WordPress configuration file with the new salt keys, it is important to test the website to ensure that everything is working as expected. This includes logging in, logging out, and any other features that use the salt keys.

        By considering these points, you can ensure that the automatic salt key changing process is safe, effective, and provides the necessary level of security for your website.

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