January 20, 2024 by Paul G. | Blog, Security, Shield Security, WordPress Solutions

Prevent spam user registration in WordPress: 2024 guide

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Spam registrations are common on WordPress websites. WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, with over 60 percent market share. This makes it a prime target for scammers. It’s also, unfortunately, easy to create fake user accounts on the platform, requiring only an account name, email address, and password – all things spammers can simply invent. 

Fake registrations can cause extensive issues, such as hogging resources, spreading malware, and creating an unmanageable user base. 

WordPress doesn’t have a default functionality to combat spam user registrations, butthe good news is that plugins like Shield Security PRO can fill in the gap. Let’s take a look at some strategies for preventing spam user registrations. 

Introduction to spam registrations in WordPress 

WordPress spam registrations are when spammers create accounts on sites without any intention of using them for authentic purposes. Typically, spammers use automated programs or bots to create these accounts. Spammers may also use bots and spam accounts for phishing purposes, trying to acquire sensitive information from users and webmasters to compromise their security. 

Website owners often underestimate the harm spam registrations can cause. These range from immediate annoyances to long-term security problems and data distortion. 

For example, spam registrations can clog your inbox, causing surges of email notifications informing you of fake sign-ups for your website. Processing and deleting these emails and accounts without getting rid of legitimate users is time-consuming and challenging. 

Spam registrations can also overload server resources, affecting performance. Spam bots can make frequent login attempts, using up your bandwidth and making your website run slower for legitimate users. 

There can also be some considerable long-term consequences. Users may tire of spam comments and stop interacting with your content. You may also struggle to analyse user data, distorting your view of how your site is functioning. This can lead to security vulnerabilities and damage your site’s SEO. 

Strategies to prevent WordPress user registration spam 

This section covers various strategies and techniques that you can implement to prevent new user registration spam and improve the overall security of your WordPress site.

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Install a WordPress security plugin

The first strategy is to install a WordPress security plugin. Choosing the right security plugin not only helps prevent spam registrations on your WordPress site, but it also gives you access to a wide range of security features.

Shield Security PRO is the best plugin for improving the overall security of your WordPress site. The plugin’s key features include bad bot detection and blocking, invisible CAPTCHA codes, human and bot spam prevention, traffic rate limiting, and malware scanning. 

A screenshot of Shield Security PRO’s feature comparison. 

Here’s a rundown of Shield Security PRO’s features and how they can help protect your site:

Disable WordPress registration

Using a plugin like ShieldPRO is the best choice to ensure the ongoing security of your WordPress site. However, there are also manual methods you can employ to help prevent user registration spam.

Disabling user registration in WordPress is one strategy. This approach eliminates the problem of spam signups entirely. You could try this option if you don’t need to collect user information, run a website with limited resources, or simply want to provide audiences with information for free.

The steps to disable registration on your WordPress site are as follows: 

  1. From the WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > General.
  2. Next, go to “Membership” and uncheck the “Anyone can register” box.

It’s worth considering that this technique prevents you from collecting visitor details, which stops you from building email lists or marketing directly to your audience. It also reduces personalisation opportunities and limits community building. 

Add CAPTCHA to your user registration form

You can also try adding CAPTCHA to your user registration form. This prevents automated spam registrations by identifying bots before they can create accounts. 

Various forms of CAPTCHA plugins for your site exist, including: 

  • reCAPTCHA: Google reCAPTCHA is a free service that combines text and images in a user-friendly interface, designed to weed out bots
  • hCAPTCHA: hCAPTCHA is a free service that uses images and action-based tests to identify bots. This service is customisable and prioritises user privacy. 

ShieldPRO’s AntiBot Detection Engine (ADE) avoids the need to use CAPTCHA at all. Since the plugin automatically detects and blocks bots, there’s no reason to test your visitors for signs of nuts and bolts. 

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Implement geoblocking

You can also try geoblocking, a security method that limits website access to specific regions. It works by filtering IP addresses by location, only letting specific IPs enter the site. 

Geoblocking prevents spam from regions known for high levels of malicious activity. However, it also comes with various drawbacks. For example, it causes false positives, blocking legitimate site users just because they are in the wrong country. Spammers can also bypass it with proxy sites and VPNs.

Fortunately, ShieldPRO’s automated IP blocking technology more accurately and effectively stops spam users by blocking them after a specified number of offences. It detects malicious activity regardless of the traffic’s origin. 

Require manual approval for user registration

Manual user approvals can also mitigate spam registrations, offering significant benefits. The approach drastically reduces the chances of bot sign-up while also permitting you to collect legitimate user details. 

Drawbacks include the time-intensive nature of this method and the lack of scalability for larger WordPress sites. You may need to hire multiple full-time operatives to manage website administration, which can get pricey, fast.

Turn on email activation for user registration

Email activation for user registration is another popular technique to guard against spam registrations. It works by getting users to click a link in their email account to verify their details. 

Screenshot of Shield Security PRO’s email verification settings.

Shield Security PRO features a built-in email-checking feature. This tests to see if the email has a valid structure and is registered to a legitimate domain. It also checks if there are any mail exchange records for the domain, and determines if the email address goes to a disposable domain. These checks help to flag fake and temporary email addresses in user registrations. 

Block spam IP addresses

One of the primary ways Shield Security PRO works is by blocking malicious IP addresses once they’ve behaved badly enough to qualify as a bot. There is no one clear action an IP address can do on your site that proves it’s a bot. However, certain patterns of behaviour give bots away clear as day. 

“When you look at the activity as a whole” says Paul Goodchild, creator of Shield Security PRO, “a bot’s activity on a site is clearly distinguishable from human users.” 

The plugin then uses this clear indication as a signal to block the IP address entirely, stopping malicious activity in its tracks. The plugin also uses CrowdSec technology to minimise the risk of false positives and enable as many legitimate sign-ups as possible. 

Shield Security PRO Call-To-Action: Purchase

Secure your WordPress site with ShieldPRO today 

The damaging impact of spam user registrations can be substantial. It can cause clogged inboxes, distorted user analytics, and server overload. The long-term consequences are diminished website SEO, reputational damage, and security vulnerabilities due to phishing and malware. 

Fortunately, there are various methods to prevent spam user registrations on WordPress websites. The most effective option is to use a plugin like Shield SecurityPRO. This plugin keeps malicious bots off your website. Since most spam user registrations come from bots, this means you can rest a lot easier. 

Try ShieldPRO on their WordPress sites today with a 14-day money-back guarantee. Install it to maximise your WordPress security and get some well-earned peace of mind.

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