8 Best WordPress Security Plugins
Security plugins are a crucial part of your website or your clients’ website protection. To help you choose the best WordPress security plugin for your needs, we’ve collected 8 great options that can help with security hardening, firewalls, and malware scanning.
WordPress powers over 35% of all the websites on the Internet, which makes it a juicy target for malicious actors around the world.
If you want to secure your website, or your clients’ websites, a dedicated security plugin can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
To help you pick the best WordPress security plugin for your needs, we’ve collected eight great options that can help with security hardening, firewalls, and malware scanning.
Let’s dig in, starting with a quick overview of what most WordPress security plugins actually do.
What Do WordPress Security Plugins Do?
WordPress security is a pretty broad topic, so when I say “WordPress security plugin”, that can encompass a range of different features.
So before I get into the plugins, let’s go over what those different high-level features are so that you know what each of these tools is doing.
Basic Security Hardening
Basic security hardening is kind of a catch-all for “configuration changes or tools that make your WordPress website more secure.”
For example, security plugins will usually help you secure your login page with features such as:
- Limiting login attempts
- Two-factor authentication
- Changing the WordPress login URL
- Enforcing strong passwords
- Setting password expirations
- Adding a CAPTCHA
Those are all hardening tactics.
Other popular hardening strategies include monitoring the core WordPress files to detect if anything has been changed, disabling WordPress features such as XML-RPC, stopping user enumeration, etc.
Another tactic you’ll see mentioned a lot is a firewall.
Essentially, a website firewall is something that sits between your WordPress site and its visitors. Regular visitors have no problem using your site, but if the firewall detects malicious activity (via IP address, actions, etc.), then it will block that visitor before it can cause a problem.
With WordPress, you’ll see this called a web application firewall or WAF.
It’s important to note that not all firewalls are the same. That is, just because two plugins both offer a “firewall,” that doesn’t mean those tools are automatically equal because a firewall is only as good as the rules that it follows.
Some WordPress security plugins, like Wordfence, are constantly updating their firewall rules in real-time to adjust to emerging security threats. Others are basically a static set of rules that never change. Both can be useful – it’s just that one will be more effective at protecting you from new types of vulnerabilities.
Another popular part of WordPress security plugins is malware scanning. You’re probably familiar with this concept from running scans on your own computer.
Basically, the tool will scan your site for malicious code and return a report of anything that it finds.
Again, the effectiveness of malware scanning depends on its rules and approach. That is, just because two plugins both do “malware scanning,” that doesn’t make them equal.
First, just as with firewalls, you have differences in detection rules. A malware scanner relies on “malware signatures” to identify malware. So if your malware scanner doesn’t have a signature for an emergent threat, it might not be able to detect it.
Second, you have the approach. Some plugins/tools, like the popular Sucuri SiteCheck tool, only scan the front-end of your site. This can catch malware that’s detectable from the front-end of your website, but it wouldn’t detect malware that’s lurking hidden on your server.
To detect malware that isn’t manifesting itself on the front-end of your site, you’d need to use a malware scanner that scans all of the files on your server.
With that introduction out of the way, let’s help you pick the best WordPress security plugin for your needs.
8 Best WordPress Security Plugins
Here are the eight plugins that we’ll be looking at:
- iThemes Security
- All In One WP Security & Firewall
- BulletProof Security
- Cerber Security
Why Website Maintenance is Important
In order to prevent outsiders meddling with your stuff, we make sure your site is running the latest and greatest version of WordPress. These updates often include security patches, which close any doors and windows that hackers may have found in previous versions.
With Flywheel, these updates are automatic and usually happen within a few days of WordPress release.
Although it may not seem like a big deal, having hard-to-guess username and passwords really goes a long way on WordPress. Due to the uniform structure of WordPress, a lot of web bots will crawl across websites, simply appending a
/wp-admin to the domain name. If the page loads, the bot will start trying username and password combos starting with some of the most common insecure passwords. So if you have a user named
admin and a password of
password1234, you’re at a pretty high risk of getting hacked.
That’s why Flywheel goes to great lengths to ensure that our customers use strong passwords. From our app to WordPress itself, if you try to create a new password that doesn’t make the cut, we’ll let you know.
Intelligent IP address blocking on Flywheel detects intruders and blocks them across all sites on our servers within seconds.
We monitor popular points of entry for hackers and immediately lock out any IP address trying to get through. These points include:
- Failed SSH Access Attempts
- Failed WordPress Login Attempts
- Spam WordPress Comments
- XMLRPC Connections (which we fully block by default)
Flywheel uses a variety of techniques to block traffic starting with preventing known malicious IP addresses from opening a session with the server, which is a very severe and immediate action. Another softer layer of security we provide is our proprietary caching ban. This method detects “banned” access attempts and displays a cached page to the visitor stating that their connection has been banned. This method stops the connection at the highest layer of the Flywheel software stack and utilizes the fewest server resources while still presenting a user-friendly response. In the rare of occasion that a user has forgotten their password and keeps trying dozens of time in just a few minutes, they’ll see a ban page but will be presented with easy, on-screen instructions to get their IP un-banned.
Since banned IP information is shared across sites, we develop a kind of “herd immunity” to malicious actors in real time as the attacks come in. So your site’s protected from hackers before they even try to attack your site.
Find out more about WordPress Security Plugins.