GlobalSign Blog

31 Aug 2018

The Best WordPress Security Plugins

The popularity of WordPress as a website development tool can be estimated from the fact that WordPress is today available in 68 languages. Since its launch in May 2003, this open source software tool has become the preferred tool for web developers all across the globe.

WordPress currently powers 75 million websites. Free to install and deploy, WordPress has been used to develop thousands of free plugins and themes, thus reducing the costs of development and deployment.

However, according to industry estimates, more than 70 percent of WordPress installations are vulnerable to hacker and malware attacks. This is primarily due to the running of outdated WordPress plugins or themes on the website. Among the top priorities for website owners is to ensure the smooth functioning and security of their websites and to keep them protected from a variety of threats including malware, bots, brute force attacks, and so on. So, what can WordPress site owners do to change this trend?

Fortunately, installing the right WordPress security plugin can help ensure website security along with quick recovery in the event of the website getting hacked. Here is a comparison of the best WordPress security plugins available in the market.

MalCare

Malcare logo

MalCare uses its own off-site servers so client servers aren’t overloaded. It was developed by the same team that was behind the successful BlogVault plugin for website backups. Along with an intelligent malware scanner and cleaner, MalCare offers a user-friendly approach towards Login Protection and Web Application Firewall services, thus making it suitable for non-technical users too.

Features of MalCare

  • Automatic and on-demand malware scanning configuration.
  • 100+ intelligent signals scanning technology.
  • Use of off-site servers for malware scanning and cleaning, thus preventing overload of client servers.
  • Tracking of any changes to critical files.
  • Minimal false positives since MalCare goes beyond signature matching of malware by actually verifying the malware presence before reporting it.
  • One-click automatic removal of malware.
  • Protection from brute force attacks.
  • Website hardening measures.
  • Integrated backup feature.
  • User management and dashboard.
  • MalCare can be configured for daily automatic scanning or for forced one-click scanning.
  • One-click and user-friendly malware cleaning functionality.
  • MalCare can easily be used for website hardening practices like changing security keys, disabling file editor, disallowing execution of PHP in Uploads folder, etc, for protecting the website backend that are recommended by WordPress for security purposes.
  • Prevents WordPress website slowing down as MalCare is executed on its own servers and hence, monitors file changes and reports malware without impacting the performance of the website.
  • Supports multi-sites, per WordPress instalment.
  • Supports built-in advanced incremental backup technology, which is integral for post-hack website restoration.
  • Doesn’t support two-factor authentication for user logins.
  • No automatic (by default) updating of plugin or themes .

Pros of MalCare

  • MalCare can be configured for daily automatic scanning or for forced one-click scanning.
  • One-click and user-friendly malware cleaning functionality.
  • MalCare can easily be used for website hardening practices like changing security keys, disabling file editor, disallowing execution of PHP in Uploads folder, etc, for protecting the website backend that are recommended by WordPress for security purposes.
  • Prevents WordPress website slowing down as MalCare is executed on its own servers and hence, monitors file changes and reports malware without impacting the performance of the website.
  • Supports multi-sites, per WordPress instalment.
  • Supports built-in advanced incremental backup technology, which is integral for post-hack website restoration.

Cons of MalCare

  • Doesn’t support two-factor authentication for user logins.
  • No automatic (by default) updating of plugin or themes .

Pricing

MalCare offers a free version, which includes malware scanning and firewall protection. The paid versions start at a price of $8.25 per month.

Wordfence

wordfence logo

With security features including protection against brute force attacks and two-factor authentication, the WordFence open source security plugin is very popular among WordPress users with more than 2 million downloads. Among other features, the Threat Defense Feed strengthens the security plugin with the latest updates on firewalls, malware signatures, and bad IP addresses.

Features of WordFence

  • Real-time online monitoring using the Threat Defense Feed.
  • Integrated Web Application Firewall (or WAF).
  • Timely alerts of security scans.
  • Repairing of hacked files.
  • Blocking of bad IP addresses.
  • Multisite security functionality.
  • Website caching.
  • Scanning and reporting of compromised files on the website.
  • A server-side caching tool that enhances the performance of the website.
  • WordFence firewall that is effective in blocking malware attacks or any backdoor attacks.
  • Email alerts to users for security plugin or theme updating.
  • Live and real-time statistics of your website traffic.
  • Regular updates to the WordFence plugin.
  • Paid or premium customers get priority support from customer service
  • Generates a lot of notifications over minor security issues
  • Since Wordfence runs on user’s servers, it can lead to overloading their server during the scanning process, thus impacting website performance in a shared host environment
  • The free version is without important features including real-time monitoring, mobile phone sign-in, scheduled scanning of malware, country blocking, and password audit

Pros of WordFence

  • Scanning and reporting of compromised files on the website.
  • A server-side caching tool that enhances the performance of the website.
  • WordFence firewall that is effective in blocking malware attacks or any backdoor attacks.
  • Email alerts to users for security plugin or theme updating.
  • Live and real-time statistics of your website traffic.
  • Regular updates to the WordFence plugin.

Cons of WordFence

  • Paid or premium customers get priority support from customer service
  • Generates a lot of notifications over minor security issues
  • Since Wordfence runs on user’s servers, it can lead to overloading their server during the scanning process, thus impacting website performance in a shared host environment
  • The free version is without important features including real-time monitoring, mobile phone sign-in, scheduled scanning of malware, country blocking, and password audit

Pricing

A free version is available, which includes basic scanning and firewall protection functionality. The premium versions start at a per annum price of $99.

Sucuri

Sucuri logo

Among the leading cloud-based security companies, Sucuri has a range of products and services that are compatible with WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, PHP, .NET, and HTML websites. The cloud-based Active Monitoring Log feature of this security plugin can detect potential security threats and malware attacks.

Features of Sucuri

  • File integrity and website blacklisting removal alerts.
  • Active Monitoring Log feature.
  • Remote scanning of malware.
  • Website hardening measures..
  • Supports multisite.
  • Post-hacking website security actions.
  • Timely notifications of security threats.
  • Integrated Website Application Firewall (or WAF).
  • Intrusion prevention system (or IPS).
  • Content Distribution Network (or CDN).
  • Cloud-based website backup services.
  • Real-time mitigation of DDoS attacks.
  • Effective detection and blocking of DDoS attacks.
  • Enhanced website security through WAF and IPS functionalities.
  • Easy and quick cleaning and restoration of hacked websites.
  • CDN caching services improve site performance by reducing page load time.
  • Regular researching and reporting of potential WordPress security issues in the Sucuri Knowledge Bank by the Sucuri team, which helps site owners keep up to date with WordPress Security news.
  • Firewall and scheduled malware scanning only available with the premium version.
  • Each scanning and cleaning procedure can cost up to $500.

Pros of Sucuri

  • Effective detection and blocking of DDoS attacks.
  • Enhanced website security through WAF and IPS functionalities.
  • Easy and quick cleaning and restoration of hacked websites.
  • CDN caching services improve site performance by reducing page load time.
  • Regular researching and reporting of potential WordPress security issues in the Sucuri Knowledge Bank by the Sucuri team, which helps site owners keep up to date with WordPress Security news.

Cons of Sucuri

  • Firewall and scheduled malware scanning only available with the premium version.
  • Each scanning and cleaning procedure can cost up to $500.

Pricing

Sucuri offers a free version that includes features such as scanning, auditing, and some website hardening. Premium or paid version is priced at around $200 for a year.

iThemes Security

ithemes security logo

Also known as Better WP Security, iThemes Security offers protection from over 40 types of vulnerabilities. Some features include WordPress website lock down, fixes for common vulnerabilities, blocking of automated attacks, and enforcing strong user credentials (login username and password).

Features of iThemes Security

  • Two-factor authentication.
  • Protection from brute force attacks.
  • Monitoring of any changes to core files.
  • Security threat detection.
  • User actions logging.
  • Data obfuscation and database recovery.
  • Compatibility with multiple sites.
  • Detection of hidden 404 Errors on the website.
  • Database backups.
  • Security-related tutorials.
  • Effective website protection by procedures including the renaming of vulnerable content folders, database table prefix changes, and login URL.
  • Enforces the usage of the latest and updated version of WordPress plugins and themes.
  • Enforcement of strong passwords for all user accounts.
  • Vacation mode feature to block malicious bots and code from the login page.
  • Monitoring of any file modifications.
  • Two-factor authentication for user logins, Google CAPTCHA features, and banning of users or bots after repeated login failures help prevent brute force attacks.
  • Tracking of all user activities from logging in until logging out.
  • Detection and quick fixing of website vulnerabilities.
  • Prevention of any unauthorised changes to core files.
  • Ticketed customer support only available for premium customers.
  • Some features, such as scheduled scanning, two-factor authentication, and password expiry only available for premium customers.

Pros of iThemes Security

  • Effective website protection by procedures including the renaming of vulnerable content folders, database table prefix changes, and login URL.
  • Enforces the usage of the latest and updated version of WordPress plugins and themes.
  • Enforcement of strong passwords for all user accounts.
  • Vacation mode feature to block malicious bots and code from the login page.
  • Monitoring of any file modifications.
  • Two-factor authentication for user logins, Google CAPTCHA features, and banning of users or bots after repeated login failures help prevent brute force attacks.
  • Tracking of all user activities from logging in until logging out.
  • Detection and quick fixing of website vulnerabilities.
  • Prevention of any unauthorised changes to core files.

Cons of iThemes Security

  • Ticketed customer support only available for premium customers.
  • Some features, such as scheduled scanning, two-factor authentication, and password expiry only available for premium customers.

Pricing

Paid versions are priced starting from $80 a year. You can find the free version in the WordPress repo.

SecuPress

Secupress logo

SecuPress, from WP Media simplifies website security, performance, loading speed, and memory usage with a clean and easily understandable dashboard interface. It can auto-fix file issues on its own after scanning. SecuPress protects your backend data, as well.

Features of SecuPress

  • Both scheduled and automatic malware scanning.
  • Regular file and database backups.
  • Automatic detection of vulnerable plugins and themes.
  • Anti-spam feature.
  • Integrated backup feature.
  • Security key protection.

Pros of SecuPress

  • Continuous email alerts in the event of a brute force attack.
  • Automatic relocation of the login authentication page to another address on detection of any brute force attack.
  • Enforcement of strong user passwords, double user authentication, profile page protection, and WordPress plugin updates.
  • Security hardening features, including disabling of .zip upload files, plugins and themes, XML-RPC, and hotlinking to protect website backend from hackers and bots.
  • Each malware removal request costs an extra €149.
  • Professional configuration of SecuPress costs an extra €99.
  • Usage on multi sites is only available for premium customers.

Cons of SecuPress

  • Each malware removal request costs an extra €149.
  • Professional configuration of SecuPress costs an extra €99.
  • Usage on multi sites is only available for premium customers.

Pricing

SecuPress offers a free version as well as a premium version priced from $59 a year.

SiteLock

Sitelock logo

SiteLock is a cloud-based security product that provides automatic website protection through many features, such as the DNS-level firewall, which automatically scans for malware and also enhances the overall speed and performance of the website. SiteLock can also generate malware reports for immediate user action.

Features of SiteLock

  • Daily malware scanning.
  • Automatic detection and cleaning of malware.
  • Built-in Web Application Firewall (or WAF).
  • Removal from blacklists.
  • Protection from DDoS attacks.
  • Offers a wide range of security products for WordPress websites.
  • Repeated scanning of the website for detection and removal of malware.
  • Scanning of website pages in draft mode.
  • Effective white box testing for website analysis.
  • Blocking of harmful requests by Web Application Firewall.
  • SiteLock does not offer important security hardening features like changing security keys or disabling access to backend completely.
  • No free version available.

Pros of SiteLock

  • Offers a wide range of security products for WordPress websites.
  • Repeated scanning of the website for detection and removal of malware.
  • Scanning of website pages in draft mode.
  • Effective white box testing for website analysis.
  • Blocking of harmful requests by Web Application Firewall.

Cons of SiteLock

  • SiteLock does not offer important security hardening features like changing security keys or disabling access to backend completely.
  • No free version available.

Pricing

SiteLock offers a premium version priced from $30 every month. They also offer a free consultation.

Bottom Line

Most website owners find it challenging to comply with the security needs of their websites due to the complexity of potential online threats. Selecting the security plugin that works best for your particular website is a good start to tackling this problem. Hopefully, this article will help you learn more about all the options available to you. Let us know which security service you love and use!

Editor’s Note: There are many aspects to website security and while the plugins discussed above cover many of them, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind readers of the importance of HTTPS while we’re on the subject. HTTP sites are starting to be flagged as “not secure”. Don’t let this happen to your site; check out our guide here – A Step-by-step Guide to Choosing an SSL Certificate.

About the Author

I'm Akshat Choudhary, the founder and CEO of BlogVault, MigrateGuru & MalCare. I love building products that solve real problems for real people and have been building systems and products since 2005. My core beliefs behind building any product are to make sure the end-user doesn't need assistance and to assist them in the best possible manner if they need it.

Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.

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