Best WordPress security plugins: WordPress being the world’s preferred CMS, WordPress websites are the number one target for hack attempts. Being a popular website building platform automatically puts a target on its back. Hence, it’s not surprising that 90,978 hack attempts are made on WordPress websites every single minute of the day. And not just that, when a website is hacked, hackers use it to execute malicious activities like sending spam emails, attacking other websites, injecting spam links, redirect your visitors to their own website, etc.
It’s important to prevent hack attacks on your website. To mitigate hack attempts, you can use the top WordPress security plugins that offer hundreds of features. Question is, are these features useful or are they just offering a false sense of security? What are the must-have features for the best WordPress security plugins? Let’s find out.
Features That the Best WordPress Security Plugins Should Possess:
1. Ability to Identify New & Complex Malware
Not all scanners work in the same manner. Some security scanners only skim through the website in search of known malware. And others use deep malware scanning technology that enables them to find new and complex malware.
The former relies on the list of known malware. When scanning your website, it matches suspicious files with the list of pre-existing malware. Upon finding a match, it raises an alarm. This is an inefficient way of protecting WordPress websites. Such scanners fail to find new and complex malware. Deep malware scanners from security plugins like MalCare go beyond just signature matching to find malware that would go undetected by weak scanners.
The technology behind deep scanning works like this: all files from your website are transferred to the WP security plugin’s own server. Whenever new files are added to your site in the form of posts, comments, plugins, etc., the security service transfers those files onto its own server. This way, the plugin can keep track of all changes made on your site and investigate those changes. This enables the plugin to find hidden and complex malware.
Another very important factor to consider when choosing the best WordPress security plugins is whether the scanner affects the performance of your site. If the scanner takes all files from the website onto its own server and then runs the scan, your website will experience no downtime. Your site won’t slow down giving your visitors a smooth browsing experience.
2. Ability to Wipe Off All Traces of Malware
A popular notion amongst many WordPress website owners is that a hacked site can be manually cleaned. But there are many challenges to manual cleanups. This article explains the inefficiency of manual cleaning well. That said, the best WordPress security plugins should have a powerful cleaner that surgically removes all traces of malware permanently from the website.
Sometimes, backups are restored in hopes of getting rid of the malware on the website. It could take days or months for the actual attack to come to light. And by that time it may be too late to salvage the situation.
Sometimes a considerable amount of time has passed since you created your last backup. In this case, the strategy of rolling back to it might lead to loss of data. Loss of data, particularly for WooCommerce sites is unacceptable.
3. Ability to Prevent Bad Traffic From Accessing the Site
WordPress sites are often targeted because of their widespread use and popularity. To counter this, the best WordPress security plugins offer firewall services. A WordPress firewall filters all incoming traffic that wants access to your site.
There are three types of WordPress Firewall and those are:
- Plugin based firewall
- Cloud-based firewall and
- In-built firewall
The Plugin based firewall works like any other plugin and can be installed directly on a WordPress website. The cloud-based firewall makes use of a more advanced cloud technology to block malicious traffic from accessing your site. And the inbuilt firewall is a service provided by the web host themselves. It is built with the intention of protecting the web host infrastructure.
4. Ability to Prevent Malicious Login Attempts
Login protection is usually aimed at protecting the website from brute-force attacks. Brute-force attacks are one of the most common types of hack attempts made on WordPress websites. It involves a hacker trying to gain access to your site by entering usernames and passwords repeatedly until a successful combination is found.
The best WordPress security plugins can offer you protection against malicious login attempts by,
- Making it mandatory for users to create a unique username and complex passwords.
- A login lockdown using a captcha based system makes sure that bots are kept away and only trusted users enter the site.
- Restricting the number of failed login attempts by using HTTP authentication.
- Delaying login attempts after a specified number of failed attempts. This slows down the brute-force attack.
- Two-factor authentication also provides a second layer of defence when the first one fails. It demands an extra piece of information apart from the username and password that only the user can provide.
5. Ability to Manage Website Updates
Given the number of hack attempts made on WordPress website, it’s not surprising to find out that there are several plugins. Threats are continually evolving to adapt to these new security measures. Hence, the faster you catch up to these changes the less vulnerable your site will be.
Plugins and themes are updated by developers in response to the latest threats. If these aren’t updated, hackers could use these vulnerabilities. It is up to the user to constantly update the site to protect it from new forms of threats. By using an older version of the plugin/theme the site is opened up to a lot of vulnerabilities.
Malicious bots and hackers are regularly looking out for sites using out-of-date plugins or themes. No site is too big or too small to attack. Hence keeping your software updated is a simple and effective method of keeping it safe. Some security plugins for WordPress come with website updating features. This enables you to update the WordPress core, plugins and themes from the security service’s dashboard. You don’t have to login into all your WordPress sites and then update them. It saves you time and effort.
6. Ability to Harden Your Website Security
Security hardening is the practice of controlling all the possible ways through which your website can get attacked. These measures can include removing unwanted software, easy to guess username/password or disabling any untrustworthy services provides by themes and plugins.
WordPress recommends a number of ways by which you can harden your site’s security. These include blocking a plugin installation to disabling a file editor to changing security keys in the event of a hack. The best WordPress security plugins enable you to harden your website. For instance, MalCare allows users to Block PHP Execution in Untrusted Folders, Change Database Prefix, Disable Files Editor, Block Plugin/Theme Installation, Reset all Passwords and Change Security Keys.
7. Ability to Provide Backup Services
The best WordPress security services must also provide backups as they go a long way in protecting your WordPress site. It is a fundamental step that needs to be ticked off while implementing any type of security protocol. After hacking your site, who knows what the hackers can do with your site. After cleaning your site and patching all backdoors you may find that some of your content is missing. If you have a backup of your site, you can easily restore it and get your site up and running in no time. Taking backups are essentials for e-commerce websites. In the event of a disaster, you’ll end up losing customer order if you don’t have backups.
Things to Consider About Backups of Websites
It’s important to remember that WordPress backup services do much more than just backup websites. There are a few things you need to consider when looking at the backup services that security plugins provide. And those are they should provide incremental backups that ensure every part of your website is backed up. It’s ideal for backing up a large website. A good service takes multiple backups as a precautionary measure. If one backup fails, you still have other backups that you can use at times of crisis. Another very important feature of a good backup service provider is that it allows users to store backups in other places like a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive, or to simply download them to your computer but in an encrypted manner.
The location where your backups are being stored should be safe. Many backup plugins tend to store backups in the website’s own server which means your website has to carry the burden of both running the site and storing the backups. This could slow down your website. Hence, ideally, backups should be off-site and off-server. Real-time backups are important for those running WooCommerce sites. In case something happens to your websites, you won’t lose a single order if you had been taking real-time backups. Besides this, an independent dashboard would ensure that you can access your dashboard if your site goes down. And finally, the backup service that you choose should be capable of quickly restoring your website so that you can get your site up and running as soon as possible.
It’s worth noting that while we strongly recommend taking those measures, do run a complete WordPress security audit to learn what sort of security measures your website requires.
Over to You
One can always opt for standalone plugins for each one of these features. But using too many plugins can lead to complications because a lot of times one plugin is incompatible with another. The best solution would be to secure your website using comprehensive WordPress security plugins that combine all the above features in its offering.
Besides using a plugin, you can take a few more security measures like IP blocking, protecting the login page, securing site with wp-config.php, and following this complete guide on WordPress security to learn further on how to secure your WordPress site.