WordPress Firewall vs WordPress Antivirus: Which One to Choose?


7-layers of Security for Your WordPress Site

Your website needs the most comprehensive security to protect it from the constant attacks it faces everyday.

WordPress Firewall vs WordPress Antivirus: The risks that WordPress websites face today is unlike any other CMS. With over 60 million sites using WordPress, it’s no wonder that WordPress sites are the number one target by hackers. Some 90,978 hack attempts are made on WordPress every site every single minute. Moreover, once your website is hacked, hacked use it to execute malicious activities, like sending spam emails, attacking other websites, injecting spam links, redirect your visitors to their websites, etc. 

All these make it absolutely essential for site owners to look for security options.

Today there are hundreds of security and recovery options available in the market. Your search for an ideal security solution can soon get your confused and spent. Over the years, the two most common security measures that site owners look for are ‘WordPress firewall’ and ‘WordPress antivirus.’ In this post, we’d take a look at these security services to find out which one is better or more suited for providing WordPress security.

WordPress Firewall vs WordPress Antivirus

WordPress Firewall

Firewalls are constructed in buildings to stop the fire from spreading until it’s extinguished or one side of the wall is burned out. Likewise, website firewalls are used as prevention against website security breach. A website firewall acts like a gatekeeper that sits in front of the site to block or minimize threats like hack attempts. WordPress firewall as the name suggests is a firewall built specifically for WordPress websites.

How Does a WordPress Firewall Work?

Understanding how firewall works enable us to measure the quality of security it provides to websites. Let’s have a look at how a very basic WordPress firewall works:

When a visitor sends a request to access your site, that request is first sent to the firewall. The firewall follows a list of predetermined rules to check whether the request is malicious or valid. If the request is suspicious or malicious (like it’s made a marked IP address, etc.), then the firewall blocks it from accessing your website.

There are three major types of WordPress firewall and depending on where you want the security measure to be deployed; you can choose one. There is a plugin-based firewall, a cloud-based firewall and in-built firewall.

  • Plugin-based firewalls can be installed like any other plugin on a WordPress site. They sit close to your site to prevent common hack attempts. They come with predetermined rules to check the validity of a request made to access your site.
  • Cloud-based firewalls, on the other hand, sit away from the website but when someone tries to access your website, their request is sent to the cloud firewall. It uses various technologies to check if the request is valid.
  • And then there is an inbuilt firewall found in a web host. These firewalls are more focused on protecting the infrastructure of the hosting provider than the websites. The sites are protected as an extension of their protective measures.

Now that we know how WordPress firewall functions and provides security to your WordPress site, let’s find out the many advantages and disadvantages of using WordPress firewalls.

Pros of WordPress Firewall

  • A firewall helps prevent bad traffic from accessing your WordPress site.
  • It can be configured to prevent specific attacks like the SQL injection attack, or brute force attacks or even attacks via utilizing plugin vulnerabilities.
  • It helps reduce security risks and chances of security breaches.

Cons of WordPress Firewall

  • WordPress firewalls cannot guarantee that your site won’t get hacked. It can only mitigate hack attempts and reduce chances of a hack.
  • Sometimes they end up blocking off valid requests or visitors from your site.
  • Some WordPress firewalls require special configuration which is not ideal for site users who don’t want to invest time setting up WordPress firewall.
  • Moreover, the firewall doesn’t scan or detect for malware, nor does it clean them from hacked websites.

As you can see, while WordPress firewall provides significant protection to WordPress sites, it fails to provide complete security. Now let’s take a look at WordPress antivirus and the kind of protection it provides to websites.

WordPress Antivirus

WordPress antiviruses are built to scan websites looking for malware that can potentially harm the site. Antiviruses typically perform two jobs: one, scan and delete malware that exists in a site and two, clean them.

How Does a WordPress Antivirus Work?

Scanning involves a thorough investigation of all the files and folders in a site to look for any malware infestation. A common procedure is to check files for existing malware, i.e. malware that is commonly found in websites. A simple website scanner has a list of known malware and checks whether any of that malware are present in the site. This whole process is called ‘signature matching’.

An antivirus cleans a site by removing all infected files on your WordPress website. To minimize damage, it is recommended that you clean your site as soon as possible.

Pros of WordPress Antivirus

  • It could lead your site to be blacklisted by Google, lose visitors, spam visitors, among other things. Some of the attacks that a good WordPress antivirus will protect you against are – File Inclusion, and Arbitrary Code Execution, Backdoors, Pharma Hack, SQL Injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), etc.
  • We have seen cases where hackers while modifying files to further their own motives end up deleting posts and pages. Removal of malware saves your site from getting damaged further.
  • Having a good WordPress antivirus would make sure that all backdoors are taken care of. Backdoors are used by hackers to access site remotely. Some antiviruses skip backdoors while cleaning a site therefore when choosing an antivirus, the quality of the cleaner is important and needs thorough investigation.

Cons of WordPress Antivirus

  • Antiviruses don’t prevent hack attacks on your site. It only gets into action after your site has been hacked and malware infected.
  • Since WordPress antiviruses rely on the process of signature matching to look for known existing malware, they are unable to detect new or complex malware.
  • Website antiviruses are notorious for generating a lot of false positives. It sends users into a fit of panic every other day.
  • They are not designed to find how a hack originates which means even after you have cleaned the site; hackers can still get into your site the way they did before.
  • Most WordPress antiviruses offer ticket-based cleaning which means when your site is hacked you’ll have to raise a ticket to ask to get your site cleaned. For a hacked site, time of the essence. Any delay could cause the site to be blacklisted by Google or suspended by web hosts.
  • Cleaning of hacked websites is often expensive affair. Clean up doesn’t always leave a permanent result. Even after cleaning many WordPress sites many site owners have experienced a return of hack.

Over to You

With plenty of pros and cons in each of their plates, one can see that security is a complicated matter and no one tool is capable of promising foolproof security. The only way ahead is to take measures that will reduce security threats. Choosing a tool that’ll protect you in all front is important. These days there are security solutions like MalCare that come with features of both WordPress firewall and antivirus. It’ll not just protect your site but also help repair your website if it’s hacked. We urge you to consider your security options wisely and learn about the features that a good security service must have before buying one.


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