WordPress powers over 455 million websites.
Huge number of active installs = WordPress sites being a popular target with hackers.
But we’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that you don’t know much about checking the WP security audit log for a security threat.
I know – yikes, right?
No worries – WordPress security plugins can protect you even if you have no idea how security works on WordPress.
You have questions. We know.
What is the Best WordPress Security Plugin?
That’s what this entire article is all about.
Do I need a WordPress Security Plugin?
Heck, yes. Unless you want to risk getting hacked.
What is a Security Plugin?
A security plugin is a security tool for WordPress that allows you to defend your website against malware, hackers, and malicious traffic.
How do I add security to my WordPress site?
Simple – go through this article, find a plugin that you like, install it, and rest easy!
In this article, we’ll tell you how to identify a good security plugin.
We went ahead and tried out the most popular plugins available in the market so that you won’t have to. After that, we analyzed them against a list of features a security plugin should have.
Finally, we’ve narrowed it down to the best WordPress security plugins you can use.
If you are in a hurry and want to pick the best security plugin, we suggest installing MalCare Security Service. It’ll scan your website and clean it automatically if any infection is found. The plugin will also protect your site from hack attempts with an astounding web application firewall.
But if you’re willing to read, we’ll tell you all about:
What Does a Security Plugin Offer?
A security plugin should offer you 3 services – scanning, cleaning, and protection.
- Scanning is a process that involves checking your website for malware. If the scanner finds malware present on your website, you need a cleaner.
- The cleaner helps remove malicious codes found on your site.
- And protection involves taking measures that will prevent hacks.
That said, every security plugin functions differently. The approach to scanning, cleaning, and protection differs from one WordPress plugin to the other.
This makes it hard to know which approach is most effective.
So how do you determine which one is a good security plugin?
There are a few must-have WordPress security features that’ll help you make that decision. In a later section, we will share the principles we considered to choose a good WordPress security plugin.
TL;DR: There are nine things to consider.
- Detecting Malware in Both Files & Database
- Scanning Without Using Your Site Resources
- Instant Malware Removal
- Unlimited Cleanups
- Firewall Protection to Block Malicious Traffic
- Login Page Protection
- Website Hardening Measures
- Single Dashboard for Managing Multiple Sites
- Excellent Customer Support
If you would like to read about each of these features in detail, just click on this link and jump into that section. But if you just want to check out the 12 best WordPress security plugins, just keep reading.
That’s up next!
There are a few must-have WordPress security features that’ll help you make that decision. In the next section, we will share the principles we considered to choose a good WordPress security plugin.
12 Top WordPress Security Plugins
You already know our list of features we think a good security plugin should have. Using this as a measure, we drilled down to 12 security plugins available for WordPress sites.
Here we are:
MalCare is the fastest malware detection and removal plugin. It comes from the house of a very popular backup plugin called BlogVault. They have been offering WordPress backups for close to a decade. The security plugin was built from the ground up for over a period of 2.5 years.
- Complete WordPress Malware Scanner
- Instant Malicious Script Removal
- Powerful Web Application Firewall & Login Protection
- Easy Website Hardening Measures
- Single Dashboard For Multiple Website Management
- Team Collaboration & Management
- White-labeling Solution
- Custom & Scheduled Reporting
- Uptime & Performance Monitoring
- Integrated Backups & Restore Facilities
- MalCare’s Single, Comprehensive Dashboard
Detects New & Complex Malware: MalCare comes with an intelligent scanner that accurately identifies new and complex malware and pinpoints their location. Moreover, the plugin does not slow down your WordPress site when it’s running the scan.
Instant & Automatic Malware Scan and Removal: With MalCare you can clean your WordPress site instantly by just clicking a button. Moreover, you get unlimited cleanups.
Firewall & Login Protection: The plugin offers a firewall that filters good traffic from the bad. It blocks the bad traffic before they can access your WordPress site. It also enables CAPTCHA based protection on your login page to prevent brute force attacks.
Inbuilt Website Hardening: WordPress recommends certain site hardening measures. Those measures can be quite difficult for a non-technical person to implement.
MalCare enables you to carry out WordPress hardening with the click of a button.
Complete Website Management: MalCare’s central dashboard enables you to manage multiple WordPress sites from one place.
This includes updating WordPress websites, managing users, generating client reports, etc – all from a single dashboard.
MalCare cannot scan, clean, and protect websites that are built on a local environment, i.e. on your computer.
The plugin doesn’t offer two-factor authentication (2FA). The developers behind the plugin are working on enabling 2FA.
MalCare offers both free and premium versions. The premium plan starts at $99 for a single site for a year.
Sucuri is another very popular WordPress security plugin. It offers security measures to not only WordPress websites but also sites built on other CMSs like Magento, Drupal, Joomla, etc.
- WordPress Website Malware Scanner
- WordPress Website Malicious Script Removal
- DNS Monitoring
- Google Blacklist Removal
- Firewall Security
- SSL Certificate Detection
- Website Uptime Monitoring
- Sucuri’s Dashboard Inside the WP Admin Dashboard
Monitoring DNS Changes: Sucuri monitors DNS (Domain Name Servers) in hopes of catching any malicious modification being made in your DNS.
Website Firewall Security: The plugin offers a powerful firewall that helps block common hack attempts like DDoS attacks, etc. The firewall also helps optimize the performance of your site.
Google Blacklist Removal Request: If your sites are blacklisted by Google, Sucuri will make a request to Google to remove the blacklisting.
The Sucuri scanner is a remote one which means it can only detect malware that the browser can see not the hidden ones.
In addition, the plugin lacks agile response to issues which can lead to frustration and escalation of the situation.
Sucuri offers both free and pro versions. The premium plan starts at $199.99 for a single site for a year.
3. Wordfence Security
Wordfence is another very popular security plugin and what sets it apart from others is its ability to show Real-Time Traffic. Using this particular feature, you can view the traffic as it comes to your website.
- WordPress Security Scanning
- Hacked File Removal
- Live Traffic Monitoring
- WordPress Security Firewall
- Login Page Protection
- Block Visitors by Country
- Detect & Repair Corrupted Folders
- Single Dashboard
- Website Security Audit
- Wordfence dashboard
Review Hacked Files and Folders: Wordfence scans your website and detects the files that were hacked. It not only enables you to see the files but also shows what file changes were made.
Track Traffic in Real-Time: The plugin comes with this very interesting tool using which you can see the traffic coming to your website in real-time. And perhaps even observe hack attempts as they are made on your site.
Wordfence does not offer a turn-around time which can be frustrating and harmful for a hacked website.
The plugin uses your server’s resources to run the scanning process which will slow down your website.
Wordfence offers both free and premium versions. The premium plan starts $99 for a single site for a year.
Before the plugin was known as iThemes Security, it was called Better WP Security. WP Buffs, a popular WordPress maintenance service offers free access to the security plugin. One of the main highlights of iTheme is that it offers more than 30 different security measures.
- Website Malware Scanner
- Website Security Report
- WordPress Login Protection
- Website Hardening Measures
- Central Dashboard For Multiple Sites
- WordPress Version Management Facilities
- iThemes dashboard
Protection Against Brute Force Attacks: iThemes protects your WordPress login page against hackers and bots who are trying to guess your login credentials to gain access to your website.
Away Mode: Sometimes people leave the dashboard open without logging out. The Away Mode enables you to log out idle users from the dashboard.
Enforce Strong Passwords: Many people use easy-to-remember passwords which makes the job of a hacker easier. With iThemes you can enforce the use of a strong password by every user of your website.
iThemes offers a ton of features and many of the Advanced features use your server’s resources. And draining of resources can make your website inaccessible especially if it’s hosted on a shared WordPress hosting server.
In addition, the plugin does not have a built-in WordPress security scanner nor any antivirus. It utilizes Sucuri’s SiteCheck to look for malicious codes on your website. Furthermore, if you need to remove malicious codes from your site, you’ll need to contact Sucuri.
iThemes offers both free and premium versions. The iThemes Security Pro starts at $80 for a single site for a year.
SiteLock is another reputed WordPress security plugin that has an interesting approach to security. They offer an automated WordPress security service which means functions like scanning and cleaning malware occur on its own. Therefore, you don’t need to manually enable it.
- WordPress Malware Scanner
- Automated Core Vulnerability Patching
- Automated Virus Removal
- WordPress DDoS Firewall
- WordPress Web Application Firewall
- SiteLock dashboard
Automated Core Vulnerability Patching: Vulnerabilities that develop on the WordPress core will be fixed automatically by SiteLock. But you’d still need to manually update the core.
Automated WordPress Virus Removal: The plugin will scan your website looking for malicious codes. When it finds malware, it’ll automatically remove the malware from your website without you having to do anything.
On occasion, SiteLock has failed to detect malware in time and has sometimes failed to remove malicious code entirely.
The plugin has developed a bad reputation among site owners as many of them have experienced deceptive billing strategies.
SiteLock offers both free and premium versions. The premium plan starts at $99.99 for a single site for a year.
The teams behind WP Rocket and Imagify have built SecuPress Security Plugin. One of the first things that you’ll notice about this plugin is its beautiful dashboard. It is the most visually appealing plugin in the lot.
- PHP Malware Scanning
- WordPress Security Checking
- WordPress Antivirus
- IP Blocking & Firewall Protection
- Website Login Page Protection
- Blocking Visitors by Country
- WordPress Website Hardening
- White Label Solution
- Complete WordPress Backup
- SecuPress dashboard
Disabling XML-RPC: XML-RPC is a WordPress feature that often poses a risk of hack attacks. Therefore, SecuPress enables you to easily disable the feature.
Website Login Page Security: The WordPress login is often targeted by hackers hence it must be protected. This security plugin offers many protective measures like preventing the registration of new users, etc.
SecuPress can be quite expensive. If you want help from the team to configure the plugin for you, you’ll need to pay $100 extra. In case malware is found on your site, a one-time cleanup price is $160.
Moreover, the support team is not agile and responsive.
SecuPress offers both free and premium versions. The premium plan starts at $65 for a single site for a year.
7. All-In-One WP Security & Firewall
All-In-One WP Security & Firewall enables users to take some basic security measures. The plugin offers the user ways of fixing WordPress vulnerabilities.
- Automatic WordPress Scanner
- User Account Maintenance
- WordPress Database backup and WordPress Security
- WordPress Firewall Security
- Brute Force Login Attack Protection
- Website Maintenance Mode
- Blocking Visitors by IP Address
- All-In-One WP Security & Firewall dashboard
Detects Website Security Holes: All-In-One WP Security scans your website looking for security holes in the site. Once the security holes are found, you can patch them using the plugin.
Security Strength Measurement: The plugin has a list of common vulnerabilities found on WordPress websites. It checks the website against this list, then grades the security strength and shows you the results under the section called Security Strength Meter. It also tells you what measures you need to take to secure your WordPress website against such vulnerabilities.
Sometimes other WordPress themes and plugins are known to conflict with the security plugin. Moreover, enabling advanced features can break the site.
On many occasions, after enabling the firewall, several admins were locked out of their websites. As a result, the plugin became a cause of frustration.
All-In-One WP Security & Firewall offers both free and premium versions. The premium plan starts at $9.95 for a single site for a month.
8. BulletProof Security
Launched almost a decade ago, the BulletProof Security Plugin requires you to configure it properly. Once done, it’ll help you enable some basic security measures on your WordPress website.
- WordPress File Monitoring
- Login Page Protection & Monitoring
- Htaccess File Protection
- WordPress Firewall Protection
- Specific Files Upload Prevention
- BulletProof Security dashboard
Logout Idle Users: Sometimes users may move away from the dashboard or become inactive for a long period of time. BulletProof Security will log out the user to ensure that the website is not being exploited.
Upload Folder Protection: The plugin can put the Upload folder under lock and key. Consequently, no one can access, view, or execute anything in the Upload folder.
Database Diff Tool: Sometimes a hack can occur in the database. Therefore, Database Diff Tool enables you to see changes that have been made on your WordPress database.
Bulletproof Security has the most complex dashboard and it takes a while to find your way and configure the plugin. It’s time-consuming and a little frustrating.
When you uninstall the security plugin, it leaves behind a trail of folders and data tables which can make your website slow.
BulletProof Security offers both free and premium versions. The premium plan starts at $69.95 for a single site for a year.
9. Shield Security
Shield Security plugin offers basic website security measures. After installing the plugin, the first thing that you’d notice is the list of potential security issues found on your website.
Next, the plugin will also tell you about the measures that you need to take to secure your site.
- WordPress Core Scanning
- Monitoring User Activities
- Themes & Plugins Vulnerability Scanner
- Shield Security Settings Import & Export
- Shield Security dashboard
Security Through Obscurity: This option allows you to take certain measures consequently making your website hard to break into.
Import & Export Options: Setting up the plugin from scratch can be really time-consuming and frustrating. But, by using the import-export option, you can import the plugin’s settings to a new website.
Activating the plugin is not as easy as the other plugins where you just need to click the ‘activate’ button. But here, you need to configure the tool and that can be technical and very time-consuming.
The plugin does not offer any virus quarantine service. If your website is hacked, then you’d have to rely on other security services to clean your website.
Bullet Security & Firewall offers both free and premium versions. The premium plan starts at $12 for a single site for a year.
10. WP Security Ninja
Security Ninja comes with an impressive set of over 50 WordPress security checks. The plugin checks your website against this list looking for vulnerabilities on your website.
It also offers a WordPress security report along with steps to take to protect your site against such vulnerabilities.
- Website Malware Scanning
- Auto Fixer Module
- Login Security and Protection
- Blocking Suspicious Requests
- Plugin Settings Import & Export
- WP Security Ninja dashboard
Redirects Malicious Visitors: WP Security Ninja’s firewall keeps track of all traffic flowing into your website. Moreover, all malicious traffic is redirected away from your WordPress website.
Fixes Your Website Automatically: The plugin offers an Auto-Fix Module. When enabled will automatically fix vulnerabilities that the plugin finds on your website.
Security Ninja does not offer threat removal facilities. Moreover, if the scanner finds malicious codes on your website, you will need to reach out to other security services to remove the malware.
Moreover, activating the plugin is not as easy as the other plugins where you just need to click the ‘activate’ button. Here, you need to configure the plugin which is technical and very time-consuming.
Security Ninja offers both free and premium versions. The premium plan starts at $39 for a single site for a year.
11. Astra Web Security
Astra Web Security protects against 100+ threats including malware, brute force attacks, and comment spams. With a straight and simple dashboard, Astra Web Security does a great job uncomplicating security for the end-user.
They offer immediate malware cleanup along with a rock-solid firewall for added protection. Overall, a good investment to make for a WordPress security solution.
- Complete Website Security Audit
- Immediate Malware Removal
- Powerful Firewall
- Logs all attacks
- Blacklisting and Whitelisting options
- Intuitive Astra Web Security dashboard
Blacklist and Whitelist Options: You can check the logs for all malicious attacks and bot traffic. Depending on the type of traffic, you can blacklist or whitelist specific IP addresses.
Immediate Malware Removal: The plugin makes it a point to automatically remove any malware on your website. This is one of the most appealing features to look for in any security. Coupled with hourly admin reporting, this WordPress plugin goes out of its way to make you feel secure.
Astra has a very public forum just like WordPress. This gives hackers a clear way to find security holes that Astra fails to cover. The good news is that the community also responds to each thread and makes it a point to resolve each issue. But this is still a known problem.
Astra Web Security prices itself at $9 per month with a 20% discount on the yearly plan. Considering all the other options, this is a good one for a WordPress site owner looking for affordable security solutions.
12. WP fail2ban
All the other security plugins on this list focus on covering different aspects of security. But WP fail2ban is an odd duck – it focuses on one thing only. WP fail2ban is a security plugin that protects against Brute Force attacks and does a kickass job of it.
The good news is that there is no setup involved with this ultimate login security plugin. All you have to do is install the plugin. That’s it. You’re set!
WP fail2ban documents all login attempts to the syslog using LOG_AUTH. You can put a soft or hard ban in place depending on the login attempt. Not a lot of plugins can claim to offer an option instead of having only one default.
Also, did we mention that it’s completely free?
- Free Brute Force Protection Plugin
- CloudFlare and proxy server integration
- Automated security setup
- Protects against comment spam, pingbacks, and user enumeration attacks
- Plugin Settings Import & Export
- WP Security Ninja dashboard
No setup involved: WP fail2ban runs pretty much on autopilot. Since the plugin has a singular focus, it launches preventive measures automatically without needing permissions and authenticators.
WP fail2ban is powerful. But it’s not really a one-stop-shop security solution. Also, since it solves only one problem, you’d have to know for a fact that there you are facing brute force attacks on your WordPress site.
Besides brute force attacks, there are many other types of attacks that the plugin cannot protect your website against.
It’s free. Completely free.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Good WordPress Security Plugin
There are nine things to consider.
Here we go:
1. Detecting Malware in Both Files & Database
A good security plugin will scan every file and database to ensure it’s not missing any hidden malware.
When security plugins were first developed, they were designed to look into particular files and databases for malware. But nowadays, hackers have way more skill. They find ways to place malware anywhere on your website.
Some security plugins for WordPress still rely on outdated methods of scanning. This way they end up missing malware hidden in uncommon locations (like the WP-VCD malware).
2. Scanning Without Using Your Site Resources
Your website needs resources to run its daily activities. A security scan will be a resource-heavy process. Your resources are being split and this can affect your website severely.
Scanning every WordPress directory can really hog server resources.
During the scanning process, your website will become extremely slow. The solution is to choose plugins that don’t run scans using your web server’s resources. Find a plugin that uses its own server.
3. Instant Malware Removal
Many WP security plugins require you to contact their support team to fix the hack. This can take a few hours up to a few days to clean an infected website.
You need a plugin that cleans your website instantly.
4. Unlimited Cleanups
A website can be targeted and hacked more than once. The average WordPress security plugin offers an expensive one-time cleanup service.
Theme and plugin vulnerabilities in WordPress are really common. In fact, the WordPress security that you opt for needs to be up for a stiff battle against malicious code.
So, it’s better to opt for one that gives you unlimited malware removal.
5. Firewall Protection to Block Malicious Traffic
If you own a website, you know that the more traffic you get, the better. Your website will begin ranking for relevant keywords, sales will increase, and your revenue will shoot up.
While traffic is great, not all kinds of traffic is good. Some traffic has malicious intent and wants to hack your website. Fortunately, you can track such traffic with a firewall plugin.
Everyone who is visiting your website is using a device like a laptop or a smartphone. Each device is linked with a unique code called an IP address. A web application firewall is able to track these IP addresses.
A firewall rule can identify an IP address that has carried out malicious activities before. It then flags it as bad traffic and prevents it from accessing your website.
But what happens if you don’t use firewalls?
Simple – you can get blacklisted by Search Engines such as Google.
There are many WordPress security solutions that have in-built firewalls. But to protect yourself against security vulnerabilities, you need a tool for blacklist monitoring as well. We recommend finding a plugin that takes care of this for you.
6. Login Page Protection
The WordPress login page is often targeted more than any other page of the website. The login page gives direct access to the WordPress user account.
Hackers program bots to guess the username and password to break into the website by using more than one login attempt. This is called a brute force attack.
Combating this type of attack is possible by limiting the number of failed login attempts. Choose brute force protection that enables you to limit the number of failed login attempts.
7. Website Hardening Measures
Besides using a firewall and protecting the login page, you can take more steps to protect your website against hack attacks.
In fact, WordPress recommends certain site security hardening measures like preventing PHP execution, disabling theme editor, etc.
But implementing security hardening measures for people without any technical knowledge is difficult. An ideal security plugin should enable you to implement these measures with the click of a button.
8. Single Dashboard for Managing Multiple Sites
Managing multiple websites can be really exhausting. A centralized dashboard will enable you to carry out multiple tasks from one place.
Choose a plugin that enables you to carry out multiple tasks and also manage multiple websites from a single dashboard.
9. Excellent Customer Support
No matter how good a security plugin is, there are going to times when you need assistance. Ensure that the plugin you choose has an agile customer support team.
At times of trouble, you wouldn’t want to wait for hours or days to receive a response from the support team on a major security issue.
Security plugins offer scanning, cleaning, and protection:
- Scanning checks your site for malware.
- Cleaning removes malicious code
- Protection measures prevent hacks.
Every security plugin that we’ve listed down offers a free as well as a premium version. Most of the free versions will offer you scanning and a few hack-prevention measures.
But to clean your website and implement effective site protect measures, you will need to become a paid member.
Every plugin tackles security differently. Sucuri shines with its site performance and an advanced firewall. Both Wordfence and iThemes offer abundant features. They promise to protect every possible vulnerable area on your site.
But MalCare Security comes out on top because of it’s comprehensive and unique approach to security. It detects new and complex malware, and offers unlimited instant cleanups. It also enables you to implement site hardening measures at the click of a button.
We highly recommend that you give MalCare a spin.
Use the MalCare Security Plugin to Protect Your Website 24 x 7.