WordPress security plugins are essential for protecting data and online visitors. WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) today, according to W3Techs.com, making it a high value target for cyber attackers. Think about it: Windows operating systems are targeted more by malware than MacOS, Linux, and BSD combined. Why? Windows is the most common OS on PCs and business workstations, so malware is more likely to catch something. WordPress is the Windows of website builders.
If you’ve been using WordPress for a while, you likely already use plugins with WordPress security features. Jetpack offers a suite of security features and may add WPScan in the near future as a result of Automattic acquiring the vulnerability database in Fall 2021. Many hosting providers include server security applications for better data protection.
But WordPress security plugins are your proactive first line of defense to mitigate the chances that you’ll need to use reactive disaster recovery methods, mainly restoring backups and sanitizing your web server. They’re also a lot less painful since downtime means a negative impact on your bottom line.
Below we’ll cover how to secure WordPress sites best, meaning more focus on larger plugins like Jetpack rather than smaller ones with a single purpose.
Best WordPress Security Plugins
The best WordPress security plugins will share some features required to stop the most common types of attacks today.
Changing the WordPress login page from /wp-admin and /wp-login to something more incognito is probably the simplest way to prevent unauthorized access. Even better if access to the new login page can be restricted to whitelisted IP addresses.
Two/multi-factor authentication (TFA/MFA) requires access to another device in case someone discovers your password.
Antivirus (AV) scanning with integrity checks from the WordPress dashboard is easier and cheaper than upgrading to a VPS hosting plan to install a system malware scanner.
All comment sections benefit from spam protection against known malicious IP addresses, repeat offenders, and black hat search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.
Security information and event management (SIEM) is a trendy term that basically means analytics for understanding security related events. Think of times where your web analytics software reports high traffic to a nonexistent URL on your site or referral traffic from websites with bad online reputations. Those are red flags.
The following plugins are capable of all functions mentioned above. We recommend only using one of the following three plugins at a time.
The Wordfence plugin has over four million active installations as of November 2021. The reason it’s arguably the most popular WordPress firewall plugin is simple. It wraps the essential features listed above in an interface that’s easy to navigate regardless of skill level. The free version includes more than enough functions to negate the need for countless external cybersecurity tools.
The paid version receives real-time firewall updates for known malicious IP addresses and file signatures.
WP Cerber Security, Anti-spam & Malware Scan
WP Cerber Security doesn’t have the most elegant appearance, but it does have all the features you need to secure your website. You also get a tad bit more customization available in the free version compared to Wordfence. The free version also includes the following notable features:
- Block requests for suspicious file extensions and other malicious PHP scripts (could be used to add signatures from BBQ Firewall)
- Connect other Cerber-secured sites for remote management
- reCAPTCHA for comments and contact forms
The paid subscription adds automated WordPress scans and professional support. Both can be accomplished with great web hosting support and ClamAV scans. However, your access to both of these services depend on your hosting plan.
All In One WP Security & Firewall
All In One WP Security is another security suite with all needed features but not in the most user friendly manner. But it is entirely free with a short learning curve. With over a dozen separate pages and even more tabbed sections, All in One WP Security offers unique features including:
- Integration with other plugins
- Honeypot login and registration pages to identify malicious users
- In-depth firewall reporting
- Database renaming
other Helpful WordPress Plugins
These WordPress plugins work alongside your primary security plugin for better overall protection.
The HTTP Headers WordPress plugin adds security HTTP headers without you having to manually code your Apache .htaccess file. The most complex but helpful HTTP headers, some of which many website owners aren’t aware of, can be configured with human-readable checkboxes and text fields.
HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) forces web browsers to only allow SSL connections to your website, hardening 301 SSL redirects from HTTP downgrade attacks.
Content Security Policy (CSP) restricts what elements can be loaded in your site. This protects online visitors in the event that an externally loaded resource such as Bootstrap or Cloudflare CDN is infected to insert malicious code in websites.
Permissions Policy (formerly Feature Policy) prevents unwanted features from modifying browser features without permission such as webcam and mic access.
Website backups are your last line of defense. They might seem like a negligible return on investment to some. But once you suffer that one disastrous code injection attack that wrecks a slew of database tables and PHP files, rebuilding from scratch or investigating every file to remove malicious code are bleak options to choose from.
Total Upkeep simplifies processes to create, schedule, restore, transfer and test backups. Automating your backup solution saves time and headache from worrying about the worst case scenario.
This is the only sensible way to resume business operations. Just make sure you manually test and copy those backups regularly. Suffering a large data loss due to a data hack and corrupt backup is painful.
The combination of a dedicated WordPress security plugin, security HTTP headers, and validated backups will grant you a strong foundation of confidence against cyber attacks. For the sake of those who depend on your work, go secure your WordPress website
Try our WordPress Invoicing Plugin today!