No one thinks it will happen to them, but the reality is that WordPress websites do get hacked. And when this happens, website owners—especially those who haven’t taken proper security measures—lose valuable data and, in some cases, even the access to their websites.
That’s not all.
If your website gets hacked or infected with malware, Google can actively block your website from appearing on its search engine—and can even go as far as to label your site as “unsafe” to your visitors. Statistics show that Google labels approximately 30,000 websites as unsafe every week, stopping their traffic and damaging their brand reputation.
In this article, we will share 4 extremely effective security plugins you can add to your WordPress website to protect it from being hacked or infected with malware. Each security plugin has different features, as well as pros and cons which we’ll explore in detail below.
Calling Jetpack a security plugin would be an understatement because it is so much more.
Besides monitoring your website for security threats, Jetpack can provide analytics on your website traffic, optimize its performance and let you customize its look and feel.
But since we are covering security in this article, let’s look at Jetpack’s security features first:
- Backup your website: Jetpack can backup your website’s important data into the cloud. This way, even if your website is hacked, you won’t lose your data since it is stored separately. This functionality, however, is only available in one of the paid plans. And depending on which paid plan you are on, Jetpack will either backup your website’s data daily or in real-time.
- Brute-force protection: Many hackers try to force access into your website by constantly attempting to log in using different username/password combinations via automated bots. Jetpack blocks such brute-force attacks and the IP addresses from which the attacks are coming. This is one of Jetpack’s core features, meaning you get it regardless of whether you’re on a paid or free plan.
- Downtime Monitoring: In a rare case when your website is down (i.e. offline), Jetpack will immediately notify you via email that people can’t access your website. This is also a core feature available in all of Jetpack’s plans.
- Spam Filtering: Jetpack can scan and remove harmful spam messages and links, posted either by bots or by visitors, from your website. This feature is only available in the paid plans.
- Automatic Malware Scanning and Security Fixes: Without you having to lift a finger, Jetpack can automatically scan your website and notify you in case it finds malicious code and activity. Also, Jetpack will automatically resolve common threats by itself. But note that you can only get this functionality if you are on either the premium or professional plan.
In addition to all these security features, Jetpack also provides you with stats regarding your website, lets you automate sharing of your website posts to your social media accounts and gives you the ability to accept PayPal payments and run ads.
Through Jetpack you’ll also get unlimited file, image, and video hosting, the ability to view your website’s activity, access to 100+ free themes plus additional paid themes, and priority support for your website. If you’re choosing to go with Jetpack, check out our WordPress plans that come with this plugin preinstalled.
Jetpack Pros and Cons
- There is a lot of flexibility in terms of plans. This can be an advantage if you are on a budget.
- Since Jetpack is an ‘all-in-one’ tool, it has the potential of providing the functionality of multiple plugins.
- It offers a lot of value for the money through an extensive feature set, unlimited media hosting, and free paid themes.
- Jetpack only offers basic-level security, with a lot of advanced security features missing.
- The additional features it provides are also a bit basic and don’t compare to advanced alternatives.
While Jetpack has the plus of providing several capabilities, Sucuri takes the opposite path. Sucuri is focused on getting one job done—providing website security—and it does that really well.
It does everything you expect from a competent security service, such as scanning your website for malware, providing protection from hacking attempts and more. But the reason it stands out from other security plugins is due to how comprehensively it covers security needs.
The stand-out features it comes with are:
- WordPress Integrity Tool: This tool scans and reports any modifications made to your core WordPress files. These are the files you need for your website to function properly—and as such, they’re the ones most susceptible to attacks. In addition, Sucuri also comes with an Integrity Diff Utility, which shows exactly how your core files are modified, and what the original files look like.
- Audit Logs and Malware Scanner: Sucuri provides a complete report of all the activities happening on your website. It will alert you if it detects suspicious logins to your WordPress dashboard and if any harmful code is added.
- Firewall: Brute force attacks aren’t the only method hackers use. They also execute DDoS Attacks, SQL injections, and other similar methods to gain entry into websites. Sucuri protects websites from these attacks with its firewall and then backlists the IPs from which the attacks are coming.
In addition to these features, you also get to see the complete list of login attempts made to access your website (both successful and failed). It will also tell you if any notable search engine (Google, Yahoo, Yandex, etc.) has blacklisted your website.
Sucuri Pros and Cons
- Every feature is powerful and offers in-depth functionality.
- The malware scanning tool and firewall are robust and up-to-date, offering comprehensive protection from a wide range of attacks.
- The free plan offers a multiple range of tools at zero cost.
- It only includes a limited number of features.
- It’s missing backup/restore functionally.
WordFence is the most downloaded WordPress security plugin and this is due to its robust data-powered security service.
Because it is already installed on a lot of WordPress websites, WordFence has the most up-to-date information on the new types of malware and hacking attempts being made to websites every day.
Armed with this information, it regularly updates its scanning tool and firewall with the latest security measures and rules to help protect websites against the latest hacks and malware.
Here are its top features:
- WordPress Firewall: The firewall is the biggest reason why you should get WordFence. Like we mentioned above, its security is constantly being updated, keeping up with the latest hacking methods and malware. And the cherry on top is that it’s an end-point firewall—meaning it operates directly from the server on which your website exists. This makes it even harder for hackers to bypass your website’s security.
- WordPress Security Scanner: Like other security plugins, WordFence comes with its own security scanner that checks all your website files for potential anomalies, harmful code, and suspicious changes. It also helps you repair any infected core WordPress files with the clean, default versions. Plus, it alerts you in case a search engine blacklists you and even shows you a list of potential vulnerabilities due to which your site may have been blocked.
- Login Security: This is one of WordFence’s underrated features. Login Security lets you add an additional layer of security to your WordPress login page via two great options: Two-Factor Authentication and Captcha. You can block administrators with compromised passwords from logging in as well.
- WordFence Central: If you have multiple websites, you can check the complete security status of each one of them on the WordFence Central Dashboard. You can get a complete report on all the notable security events that have occurred on your website: hacking attempts, blacklisted IPs, and malware removals. The dashboard will also notify you (via email, Slack or text) about any notable event happening on your website in real-time.
- Security Tools: WordFence offers many tools to customize the security of your website. For example, you can block attackers based on geography, IP address, and referrer. You can also scan the content posted on your website (either by you or other users) for viruses or spam.
WordFence Pros and Cons
- Its Threat Defense Feed is one-of-a-kind and delivers rapid, real-time updates to the firewall and malware scanner.
- The server-side protection it offers is better than the cloud-based protection of other security tools.
- The WordFence Threat Defense Feed, responsible for updating your firewall and scanner with the latest malware signatures and security rules, will only provide real-time updates if you subscribe to the premium plan. For the free version, you will still get the updates to your firewall and scanner—but with a 30-day delay. This can reduce its ability to detect the latest malware and hacking attempts straight away.
Note: To install the paid plugin, you may get a .zip file which you have to install manually on your WordPress site. The instructions on how to do that are listed at the bottom of this article under the section ‘How To Install a Paid WordPress Plugin’.
Using a security plugin can become confusing for a non-technical person. The advanced features can especially be hard to make sense of. This is an aspect that differentiates iThemes Security.
Similar to the other security plugins on our list, iThemes Security plugin provides an impressive number of security features—but unlike other tools, it makes it easy for people to understand what each feature does and how to implement it.
On its dashboard, you’ll find each iThemes Security feature represented in its own module with a clear description of what it does.
Since there are 30+ features, we’re only going to refer to top ones here:
- One-click Secure Site Security Check: The secure site button lets you activate all of iTheme’s important security features with just one click. By pressing this button, a total of 9 features will be activated, such as 2-Factor Authentication, Database Backup, Brute-force Protection, and more.
- Away Mode: By activating this module, your WordPress dashboard will become inaccessible and unchangeable during a time period of your choice.
- Strong Password Enforcement: By enabling this feature, every new administrator, editor, and user will have to create a strong password combination to sign up.
- Hide Login and Admin: Everyone knows the URL to the default WordPress login page, making it easy for hackers to attack it with brute-force attacks and more. To stop this, you can use this feature to hide the login and admin page by customizing its URL.
- Temporary Privilege Escalation: With this feature, you can grant any admin of your WordPress password with high-level access as set by you, for a specific period of time. Once the time expires, they’ll lose high-level access.
- Passwordless Logins: When activated, this module lets people log in without a password. It does so by sending the user a link via email to their associated email address. The user has to click that link in order to log in.
You’ll also get access to the standard security tools, such as a malware scanner, firewall, spam detector, and more.
iThemes Security Pros and Cons
- 30+ security tools means you get access to a huge range of functionality, reducing the need for a companion security plugin.
- The interface is divided into modules, making discoverability of each feature easy.
- The ability to backup your website’s data and copy/paste your WordPress settings.
- You get access to a support team should you encounter a problem or have any questions.
- It doesn’t have a real-time malware scanning functionality.
- For website scanning functionality it relies on an external security provider (Sucuri).
How to Install a Paid WordPress Plugin
Many of the plugins on our list offer free versions, but some are paid. Paid plugins cannot be directly installed from the online WordPress.org store. Instead, you will have to go to the plugin’s website, make the payment for the plugin and then download the plugin .zip file.
To do so, follow these steps:
- Login to your WordPress dashboard.
- Click on Plugins.
- Click the Add New button.
- Click the Upload Plugin button.
- Click the Browse button – and select the .zip file from your computer.
- Click the Install Now button.
- Once installed, click the Activate Plugin button.
That’s it. Your WordPress plugin will be installed and ready to use.
In case you’re currently on the lookout for a WordPress hosting provider and would prefer a pre installed security plugin, check out our WordPress plans. For increased security, our WordPress Plans come with Jetpack preinstalled, preventing unwanted intrusions with effective brute force attack protection, malware scanning, and spam filtering.
Bonus Tip: Get A Good Hosting Provider
Here’s the thing:
WordPress in itself is a very secure platform to run your website on. There are hundreds of developers right now working hard to fix its bugs and patch its vulnerabilities. After all, if it wasn’t secure, why would literally a quarter of websites on the internet run on WordPress.
That being said, there are other factors that come into play that can strengthen (or compromise) your WordPress website’s security, such as your hosting provider and the security level it provides.
If you choose a good hosting provider, they’ll keep it safe from hackers, and protect it from getting infected from their end. In addition, they’ll also provide you with high-quality support in case you mess up on your side (by installing an outdated theme or a vulnerable plugin). This is important as server-side security is something you don’t control.
What do You Need Most
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your needs. If you’re just starting out and don’t have the budget, you can go for a free plugin and update as you grow. Look at what your web hosting provider is also covering as this can help shield you from hacking attacks.
And let us know if you’ve discovered a better plugin!