Introduction To Top WordPress Security Plugins
Best WordPress security plugins: When it comes to your website, the most important task on your list is to protect it from bad guys. You can do this by taking measures that will improve your website security. According to W3Techs, WordPress powers more than 30% of all websites online which makes it an attractive target for hackers. Furthermore, over 90,000 hack attempts are made on an average WordPress website every minute of the day.
You can easily see why keeping your website safe and being diligent about site security is no longer a commodity; it’s a necessity. As with anything WordPress related, there are dozens of WordPress security plugins out there. They all claim to make your site more secure. However, a lot of them offer the same kind of functionality and key features. So choosing one is finding the right plugin is not always easy.
(Paradox of choice)
On top of that, many of these security plugins have useless features. They do nothing more than give you a false sense of security without really protecting your site.
Popular WordPress security plugins include WordFence which is a free. And Sucuri which is best known as the go-to premium solution for cleaning up your site. Then, there is also a newcomer onto the best WordPress security scene — MalCare. MalCare is an up and coming plugin that uses a very different approach than other security tools. And it aims to position itself as one of the best WordPress security plugins in the market.
In this article, we are going to compare these three best WordPress security plugins. Take it as a beginner’s guide to each of these plugins.
The main goal of the comparison is to help you understand why you need to use a security plugin. And how they add value to your site. More specifically, we are going to examine how these security plugins are scanning your website. How they help you clean malware, and how they help you prevent future attacks as well as other features.
How Do These Plugins Scan Websites?
Finding malware on your WordPress website is not an easy task. There are a lot of factors to consider because malware is often out of sight. You can find malware in not only WordPress core, themes, and plugins but also files. Files that you upload to your site and hidden files in WordPress itself.
As such, manually locating the source of infection is time-consuming. WordPress security plugins compared here have scanners that make locating malware easier. But, their scanners have three different approaches.
The first plugin we are going to take a look at is Sucuri. They have two types of scanners; a remote one and an end-point scanner. Sucuri is usually associated with their remote malware scanner, Site Check.
Drawbacks: Keep in mind that the remote scanner can only see what the browser sees. This means the remote scanner is not 100% accurate as it might miss a large number of deep hacks. These hacks can be hidden in your ‘wp-content’ or ‘uploads’ folder that does not show content on the browser.
A Different Scanner: Sucuri Website Security Monitoring includes File Integrity Monitoring. Sucuri also offers an end-point scanner which is more effective than their remote scanner. This because it performs scanning on the side of the server. This end-point scanner will examine every file in your website directory. And work to identify malware and other complex infections.
Core Files Comparison: Wordfence is a popular free plugin that uses file matching to scan the core files found in the WordPress version installed on your site. And compare them against the core files found in the official WordPress version listed on their website. This approach comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages such as different web host using different WordPress versions.
Plugin Matching: Another way Wordfence Security Service finds malware is through plugin matching. Plugin matching refers to the process of comparing plugin versions on your site against the plugin versions found in the official plugin repository. If Wordfence finds differences between two plugin versions, it will notify you in the dashboard.
Drawbacks: This approach comes with major drawbacks which include custom plugins, plugins that have been modified. And the fact that not all WordPress plugins are listed in the plugin repository.
Wordfence also does some signature matching and looks for certain keywords. However, this method is prone to a large number of false positives and misses a lot of real hacks.
Methods used by Wordfence such as core file matching, signature matching, and keyword lookup are process-intensive methods. And they end up overloading your server. This can lead to your site going over the allowable resource usage. This results in the managed WordPress hosting company suspending your site.
A Different Approach: As mentioned earlier, MalCare takes a very different approach to site scanning. Because of this, MalCare is able to detect not only simple hacks but also complex unknown malware. The type of malware that other WP security plugins miss. Here’s how MalCare is different.
(Overloading server slows down website)
For starters, MalCare never uses your server’s resources to perform any of its scans. MalCare does all the scanning on its own servers. This approach ensures zero load on your hosting (managed or shared hosting) server which means your website will not slow down during a security scan. Nor will it be flagged for using too much server resources.
It took them three years to develop malware during which it scanned thousands of websites. Thanks to this, MalCare uses the collective information gathered from these websites to identify malware. Which other best WordPress security plugins have not been able to identify.
MalCare tracks every single change on the website, no matter how big or small. This allows the plugin to zero in on the precise location of the malware.
Low False Positives: Given all this, we’ve found that MalCare has the lowest number of false positives. And the highest accuracy out of all the security plugins available on the market.
How Do These Plugins Clean Websites?
Once the security plugins find the malware, you need to clean your website. This is to ensure every instance of malware is clean. Let’s take a look at how these plugins help you clean your infected website.
We’ll start off with Sucuri and Wordfence as they have taken a similar approach to malware cleanups.
Different Levels of Cleanup: When it comes to malware cleanup, Sucuri offers three different levels of cleanup, which are subscription-based and renew each year. The levels differ in cleanup turn-around time which ranges from 12 – 4 hours. To get your site, you’ll need to share your SFTP site details first. Once their security personnel has the site details, they will log in remotely and remove malware from your site.
The silver lining is that if you buy a Sucuri’s security cleanup, you’ll also get a free year of service. This includes malware scanning and monitoring and every further cleanup is within the price. This means that if your site gets reinfected within that period, they will clean it at no additional cost.
Drawbacks: It’s also worth mentioning that if you have an SSL certificate installed on your site, you’ll need to purchase one of the two higher-tiered plans. Because the cheapest plan doesn’t come with support for SSL certificates.
One-time Cleanup: Unlike Sucuri which is subscription based, Wordfence offers one-time cleanup. Their security personnel scans your site for security vulnerabilities and cleans it when the infection has been found.
Drawbacks: But, Wordfence doesn’t guarantee any turn-around time. This means you could be waiting for days before your site gets cleaned. This poses another risk where Google and other search engines can blacklist your website. As you wait for someone to clean the malware.
On the upside, you only pay a one-time fee to get malware removed. However, their fee goes up significantly if they experience a large volume of orders. So keep this in mind when researching malware cleanup tools and services. Another downside of Wordfence is that if your site gets re-infected, you’ll have to pay again for their site cleanings service. And this could end up costing you more in the long run.
One-Click Cleanup: Finally, let’s take a look at how MalCare deals with malware cleanups. MalCare premium version is different from both Sucuri and Wordfence. It offers automatic one-click cleanups. You can remove the malware yourself with a click of the button. That too without the need to wait for someone else to be able to take a look at your site. There is also no need to hand over your site’s details to security personnel.
In our experience with MalCare’s automatic cleaner worked in 80-85% of the cases.
In certain cases, a specific type of malware triggers an alarm. It notifies the MalCare team that the website is triggering an alarm. Then someone from the MalCare team helps clean the website.
Unlimited Cleanups: Similarly to Sucuri, MalCare offers three different packages which have a 12-4 hours turn-around time and include unlimited cleanups.
How Do These Plugins Protect Your Website From Hacks Attempts?
After cleaning the malware, you need to protect your site, so it is not hacked again. Before we discuss how the best WordPress security plugins help your site from malware infection again, keep this in mind. No matter what, there is no 100% guarantee security threat.
All three of the plugins discussed in this article come with a lot of the site security hardening mechanisms. As well as a built-in firewall.
Firewall: Starting with Sucuri, this service has a cloud-based firewall. In the past, we have seen brute force attacks cracking strong passwords. Sucuri Firewall protects your site from DDoS attacks and brute force attacks. The performance of your site will improve with their caching feature. The website firewall also helps prevent hack attempts like SQL injections.
Backups: On top of that, Sucuri offers backups that come at an extra cost. Their backup system is a very basic one. It’s where you can set a schedule for the backups to take place. You’ll find backups in cloud and you can download them if the need arises. There are no additional features such as incremental backups. There are even options for keeping backups in multiple locations along with one-click restore functionality.
Taking security a step further Sucuri lets you add Two Factor Authentication to your Sucuri account. Simply install Google Authenticator, and Barcode Scanner on your smartphone. And your account will be secure even if your password is stolen.
Firewall: MalCare has a plugin-based firewall which actively protects your site by monitoring site requests. And then identifying and capturing malicious requests. The website firewall stops these malicious requests from gaining access to your WordPress site.
MalCare also offers Captcha based Login Protection that issues a login lockdown. A number of failed login attempts triggers an automatic Google ReCaptcha like Captcha. This prevents bots from accessing your WordPress admin. MalCare’s audit logs identify and record all instances of unauthorized access to your WordPress admin.
Additional Features: MalCare plugin works in tandem with the plugin’s own servers. And will do all the intensive calculations necessary for identifying malicious requests on its own servers. Because of this, MalCare immediately pushes its latest findings to the plugin on your site.
While each of these plugins offers advanced security features, MalCare has the most of extra benefits. These advanced features include:
- A single dashboard that allows you to manage all your site. Do updates of plugins and themes, helps keep your WordPress updated along with other maintenance tasks. This is especially useful if you have multiple WordPress sites.
- MalCare is also closely tied with BlogVault backups which is one of the best-rated WordPress backup plugins. From database backup to tables, BlogVault backups everything.
- If you opt for backups, you get additional benefits like Staging, Monitoring, brute force protection against failed WordPress login attempt, and more.
Firewall: Lastly, when it comes to Wordfence, this plugin comes with its own plugin-based WordPress firewall. While this is similar to MalCare’s web application firewall, there is one major difference between the two. MalCare does all the processing on your site which can significantly decrease your site’s performance. An advantage of using Wordfence, though, is that it has a large network of sites. It uses these websites as a reference to finding dangerous IP addresses.
Your website is the livelihood of your business. This is why it’s important to keep it safe and secure from various online threats. Luckily, more people have security awareness today than any other time on the internet. Also, there are excellent tools on the market. They allow you to do so and we’ve covered the best of them in this article.
As you can see, all three tools tackle security differently. They answer the ultimate WordPress security questions in their own unique way. While Sucuri shines with its firewall and the ability to improve your site’s performance. Wordfence is a great free choice for anyone who wants to be proactive about their website’s security.
However, when you take a deeper look at their features, MalCare Security pro version comes out on top. Not only because of their thorough scanning and cleaning functionality but also their proactive security measures. Each security plugin offers live chat support. And every security plugin has its own tips and tricks on handling security measures.
Other WordPress Security Plugins that you might want to check out are Bulletproof Security, iThemes Security Pro, Shield Security for WordPress etc. For more website security tips check our WordPress blog.
If you are really serious about your business then opt for a plugin that secures your website.