WordPress Firewalls vs. Antiviruses

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When you’re a WordPress blog or website owner, waking up to a bad case of malware mayhem is your worst nightmare, especially because of the devastating consequences to your brand. This is why it’s absolutely essential for anyone with a WordPress site to look into security and recovery options.

One of the most common security measures we’ve all heard of, over the years, has been ‘website antivirus’, ‘anti-malware’, or ‘hack remover’ (they’re all the same)… But the big names in the WordPress security field have also started to talk about ‘website firewalls’.

So the question is- WordPress antivirus Vs. firewall: which is better?

Which one suits your need: WordPress firewall, or antivirus?
Choosing between a website firewall and an antivirus for WordPress is an important security decision.

This post’s aim is to help you get to the bottom of this.

WordPress Firewalls

The real-world equivalent of a website firewall would be a bouncer or a gate-keeper. Website firewalls sit in front of your site to help minimise incoming threats and reduce the scope of damage to your WordPress website.

How a WordPress firewall works:

  • Whenever a visitor attempts to access your website, their request is sent to the firewall, which uses predetermined rules to check the validity of the request.
  • If the request contains anything suspicious, (such as a weird IP address, or an unauthorized entry in a specific field), the firewall prevents the visitor from accessing your WordPress site.

Pros of WordPress firewalls:

  • They reduce the chances of your WordPress site getting hacked.
  • Since they restrict access firewalls can be configured to act as an intrusion detection and prevention service.
  • Website firewalls could also prevent attacks like brute-force, SQL injection, or even attacks via plugin vulnerabilities (like the attacks carried out through the WordPress Slider Revolution plugin in 2014), if configured to do so.

Cons of WordPress firewalls:

  • WordPress firewalls can not guarantee that your site will never get hacked.
  • They could keep out valid visitors (or requests) as a result of false positives.
  • They need special configuration to set them up. Cloud-based firewalls, for example, may need DNS setup.
  • They do not help scan for, detect, or remove malware from your websites. (This is where website antiviruses help).

(This is only a basic run through, but if you’re looking for more information, check out our article: What is a WordPress Firewall?)

WordPress Antivirus

Website antiviruses scan for malware that might have been implanted by hackers through entry points in your WordPress site. They typically consist of two parts: one that detects hacks, and another that cleans hacks. The solutions available in the market either have a combination of both parts or just either one.

How a WordPress Antivirus works:

  • Detecting malicious files on your website would require analysing your website files and checking for malware. This is done by checking your files for ‘signatures’ of malware, against a database of known threats (a.k.a ‘blacklist’). However, since hackers can build an infinite combination of hacks, the signature-based analysis isn’t very effective.
  • Hack-cleaning is another process, that usually involves the removal or repair of infected files on your website. It should be done at the earliest to minimize damage.

Pros of a WordPress antivirus:

  • Website antiviruses help detect malware that could be spamming your visitors, or even lead to blacklisting your site. Some of the attacks a WordPress antivirus could help protect against are: Malicious Redirects, Pharma spam, or Backdoors.
  • Removing the malicious files as soon as possible reduces the damage to your site.
  • Having a website antivirus that also acts as a hack-cleaner would also make sure that the malicious files are repaired or removed.

Cons of a WordPress antivirus:

  • Website antiviruses do not help detect intrusion, or prevent attacks on your website.
  • They only help you clean out malicious files on your site after they have been deployed.
  • Since they use signature-based analysis, website antiviruses miss a lot of malware.
  • Website antiviruses also generate a lot of false positives.
  • Website hack-scanners and cleaners do not help you find out how a hack originated, so you could get attacked the same way again.
  • A lot of the solutions available require technical assistance and take hours to get rid of the infected files on your website.
  • Cleaning malware from your website is an expensive affair

With cyber attacks becoming more and more complex, there is no foolproof way to make sure your website is safe.The only way is to reduce your vulnerabilities, and up your WordPress security measures. Doing so will make your website less attractive to hackers on the account of how much effort it takes to break in. Over time, hacks have become more complex, and difficult to detect. This is why most of the time, website owners don’t even know that their websites have been attacked, or that they contain malware. Once you’ve been made aware of malicious code on your website, panic sets in because cleaning it up is always a tedious process that takes you away from your business, and requires technical support. It’s best to consider your security options wisely, and choose something that will give you the best value.

Check if your website contains malicious files with MalCare: the first accurate, one-click hack-cleaner of its kind. This website antivirus solution alerts you of malicious files, and gets rid of them quickly, and effectively. The system also learns from the data it’s seen, so it generates zero false positives.

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