Are you one of those WordPress (WP) website owners, who have spent several hours or even days trying to find the best WP all in one security plugin out there? Are you among those website owners who have tirelessly researched on what WP all in one security plugins should do, while trying to understand what you really need to secure your website? Look no further, because I have compiled a list of 6 awesome WP all in one security plugins. Before I go into the different plugins, I have given a bit of an overview of the different levels of WP security, for those of us who would like to understand it from the ground up.
Levels of WordPress Security
Before we jump into what the best plugin for WordPress security is, I think it would be good to touch upon the different levels of security that we need and the ones that we can actually control directly. Okay hang on for just a bit, I can already feel some of you not as interested in knowing this theory. Would you like to just know about the best plugin out there? Sure, I understand. Feel free to jump to the section titled, ‘6 Awesome WP All in One Security Plugins.
Moving on, there are mainly three layers of security that I can name:
- Web host security
- Security at the level of your network, also called Web Application Firewall
- Your personal computer’s security – how safe your computer is, how safe your internet connection is and some more security measures, which are a matter of common sense more than anything else.
Let’s dive right in.
Security at your Web Host
Web hosting companies, in general, would use a Web Application Firewall at their end, have some software for performing server level scans that look for backdoor etc. This is valid if you are using a shared web hosting and not a VPS. If you’re using a shared hosting, then your web host should give you a safe hosting environment for your website, constantly check their servers for any suspicious activities, regular scans, audits, backups etc.
A VPS hosting will mostly require you as the user to set up your own server level security, along with other security measures for your website. If you are completely aware of what you are doing, how to set up server level securities, configuring servers etc., VPS can offer a more possibilities at a having a very secure web hosting environment. However, if you are not so confident or you are unaware of how to correctly configure a web hosting server, a managed dedicated hosting or shared hosting will suit you best.
So, if you have gone in for a managed dedicated hosting or shared hosting, then your web host will take care of the server security, but if VPS is your choice, then server security will most likely be your own responsibility. Tony Perez, co-founder and CEO at Sucuri has written about website security being managed by web hosts.
Web Application Firewall (Security at your Network Level)
Web Application Firewall or WAF is more of a protective layer between your website and the rest of the internet. It can run as a cloud service, server level plugin or as an appliance. You are probably wondering what ‘WAF’ really does. A WAF basically reads through and inspects every data packet sent to and from your website to block intrusions, SQL injections, DDoS attacks etc.
Most security plugins that offer all in one security, have WAF as a part of their package.
Security at Your Level
This level of security is to do with how you protect your computer, how secure is your internet connection, how safe is your network environment etc. all come under the security at your level.
As a client, you can:
- Protect your computer by using a well-known anti-virus software which has some sort of internet protection, firewall etc.
- If you are ever using an internet connection that you don’t trust, never give out your credentials
- Don’t open emails that look suspicious, or download attachments that you don’t fully trust.
- Do not visit websites that look fishy.
Taking such active precautions will make sure your computer isn’t infected by any malware and you will, in turn, be able to protect your website, when you have a clean computer.
Importance of WordPress Security
I have written about the this topic in an earlier article which is essentially a guide to creating a secure WordPress website. I’ll briefly touch upon this in this article as well, just to make it more complete.
Using a security plugin is one of the very essential steps in creating a secure WordPress website. Many of us are probably aware that WordPress is an open source Content Management System (CMS) and that open source software is more vulnerable to security threats only because their source code is available to the good and the bad alike. While most people dedicate themselves to solving the security risks, there are those bad people who work tirelessly to expose the security loopholes and take advantage of users like us by stealing our sensitive information. The WordPress core team work very hard to plug all the loopholes. The vulnerabilities also lie in the third-party plugins installed in one’s WordPress account for various extra functions.
6 Awesome WP All in One Security Plugins
There are many security plugins in the WordPress plugin repository. I’m sure you have searched a lot for the best WP all in one security plugin and most articles you find will write about most, if not all of the following six security plugins. You’ll also notice that not many articles (I could count on one hand the ones that do) recommend a security plugin at the end. It’s mostly just laying out the most popular five or six or seven best all in one WordPress security plugins.
Most of the plugins covered in this article are widely accepted as the popular plugins for WP all in one security. Whichever one you go with at the end merely becomes a personal choice. It’s like when choosing between a Canon or a Nikon DSLR camera. Which one would you choose? When I had to make that choice, I had a very tough time and realized that it was a personal preference, more than anything. The story of which security plugin is better is somewhat similar. What is more important is to try to figure out what you need your security plugin to carry out, which features are essential, which features are completely worthless for you and which features are ‘good-if-it-is-there’ kind of thing. However, at the end, I will give you my personal recommendation, as promised. This list that I have compiled is in descending order of popularity.
Here are some stats:
Active installs: 1+ million
Average user rating: 4.9/5
– Good and Excellent rating (4s and 5s out of 5): 96.3%
– Average ratings: 0.75%
– Bad ratings (1s and 2s out of 5): 2.8%
Wordfence is by far the most popular security plugin for WordPress. It is a website antivirus and firewall plugin and it offers a paid version, as well as a free version.
You probably are thinking, what does Wordfence really offer that has made it so popular? Well, it offers some neat security features for free, and not just a free limited period trial, but actually free of cost for life. For those of you who are conscious about costs, this is a very viable option for you, since the free version also protects your website well. However, the paid version does have some really interesting features, like advanced spam comment filtering, auditing existing passwords, cell phone sign-in, remote scans, country blocking and a few more.
So, here’s a list of some of its features:
- Security features:
- Blocking features
- Login security
- Security scanning
- Web application firewall
- Multi-site security
- Monitoring features
- Caching features
Their real-time threat defense feed is constantly updated and this powers their web application firewall, which stops your site from being hacked. Their scan feature also alerts you if someone hacks your website. You can custom schedule the monitoring (in the premium version) or have it run daily (at most, in the free version). It definitely helps that Wordfence has provided features for repairing already hacked or compromised sites. Whitelisting of IP addresses or country blocking is a part of the premium package, which is definitely a very useful tool to have.
Users have mixed opinions about Wordfence making your website slow and sluggish. Some people say that Wordfence speeds up the website performance by about 50 times, while some say that it slows it down but there is nothing concrete on that. It probably depends on how people have set up their Wordfence plugin. Also, other plugins might clash with Wordfence, affecting the website performance. Wordfence may not necessarily be the culprit, but we never know.
All in all, the plugin is quite robust and the developers are proactive when it comes to updating their database for having the latest threats updated or rolling out security patches for when a new threat is known. Now about the cost of Wordfence. Wordfence premium API keys can cost you as low as $9.87/key/year and go up to as much as $99/key/year (for when you are buying only one key and pre-paying for only one year). Their price per key depends on the number of licenses you buy and the duration for which you are pre-paying. For more information, you can visit their website.
Pros: This plugin has a free version and offers great features even in its free version. If you need to secure your website, but you don’t have the budget for a paid plugin, then this plugin can help in securing your WordPress site. You can sign in using your mobile phone, which will help improve your website security. It checks the strength of all your usernames and passwords, too. It is a great security tool, whether you use the free version or the premium one.
Cons: Wordfence sometimes has problems with other installed plugins, although not very often. However, this isn’t exclusive to only Wordfence. It is across the board, pretty much, with most plugins, if not all. The support available on the basic version is lesser as compared to its paid counterpart. It also may become pretty expensive if you have several websites. You can check out their pricing page for more details.
iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)
Here are some stats:
Active installs: 700k+ installs
Average user rating: 4.7/5
– Good and Excellent rating (4s and 5s out of 5): 92.9%
– Average ratings: 0.94%
– Bad ratings (1s and 2s out of 5): 6.1%
iThemes Security was formerly Better WP Security and they claim to be the #1 security plugin with over 30 ways to secure and protect your site. iThemes Security believes in preventive action first, then protecting the website. If there is any problem or someone has hacked into your website, it detects the threat and recovers your website.
It has several features for preventing and protecting your website like:
- Changing wp-content path
- Renaming admin account
- Changing WordPress database table prefix
- Away mode
- Brute force protection
- Strong password enforcement
- Scheduled malware scanning, etc.
Similarly, it also has several features for detection and recovery like:
- WordPress Core online file comparison
- File permission check
- Malware scan
- 404 detection
- Database backups, etc.
You can find the full list of 30+ features that iThemes Security provides, on their website. This has a free version as well as a paid version. The free version of this too is pretty cool, however, like Wordfence, the paid version has those few features that may just save your website, when all else fails!
iThemes offers features other than security as well, like for backups, WordPress management etc., which you may find useful. They have package deals, which you can check out. If you are looking for a total WordPress management solution, then this is the plugin you should go for. Their whole suite is available for $247 or if you are just looking to buy their security services, you can get the pro for as low as $80/year for up to 2 websites.
Pros: The premium version is very polished and has built-in support for changing the admin URLs. This plugin will also let you know of any security threats, in real-time and it has a one-click security feature with a very handy dashboard. It also gives you interesting tips on how to optimize the security on your WordPress installation. This plugin monitors your filesystems for any unauthorized changes. You can get all of this at a cost that is cheaper than Wordfence.
Cons: Since the latest updates, the developers changed something, which has made the user interface complicated, making it difficult to read and configure. Many users are reporting that it is now not possible to hide their login location and some users are saying that it was hard for them to make it work, even though they purchased the full version.
All in One WP Security & Firewall
Next on our list is All in One WP Security & Firewall. First, some stats:
Active installs: 400k+ installs
Average user rating: 4.8/5
– Good and Excellent rating (4s and 5s out of 5): 95.8%
– Average ratings: 0.75%
– Bad ratings (1s and 2s out of 5): 3.4%
All in One WP Security & Firewall is another popular security plugin for WordPress websites. In the WordPress plugin repository for All in One WP Security & Firewall, the installation instructions are rather easy to follow, without any complicated steps. It has user account and login security, database security, file system security, firewall protection through .htaccess, brute force attack prevention, security scanning, spam comment security and a lot more. This offers similar features to iThemes Security and Wordfence. If you are deciding between iThemes Security and All in One WP Security & Firewall, either will do the trick for you.
Some people do say that the plugins interface isn’t as easy to use as iThemes Security, but, I guess that is more of a personal viewpoint more than being an absolute fact.
Pros: Just like the other security plugins, All in One WP Security & Firewall has a lot of features and the support team is fast to respond to tickets. Users say that it doesn’t crash and the configuration is simple yet powerful. It is completely free to use. It also has an import/export feature.
Cons: Unlike the other plugins, there aren’t many people talking negatively about this plugin. However, the prevailing problems are that the firewall doesn’t allow uploads greater than 4MB.
Okay, so far we’ve covered 3 of the top 6 awesome WP all in one security plugins. Let’s move to our fourth one, Sucuri Security. First off, here are some stats:
Active installs: 200k+ installs
Average user rating: 4.6/5
– Good and Excellent rating (4s and 5s out of 5): 89.4%
– Average ratings: 3.9%
– Bad ratings (1s and 2s out of 5): 6.7%
Sucuri is an extremely well-known and globally recognized authority in the matters of website security, especially for WordPress websites.
It offers a free version, which you can download from the WordPress repository. The free version of this plugin helps you in security auditing, file monitoring, malware scanning, WordPress security hardening, post-hack actions and as an add-on, you can buy the website firewall as well. It provides all the required security features for your WordPress website like:
- Removing malware
- Malware scanning
- Stopping DDoS attacks
- Cloud based web application firewall
Pros: Many of its users feel that the plugin is a great help when it comes to your website security, especially if you’ve been hacked.
Cons: Its users feel that the free version of Sucuri doesn’t do much and that it reports infected websites as not being infected. Most of the negative reviewers say that the ‘free plugin’ isn’t really free and that it is just a way for Sucuri to get more subscriptions. Some people have also reported their sites being hacked into after installing the plugin. Also, this is a very expensive solution, in comparison to the other five plugins.
Now for the stats:
Active installs: 100k+ installs
Average user rating: 4.7/5
– Good and Excellent rating (4s and 5s out of 5): 86%
– Average ratings: 3.6%
– Bad ratings (1s and 2s out of 5): 5.4%
BulletProof Security is another well-known security plugin. It provides solutions for login security, database security and web application firewall. Besides the regular subscription package, they also give spam protection and hack resistance services for a one-time fee. The free version comes with .htaccess embedded. Additionally, it has features like:
- Idle session logout
- Database backup
- Login security & monitoring, etc.
The pro version unlocks many more features like:
- Real time file monitoring
- Anti-spam, anti-hacking etc.
Pros: The plugin authors keep updating it with new vulnerabilities so that this plugin will always be up-to-date. Many users claim that the free version is enough to keep your website secure, though the paid version offers a lot more features.
Cons: They don’t seem to actively help users who are on their free version. The interface isn’t as intuitive as BulletProof Security says it is and several of its users have reported problems while updating this plugin. Many of its users claim that the UI is rather clunky.
Shield WordPress Security (formerly the WordPress Simple Firewall)
Here are the stats for Shield WordPress Security:
Active installs: 40k+ installs
Average user rating: 4.9/5
– Good and Excellent rating (4s and 5s out of 5): 98.6%
– Average ratings: 0.93%
– Bad ratings (1s and 2s out of 5): 0.46%
This is the sixth awesome WP all in one security plugin Shield WordPress Security was formerly the WordPress Simple Firewall. I mentioned it here because of its promising reviews and ratings. Out of all the reviews, it has only 2 negative reviews, which frankly is quite impressive. Shield places no ‘Pro’ restrictions for its security features. Shield claims that their plugin won’t break your website unlike other security plugins do.
Apparently, it is the only WordPress security plugin that protects its users’ websites against being ‘tampered’ with. So, how it works is that there is an independent key (independent from WordPress) that prevents any unauthorized changes to the plugin. Unless someone knows the authentication key, it will be impossible to view/change any plugin settings, deactivate/uninstall the plugin. It basically is a password, like a master password for doing anything on this plugin. This master password is independent of your WordPress password, which is cool considering, even if someone hacks into your WordPress website, no one can turn off or change the security plugin settings.
Other than this, it features:
- Blocking malicious URLs
- Firewall protection
- Brute force login protection and 2FA
- WordPress lockdown – blocking file edits or enforcing SSL
- SPAM and comments filtering, etc.
Besides the Super Admin Security Protection feature, other features are similar to the ones available on most security plugins, at least the ones mentioned in this article. All in all, I think Shield WordPress Security is a promising plugin.
Pros: It can hide your website from being identified as a website powered by WordPress, which is nice and the plugin is also free to use, with the premium features also available for free. It is highly customizable. Unlike other security plugins, it doesn’t edit or change any files in the WordPress core. The plugin author is very responsive to support tickets, even though the plugin is free. You will be able to turn off the plugin firewall from outside WordPress, for when you lock yourself out of your website.
Cons: This plugin doesn’t seem to have many problems, other than the occasional compatibility issues, which may primarily be due to clashes with other plugins, incorrectly configured settings or installation instructions not being followed correctly.
Okay, so as promised, I’m giving my recommendation of what I think is a really awesome WP all in one security plugin. Here it is: We use Wordfence for our websites and have done so for quite a while now. Frankly, we are very happy with Wordfence, with its features, its support, the security it provides and everything about it. We recommend this to our customers as well and so far, no one we have recommended Wordfence to has had any issue, which hasn’t been resolved to their utmost satisfaction. So, I would definitely go for Wordfence. It probably wouldn’t have reached a million active installs, if it wasn’t worth its salt. Having said that, WordPress premium is more expensive, but it still is worth it.
For those of you who still aren’t convinced that Wordfence is the best, no worries! I have another recommendation for you guys. Remember the last security plugin that I mentioned, Shield WordPress Security? I’ll be honest with you; I haven’t used it. But I did read a lot about this plugin. One thing that impressed me the most is the support its users receive. It is really awesome that the plugin author has responded to all negative reviews and was very eager to try to troubleshoot the problems that its users faced. This is despite the plugin being completely free, something which is rather hard to come by. Additionally, having an ‘off’ switch outside WordPress is extremely helpful. Similarly, having an authentication key independent of WordPress to get access to the plugin settings or to do anything that changes/modifies the plugin in any shape, way or form. I would certainly recommend giving Shield WordPress Security a try. If it doesn’t work out, Wordfence is always around!
So, that’s that. I hope this article has helped you to gain a better understanding and help you narrow your choices, at the very least, if nothing else. Remember, no security plugin can secure your website a 100%. This is only adding more layers of security and making it more difficult for hackers to gain entry to your WordPress website. At the end, it is really important to exercise caution while using the internet and to trust your judgment. Whatever plugin you choose, you should keep an eye on it, checking back regularly to be sure that your plugin works correctly.
If you have any question about how to secure your website, drop us a line or chat with us! We would love to help you out! If you have any comments or suggestions (or even nice things to say :)) please let me know, in the comments section below! I’d love to read your comments.