If you’re wondering, “Do I need a WordPress security plugin?” The answer is yes. WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. That popularity also makes it a popular choice for hackers.
Now, WordPress has regular updates to patch any new and existing security holes. But, security as a whole is a reactive process. Patches are only issued once a security vulnerability is known.
At its core, WordPress is incredibly secure. But the massive ecosystem of plugins and WordPress themes makes it more vulnerable to security holes.
To protect your WordPress website against these security risks, it’s always a good idea to use a WordPress security plugin. Below we look at five of the best WordPress security plugins and highlight both free and paid options.
Why You Need a WordPress Security Plugin
WordPress has some pretty solid security measures in place, but if you’re looking to take that security even further you’ll want to utilize a security plugin.
By using a WordPress security plugin, you’ll get access to additional features that WordPress doesn’t have right out of the box, including:
Site, file, and malware scanning
Protection from brute force attacks
Regular security scans, monitoring, notifications
Overall security hardening
Sure, you can get by without having these in place, but why would you risk it? Sadly, a lot of site owners don’t think about security for their WordPress website until it’s too late.
Once your WordPres site has been compromised, there’s not a lot you can do besides notify your visitors and try to clean up the mess. If only there was something you could’ve done to prevent this.
Good news: there is. It’s using a WordPress security plugin.
Best WordPress Security Plugins in 2021
If you’re in a hurry, feel free to click on the following links to test out the security plugins and make your own decisions. If you’d like to see our in-depth analysis, keep reading!
Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner and Security Hardening
All In One WP Security & Firewall
Google Authenticator – Two Factor Authentication
Most worthwhile security plugins have a price tag, but there are a few that come with limited functionality for free.
We’ll talk about the pricing, but it’s more important to understand what each plugin is going to do for you. Ultimately, it’s all about figuring out the best way to keep the bad guys away from your investment–and sometimes that means spending a little money.
1. Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner and Security Hardening
The Sucuri Security plugin offers both free and paid versions, yet the majority of websites should be fine with the free plugin. For instance, the website firewall requires you to pay for a Sucuri plan, but not every webmaster feels like they need that type of security.
As for the free features, the plugin comes with security activity auditing for seeing how well the plugin is protecting your website. It has file integrity monitoring, blacklist monitoring, security notifications, and security hardening. The premium plans open up customer service channels and more frequent scans. For instance, you might want a scan to be completed every 12 hours. For that, you’d pay about $17 per month.
Features That Make Sucuri Security a Great Choice:
It offers multiple variations of SSL certificates. You do have to pay for these, but it’s available in the packages.
The customer service is available in the form of instant chat and email.
You receive instant notifications when something is wrong with your website.
Advanced DDoS protection is available through some plans.
If you don’t want to pay any money you still receive valuable tools for blacklist monitoring, malware scanning, file integrity monitoring, and security hardening.
2. iThemes Security
iThemes Security WordPress plugin
iThemes security is a feature-packed WordPress security plugin. It’s available as both a free and paid plugin for WordPress sites. The paid version will unlock more detailed security measures.
The free version has some decent features, but if you really want to protect your site, you’ll want to consider the pro version. It will not only unlock some stellar security features but it’s also affordable, at only $80 per year.
The Pro version does a lot to enhance security, like providing strong password protection, backing up and securing your databases, protecting against brute force attacks, moving your login page, adding two-factor authentication, and a lot more.
Plus, you’ll get regular website monitoring and dedicated professional support.
Wordfence Security is one of the most popular WordPress security plugins, and for good reason. This gem pairs simplicity with powerful protection tools, such as the robust login security features and the security incident recovery tools. One of the main advantages of Wordfence is the fact that you can gain insight into overall traffic trends and hack attempts.
Features That Make WordFence Security a Great Choice:
The free version is powerful enough for smaller websites.
Developers can save tons of money when they signup for multiple site keys.
It has a full firewall suite with tools for country blocking, manual blocking, brute force protection, real-time threat defense, and a web application firewall.
The scan portion of the plugin fights off malware, real-time threats, and spam. It scans all your files for malware, not just WordPress files.
The plugin monitors live traffic by viewing things like Google crawl activity, logins and logouts, human visitors, and bots.
You gain access to some unique tools like the option to sign in with your cell phone and password auditing.
The comment spam filter removes the need to install a separate plugin for this.
It monitors your plugins and lets you know if they have been removed from the WordPress plugin repository (usually due to being unsafe or being hacked) are no longer being updated and have been abandoned.
4. WP fail2ban
WP fail2ban security plugin
WP fail2ban delivers one feature, but it’s a rather important one: protection from brute force attacks. The plugin takes a different approach which many see as more effective than what you get from some of the security suite plugins listed above. WP fail2ban documents all login attempts, regardless of their nature or successfulness, to the syslog using LOG_AUTH. You have the option to implement a soft or hard ban, which is different from the more traditional approach of only choosing one.
There’s not much to know in terms of configuration for the WP fail2ban plugin. In fact, all you have to do is install it and let it do its magic. In addition, the brute force security plugin is completely free so you don’t have to worry about spending any money. This plugin is truly a standout, since the users consistently report that it works flawlessly.
Features That Make WP fail2ban a Great Choice:
Choose between hard or soft blocks.
Integrate with CloudFlare and proxy servers.
Log comments to prevent spam or malicious comments.
The plugin also logs information about spam, pingbacks, and user enumeration.
You also have the option to create a shortcode that blocks users immediately before even having a chance to reach the login process.
5. All In One WP Security & Firewall
All In One WP Security & Firewall plugin
All In One WP Security & Firewall is one of the most popular WordPress security plugins. It’s very easy to use and you can configure this plugin pretty easily, even if you don’t have any tech skills.
It’s equipped with a unique grading system, so you can see which areas of your WordPress site are protected, and what you need to improve upon. Since it’s visually based it’s easy to see and correct any areas of your site that might be weak.
The main ways this plugin will improve your security are by protecting against blue force login attempts, securing your user accounts, creating a website firewall, protecting your WordPress databases, and even allowing you to blacklist certain sites or IP addresses.
Plus, it has a built-in security scanner so you’ll know that your site is always protected against hackers.
All In One WP Security & Firewall is a completely free plugin that you can download here. You also won’t run into any annoying upsells, or having to upgrade to unlock more features.
Jetpack WordPress security plugin
Most people who use WordPress are familiar with Jetpack, and it’s mainly because the plugin has so many features, but it’s also because the plugin is made by the people from WordPress.com. Jetpack is filled with modules to strengthen your social media, site speed, and spam protection. There are so many features in Jetpack that it’s definitely worth exploring.
Some security tools are included with Jetpack as well, making it an appealing plugin for those who want to save money and rely on a reputable solution. For instance, the Protect module is free and it blocks suspicious activity from happening. Brute force attack protection and whitelisting is also supported by the basic security functionality from Jetpack.
That said, the paid versions of Jetpack are more powerful when it comes to security. For instance, the $99 per year plan includes malware scanning, scheduled website backups, and restoration if anything goes wrong. Furthermore, the $299 per year plan offers on-demand malware scans and real-time backups for the ultimate protection.
Features That Make Jetpack a Great Choice:
The free plan provides a decent amount of security for a small website, then you can upgrade to the reasonably priced premium plans and get full support and a plugin that’s one of the best on the market.
The premium plans turn the plugin into more of a suite, with benefits like backups, spam protection, and security scanning.
Plugin updates are managed entirely through Jetpack.
You also get downtime monitoring.
Jetpack is also a plugin that eliminates the need for other plugins. For instance, it has features for email marketing, social media, site customization, and optimization.
SecuPress is a relatively new addition to the WordPress security space. However, it’s seen very rapid growth. There are both free and premium versions of this plugin available.
One of the strongest features of SecuPress is its intuitive UI, which makes it incredibly easy to setup and use. Not only that it’s equipped with a built-in security scanner, which will scan your site for six main points of vulnerability.
If any points of weakness are revealed during this scan, then the plugin will actually fix them at the click of a button. Overall, this is a very solid and easy to use security plugin.
The premium version of the plugin will give you additional features like anti-spam protection, automated website backups in case a restore is needed, and automated website scans.
The BulletProof Security plugin has both free and premium versions. The paid option sells for a one-time payment of $69.95 and is actively developed, updated, and probably contains more features than most of the other security plugins on the market. They provide a 30-day money back guarantee, and you receive features for quarantines, email alerting, anti-spam, auto-restore, and more.
I’d suggest you try out the free plugin first, since it offers the following tools:
Login security and monitoring.
Database backups and restoring.
MScan Malware Scanner.
Anti-spam and anti-hacking tools.
A security log.
Hidden plugin folders.
A full setup wizard.
It’s not the most user-friendly WordPress security plugin, but it does the job for advanced developers who want to take advantage of unique settings and features like the anti-exploit guard and the online Base64 decoder. It also has a setup wizard auto-fix feature to help make it a little easier.
Features That Make BulletProof Security a Great Choice:
It has some of the most unique advanced security tools on the market, with features like BPS Pro ARQ Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (ARQ IDPS) encrypting solutions, as well as scheduled crons, cURL scans, folder locking, and more.
The free version is packed with enough features for the average website.
The database backups are provided in the free version.
You can hide individual plugin folders.
The maintenance mode functionality is not something you would find in most other security plugins.
VaultPress WordPress security plugin
It’s important not to forget VaultPress, since it works similar to plugins like iThemes Security Pro and Sucuri Scanner. You need to pay in order to get any type of protection, but the plans start at only $39 per year, making it one of the more affordable premium security plugins. The website states that this plan is more for small businesses and bloggers, but you also have the option to upgrade to a more powerful plan for either $99 per year or $299 per year.
The daily and real-time backups are the bread and butter of the operation, with a beautiful calendar view for specifying when you’d like to complete your backups. You can also complete site restores with a quick click of the mouse. What’s more is that the restore files are logged in the dashboard, and several of them are stored so that you can choose which one you want. The best part of VaultPress in regards to backups is that they are incremental. This is great for performance.
The primary security tools monitor suspicious activity on your website, with tabs for viewing your history and seeing which threats have been dealt with or ignored. You can also check out stats and manage your entire security detail from the convenience of a clean dashboard.
Features That Make VaultPress a Great Choice:
The pricing is better than most other premium WordPress security plugins.
The dashboard looks cleans and easy to understand for all users.
You can make real-time or manual backups using a calendar.
The stats tab reveals information on the most popular visiting times on your site, while also showing what threats have occurred during those times.
You can contact the experts from VaultPress to help you out with tasks like site restores and backups.
10. Google Authenticator – Two Factor Authentication
The majority of plugins that have individual security features don’t make much sense to install. The reason for this is because you can typically go with a plugin like iThemes Security Pro and get that one feature along with dozens of other ones. However, two-factor authentication is a different story, since it seems like most security suites don’t include it. Therefore, it might make sense to harden your login security with a plugin like this.
Google Authenticator WordPress plugin
The Google Authenticator plugin adds a second layer of security to your login module, which is rather important since the majority of hacking attempts happen with the login. In addition to your regular password, this plugin either sends a push notification to your phone or some other form of authentication such as using a QR code or asking a security question.
This way, your login becomes far less penetrable since the second layer is most likely something that only you know or have on your person (like your phone).
This WordPress security plugin doesn’t require any payment, and the interface is easy enough to understand. Besides choosing the type of authentication, another cool feature lets you specify which type of user role should have to go through the authentication. So, you can allow admins to get in easier, but you might ask that authors or other users go through the two-factor process.
The only problem is that the two-factor authentication makes it rather difficult to log in to your backend with a mobile device.
Features That Make Google Authenticator a Great Choice:
It nearly eliminates the vulnerability that is your login area.
You can choose which two-factor authentication method is the easiest for you.
You can select which user types need to go through the authentication process.
The plugin has a shortcode for using with custom login pages.
11. Security Ninja
Security Ninja WordPress plugin
Security Ninja has been around for over seven years. Starting out as one of the first security plugins sold on CodeCanyon (with four add-ons available) it moved to a freemium model in 2016. Add-ons were ditched in favor of having just two versions – free and premium. The main module (which is the only one available for free) performs over 50 security tests ranging from checking files and MySQL permissions to various PHP settings.
Security Ninja also does a brute force check of all user passwords to weed out accounts with weak passwords such as “12345” or “password”. This helps educates users on security. It does include an auto fixer module, but for those who want to understand what’s going on, there’s a detailed explanation of every test including code to manually fix the security issue. If you don’t like plugins messing with your site, Security Ninja offers a nice alternative to the usual “just click here to fix it” approach. Other modules in the paid version, start at $29 a year per site.
Features That Make Security Ninja a Great Choice:
The security tester module (available in the free version) performs over 50 security tests across your site.
Not tech-savvy? No problem, the auto fixer module can resolve any issues detected.
Scan WordPress core to ensure the integrity of the core files by comparing them to a secure and latest copy from wordpress.org.
Scan plugins and themes in search for suspicious code and malware.
Take advantage of a huge list of known bad IPs and automatically block them.
Log all events that are happening on your WordPress site, from users logging in to settings being changed.
You can schedule regular scans.
Defender WordPress security plugin
Defender is layered WordPress security made easy, like stupid, simple. The free and pro version both start with a list of the most effective hardening technics for instantly upgrading your WordPress security.
You can run free scans that check WordPress for suspicious code. The Defender scan tool compares your WordPress install with the directory, reports changes and lets you restore the original file with a click. They also offer a pro version which includes cloud backups with 10 GB remote storage, audit logs for monitoring changes, automated security scans, and blacklist monitoring. Their experts will even help you clean up a hacked site.
Features That Make Defender a Great Choice:
Google 2-Step Verification.
WordPress core file scanning and repair.
Login Screen Masking.
IP Blacklist manager and logging.
Unlimited file scans.
Timed Lockout brute force attack shield for login protection.
404 limiter for blocking vulnerability scans.
IP lockout notifications and reports.
Which WordPress Security Plugin is Best for You?
Now that we’ve walked through the best WordPress security plugins, take a look at our main recommendations below. This makes it easier for you to select one or two plugins without having to test every single one out. Remember, that depending on what your WordPress host already offers, security plugins may not be needed.
These suggestions hone in on certain situations where you might choose one security plugin over another.
For the best value – Sucuri Security, SecuPress, Jetpack, iThemes Security, or Shield Security.
If you want a free WordPress security plugin – All In One WP Security & Firewall, Sucuri Security (free version,) or Wordfence Security.
If you’re looking for a security plugin for beginners – All In One WP Security & Firewall, Security Ninja, or Defender.
When you require a more advanced brute force protection plugin – WP fail2ban or Astra.
If you’d like two-factor authentication – Google Authenticator – Two Factor Authentication.
For a beautiful interface – SecuPress or VaultPress.
Besides installing a plugin you can take further steps to improve the security of your sites. For example, Lockr’s offsite key management (this is a premium service) solution protects against critical site vulnerabilities and helps to secure your data. A simple integration is available for WordPress.
Of course, we can’t cover all the plugins out there. These are simply those we recommend based on our experience with users.