It is common sense; you wouldn’t put up a bank without getting maximum security around the bank building, I imagine you’d even put an alarm system and install security cameras. All this is meant to prevent break-ins, avoid losing money, property damage, or putting sensitive documents at risk.
Likewise, starting a business website requires a hefty investment for services and products such as hosting, themes, plugins, and website development. This alone is enough to secure your website from hackers or any threat that may put your future incomes and services at risk.
Is WordPress secure enough for eCommerce? Why/why not
WordPress hosts most websites, making it the world’s most popular content management system. However, this popularity makes it the one-stop center for internet hackers or cybercriminals. Using WordPress plugins and themes expands the attack surface even more.
According to webarxsecurity.com, on average, 30,000 new websites are hacked every day, and the majority of these websites are powered by WordPress with essential security measures in place.
The internet and enterprise security news by SECURITY WEEK in March 2018 indicated that on average, 18.5 million websites are infected with malware at any given time.
That said, no website is immune to cyber-attacks, be it small scale businesses or giant retailers. For example in May 2017 Target had a data breach that saw over 41 million customers affected, leading to a loss of over $18 million in settlements.
To guard your WordPress website against cybercriminals, it’s important that you install WordPress security plugins.
What are WordPress security plugins and why we need them?
A WordPress security plugin is a WordPress powered software that offers solid security measures to protect your WordPress website from hackers or cybercriminals
Although WordPress is secure, there are additional features that only WordPress security plugins can offer. These may include;
- The site, file, and malware scanning
- Protection from brute force attacks
- Regular security scans, monitoring, notifications
- Site firewalls
How to choose security plugins
Before visiting the WordPress Plugin Directory to download any security plugin from the list, you need to first know what you need. These security plugins are heavy to the extent that they can decrease your site’s speed. Otherwise, you can trade one problem for the other.
Another great element you need to consider is first checking out your hosting service. Some hosting providers come with security features such as backups, updates, firewalls, and malware scans. If your host has these services, you may not need plugins to manage the same.
Here you will be able to determine if you can settle with an all-in-one security plugin, or just go for specific features. If your host covers some tasks, then you simply need a few plugins to bridge the gaps.
Budget is also another aspect you must look at closely. Look at each one’s features and cost. If you have a tight budget, gang up on cyber threats using several free or low-cost plugins. It may be better than shelling out for a premium all-in-one option. But it’s better to invest in a single comprehensive plugin.
Examples of the best security plugins for WordPress
With the very many security plugins, we know that coming up with a couple of plugins to use is overwhelming. We simplified this for you by shortlisting a few of them below.
1. Sucuri Security
Sucuri Security plugin was built by Sucuri, a security and auditing company. It offers both free and paid versions with a number of different security features which include:
- Blocklist monitoring
- File integrity monitoring
- Post-hack actions
- Remote malware scanning
- Security activity auditing
- Site security hardening
On top of the above free features, Sucuri also gives a website firewall as a premium offer. Their website also offers a great deal of information about securing your site.
2. iThemes security
iThemes security is more impressive at protecting your website, with over 30 different features to secure your WordPress website. iThemes security can strongly recognize plugin vulnerabilities, obsolete software, and weak passwords.
The thirty features that come with its free version include:
- 404 error detection
- Bot blocklist
- Brute-force protection
- Database backups
- Email notifications
- File change detection
- Hide login and admin URLs
- Strong password enforcement
- WordPress dashboard locking outside business hours
The iThemes Security Pro version comes with additional features which include; support for two-factor authentication, forced password expiration, and user action logging. With these premium features, you can easily detect and respond to compromised accounts on a WordPress site.
SecuPress is known for its beautiful user interface. It was originally released as freemium in 2016 and is now growing rapidly. It was developed by Julio Potier, one of the original co-founders of WP Media. SecuPress has both a free version and a premium version with several additional features.
The free version includes the following features.
- Brute-force attack protection
- Disable XML-RPC
- IP and bot blocklist
- Relocation of the login page
- User activity logging
For users who don’t have time to manually run tests; SecuPress has the premium choice for you. The Pro version has built-in task scheduling. On top of automation, the Pro version offers a number of useful security features which include;
- Database and file backup
- Geolocation-based blocking
- PHP malware scanning
- Two-factor authentication
4. All in One WP Security
All in One WP Security & Firewall is a freemium WordPress security plugin that offers security functionality divided into different categories and each category has different security features. The categories include;
- User account security
- User login security
- User registration security
- Database security
- File system security
- Blocklist functionality
- Firewall functionality
- Brute-force login attack prevention
- Security scanner
- Comment spam security
- Front-end text copy protection
- Each category has different security features.
5. Malcare Security and Firewall
Just like its name, the plugin is both a security plugin and a firewall. The security plugin has a built-in login protection system that protects the WordPress admin dashboard from Block brute force login attempts.
Other useful features offered including;
- Automated malware removal
- Brute-force attack prevention
- CAPTCHA-based login protection
- Email notifications
- File edit tracking
- Remote malware security scanning
- Support services
- WordPress hardening
How do I secure my WordPress site without plugins?
Apart from using WordPress security plugins, there are other ways one can secure a website from hackers. these among others include;
1. Use a strong password
Hackers use password generation tools to brute force attack the admin area. Websites that use weak passwords are vulnerable to such attacks. You, therefore, have to make sure that your password is strong enough.
2. Limit login attempts
Although having a strong password can stop hackers from accessing your site via a brute force attempt, limiting the number of times a user can input their password before locking them out can harden the security even further. You can receive a notification and ban specific IP addresses if it becomes a persistent issue.
3. Have a site backup system
Website backups may not make your site more secure but provide an operational site you can restore your data from in case your website is taken offline during an attack. Also if your website is malfunctioning for any reason, you can always restore your site to a previous version.
Popular website backups include;
4. Keep your WordPress core, themes, and plugins up to date
The primary way to secure your site is to keep everything up to date. This involves your WordPress core, your theme, and all the plugins. Using older versions of software means leaving your back door open. When a security risk is discovered, software administrators release updates and patches.
5. Only use reputable plugins
Using plugins from trusted sites and organizations on your WordPress is another way you can secure your site.
6. Use a hard-to-guess username
Use a different username from the administrator account. This reduces the risk of a brute-force attack against your account.
7. Restrict site access and user roles
With WordPress, you can create multiple different user accounts in case of teamwork for your website. However, having more logins and passwords exposes your websites to weak passwords and consequently compromising specific accounts.
You can restrict access to only those parts of the website where one may be working but not the entire website’s plugins, themes, or site settings areas.
Two-factor authentication on the site can also help in this case. You can have a plugin that verifies the identity of the user who’s logging into your site.
8. Enable a web site firewall
Firewalls create a force field around your site. In cases where you cannot update individual plugins due to a specific software configuration. The website firewall keeps your site secure even when it’s running on outdated software.
The WordPress security plugins above offer different functionality. They offer free or premium versions. But, the core function is to protect your WordPress site from cybercriminals.
WordPress is not perfectly secure, so security plugin a very important as they help to reinforce your site security against hackers. Premium plugins also offer additional protections and reduce the need for manual configuration, scanning, and attack remediation.
In addition to security plugins, there are several other non-plugin strategies like using a strong password, limiting login attempts, enabling firewalls, restricting access, and more that can protect your site against being hacked.