As a WordPress user, you’ll most likely be aware of the fact that its popularity makes it the favorite target for hackers. Perhaps, you may choose to install plugins that can heighten your site’s security against hacker attacks and vulnerabilities.
But, do you know which security plugin should you install? Or how many plugins you’ll require to protect your site? And so on. An unfortunate reality is that the majority of WP users fail or don’t try to understand the scope of each WordPress security plugins and what role it plays.
Through this post, I’ll help you understand some important things you should keep in your mind, before selecting a plugin for your site. But, let us look at the current scenario of the WordPress plugin ecosystem.
A Look at the WordPress Plugin Ecosystem
When it comes to securing a WordPress website, most of the users have this impression that simply installing a security plugin will help keep their site protected from hacker attacks. In fact, some users presume that the more security plugins they’ll install, the more secure their site will become. But that’s a wrong perception!
To be more specific, many people don’t understand the scope of WordPress security plugins, and how they can help safeguard a site from attacks. So, it is important for you to know about the types of security plugins available online and what’s their scope. But before that let’s have a look at some of the problems associated with security plugins.
The Problems Associated with WordPress Security Plugins
Here are two of the biggest reasons that cause problems when it comes to selecting security plugins for a WP install:
1. Not all designers and developers in the WordPress Community understand the scope of WordPress plugins.
There’s no denying that WordPress is an extremely easy-to-use CMS. The problem is that many people believe that everything that WordPress offers would also be easy to work with. This is why webmasters (like designers, developers, etc.) prefer installing a plugin, as they believe that doing so will keep their WP site secure.
But, often when browsing WordPress security forums or groups, you’ll see a few WordPress designers and developers asking about ways to secure their customer’s website. They usually ask questions about:
- How to get started with protecting any customer site?
- Which plugins should they use for securing customer site?
First of all, as a designer or a developer you need to be familiar with answers to such questions. If not, then you shouldn’t be handling a task that requires increasing your client site’s security, since you’re not qualified enough to get the job done.
Remember that WordPress security is not only limited to installing a plugin or making changes to a few parameters; rather it requires paying attention to several factors. And so, if you don’t understand the concept of WordPress security, you shouldn’t bother providing a security solution. Or else, it could be damaging to not only your reputation but also to the WordPress’ community reputation.
Since the customer’s website is hacked even after installing a WP security plugin, then certainly users will blame WordPress and its community for the issue that they have encountered.
2. Making the wrong choices when choosing WordPress Security plugins.
Since many WordPress users perceive everything associated with the WordPress platform to be easy, they often end up purchasing a premium plugin that fails to meet their website security needs. Bear in mind that not all plugins can help in solving your WordPress website security headaches.
However, due to lack of time into searching for available security solutions, a lot of WordPress users tend to make wrong choices. Moreover, many users don’t have much knowledge about the “why and how of WordPress security”, and simply install the most popular plugin to accomplish their website security needs.
Understanding The Concept of WordPress Security (and Plugins)
Whenever you need to pick any security plugin, keep in mind, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. In simple words, a single plugin does not cover all the security aspects. And so, you’ll have to choose more than one (but only relevant) plugins that help meet the following goals:
- Safeguard your website from brute force attacks.
- Harden your WP site’s security.
- Create a defense around your site.
- Enable you to monitor your site for vulnerabilities.
Keeping the aforementioned key factors in mind can help you in selecting the right security plugins for your WordPress site, and will maximize your site’s security by removing the loopholes that could have opened your website doors to hackers.
Security Plugins to Protect Your Site From Brute Force Attack
Many WordPress site owners don’t focus on using a solid username and password for their site. This is why hackers launch brute force attacks on WordPress installs to break into the site. Needless to say, using hard to guess username and password will make it difficult for hackers to access your site.
But in worst case scenario, they might still break into your website. However, you can reduce the chances of getting your hacked due to brute force attacks using plugins like Brute Force Login Protection, Clef Two-Factor Authentication, Login Security Solution, etc.
Aside from the above list of plugins, I’ll recommend you to read an article on Brute Force Attacks published on WordPress Codex.
Security Plugins to Harden Your Website Security
In this section, we’ll be talking about the oldest plugins that were introduced in the WordPress Plugins Repository in the very beginning. These plugins won’t help you in protecting your website from malicious attacks, but will rather help address loopholes that hackers often take advantage of to access a WP site. What’s more? Such kind of plugins also proves quite effective in case your website gets hacked.
The plugins that help in hardening WordPress website security are the ones that automate the process of keeping database backup, secure login process to the admin panel, change the login page URL of WordPress sites and many more. For example: WordFence Security, iThemes Security, and BulletProof Security are 3 of the best plugins that can help harden your site’s security.
You can know more how you can harden your WP website security by going through Hardening WordPress post published on official WordPress site.
Security Plugins to Create a Defense Perimeter For Your Site
Even if there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to ensure your WordPress website security, you can’t sit and wait to get your site hacked. Instead, you must follow each and every precautionary step that can avert any malicious user from attacking your site. One best strategy to achieve such an objective is to create a defense parameter around your site to stop any attacks from taking place. You can do so, by installing a plugin that helps employ a firewall.
The concept of adding a firewall is not new and has been practiced for years in the web industry. The purpose behind using a firewall is to filter out unauthenticated users from incoming traffic to your site. Once plugins that help add the capability of the firewall to a WP site gets installed, they’ll scrutinize every incoming HTTP request that your website or blog receives, and drops the ones that seem to be malicious.
Wondering how a firewall security plugin works?
In case you’ve installed a plugin on your website that is prone to vulnerability such as vulnerable to an SQL Injection, then most likely a hacker will send HTTP requests in an attempt to exploit such vulnerability. But, you can block such requests using a firewall security plugin. Some of the firewall security plugins worth considering are All In One WP Security & Firewall, Simple Security Firewall, etc.
Security Plugins to Monitor Your WordPress Site and Create an Audit Log
Till now we’ve discussed plugins that help in averting brute force attacks, harden your site security and secure your site from receiving malicious HTTP requests. And at last, there is one category of plugins that is overlooked by the majority of users, i.e. monitoring a WordPress site and saving an audit log of all the things that are happening on your site.
Despite following best security practices, there’s a possibility that your site might get attacked by malicious users. Therefore, it would be better to continuously check your website for malware and vulnerabilities, and ensuring that everything occurring on your site is legitimate.
Thanks to plugins such as Sucuri Security – Auditing, Malware Scanner …, you can keep track on your site for malware detection. Also, using the WP Security Audit Log plugin, you can get an audit log of all the changes taking place in your WordPress website.
Let’s Wrap Up!
Covering each and every aspect of securing a WordPress install using security plugins is out of the scope of this article. However, I’ve tried covering some of the biggest myths and concerns associated with the WordPress Plugins Ecosystem that you need to be familiar with, so as to understand how you can make the best possible use of the security plugins to heighten your WordPress site’s security.