With data breaches making headlines all the time, the key to gaining loyalty among your website customers is providing a secure shopping experience. And while an SSL certificate provides critical visual keys to confidence (HTTPS and the green lock icon), what customers don’t see is just as important. This is where WP security plugins come into play.
Protecting your site from hackers and securing your platform and data is part and parcel of having a WordPress website. If you haven’t experienced the happy, joyful experience of being hacked, you’re on borrowed time — or very lucky.
In 2016, reported data breaches increased by 40 percent. So far in 2017, 26 big- name Fortune companies have experienced major hacks.
Did that get your attention? You know those Fortune companies have teams of techies running around locking the digital doors and closing the windows hackers use to gain entry. And still they got hacked. Don’t think only the big fish get attacked, either. Any website that accepts or stores personally identifiable information such as credit card numbers, birth dates and passwords is a target.
7 top WP security plugins
Here are our top seven WP security plugins — some are free, others require a fee.
All in One WP Security & Firewall.
Cerber Security & Limit Login Attempts.
iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security).
WP Hide & Security Enhancer.
First let’s touch on what’s at stake before we get to our list of the top WP security plugins.
An ounce of prevention
Ask anyone who’s been hacked: the consequences include not just public embarrassment and a damaged reputation but often legal fees and the cost of free credit monitoring for affected clients.
By putting a security plan in place, you can avoid waking up to a broken site — or worse: Google announcing to the world in its search results that your site has been compromised. Instant loyalty killer!
While website security can seem complex, the good news is there are a bunch of WP security plugins that can help to beef up your WordPress site’s security.
Top WP security plugins
Below are the most popular security plugins for WordPress. All have an extensive list of features — too many to list here. Each has similar functionality, while offering varied additional benefits of hardening, notifications and automation. Be sure to review each security plugin’s detailed description on the WordPress Plugin Directory so you can find the plugin(s) that will work best for your setup.
Some WP security plugins are completely free. Others are considered “Freemium,” which means they‘re free but you have the option to upgrade to a more feature rich “Pro” version with extended support for a price.
1. All in One WP Security & Firewall
This plugin is easy to use and understand and gives you a security point breakdown and pie chart so you see what needs fixing. All in One WP Security & Firewall includes:
- Restricting access with an IP blacklist and whitelist
- The ability to hide important URLs
From user account, login and registration to database and file security and monitoring, AIO WP Security & Firewall offers an easy, step-by-step process that literally is all-in-one.
2. BulletProof Security
This automated, one-click-setup WordPress security plugin covers all the basics:
- Firewall security
- Login security
- Database security
- Backup and more
While the Freemium version offers you all the basics you will need, a feature-rich Pro version is also available.
3. Cerber Security & Limit Login Attempts
Cerber tracks user and intruder activity and sends email, mobile and desktop notifications. Includes IP black and whitelisting along with built-in reCAPTCHA for protecting registration, comments and WooCommerce and WordPress forms.
4. iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)
iThemes Security gives you more than 30 ways to secure and protect your WordPress site. Rather than a section-by-section, tab-by-tab interface, iThemes shows you all your options on one screen. Additional features and official support for this plugin is available for iThemes Security Pro customers.
5. Shield Security
Shield Security is a full-on Freemium WordPress security plugin that’s easy to set up. A neat feature is how it auto-blacklists hosts with bad reputations. Rather than just tell you what you need to do, this plugins offers users an exclusive membership to a private security group where you have the opportunity to learn more about WordPress security.
6. Sucuri Security
Sucuri Security is free to all WordPress users. Sucuri is known for monitoring all security-related events within your WordPress install. It’s a security suite meant to complement your existing security posture.
Editor’s note: Looking for a comprehensive website security solution? Check out GoDaddy Website Security, powered by Sucuri.
7. WP Hide & Security Enhancer
This security plugin for WordPress offers an easy process to completely hide your core files, theme and plugins path from being shown on the front end. It allows you to:
- Change default Admin URLs for wp-login.php and wp-admin to something else
- Not announce to the world that your site is on WordPress
Before you install WP security plugins
Some of the intermediate and advanced features of these security plugins might break your site if they conflict with other plugins or themes already on your site.
Advanced features might not work correctly on your site if your hosting provider’s configuration doesn’t support them, either in native configuration or the RAM necessary to power these types of plugins. Before installing any WordPress security plugin, run it by your website host first to:
- Make sure it’s compatible with your hosting plan
- Confirm you have sufficient RAM to install it
Some Managed WordPress hosting partners like GoDaddy already integrate similar features on the server side, negating the need for some of these plugins.
After installing security plugins for WordPress
Plugins alone can’t guarantee you will never be hacked. But combined with best practices like these, WP security plugins will hinder hackers and reduce your risk. Make an effort to stay informed to keep your site safe, as new security gaps are discovered all the time.
Installing a security plugin or two on your WordPress website doesn’t give you an excuse to not understand the rules of the game.
The WP security plugins on this list have great support ratings, at least 10,000 or more active installs and have been tested with the latest version of WordPress: 4.8.1. Remember to review support and version compatibility before installing any WordPress plugin on your website.
Also published on Medium.