WordPress is an awesome tool, which provides unlimited customization through its vast range of native and third-party plugins. It’s ironic how we forget how fortunate we are for having so much choice while wading through thousands of options in search of the right WordPress security plugin. With this post, we aim to make the process of choosing the right WordPress security plugin just a little bit easier for you.
How to Choose the Right WordPress Security Plugin for Your Site
WordPress security is not something to take lightly if you’re serious about following the best practices and building an online following for your business.
Did you know that Google has blacklisted more than 50,000 websites for phishing and 20,000 for malware?
The good news is that the core WordPress software is regularly audited by a large team of developers which makes it very secure. However, you can do a lot to reduce and eliminate risks. Even better, you don’t have to be particularly tech savvy to improve your WordPress security.
With more than 30,000 WordPress plugins to choose from, it’s not easy to choose the right security plugin. While this guide will not guarantee that you choose the right plugin, it will certainly help you make better decisions.
Step 1: Understand the Confusion
When it comes to WordPress plugins, the bulk of them are either handy, great, or amazing. However, there are some that are useless and some that are downright annoying. The descriptions can be confusing for one of two reasons:
- Deliberate confusion is perpetrated by marketers looking to make money off their plugins.
- Accidental confusion is caused by well-meaning developers who have experienced the same issue you’re trying to solve.
The latter will typically introduce a genuine solution that narrowly addresses your issue.
When choosing a WordPress security plugin, you have to ensure that you choose one that meets your needs. That leads us to the next point.
Step 2: Make a Checklist of Features
What are you looking for in your WordPress security plugin? There are close to 2,500 WordPress security plugins to choose from, across a variety of categories, including:
Auditing – This type of plugin allows you to keep a tight reign on who logs onto your site when, and what they are doing while they are there. Using the information from your auditing software, you can identify a risk and respond to a compromise faster.
Detection – These plugins offer great protection for known issues, but not so much for unknown issues. If your site has been attacked, it will be blacklisted by search engines, and flagged by visitors’ antivirus software. Your host may disable your site, or it may be redirected to different sites.
Prevention – These security plugins offer perimeter defense against hacking. These are firewall plugins that prevent:
- brute force attempts
- denial of services (DoS)
- exploitation of software vulnerabilities
- remote file / local file inclusion attacks
- cross site scripting
- remote command execution
Utility – The most common type of security plugins offers a diverse range of tools, including maintenance and backups.
3. Search and Compare WordPress Security Plugins
When you enter the word ‘security’ into the Add New plugin search bar, you will see many results. Each result features a range of statistics to consider:
- Updated – This is the date on which the latest release was updated. If it has been more than a year, you may want to avoid this plugin as it may not be compatible with the latest version of WordPress.
- Downloads – This is the number of downloads of the plugin.
- Average Rating – Out of 5 stars.
It is important to compare the last two factors. A 5-star rating from five users is less of an accurate indication of the quality of the plugin than a 4-star rating across 10,000 downloads.
Next, you must compare the plugins by opening each of those you are considering in a new tab. Pay attention to:
- Plugin Description: Read through the description to ensure the plugin does what you expect from it.
- Requires: Find out whether the plugin can run on your version of WordPress.
- Reviews: Don’t just rely on star ratings. Also, read user reviews – both good and bad – to understand the reasons why users have rated it as such.
- Support Overview – This section will provide an overview of the number of open and resolved threats. The key is to see how quickly the plugin author responds to requests. You want to choose a security plugin with an involved author.
- Screenshots – The plugin screenshots should give you a good indication as to how easy it is to work with a plugin and some of its functionalities.
4. Test the WordPress Security Plugin
Once you have chosen your security plugin, it is time to take it for a test drive. Simply click on Install and Activate, and then access it from the left-hand menu to change settings and options.
WordPress Security Plugins: A Word of Caution
Don’t leave your WordPress security to chance. Once your site has been compromised, you may have to hire a professional to fix it properly.
We hope this blog post shed some light on the issue of WordPress security plugins.