Take care of your website security, use WordPress security plugins, hackers are lurking, don’t be a sitting duck. You can see or hear these messages pretty often. But, is it really that serious? Many owners of small businesses and small websites believe that they don’t need a lot of protection as hackers target large companies. Why would they attack small fries, anyway? Well, they couldn’t be more wrong.
All websites, and I mean ALL, are potential targets for hackers. Actually, the number of attacks on small and medium websites is growing significantly and it will keep growing. So, having decent protection and security is a must.
Why You Need Security Plugins
If you’re not convinced, let’s look at it from another angle. No matter how small your business and website might be, it is an investment. And it is only natural to protect it. If you buy a house you will buy insurance for it and maybe set up an alarm system. You’ll do the same with your car, and most of your investments. At its core, it is all about risk management. The world of today is not a quiet and restful place. Things can change and do change in the blink of an eye. Economy crisis, internet bubbles, unpredictable weather, it can all put a lot of things at risk. And it’s the same with your website. So, security and insurance are not a ‘just in case’ thing. They are helpful to minimize the risk.
As for website security, it is even more so. While WordPress powers more than 75 million websites worldwide, it makes it an appealing target for hackers as well. Here are some not-so-fun facts about hacking.
On average, there’s a hacker attack every 39 seconds on each computer connected to the web! These guys never sleep. Over 40 % of all attacks target small businesses. Reputable universities came up with these or similar numbers and not some web security company that wants you to buy their products. These figures are difficult to calculate and they might not be completely accurate, but still!
The damage you can suffer is immense. You can lose your data or access to your website. Anyway, it is bad news for your business. Your site can be destroyed or infected with malware. Your site may be flagged as malicious, and it may take forever to recover your SEO ranking after such an attack.
Why Would Hackers Attack Your Site
Your site may be small and consequently not attractive to hackers. WRONG! Hackers attack all websites for different reasons.
First of all, small websites usually have a lower level of protection. Being an easy target makes you attractive to hackers in more than one way. For starters, hackers like these sites to practice their hacking skills, or even just for fun. Furthermore, large sites with advanced security can be hard to hack. However, hacking a large number of small sites can provide desired results for hackers. So, your site alone may be a small fry, but combined with hundreds or thousands of other sites, hackers can launch huge spamming attacks, or whatever they are up to. Large attacks make it difficult to trace back to the original source.
Hackers also improve all the time. They often use web crawlers to search for targets and weak spots. Because of this, most attacks are automated.
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Very often the goal of the attack is not your site but your users. Nevertheless, hacking your site is necessary for the process.
Spamming is one of the oldest strategies that hackers use, but it’s still a big nuisance. Hacking your computer and sending a couple of emails, doesn’t seem like a profitable idea. But, using hundreds of easy targets can easily allow for thousands or even millions of spam messages a day.
It’s obvious that all websites can be attractive to hackers. So, what are you going to do about it?
Prevention and Protection Tips
There are a couple of things you can do on your own to improve your security. These measures are not enough to make your site safe, but you don’t want to leave your door open for hackers.
- Use a safe hosting platform. You should carefully choose your hosting provider. Some hosting platforms aren’t secured as well as the others. Safe hosting platforms will block many common threats.
- Create backups. This is a precautionary measure. It won’t prevent the attack, but it will allow you to recover quickly should the attack happen. Truth be told, most WordPress security plugins have this feature so you don’t have to do it manually.
- Create a strong password. This is simple. The stronger the password, the more difficult to crack it.
- Update and update. Hackers are trying all the time and they share their knowledge. Older versions are always more vulnerable. So, update your WordPress installation, as well as themes and plugins, regularly.
- Download from trusted sources. Third-party WordPress security plugins and themes can be more vulnerable. So, avoid unknown sources.
Wordfence must make every security plugins list because it has more than 2 million active installs, for starters. Its popularity must count for something. It is one of powerful and versatile WordPress security plugins. It comes with a built-in firewall, excellent malware scanner, and a variety of blocking features, to begin with. This plugin automatically scans for ‘usual suspects’, but you can also start a full-scale scan at any time. There are also several advanced manual blocking features. And I am talking about the freemium version.
Wordfence’s database contains over 50,000 known threats that are blocked automatically. Two-factor authentication is a feature that strengthens your defense against attacks. It requires two methods to verify identity and access your system or account.
Premium version comes with even more advanced defensive features. So, it’s pretty obvious why this plugin is the most popular on the market.
Sucuri is actually a global leader in WordPress security. So, Sucuri’s WordPress security plugin offers a high level of protection and security. The free version offers powerful protection from several different threats. The main features of this plugin are activity auditing, file integrity monitoring, enhanced overall security, and remote malware scanning. This should be enough to keep hackers at bay. It also comes with security notifications and blacklist monitoring. While this is a powerful plugin, its free version doesn’t come with a firewall. Actually, the firewall is integrated, but you need to purchase a paid plan to activate it.
If you opt for paid version, Sucuri transforms into a defensive beast. DNS level firewall and many more advanced features will provide the best possible protection for your website. It will defend your site from brute force attacks and it will filter bad traffic before it reaches your server. You will also have several post-attack cleanup actions at your disposal. Moreover, it will speed up your website. Sucuri offers a very solid basic free plan and an outstanding premium version.
iThemes Security is yet another WordPress security plugin. You may have heard of Better WP Security. Well, that’s just an old name of iThemes Security. This plugin stands out of the crowd for its nice and clean interface. It is also packed with features.
A free version is pretty solid and it offers a basic protection. It will protect your site from brute force attacks and provide file integrity checks as well as malware scanning. It is worth mentioning that it uses Sucuri’s malware scanner. The freemium version lacks a firewall. So, to get the best out of it, you would need to upgrade to a Pro version.
Premium version offers a high level of protection and more than 30 features. You will receive notifications if your themes or plugins are outdated. Furthermore, it will fix common security faults. Password enforcement and two-factor authentication will further improve your security.
So, it’s fair to say that a free version is pretty decent, while the Premium version is one of the most comprehensive WordPress security plugins out there.
All In One WP Security & Firewall is another excellent security plugin. It is packed with features, but most of all it is extremely user-friendly plugin. It displays a meter on your dashboard that shows how strong your security is at any moment. Then you can choose appropriate actions to fix possible holes in your defense system. Moreover, it has a clean interface and it is very easy to customize. All features are categorized so you don’t have to be tech-savvy to enable features that you need.
It also comes with a website level firewall. While I prefer a DNS firewall, the website level firewall is better than none. The login lockdown feature will prevent brute force attacks. One-click database backup function is another nice feature of this plugin. Malware scanning, IP filtering, and file integrity monitoring will round up a nice defensive system. It’s a great plugin overall, but its ease of use is the most impressive.
Bulletproof is another popular and powerful WordPress security plugin. It has a pretty wide range of features. Bulletproof comes with a one-click setup wizard, to install it in no time. You can sit back and relax as it will automatically search for threats in real time. It will keep on checking file integrity, and it will notify you if your themes or plugins are outdated. Having said that, it is not the most user-friendly plugin. You will need some technical skills to activate all of the advanced features of this plugin. Still, it is free and it offers a great level of protection.
Other important features are brute force login protection, firewall, database backup, login monitoring and more.
There is also a premium plan that comes with more advanced features. A one-time fee will allow you to install it on an unlimited number of websites. It will also provide support and upgrades for the lifetime of the product.
Google Authenticator is an interesting choice. It is not packed with features like some other plugins from this list, but it’s still a great plugin. It offers the best customizable two-factor authentication feature. This second layer makes your login module rock-hard. It also comes with a brute force attack prevention, IP blocking, backup option, and multiple login options.
Overall, it is pretty easy to use and it offers strong protection. For more advanced tools and features, there is a premium version.
I must admit, I love the name of this plugin. And it fits. Security Ninja doesn’t make any changes to your site. It’s all up to you to choose security measures. It offers more than 50 one-click tests to check out possible vulnerabilities and issues. Furthermore, each test comes with an explanation and instructions on how to fix problems.
Tests include brute force attacks, zero-day attacks, file permissions, debug and auto-update modes, and many, many more. It is a clean and user-friendly plugin. However, the free version lacks malware scanning options.
On the other hand, Security Ninja PRO offers a variety of great options. These include cloud-based firewall, malware scanner, core scanner, really cool Auto Fixer module, and more.
So, you can choose nice and solid, although incomplete free version, or powerful and mighty premium version.
Shield Security is another user-friendly security plugin. It is not the most popular one out there, but it has excellent user reviews. The basic idea behind this plugin is smart protection. This plugin will work silently and take care of problems without notifying you about each threat unless it’s necessary.
Its freemium version is packed with important features. It comes with brute force attacks protection, core file scanners, firewall, two-factor authentication, and many more. It is also fully documented so you can learn about your options at your own pace.
Overall, it’s a really nice plugin for both beginners and advanced users.