17 Best WordPress Security Plugins to Keep Your Site Secure

There are a number of ways in which your site could become the victim of a security breach. Unsupported and outdated plugins and themes are one way. Weak password rules and unfettered access to WordPress is another. Hackers could also get in through your hosting server. And on and on the possibilities go.

Needless to say, having a laser-eye focus on security is of the utmost importance when you’re a web developer, especially when you work on a platform like WordPress that already seems to have a huge target on its back.

But this isn’t news to you. That’s why WPMU DEV publishes posts with the most commonly overlooked security tips as well as the ultimate reference guide to WordPress security.

Now, although it’s been revealed in the past that some WordPress plugins have actually introduced vulnerabilities into WordPress, those problems tend to stem from plugins that developers no longer support or monitor. There are plenty of plugins that are secure, reliable, and well-maintained to the point where you’ll regularly see patches come through for them (just as you do the core).

And it’s within those plugins where you’ll find trustworthy security plugins to help keep your site secure.

17 Best WordPress Security Plugins to Keep Your Site Secure

Typically, when we talk about the best security plugins, we focus on ones that promise to be all-encompassing. However, a list of the best WordPress security plugins really isn’t complete without breaking out the more specialized players. You know the ones: they deal in special protection against things like brute-force attacks or in safeguarding the admin login area.

That’s why, in the following roundup, I’m going to cover all of the best WordPress security plugins that will help you protect your site from every angle.

Best All-Encompassing Security Plugins

These plugins cover as many security bases as they possibly can.

  • Defender

    WPMU DEV’s Defender plugin is now available for free in the WordPress repository and remains part of the WPMU DEV membership pack. What’s not to love about that? Oh yeah. The security piece. Here’s why this is the ultimate bodyguard for your WordPress site:

    • Automated and customized security scans
    • Recommended security fixes
    • Updated security keys
    • Two-factor authentication at login
    • Limited login attempts
    • Code and file scanning for unauthorized changes
    • Bot and IP lockout when you suspect they’re out to do you harm
    • Online monitoring lets you know if your site was blacklisted
    • 10GB of Snapshot backup included
  • All in One WP Security

    The name is no exaggeration. When you want all-in-one security protection for your site, you can trust in this plugin to deliver that. It will cover:

    • Standard security scanning
    • User account (and password) security
    • IP address blacklisting/whitelisting
    • Automated database backups
    • One-click restore
    • File security
    • Firewall enabling
    • Brute-force attack security
    • Spam-blocker
    • And more

    Interested in All in One WP Security?

  • iThemes Security

    Although there is a premium version of this plugin available, I think the standard iThemes Security is a good place to start so you can get a sense for the power this plugin packs into it. As the developer describes it, this plugin’s job is to protect, detect, and obscure. If you want to round out your process with the “recover” portion, iThemes sells BackupBuddy, one of the backup plugins [link to Backup Plugins article] we recently featured in our comparison roundup.

    This plugin really specializes in fortifying the login and user management piece of WordPress security, so if that is a primary concern for you, then this may be a good one to start with.

    Interested in iThemes Security?

  • Shield Security

    Perhaps my favorite thing about this plugin is the developer’s commitment to automating the security monitoring and protection process. When you look at how easy this plugin is to use and how many points it ticks off on your security audit checklist, you can see that they really take this mission to heart.

    Here are some of the things Shield Security will do:

    • Off-site security key included
    • Activity auditing
    • Firewall protection
    • Two-factor authentication
    • Brute force protection
    • Spam-blocker
    • Automatic core, plugin, and theme updates
    • IP address blocking

    Interested in Shield Security?

  • Sucuri Security

    Sucuri is a trusted name in security. You’ve likely seen one of their hacked website reports that consistently demonstrate how vulnerable WordPress can be when it’s not properly secured. So, it’s nice to see that an expert on the matter has thrown their own plugin to the mix. Aside from a premium firewall add-on, this plugin is 100% free to use. It includes:

    • Activity auditing
    • File monitoring
    • Malware scanning
    • Post-hack recovery
    • And more

    Interested in Sucuri Security?

  • Wordfence Security

    Wordfence Security is by far the most downloaded security plugin for WordPress and there is a good reason for it. Although there are a number of upgrades worth looking into if you manage higher-traffic sites, the free version in and of itself is super robust and may be sufficient enough on its own.

    With the standard Wordfence security plugin, you’ll get:

    • A firewall
    • Real-time monitoring capabilities
    • Scanning of the core, plugins, themes, and all files
    • Blocking against a variety of threat types
    • Stronger login practices

    Interested in Wordfence Security?

Best Anti-Spam Plugins

  • Akismet

    Part of the Automattic family of plugins, Akismet handles all that nasty comment spam that often comes through on blogs. It’s a super simple plugin that takes all the thinking and actual work out of moderating comments or links from malicious entities you want to spare your readers from clicking on.

  • Anti-spam

    This is another simple anti-spam plugin that works to kick out malicious comments from your blog. This one is more set-it-and-forget-it, so if you like the idea of not having to bother with settings or monitoring the spammy traffic that comes through, this may be a good choice.

  • Spam Protection Firewall, Anti-Spam

    This plugin from CleanTalk does more than just protect your blog comment feeds from spam infiltration. This one also works to prevent you from having to moderate spam emails or responses on your contact forms, surveys, reservation systems, and more.

    Interested in Spam Protection Firewall, Anti-Spam?

  • WP-SpamShield

    I recently tackled the question, “Should you disable comments on your WordPress blog?” While much of the reasoning came from WordPress pros who used factors like SEO or website real estate to validate their decisions, there’s one thing they didn’t talk about much about. And that is speed.

    WP-SpamShield directly addresses that part of the equation, however, as this firewall plugin aims to keep spam completely off your site and out of your database.

    Interested in WP-SpamShield?

  • WPBruiser

    This anti-spam plugin works much as the others do: it blocks spammers from getting in through comment fields as well as contact forms. This one, however, takes it one step further and defends against brute force attacks. So, if you’re looking for a one-two punch, you’ll get it here.

Best Login Protection Plugins

  • Cerber Security & Antispam

    This plugin is part anti-spam, part login-fortifying plugin. Like many of the other plugins mentioned before, this one works on kicking out spammers before they can get through to your comments or contact forms. It also works to strengthen your login screen, changing the wp-admin address, adding a reCAPTCHA, and limiting login attempts.

    Interested in Cerber Security & Antispam?

  • Loginizer

    The main purpose of this plugin is to limit the number of login attempts made on your WordPress website; effectively, shutting down any opportunity for a brute force attack. However, this plugin also comes with some great premium features. If you like how effective the free Loginizer is, you might want to think about an upgrade so you can unlock two-factor authentication, login challenge questions, reCAPTCHA, wp-admin renaming, disabling of XML-RPC, and more.

  • WPS Hide Login

    This is a great plugin to add onto your security plugin set when none of the others will help you rename and “hide” the wp-admin directory or your wp-login.php page. In addition, this works with Multisite, so you can change your entire network’s admin URL much more easily.

    Interested in WPS Hide Login?

Other Security Plugins

  • Really Simple SSL

    It’s so easy these days to get an SSL certificate that it seems kind of silly not to have one. That said, if you’re not able to get one through your web host, you’ll need to get it from a third-party provider and then install it on your site. This plugin will help you get it up and running while also checking for mixed content issues that could cause just as much of a security headache as not having a certificate in the first place.

    Interested in Really Simple SSL?

  • Anti-Malware Security and Brute-Force Firewall

    Has your WordPress site had issues with malware in the past? If so, you might want to think about getting this plugin that specifically targets that type of vulnerability in WordPress, especially issues discovered in plugins as well as the core.

    Interested in Anti-Malware Security and Brute-Force Firewall?

  • IP Geo Block

    Geotargeting can be quite useful when you’re trying to better hone where your site’s traffic comes from. This particular geotargeting plugin can also be used to block malicious parties from entering your site, especially if you know where the brunt of those attacks are coming from geographically.

Wrapping Up

If you’re really worried about the security of the WordPress platform, then a WordPress security plugin is definitely in order. Whether you want one that promises an all-encompassing approach to security or you want to mix-and-match plugins based on where you believe your site to be most vulnerable, there is indeed a plugin that can help.

Brenda Barron
Over to you: What is the most time-consuming security monitoring or enforcement task that you’re responsible for right now?

11 Responses

  • The Incredible Code Injector

    BRENDA

    Thanks for the article.

    1. I have Defender enabled
    2. I have tried WordFence and iThemes and both caused problems.
    3. I have been using NinjaFirewall (WP Edition) and its latest update has caused problems.

    Question 1: Is there another firewall plugin that you recommend?
    Question 2: Is All in One compatible with Defender?
    Question 3: Is Shield compatible with Defender?

    Thanks in advance!

    N

    • The Exporter

      Hi Neal
      we use All in one and Defender and have no issues but since the newest updates of Defender some stuff is overlapping. Therefore we used meanwhile also another approach.
      1. We install first All in one security and enable most of it so we can get a highest score.
      2. We go to the .htaccess and copy all parts all in one security has inserted there (very useful stuff) as it gets deleted again if you deinstall all in one security.
      3. We install defender and activate as much as possible and all overlapping parts with all in one security we deactivate again in all in one security.
      4. We check constantly if the site is still accessible and until now we had no problem and if there would be some a simple move of all in one security out of the plugins repository would do the job and you could access it again. and correct the last setting you made in defender and then moving all in one security in again. Usually, all all in one security setting stay conserved while you move it out of the plugins repository.
      5. Next, we realized that actually, only the good .htaccess settings are new ;-) so we deinstalled all in one security again which erases all all in one setting in .htaccess, but as we had a copy we simply copied all those settings in again and it works just perfect.

      Unfortunately defender is not a one and only security solution – it would be nice to have that – but we were waiting for that since over one year now and nothing much happened into that direction until now, even it would be very easy to integrate those parts from all in one security which are not overlapping and which create the useful .htaccess entries.

      As many plugins offer also spam protection the article left out one major WPMUDEV plugin – It takes more than 7 seconds before even anything appears rather than a white page when calling the homepage! which hasn’t actually much content and should load immediately. Check out the video
      https://gtmetrix.com/reports/wpmudev.org/NlbNxG8n#video

      • The Incredible Code Injector

        ANDI

        1. Thanks for the reply and your taking the time to offer advice!

        2. I’m a really low-tech guy—a writer with a few websites. I don’t dare go near the coded underbelly of my sites, so I’m sorry but I don’t understand your instructions.

        3. I also don’t understand GTMetrix, nor have I ever been able to follow a single instruction there on how to fix my sites’ problems.

        4. When I use Pingdom, it says my sites load in 2-4 seconds. When I visit my sites on a third-party computer, they are up on the screen in seconds.

        Which brings me back to Defender and Brenda:

        a) Are there simple settings for Defender and All in One that usually work together?

        b) If not, is there another security plugin that works easily and harmoniously with Defender?

        c) Or should I deactivate Defender and use one of the security plugins above?

        Thanks in advance,

        NEAL

        • The Exporter

          Hi Neal

          Of course, you can install them simply side by side and use them.
          Sometimes both offer the same – like renaming the login page – so you need to decide which one you would like to use.We used it like that for many years until we recently used to the approach I mentioned above simply to reduce also plugins ;-)

          Kind regards
          Andi

  • The Exporter

    “WPMU DEV’s Defender plugin is now available for free in the WordPress repository and remains part of the WPMU DEV membership pack.”
    What is the difference between the Defender in WordPress repository and the one in the membership pack as it seems to be the same right now reading the article! What is the benefit to pay 600$ a year for a membership if you can get the plugin also in the WP repository?

    • Staff

      Hello, Andi.

      Like with any plugin in wordpress.org’s repository that has a pro version. There will be extra features in the paid version that is not in the free version.
      In Defender pro you will get extra scanning, audits, and monitoring(which really gives you the edge on what is happening on your site or sites). The one thing that makes WPMU DEV standout above any other plugin and theme memberships besides fantastic plugins are that you get live support 24/7. Our tech staff deals with everything WP related not just WPMU DEV. You can use all our plugins on as many sites as you want. We create plugins that you love by adding features you want. I was a member once and for me I loved the fact that all the plugins that I want are available from one company. I don’t have to deal with different companies and payments. And best of all the support is fantastic.

      Hope this answers your questions. Happy WPMUDEVing.

      Cheers,
      Michelle

      • The Exporter

        “We create plugins that you love by adding features you want. I was a member once and for me I loved the fact that all the plugins that I want are available from one company.”

        Why aren’t you a member any-more or are you also one of those who did not have a chance to get a grandfathered 199$ a year subscription. This would be really understandable as it makes a difference to have 600$ or 200$ a year for that membership. As still, wpmudev does not provide a translation plugin so another subscription would be needed for that and upfront has only a few templates so using Divi (like WPMUDEV does themselves) or Elementor would cause again additional costs. I am pretty sure if that membership fee would still be the grandfathered 199$ all those arguments would be more than valid but affording $600 is causing a headache.

        I really would love if they would provide a translation plugin and as I wrote n my comment above would include also all security features i.e. from all in one security plugin. The hummingbird plugin has the same issue as it can only handle a few of the optimization parts until now. And looking to upfront the development of new themes – compare it with Divi or even Elementor which can use any WordPress template, development is very slow.

        • Staff

          :-) Because now I work for the best company in the world. Life just can’t get better than this.
          I hear what you are saying about Upfront offering only a few themes (not templates) but the beauty of this is that you get to create a totally new theme from scratch just the way you want. Not just templates or a child theme. A fully functional theme from scratch. Without a single line of code. You can export it and import it into another site. The themes we offer is just to get you started. I have used many different page builders and Upfront can compete with them anytime. I use many different plugins with Upfront too.
          Most of the plugin translations are done by our wonderful members. When coming to adding features we have a special section where you can post any request for features. Please do create a feature request for a translation plugin if you haven’t done so yet.

  • I LOVE Defender! We run 3 small multisite networks along with a couple websites not in multisite. We use SIteground for hosting. I figure that the cost of our membership with WPMU and the Go Big accounts at Siteground are the investment in my sites we can make. The WPMU plugins are trouble-free and meet almost every need we have. And as said before, the 24/7 chat support is excellent!!
    Additionally, the support team at SG is really good, and they have been helpful in creating the “ultimate” htaccess file for us — this puppy blocks a ton of bad bots that were dragging down one of our multisites, and does some geo-blocking.
    Of course, we make sure everyting is backed up regularly and off-site.

  • WPMU DEV Initiate

    I use a few different plugins on different sites, wordfence, ip geoblock and defender.

    IP geoblock is great and a must for local sites.

    In my opinion wordfence is a little over complicated and some of the stuff you would expect to be in the free edition are pro fetures.

    Defender is a little light on features, but wpmudev seem to listen well to their userbase so I’m looking forward to the day where defender does everything, and configureable from wpmudev hub too…now that would be major for peeps that manage lots of sites.

  • New Recruit

    Hey !

    Great post ! We would be very grateful if you would try and then express your opinion about our plug-in. it’s not as popular yet, but we are receiving good reviews from our users. Our product offers an all around website protection and security modules as well as several interesting additions such as an automatic version updater

    It’s the WordPress “WebDefender” :

    Many Thanks,
    Alan

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