As a website owner, securing your WordPress site against cyber-attacks should be your priority. Downtime on your website will not only cost you money, but it could also cost you your customers and reputation.
Every day, thousands of sites get hacked, with new and advanced hacking methods coming to light.
Thus, it makes sense to beef up the security of your site and equip it to defend itself.
One way to do this is with the use of WordPress security plugins. They do a fine job of protecting your website against digital threats.
In this article, we will be comparing the two most popular security plugins – Sucuri and Wordfence. This will help you to make an informed decision on which plugin best suits your website.
- About WordPress Security
- Steps to Secure your WordPress Site
- Sucuri vs Wordfence – The Comparison
- Final Thoughts
About WordPress Security
WordPress is, without doubt, the most popular content management system that enables you to create any type of website. According to statistics by HubSpot, WordPress powers over 43.2% of websites on the internet.
Because of its immense popularity, WordPress sites are usually a common target for hackers. What can make a WordPress site vulnerable to attacks? Here are a few reasons:
Outdated WordPress Version
Having an outdated WordPress version invites a world of trouble. It leaves your website vulnerable to hackers. The WordPress team constantly fixes any security flaws found in the software. Afterward, they prompt users to install updates whenever they are released.
To keep hackers at bay and protect your website, you should always update your WordPress site.
Plugins and Themes
If your WordPress theme is from an unverified creator or is coded poorly, you also risk getting hacked.
Predictable Login Credentials
Your site’s login credentials should be strong enough. Otherwise, hackers can gain access to your website through brute force attacks. This is a method where the hacker tries to guess your site’s password. It also makes up 16.1% of total hacking attempts.
Steps to Secure your WordPress Site
For these reasons – and some more, taking extra preventive security steps is the best way to safeguard your WordPress site. One of such steps is by using security plugins. And the two recommended plugins are the Sucuri and Wordfence plugins.
Sucuri Security Plugin – The Basics
The Sucuri Security plugin protects your site from brute force attacks and offers DNS-level protection.
Sucuri provides you with tools that serve to prevent attacks and fortify your website. To access more of its features, you can opt for its paid version.
This is another popular WordPress security plugin with excellent features. It protects your website with the help of an active endpoint firewall and malware scanner.
The plugin also offers features like Two-factor Authentication, login page CAPTCHA, and other advanced security features.
Wordfence, like other plugins, has its free and premium versions. To get more features, you may opt for the premium plans. But, the free version does a great job too.
These security platforms have earned their place as some of the best and most popular WordPress security plugins on the market. As such, it is quite normal if you are a bit confused about which one to install for your site.
For this reason, we will be comparing the free versions of Wordfence and Sucuri to help you make your selection.
Sucuri vs Wordfence – The Comparison
The Wordfence and Sucuri plugins come with great security features to protect your WordPress website. They protect your website from malware infection, data theft, and brute force attacks.
Although these plugins share a few similar features, there are some important differences. In this article, we will be discussing those differences based on:
Sucuri vs Wordfence – User Experience
One of the important features of a plugin is its ease of use. Website security is a complex process to handle. So dealing with an easy-to-use plugin makes things a bit more pleasant. Now, let’s see how easy Sucuri and Wordfence fare.
Sucuri Security Plugin
The Sucuri security plugin has an easy-to-use interface. After activation, it performs an automatic scan on your website for any malware or suspicious files. The result is then displayed on the plugin’s Settings page.
For a start, it tells you about the soundness of your core WordPress files. If there is any issue, you can either replace the damaged files or mark them as false positives.
Every change you make to your WordPress website will be recorded under the “Audit logs” tab.
Next, you can customize the settings panel to determine how Sucuri protects your website. In the “General” tab, you can find different settings including the option to import and export Sucuri’s overall settings. You also have the option to reset security logs and work on other settings.
Sucuri security further provides your site with security hardening options. Security hardening is the process of securing your site by identifying and plugging possible sources of attack.
This feature lets you take preventive measures to increase your site’s security. It does this by applying some WordPress and PHP security hardening options such as firewall protection. This can be done in the Hardening tab with the click of a button. From here, you simply need to click on the Apply Hardening button next to the option you wish to enable.
Some of Sucuri’s hardening options:
- Verify WordPress version: when your WordPress site is not up to date, Sucuri sends a prompt to inform you of the latest version.
- Remove WordPress version: this enables you to remove the WordPress version from public display.
- Information Leakage: Sucuri protects your website from any information leaks. It does this by searching the existence of a readme.html file and deleting it.
- Plugins/Theme editor: the plugin further protects your site by disabling the editor. This way, hackers cannot access sensitive files on your site.
If you wish to revert a hardening setting, you can do so too by clicking Revert Hardening.
It is safe to say that Sucuri has an intuitive user interface. The plugin automates most of its security features so you get to set them once and forget forever.
Wordfence Security Plugin
Wordfence is also quite easy to set up. After activating the plugin, you will be prompted to provide an email address where you’d receive security alerts.
On the Wordfence dashboard, you will get an onboarding wizard that acquaints you with the dashboard. It gives you an overview of the plugin’s features and links to access different tools.
The Wordfence Application Firewall (WAF) will be in a learning mode by default as you newly installed it.
The plugin then runs an automatic scan and displays the result of the scan. It then recommends action that can be taken to resolve any issue. Our example below showed us that our theme needs to be updated.
For further protection, Wordfence offers two-factor authentication for all logins on your site. This is achieved with its “Login Security” module. It ensures the website stays secure against any brute attempts.
On the “Settings” tab, you can enable the 2FA for other users on your site. This way, you get to protect yourself and your users from brute force attacks.
Unlike Sucuri, Wordfence’s user interface is a bit cluttered and unintuitive. It may be a bit harder for a beginner to find their way around.
Web Application Firewall – Sucuri vs Wordfence
A web application firewall (WAF) acts as an extra shield that monitors and filters your website traffic. We will be comparing the different firewall mechanisms of both plugins.
The free version of Sucuri doesn’t include a firewall, but the premium version does. Sucuri’s firewall is a cloud-based WAF that actively blocks malicious traffic before it gets to your hosting server.
Since it isn’t located on your server, it saves a lot of server resources. As a result, it increases your site’s performance. To use the firewall, however, you’ll have to change your DNS settings. This will enable all your website traffic to pass through Sucuri’s servers.
After its setup, the Sucuri firewall does an excellent job of protecting your site against DDoS attacks and brute force attacks.
In contrast to Sucuri, the free Wordfence plugin includes a localized web application firewall that monitors and blocks malicious traffic.
The firewall runs on your web server, which means it can have a negative effect on your site’s performance. This is because your server’s resources will examine every traffic and check for malicious requests.
The Wordfence firewall feature can only block traffic after it is already on your server. So if there is a DDoS attack, it may affect your server before it examines it.
Nonetheless, some firewalls are much better than no firewalls. So if you want to use the free version only, then Wordfence is the better option for you.
Malware Scanner – Wordfence vs Sucuri
This feature enables you to scan your site for any compromise in the form of malicious code, malware, and infections. Let’s compare how Sucuri and Wordfence scan for malware.
The Sucuri malware scanner, powered by Sucuri SiteCheck API, scans your website for malware and also ensures it isn’t blacklisted. It is a remote scanner, and as such, has limited access to your site. But it does scan all publicly available parts of your site for malware.
The scanner also does an integrity check of your core WordPress files to make sure they haven’t been altered.
To customize the malware detection settings, go to the Sucuri security >> Settings page. Next, click the Scanner tab on the top left of the screen.
One benefit of this scanner is that it does not eat up your server resources as much as other scanners do.
Wordfence’s malware scanner checks every file on your server for malicious URLs and any trace of malware and infection.
The plugin also inspects your plugins and themes. It then compares the files to those in your WordPress repository version. If there is any change, it’ll alert you with a warning.
On the free version, Wordfence schedules a scan to check the status of your site. If you want to set your scan schedule, you will need to opt for the premium version.
The Wordfence scanner is very powerful for identifying and fixing malicious files on your site.
Security Monitoring – Sucuri vs Wordfence
This is the process of detecting security threats before crucial damage is done to the site.
For this to be possible, your WordPress site should be able to receive emails. If your site has email issues, you should fix that with an SMTP service. Now let’s see how Sucuri and Wordfence keep you informed about attacks.
On the Sucuri dashboard, critical notifications about your website are displayed. You get to see the status of your WordPress core files, audit logs, and site health status.
Here, you can manage the different settings of the alert management system. Some of the settings are:
- Alerts Recipients: you can add other email addresses you want to be notified.
- Trusted IP Addresses: you get to include trusted IP addresses so they do not generate alerts
- Alerts per hour: determines the number of alerts you get per hour
- Password Guessing Brute Force Attacks: choose the number of failed login attempts that can happen per hour before getting an alert.
You can also customize the settings for post-type alerts and security alerts. Their WAF (Web Application Firewall) feature will also send important alerts to your email address.
Wordfence also does a great job of alerting you against threats to your site. After logging into the Wordfence dashboard from your admin panel, it displays the notification in the control panel. You can click on the notification to see the issues and fix them.
To configure your security alerts, go to Wordfence >> All options and scroll down to the “Email Alert Preferences” section.
This is where you can turn on/off your email alerts. You can also choose to receive an alert based on the severity of the scan, when someone is blocked from login, and so on.
Site Cleaning – Wordfence vs Sucuri
So your website was hacked. No site owner wishes to be in that kind of situation. And cleaning up a hacked website is no fun either. This is because malware can go deep into your files, insert unwanted links and even lock you out of your site.
Fortunately, Sucuri and Wordfence provide malware removal services and site cleanup.
Site cleanup comes with Sucuri’s premium plans. They offer site cleanup, blacklist removal, and prevent future attacks with their website firewall.
During your subscription period, Sucuri offers you unlimited malware removals. They also take care of spammy code injections and backdoor access files.
To access their services, you will have to use a support ticket. Afterward, they will use your FTP/SSH login credentials to access your site. Then they make a backup of your files to ensure there’s no damage or loss.
Next, your site is cleaned and you are notified.
Unlike Sucuri, malware cleaning is not available in the free and premium versions of Wordfence. Instead, it is sold as an add-on service. Afterward, the cleanup is a straightforward process.
Your site is analyzed and all malware and infected files are removed. The Wordfence team then provides a report of the clean-up process and suggestions on how to prevent future events.
Which Security Plugin is the Best?
This depends on whether you want a free or paid security plugin.
If you’re running a highly important business website and need a top-notch security plugin, Sucuri is your best bet. But, it comes at a price. This is because Sucuri’s free version wasn’t built to prevent any major attack on your site.
The paid version (which comes with the Sucuri firewall) offers DDoS protection, monitoring and detection, and great recovery capabilities. It also offers a cloud-based firewall that blocks malicious traffic before it gets to your website.
On the other hand, if you want a free security plugin, WordFence is your better option. A superior malware scanner and Web Application Firewall means your site gets a great deal of protection from this free plugin.
Sucuri vs Wordfence – Final Thoughts
Both Sucuri and Wordfence provide great protection to your website. The choice of which to go for depends on your budget and type of website.
Sucuri’s cloud-based firewall blocks malicious traffic before it gets to your site and also improves your site’s speed. Wordfence, on the other hand, is low-cost and it offers a free server-side firewall.
To greatly secure your site, you should use a good WordPress hosting provider. This is because most reliable hosting providers take care of most part of your site’s security.
You can also check our complete guide on how to secure your WordPress website.