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5 Best WordPress Security Plugins IN 2024 (Protect Your Site!)

Protecting your website against threats from malicious malware, hackers, and SEO spam is something you can’t ignore when your website is a crucial part of your business or income stream. Hacking attacks and script injection attacks are only getting more and more sophisticated, so you need a powerful defense to keep your WordPress site secure.

There are dozens of security plugins available in the WordPress plugin repository, but not all of them offer the level of security that you really need. Choosing the wrong security plugin is a bit like installing an alarm system for your home but forgetting to turn it on – you assume your site is protected, but it’s still vulnerable.

To help you choose the best WordPress security plugin for your website, I’ve tested over 20 of the most popular plugins and put them through some seriously intensive testing. With the results of those tests, I bring you the top 5 WordPress security plugins to keep your website as secure as a bank vault.

Expert Recommendations

In a hurry and just want to know which plugin you should use? My top recommendation is MalCare Security. Its 1-click malware removal and cloud-based malware scanning make it stand out from the crowd, plus it’s cheaper than its closest rival, Sucuri. 

WordPress Security for High Performance Websites
MalCare WordPress Security
4.5
From $99/year
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days
Buy Now
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. WPWebWhizz is reader supported, and I only recommend products that I've personally tested and used.
All-in-One WordPress Security
iThemes Security Pro
4.5
From $80/year
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days
Buy Now
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. WPWebWhizz is reader supported, and I only recommend products that I've personally tested and used.
Excellent WordPress Security Plugin
BulletProof Security Pro WordPress Plugin
4.0
$69.99
Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days
Buy Now
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. WPWebWhizz is reader supported, and I only recommend products that I've personally tested and used.
Comprehensive Website Security
Sucuri Platform
4.0
From $199/year
Buy Now
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Lasso Brag

Why You Should ALWAYS Use a WordPress Security Plugin (No Exceptions)

You’ll often hear WordPress experts telling you to reduce the number of plugins on your website, so why am I insisting that you absolutely must use a security plugin for WordPress? Won’t it just slow down your website and affect your PageRank score?

Actually, my top recommendation in WordPress security plugins, MalCare, won’t slow down your website. Still, it is true that having lots of unnecessary plugins installed will impact your page loading speed. That said, while there are plenty of plugins you could probably do without (or get one that does the same thing as five other plugins), a security plugin isn’t one of them.

The sad truth about WordPress is that it is notorious for being vulnerable to hacking and malicious attacks because anyone can create and sell WordPress themes and plugins that contain backdoors hackers can exploit. Plugins and themes from the WordPress repository are vetted for security vulnerabilities, but because you can upload themes and plugins from third-party sites to your WordPress website, you need a security plugin to bolster your site security.

Without a security plugin for WordPress, you’re putting your site at risk of:

  • Hackers stealing your data (and your customers’ data) or even taking over your website
  • Being used by hackers to infect your visitors’ computers with malware and malicious code
  • Being deleted by your web hosting provider or blacklisted by Google if your site is infected by malware and you don’t take instant action.

What Does a WordPress Security Plugin Do, Exactly?

WordPress security plugins will increase the security of your website by protecting against hacking attempts, brute force (DDoS) attacks, bots attacking your WordPress login area, and identifying malware and other malicious script injectors. 

Most WordPress security plugins will include a Web Application Firewall that’s regularly updated so that it can identify new threats. Some will also include malware removal features, so if your WordPress website has already been infected by malware or malicious code, you can easily clean it up before your web host or Google penalizes you.

How to Choose the Best WordPress Security Plugin – My Testing Criteria

To bring you this list of the best WordPress security plugins, I tested over 20 different plugins, looking at:

  • Features – I prioritized WordPress security plugins that have the most comprehensive set of features, especially ones that include extra features like malware removal and backup options.
  • Cost – I looked at both free and premium security plugins for WordPress, evaluating them on the level of protection they offer for free and their value for money when upgrading.
  • Impact on site speed – I prioritized plugins that have the lowest impact on page loading speed while still offering excellent security.
  • Ease of use – I looked for security plugins for WordPress that are easy to set up and use, without needing a lot of configuration.

The Best WordPress Security Plugins for 2024

1. MalCare Security – #1 WordPress Security Plugin – No Site Slowdown

MalCare is cloud-based so it won’t slow down your website, and it has a ton of excellent features to ensure that your WordPress website is secure and malware-free. It’s really easy to set up and use, and there’s a free version that you can try out before deciding if you want to upgrade to the paid version.

Malcare Security plugin for WordPress dashboard

Top Features

  • Automatic 1-click malware removal – ensure your website never gets blacklisted by Google or removed by your web hosting provider.
  • Intelligent scanning system – able to detect even the most complex malware that other WordPress security plugins frequently miss.
  • Cloud-based smart firewall – protect your website against spam and malicious attacks 24/7.
  • Website management module – manage multiple websites from a web-based dashboard.

Pros and Cons of MalCare 

Pros

  • Free version allows you to use malware scanning, the web application firewall, and login page protection free forever.
  • Won’t compromise your page loading speeds.
  • Fast setup.
  • Real-time protection with the regularly-updated Smart Firewall.
  • On-demand malware scanning that finds threats other security plugins may miss.
  • Bot-protection that won’t prevent human visitors from accessing your website (no false positives.)

Cons

  • Instant and automatic malware removal are only available on paid plans.
  • Support via email and chat is only available on paid plans.
  • Can be expensive if you have multiple websites to protect.

Summary

PricingBasic 1 Site: $99/year
Plus 1 Site: $149/year
Pro 1 Site: $299/year
Basic 5 Site: $349/year
Plus 5 Site: $449/yearPro 5 Site: $999/year
Basic 20 Site: $799/year
Plus 20 Site: $999/year
Pro 20 Site: $2999/year
Number of Sites Protected1-20 
Free PlanYes – Limited Features
Money-Back Guarantee30 Days

2. iThemes Security Pro: High-End Comprehensive WordPress Security 

iThemes Security comes in two varieties, the free version and iThemes Security Pro (paid version). The free version is okay for small websites but to get the most out of iThemes Security you really do need to opt for the paid version.

Malware scans are included in the free version, powered by Sucuri SiteCheck, but IThemes Security doesn’t include its own web application firewall (WAF).

iThemes security plugin for WordPress dashboard

Top Features

  • Vulnerability scanning – the plugin checks for vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins and themes, and applies updates if vulnerabilities are identified.
  • Prevents session hijacking – by allowing admin users to set approved devices and then blocking logins from unrecognized devices.
  • Additional security – adds 2-factor authentication (2FA) to the WordPress login screen to add an extra layer of security.
  • Alternative login options – you can implement password-free logins using iThemes Security’s email link login function.

Pros and Cons of iThemes Security

Pros

  • Includes brute force protection and advanced login security features (such as integrating with the Have I Been Pwned database so you can’t reuse compromised passwords.)
  • Detects when your website files have been changed and alerts you via email, so you become aware of security breaches faster.
  • Protects your website from bot traffic with Google reCAPTCHA integration for user registration, password resetting, login, and comments.
  • Magic links prevent genuine users from being locked out after a brute force attack that uses their username.
  • Enable temporary admin access if you need to allow technical support to work on your website.

Cons

  • The free version is pretty limited, so you’ll need to upgrade to really protect your website.
  • iThemes Security Pro doesn’t have its own malware scanner or firewall.

Summary

PricingBasic – $80/year
Plus – $127/year
Agency – $199/year
Number of Sites ProtectedBasic – 1Plus -10Agency – Unlimited
Free PlanFree version available
Money-Back Guarantee30 Days

3. WordFence: Popular WordPress Security Plugin With Firewall and Malware Scanner

WordFence is one of the most recommended security plugins for WordPress and it has over 4 million active installations. It’s available in the WordPress plugin repository as a free version, but there’s also a Pro version that adds enhanced security features.

WordFence WordPress security plugin

Top Features

  • Advanced web application firewall (WAF) – identify and block all malicious traffic, regularly updated to give the best protection (included with the free version.)
  • Real-time firewall and malware scanner updates – but only available in the Pro version.
  • Protection against brute force attacks – by using login limits, bots and hackers are prevented from breaching your website. 
  • Additional security – Built-in two-factor authentication (2FA) for additional login protection.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You get an email when any security threats are recognized on your website.
  • The web application firewall (WAF) can be customized in settings.
  • You get comprehensive scan reports in your dashboard that allow you to instantly delete malicious files.
  • Even on the free version, you can set whitelists, blacklists, block IP addresses, and set specific rules in the WAF.
  • The premium version includes country blocking in the event of a brute-force attack.

Cons

  • The premium version is expensive if you have more than one site to protect.
  • The free version doesn’t include real-time updates – it only updates when the plugin is updated. If you don’t have automatic updates activated on your WordPress website and manually update your plugins, then your website may still be vulnerable.

Summary

Pricing1 Site: $99/year
2-4 Sites: $89.10/year per site
5-9 Sites: $84.15/year per site
10-14 Sites: $79.20/year per site
15+ Sites: $74.25/year per site
Number of Sites Protected1 site per license
Free PlanYes – free-forever version of the plugin
Money-Back GuaranteeNo, but you can cancel and get a refund for the time remaining on your subscription.

4. Bulletproof Security – most Affordable Pro Security Plugin

BulletProof Security offers excellent WordPress security at a lower price than its competitors. Like the other security plugins for WordPress on my list, it has a free version and a premium version – but unlike the other plugins in my list, you don’t have to pay each year to use it, and you can use it on unlimited websites for a one-time payment.

bulletproof security plugin WordPress

Top Features

  • 1-click set up and autofix wizard – you can set it and forget it. It takes less than a minute to get the plugin set up, with no complicated configuration necessary.
  • AutoRestore and Quarantine feature – this detects malicious files, deletes them, and automatically restores the original files.
  • MScan malware scanner – scand your website when you first set up BulletProof Security, and then will continue to scan and monitor your website automatically, according to the schedule you set up during the set up wizard.
  • JTC AntiSpam – to protect your website from SpamBots and HackerBots, preventing auto-registering, auto-posting, auto-login, and auto-commenting. This protects your site from brute force attacks and DDoS attacks and malicious form submissions.

Pros and Cons of BulletProof Security

Pros

  • One time payment and unlimited installations makes BulletProof Security Pro the most affordable premium security plugin.
  • Easy set up – fool-proof wizard takes you through the set up process in under a minute.
  • 16 mini-plugins included in the Pro version of BulletProof Security.
  • Free upgrades and technical support for life.
  • Database backups can be scheduled hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly.

Cons

  • The BulletProof Security website looks outdated (although the plugin isn’t!)
  • Some WordPress themes aren’t compatible with BulletProof Security

Summary

Pricing$69.96 one-time payment
Number of Sites ProtectedUnlimited
Free PlanYes, there’s a free version of the plugin
Money-Back Guarantee30 Days

5. Sucuri Security Platform – Powerful, but Pricy

Sucuri is one of the most popular security plugins for WordPress, and it offers both free and paid versions. Naturally, the free version is more limited, but it offers the basic features, including scanning your website for corrupted or malicious files.

The free plugin is okay when you’re just getting started, but once you start getting hundreds of monthly pageviews, you’ll want to upgrade. Unfortunately, the free version can’t be relied on to secure your website as it doesn’t include a firewall.

sucuri wordpress security plugin

Top Features

  • Basic security in the free plan – Malware scanning, file integrity monitoring, blocklist monitoring, and security hardening are all included.
  • Sucuri Scanner can be customized – for example, to ignore some files and folders.–
  • Sucuri Firewall (premium) – protects against malicious bots, DDoS attacks, and other malicious traffic.
  • Sucuri Security Platform – this offers advanced monitoring and detection, blacklist monitoring, instant notification when there’s a problem, malware removal, and hacking cleanup.

Pros and Cons of Sucuri for WordPress

Pros

  • You get notified if Sucuri finds any compromised core files on your WordPress website.
  • On premium plans you get features including CDN integration and malware removal/cleanup.
  • All Sucuri versions include 1-click WordPress security hardening that protects your website against security threats.
  • Sucuri’s firewall is exceptionally good at blocking attacks – and it patches vulnerabilities within the firewall quickly (no need to update the plugin to receive the patch.)
  • The Sucuri Security Platform includes brand reputation management, which helps if your website has been blacklisted due to prior malware attacks.. 

Cons

  • The free version of the plugin doesn’t include a firewall.
  • You tend to get a lot of false positives (files that are flagged as compromised when they’re not).
  • The Sucuri Security Platform (which you’ll need for the best level of protection) is costly, starting at $199.99 per year, per site.

Summary

PricingBasic Firewall: $9.99/month
Pro Firewall: $19.98/month
Basic Security Platform: $199.99/year
Pro Security Platform: $299.99/year
Business Security Platform: $499.99/year
Number of Sites Protected1 site per license
Free PlanYes, the basic plugin is free forever
Money-Back Guarantee30 days

Don’t Risk Your Website – Use a Security Plugin

Although you can go some way to securing your website by having a secure web hosting provider that includes some kind of web application firewall (WAF) on its servers to protect against DDoS and malicious attacks, you still need a WordPress security plugin. By installing a free plugin on your website, you can harden your website against malware and patch vulnerabilities in WordPress automatically.

There are dozens of WordPress security plugins available in the WordPress plugin repository, but it’s important to be careful when choosing the best plugin for your needs. It’s tempting to opt for a totally free plugin that claims to do everything that a premium plugin does – but unfortunately, it’s often true that you get what you pay for.

My number one recommendation in WordPress security plugins is MalCare Security. Because it’s cloud-based, it won’t slow your website down, and even the free version offers excellent protection against malicious traffic.

If you decide MalCare isn’t right for you, then iThemes Security Pro would be my next choice. Like MalCare, it offers an all-around WordPress security solution that actively monitors your website for malware, bots, and malicious traffic.

Whichever WordPress security plugin you choose, make sure to keep the plugin updated (turn on automatic plugin updates so you can set it and forget it.) An outdated plugin can put your website at risk, leaving you unprotected against the latest threats and vulnerabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can a WordPress security plugin stop all attacks on my WordPress website?

    In most cases, yes, although it depends on the plugin that you’re using. Comprehensive plugins like MalCare, iThemes Security Pro, and WordFence offer excellent levels of protection against all kinds of malicious attacks. Beware of 100% free plugins that promise to protect your website from being attacked – they may be using outdated threat monitoring tools and are unlikely to be able to provide the enhanced level of protection that premium plugins can offer.

  2. If my web host has good security, do I really need a security plugin for WordPress?

    It depends. Very few web hosting providers have the same kind of security that a WordPress security plugin offers. If you’re hosting your website with Kinsta, then it’s not necessary to install a security plugin. That’s because it includes features such as firewalls and IP blocking tools, in addition to its integration with Cloudflare, which has an even more advanced firewall, DDoS protection, and more. Plus, Kinsta also offers hack fixes free of charge.However, if you’ve opted for shared hosting or managed WordPress hosting from a provider like Hostinger or SiteGround, then you will need a security plugin for WordPress. These hosts have a decent level of security included, but it’s not enough to give you full protection.

  3. How do WordPress security plugins work?

    It really depends on the plugin, but in most cases, a security plugin will be able to scan your website for malware, protect your website against malicious traffic using a WAF (web application firewall), and allow you to automatically block brute force attacks and attempts to log in to your website.

  4. Can I use a free security plugin for WordPress?

    You could use a free security plugin for WordPress – most premium security plugins offer a free version for you to try out. However, as is always the case with freemium WordPress plugins, the features available will be limited. WordFence is probably the best freemium security plugin for WordPress, as the free version offers a customizable firewall and IP blocking features.

  5. How do I install a WordPress security plugin?

    It’s easy to install a security plugin in WordPress – in most cases you won’t even need to manually upload the plugin zip file. Simply go to Plugins >>  Add New and search for the plugin you want to install. Then it’s simply a matter of clicking Install and then Activate. A lot of security plugins have a setup wizard that will help you to configure the plugin and run your first security scan.

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Martyn Denial

Martyn Denial

I've been building websites with WordPress for over 10 years, and now I spend my days giving advice to others on how to make the most of WordPress for their websites. I'm also experienced in SEO and affiliate marketing, but WordPress is what I do best!View Author posts

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