If you have a website showcasing your business’s products and services, you have probably heard of WordPress. WordPress is easy to use and allows you to reach a global audience, making it one of the most popular content management and website-building systems in the world.
Many security plugins protect your WordPress site from hackers and malicious activity. In this WordFence plugin review, we will deep-dive into the specifics of the WordFence security plugin: how it works, what features it offers, and how it compares to other security plugins.
What is WordFence?
WordFence is a comprehensive security plugin available for WordPress websites. You can use the free version with basic features, or you can pay for the premium version, which offers more advanced protection.
Defiant Inc. built WordFence from the bottom up to actively protect WordPress sites from a range of treacherous files and programs and ensure security for the people visiting the site.
Unlike many other security plugins, WordFence provides malware detection and removal, along with firewall protection and blocking. It also checks plugins for out-of-date software or alterations. It can restore compromised plugins and WordPress themes to protect your site from hard-to-detect cyber attacks.
How to Set Up WordFence for your WordPress Site
The first step in installing WordFence Security for your WordPress site is downloading the plugin and activating it. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to install plugins on WordPress here.
Once you activate the plugin, a new menu item will appear in your WordPress admin selection bar. Click this to discover your new WordFence Dashboard.
How Does WordFence Work?
An exploration of WordFence begins with the WordFence Dashboard. Here, you will find an overview of the website and the status of all the protections that the WordFence plugin utilizes. Among the options noted on the dashboard, you will find:
- Firewall level and summary
- Scan level
- Total number of attacks blocked by the WordFence network
- Global options
You will also find the option to upgrade to WordFence Premium, but we will discuss that later. Along the left-hand sidebar, you’ll find more options, including tools for scanning and a login security option.
This straightforward dashboard allows anyone to set up security effectively, regardless of technical knowledge or skill.
The basis of WordFence’s functionality is the security scan it performs, and it is the most important feature that this security plugin has to offer. Once you download and install WordFence, you can activate a scan with a simple click of the “scan” button. The WordFence scan checks for various security issues, including:
- Malware files
- Weak passwords
- Unauthorized changes to the DNS system
- Disk space availability
The WordFence scan also checks files for infections and other vulnerabilities, scans URLs and compares them to Google’s Safe Browsing List, compares WordPress themes and files to originals to find errors or alterations, and checks plugins for any issues or signs of tampering.
When the scan finishes, WordFence will display the results so that you can easily see any security issues or vulnerabilities.
Brute Force Protection
WordFence also includes protection against brute force attacks. Some of the options available that prevent these types of assaults on your website include:
- Lockout after a designated number of password attempts or login failures
- Immediate lockout for using an invalid username
- Blocking passwords involved in data breaches
- Disabling WordPress application passwords
- Enabling strong passwords requirement
You can set up and customize these brute force options as needed.
WordFence also offers daily, weekly, or monthly email alerts. You can set up an email to alert you if:
- WordFence is deactivated
- The firewall is turned off
- An IP address is blocked
- A scan detects a severe security issue
WordFence email alerts make it easy to stay up to date on your site’s security.
Why Should You Use WordFence?
WordPress has become one of the most targeted platforms for cyberattacks because many users do not secure their sites effectively. Hackers target websites for various reasons. They may want to steal money from your accounts or customer information, shut your site down entirely, or even simply be bored and looking for attention.
The most crucial feature of WordFence, and the reason why so many businesses rely on it, is its ability to analyze and compare WordPress themes, files, and other plugins against the currently available versions.
WordFence compares the MD5 and SHA hashes of the currently installed WordPress files with the hashes in a database of the original files. These actual hashes are securely sent to the WordFence servers, providing an easy way to compare different files and make modifications if necessary.
WordFence also allows you to view live traffic that records analytics, including the browser agents, geo-locations, and IP addresses of suspicious viewers of your site. Live traffic also provides the option of “blocking” the IP address from accessing your WordPress site.
The only valuable feature lacking is exporting the analytic data to a CSV or XML file for future reference.
WordFence Features: Free vs. Premium
There are two forms of WordFence: a free version and a premium paid version. For the most part, the free version of WordFence is essentially the same software run by paying customers. The only difference is in the data provided to the paying customers and the level of customer service.
Let’s continue our WordFence plugin review by examining the bonus features provided to subscribers of WordFence Premium.
WordFence Free Features
Key features of WordFence Free include:
- A robust firewall
- A thorough security scanner
- Advanced manual blocking
- Live traffic monitoring
- Website repair files
- Two-factor authentication
WordFence Premium Benefits
On top of all the features included in the free version of WordFence, the premium subscription offers even more security options.
Real-Time Firewall Rules and Malware Signatures
Both the firewall and malware scanner need constant data to do their jobs and protect your WordPress site. The WordFence team is constantly analyzing attacks, investigating hacks across WordPress sites, researching threats, and collaborating with their partners to uncover any threats to WordPress.
When they detect new attacks, the WordFence team creates a firewall rule to match it and releases that rule. If they identify new malware, they make a detection signature for it in the WordFence system and release that as well so that WordFence recognizes the threat. WordFence Premium customers receive these updates immediately and in real-time.
Though WordFence Free subscribers also receive this data, they must wait 30 days after it is released.
Premium WordFence IP Blacklist
According to published research conducted by WordFence, more than 50% of all attacks that the plugin blocks result from the Premium WordFence IP Blacklist. The Premium WordFence IP Blacklist blocks more attacks from bad IPs than the highly effective firewall rules.
Available only to premium customers, the IP Blacklist blocks attackers from your site altogether. Not only can they not negatively affect your site, but hackers also cannot see what version of WordPress your site uses or scan your content for weaknesses or access points.
Priority Server Processing
WordFence is more than just a plugin for WordPress. Defiant Inc.’s back-end services provide users with applications on the WordFence servers. WordFence Premium customers get the advantage of priority service processing.
Located in multiple data centers, the WordFence servers constantly update the plugin and release new versions of the server code. Providing server-based applications offloads processing from your website to the team’s remote machines, increasing the speed and efficiency of the scans.
WordFence servers maintain mirrored versions of every single WordPress core file, plugin, and theme ever released, as well as blocklists of bad IPs, URLs, hostnames, and other data associated with malicious programs and behavior.
Superior Customer Service
Though WordFence Free customers can view the community forums for assistance, WordFence Premium customers have access to the Customer Service (CS) team. With the WordFence CS team, premium subscribers receive access to the priority ticketing system for service and security issues.
The CS team works closely with you, securing your WordPress site and ensuring against future problems. The CS team also plays a significant role in representing customers during conversations with WordFence engineers.
The WordFence CS team is primarily based in the United States, and team members respond to service and security requests within 24 hours.
How Does It Compare to Its Competitors?
Next, in this WordFence plugin review, let’s explore how WordFence compares to similar security plugins.
Sucuri Inc. is world-renowned for its expertise regarding website security, especially WordPress website security issues. Like WordFence, the free Sucuri plugin complements your site’s existing security. Features include blocklist tracking, security notifications, and remote malware analysis, like WordFence.
The Sucuri Website Firewall is only available for premium subscribers for a fee. In contrast, WordFence’s Security Firewall is included with all other free features.
As one of the fastest website scanning solutions available, SiteLock offers Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection, malware scanning, and more. SiteLock is a subscription service, with all its feature available to subscribers only.
Like the free WordFence plugin, SiteLock scans daily for vulnerabilities for the website. SiteLock automatically corrects the issue and sends a notification and report, including the steps to protect the site, if it detects malicious threats.
SiteLock can also differentiate bot traffic from human traffic, allowing the plugin to block bots and further protect the website without disturbing real site visitors.
Formerly called Better WP Security, iThemes Security offers nearly 30 ways to protect a WordPress site, from fixing common security loopholes to blocking automatic attacks. This security plugin also strengthens your password.
The paid version of iThemes includes professional customer support and additional features not available with the standard version, including two-factor authentication, command-line integration, and automatic malware scanning.
iThemes Security and WordFence offer nearly identical features for protecting your website, but iThemes requires a paid subscription for access.
All-In-One WP Security and Firewall
Comprehensive and easy to use, this security plugin is entirely free and reduces the security risks to your website by checking for vulnerabilities and applying the latest security patches and practices from WordPress.
Like WordFence, you can monitor the security from your WordPress dashboard. Both plugins protect against brute force attacks, monitor account activity, and allow you to ban IP addresses and users from your site.
Unlike WordFence, the security features in All-In-One WP Security and Firewall are enabled by category, with features grouped as basic, intermediate, or advanced. It makes it easy to enable multiple security features at once but challenging to customize your security needs.
Jetpack has robust security modules, including:
- Jetpack’s Brute Force Attack Prevention, which blocks aggressive hacks
- Secure Authentication, which logs users to the website through secure login practices
Other features include scanning for malicious code, spam filtering, and priority customer support.
Like WordFence, Jetpack offers secure authentication to keep your WordPress accounts safe. It regularly checks for plugin updates and assists in monitoring and providing a record of site activity.
Unlike WordFence, Jetpack includes website design features and marketing tools as well as security tools.
WordFence’s competitors all have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice depends on the unique needs of the WordPress website in need of protection.
WordFence Continuous Monitoring for Website Security Best Practices
Today, every website is a target for hackers, whether a small business website or a network of websites belonging to a large corporation. Adopting reliable and comprehensive website security best practices is an essential step in securing your business website’s data.
WordFence, and especially WordFence Premium, is uniquely optimized to address security attacks, making the plugin invaluable for protecting your site and your customers.
To understand how WordFence fulfills best practices for website security, let’s cover some of the common website security risks in this WordFence plugin review.
DDoS attacks are the most common cyber attacks websites experience. When hackers use this attack style, they use thousands of bots to visit a website with faked IP addresses, overloading traffic to the site and causing it to slow down or crash.
To best utilize WordFence’s DDoS protection, you can configure the plugin to block traffic from fraudulent IP addresses automatically.
Malware and Viruses
Invasive and fast-spreading malware applications and computer viruses are extremely destructive threats to the security of websites and the computers accessing them. More than 230,000 types of malware are released every day, usually through means such as ads or “drive-by downloads.”
By comparing your files and WordPress themes to the original versions, WordFence can detect whether bad actors have injected malware into your site.
WordFence Protection and Monitoring
Website owners can rarely identify malicious programs and viruses until it’s too late, which is why malware and viruses are so damaging. The only way to combat these invasive threats is constant monitoring, something most businesses cannot accomplish independently.
With WordFence, you get round-the-clock protection. WordFence Security’s team continually monitors the development of malicious programs, viruses, and other activities to detect and protect websites and their users.
WordFence Optimized Firewall
Firewalls are one of the most widely used and effective forms of website security. A firewall literally behaves like a wall, blocking malicious programs and connections when they attempt to compromise the security of a website or computer. Firewalls use rules created to maintain security. WordFence constantly updates these rules as malware and viruses are developed and mutate.
In the WordFence Dashboard, you can monitor and customize your level of firewall protection and how many attacks your firewall blocks.
WordFence’s firewall blocks harmful traffic to your website. Enabling WordFence’s firewall to load before other code (including potential viruses) helps provide users with the highest level of protection.
After installing WordFence, basic protection activates automatically. While it blocks many things when enabled, vulnerable code can enter the site as it loads since the firewall may not have loaded quickly enough to prevent it.
By optimizing your firewall, WordFence changes the PHP configuration so that the firewall can load before any other files are accessed. Once you have optimized your WordFence firewall, it will load and process all requests and site traffic.
The main takeaway from this WordFence plugin review is that WordFence is an effortless way to add security to your WordPress site. Though Sucuri, SiteLock, and other security plugins offer comparable support on many levels, WordFence offers unique features completely free. Even without paying for the premium upgrade, the service and security ensure protection for your site.
Simple to install and use, WordFence provides layered security for your WordPress sites through an easy-to-use dashboard. WordFence offers key security features beyond what an individual could do themselves, including:
- Web application firewall, which runs at endpoints rather than in the cloud, making it extremely hard to bypass or hack.
- Integrated malware scanner, which blocks viruses and malicious codes.
- Two-factor authentication and limited login attempts, protecting against brute force attacks.
- A core security scanner and file scanner that checks for security vulnerabilities and harmful URLs.
- Source code verification and file repair and restoration.
Most of these features are available in other security plugins, but they are not as comprehensive or affordable as WordFence’s features. Users also have access to community support through the large WordFence forums, and premium users enjoy further customer support from the responsive CS team.
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Check out our website for more reviews like this WordFence plugin review. For more information about Connective Web Design and what our team of creative, knowledgeable designers and marketers can do for you, contact us via our online form or call us today at (818) 570-5620.