Wordfence vs Sucuri: Which Is the Best Free WordPress Security – 2019 Guide

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Both Wordfence and Sucuri are popular and reputable security plugins that will keep your WordPress website safe and secure. However, while these two solutions both aim to secure your site, in this Wordfence vs Sucuri comparison, you will find that there are some important differences.

In this Wordfence vs Sucuri comparison, we will look in-depth at the free versions of these security solutions, comparing their:

  • Key features
  • Malware scanners
  • Firewalls
  • User experience

Let’s get started…

The key differences are Sucuri does website monitoring, protection and malware removal, while Wordfence focuses on website security. Sucuri blocks traffic in the cloud but cannot perform local scans. Wordfence uses a local firewall, it will also scan ALL files.

But the problem arises which of these WordPress security plugins to choose from these two? Being two of the top products they have so many features and options that you can get confused about which one to choose.

If that is your situation right now, you have come to the right place. We’ve used both of these products, so we can share our experience with you. Armed with this knowledge, you can now make the decision which is right for your business

In today’s post, we will compare the two most popular website security plugins for WordPress – Sucuri Security and Wordfence Security

We will compare how these two WordPress plugins work, what features they offer, their price and everything else you want need to know. You can then decide with all of the information in hand, which one is the winner.

And we’ll help you decide which one is really worth your money!

Sounds good? Let’s get started with Sucuri.

We’ve just updated this article in October 2019 to make sure it’s relevant, with new details added and old parts removed or updated, so this is as relevant as it can get.

Wordfence Overview

Wordfence is the most popular WordPress security plugin. It includes an endpoint firewall and malware scanner, as well as a suite of additional features. WordFence offers a range of premium plans, as well as its renowned free service.

So, let’s check out the key features provided via the free Wordfence plugin…

  • Web application firewall (WAF)
    • Web Application Firewall identifies and blocks malicious traffic. Built and maintained by a large team focused 100% on WordPress security.
    • [Premium] Real-time firewall rule and malware signature updates via the Threat Defense Feed (free version is delayed by 30 days).
    • [Premium] Real-time IP Blacklist blocks all requests from the most malicious IPs, protecting your site while reducing load.
    • Protects your site at the endpoint, enabling deep integration with WordPress. Unlike cloud alternatives does not break encryption, cannot be bypassed and cannot leak data.
    • Integrated malware scanner blocks requests that include malicious code or content.
    • Protection from brute force attacks by limiting login attempts.
  • Malware Scanner
    • Malware scanner checks core files, themes and plugins for malware, bad URLs, backdoors, SEO spam, malicious redirects and code injections.
    • [Premium] Real-time malware signature updates via the Threat Defense Feed (free version is delayed by 30 days).
    • Compares your core files, themes and plugins with what is in the WordPress.org repository, checking their integrity and reporting any changes to you.
    • Repair files that have changed by overwriting them with a pristine, original version. Delete any files that don’t belong easily within the Wordfence interface.
    • Checks your site for known security vulnerabilities and alerts you to any issues. Also alerts you to potential security issues when a plugin has been closed or abandoned.
    • Checks your content safety by scanning file contents, posts and comments for dangerous URLs and suspicious content.
    • [Premium] Checks to see if your site or IP have been blacklisted for malicious activity, generating spam or other security issue.
  • Log-In Security
    • Two-factor authentication (2FA), one of the most secure forms of remote system authentication available via any TOTP-based authenticator app or service.
    • Login Page CAPTCHA stops bots from logging in.
    • Disable or add 2FA to XML-RPC.
    • Block logins for administrators using known compromised passwords.
  • WordFence Central
    • Wordfence Central is a powerful and efficient way to manage the security for multiple sites in one place.
    • Efficiently assess the security status of all your websites in one view. View detailed security findings without leaving Wordfence Central.
    • Powerful templates make configuring Wordfence a breeze.
    • Highly configurable alerts can be delivered via email, SMS or Slack. Improve the signal to noise ratio by leveraging severity level options and a daily digest option.
    • Track and alert on important security events including administrator logins, breached password usage and surges in attack activity.
    • Free to use for unlimited sites.
  • Security Tools
    • With Live Traffic, monitor visits and hack attempts not shown in other analytics packages in real time; including origin, their IP address, the time of day and time spent on your site.
    • Block attackers by IP or build advanced rules based on IP Range, Hostname, User Agent and Referrer.
    • Country blocking available with Wordfence Premium.
  • Security alerts and reporting
  • File repair
  • Real-time user monitoring

Sucuri Overview

Sucuri Inc. is a globally recognized authority in all matters related to website security, with specialization in WordPress Security.

The Sucuri Security WordPress plugin is free to all WordPress users. It is a security suite meant to complement your existing security posture. It offers its users a set of security features for their website, each designed to have a positive effect on their security posture:

  • Security Activity Auditing
  • File Integrity Monitoring
  • Remote Malware Scanning
  • Blacklist Monitoring
  • Effective Security Hardening
  • Post-Hack Security Actions
  • Security Notifications
  • Website Firewall (premium)

In contrast, Sucuri is a cloud-based platform that works with any content management system. That said, WordPress is a specialist area of expertise for Sucuri, and their free WordPress plugin can easily be installed and set up on your website to help keep it secure.

Like WordFence, Sucuri also provides a range of premium plans. However, let’s concentrate on the free plugin – here are its top features…

  • Remote malware scanning
  • Blacklist monitoring
  • Security hardening
  • Security notifications
  • Post-hack actions

So now we know a little about what each plugin offers. Next in this Wordfence vs Sucuri guide, let’s next look in-depth at how these features compare…

WordFence Malware Scanner

The Wordfence scanner searches your site for traces of malware, malicious URLs, and any patterns of infections. It does this by examining all of your website’s files, themes, plugins, and posts. It also monitors your server, and among other tasks, checks to see if your IP address is being used for malicious activity.

During the scan, Wordfence compares your files to those in the WordPress repository, and then alerts you to any changes. You can then authorize Wordfence to repair the files, restoring them to the original repository version. By default, Wordfence runs a scan from your server daily to check on the status of your website. However, you can also run manual scans with just a click of a button.

Sucuri Malware Scanner

The Sucuri malware scanner scans your website for…

  • Malware
  • Blacklist status
  • Website errors
  • Out-of-date software

A core integrity check also identifies if any core WordPress files have been modified or removed. Sucuri will then alert you to any file changes on your website, malicious threats, or blacklists. It will also make Post-hack recommendations on how to deal with problems or further secure your site.

The key difference between the Sucuri and WordFence scanners is that the Sucuri malware scanner is a remote scanner, whereas the WordFence scanner is server-side. Therefore, the Sucuri scan is far from 100% accurate, as your website could be hosting malware that doesn’t show up on the front-end of your site.

However, the tradeoff is that WordFence will use more server resources during its scan. If you prefer a more comprehensive off-site scan, check out the MalCare plugin.

Wordfence Firewall

The free Wordfence plugin includes a web application firewall (WAF) that identifies and blocks against malicious traffic. Not only does it protect against common web-based attacks, but the firewall also focuses on diagnosing WordPress-specific threats that target the WordPress core, themes, and plugins. The WAF also runs directly from your server and monitors regular visitors and activity on your website, which helps it to identify anything out of the ordinary.

Other features of the Wordfence firewall include…

  • Brute force attack protection – Wordfence enforces brute force attack protection, locking out password-guessing attackers, and helping you implement strong passwords.
  • Rate limiting – You can opt to block crawlers that are using too many resources or stealing content.
  • Blocking – Powerful blocking features let you set your own blocking rules and block traffic based on IP, IP range, hostname, browser, or referrer.

Firewall rules, malware signatures, and malicious IP addresses are updated constantly by the Wordfence security team. However, your firewall will only be updated against the latest security threats in real-time if you upgrade to the premium Wordfence packages.

Using the free plugin, you will need to wait 30 days for any new firewall rules to run on your website, which means you won’t get protection against “zero-day” exploits in the free version (AKA brand new exploits that have only just been discovered).

Sucuri Firewall

Unfortunately, if you opt to use the free Sucuri plugin, you won’t find a firewall amongst the features on offer. Therefore, although the free version of Sucuri will scan your website and report any abnormalities, it in no way blocks attacks.

Sucuri does offer its own WAF, but only on its premium plans.

Wordfence vs Sucuri: Other features

Let’s have a look at some of the other features that these two security plugins provide…

  • WordPress hardeningSucuri provides a range of WordPress hardening options, including blocking PHP files, blocking theme and plugin editors, and much more, all of which you can configure to suit your needs.
  • Live traffic options – The Wordfence live traffic tools shows what is happening on your site in real-time, including user logins, hack attempts, and firewall blocked requests.
  • Reporting – Both plugins alert you of any security breaches via email.
  • Support – Wordfence and Sucuri both provide extensive knowledge bases. However, for both free plugins, support from the developers is only available via the WordPress repository support forums.

So now that you know how the features of these two free plugins compare, let’s next check out the user experience of WordFence vs Sucuri

WordFence: User Friendly

You can install Wordfence for free from the WordPress.org plugin directory.

Once you have installed the Wordfence plugin, you will be asked to provide an email for security alerts, and agree to the terms and conditions of the service.

Select Wordfence > Dashboard from your WordPress menu. Here you will find an overview of the features available and your security analytics, as well as quick links to access the different tools and help documentation.

Wordfence provides helpful pointers, talking you through the different features and how you can use them to protect your website. This is an effective way to introduce users to the Wordfence dashboard and help people get the most out of the service.

WordFence Firewall

By clicking on Manage Firewall, you can configure the firewall settings, including brute force protection, and IP blocking.

If you select the Blocking tab you can create blocking rules and view any blocks that have already been set up.

WordFence Site Clean Up

Wordfence site cleanup service is not included in their free or premium plans. It is sold separately as an add-on service.

Site clean up will also give you a premium Wordfence license for one website.

The malware clean up process is pretty straight forward. They will scan your site for malware / infections, and then clean up all affected files.

Their team will also investigate how hackers got access to your site. They will prepare a detailed report of the entire clean up process with suggestions for future prevention.

WordFence Malware Scan

The Wordfence malware scan will automatically run once you have activated the plugin. Alerts will also automatically be sent once you have added your email address during plugin set up. However, by selecting Wordfence > Scan from your WordPress menu, you can create custom scan configurations.

Within the Wordfence dashboard, there are also numerous links that will take you to relevant help articles in the Wordfence knowledge base.

Under the Scan dashboard, you can view your scan results, and take action on any issues that may have been uncovered.

Overall, Wordfence is easy to set up, with hints and tips provided en-route to ensure you configure the plugin in a way that works for your site. So how does this compare to the user experience provided by Sucuri? Let’s find out…

Sucuri: User Friendly

Like Wordfence, you will also find the free Sucuri plugin in the WordPress repository.

Once installed, Sucuri will ask you to generate an API key. This will connect your website to the Sucuri cloud and ensure you can access all the plugin’s features.

By selecting Sucuri > Dashboard from your WordPress menu, you will find the results of your site’s malware scan, which automatically runs after you activate the plugin. You can also select to force start a new malware scan.

Click on Settings > Hardening to view and activate the numerous preventative measures this plugin provides. You can both Apply and Revert hardening features, depending on your security needs.

Under Settings > Post Hack, Sucuri provides a range of recommendations on how to clean up your website. These include the option of resetting security keys, user passwords, and installed plugins.

Sucuri also provides an easy user experience, with set up being pretty self-explanatory. However, this plugin doesn’t provide the helpful hints that you will find when using the WordFence plugin. Therefore, if you want further clarification on the features offered, you will need to consult the Sucuri knowledge base.

Sucuri Site Clean up

All paid Sucuri plans include website clean up service. This comes with site clean up, blacklist removal, SEO spam repair, and WAF protection for future prevention.

They are really good at cleaning up malware, injected spam code, and backdoor access files.

The process is quite straight forward. You open a support ticket and their team will start working on the cleanup process.

They will use your login credentials for FTP/SSH access or cPanel. During the process, they keep a log of every file they touch and automatically backup everything.

Which Security Plugin should You Choose?

Choosing the best security plugin between Sucuri vs Wordfence relies heavily on your level of expertise and requirements.

On top of that, since we are comparing Wordfence Security and Sucuri Security, the two most popular security plugins for WordPress, both of them will provide you with an excellent level of security.

You won’t be let down by either of these two plugins in reality – it’s mostly a matter of which plugins seems to appeal most to you. Both of these companies are also large, reputable companies, who offer great support in case something goes belly up, so you can rest assured of that too. You might also want to have a bit of a look at the pricing of each of these plugins below.

We do believe that both Sucuri and Wordfence comes with excellent value. After all, is there a price you would put on the loss of reputation and business which comes with suffering a hacking attack?

But let’s give you a bit of a compare and contrast of WordFence vs Sucuri, in terms of what could be defined as what we liked and what we didn’t like about these two WP security plugins.

Sucuri comes with a better user interface with simpler options to strengthen the overall security. You can harden the security by enabling various features. Integrity checker for the core files is a notable essential feature.

In most cases, hackers and potential abusers tend to make changes to a core file and create a backdoor.

Sucuri helps you protect your website from these incidents by checking the files against a secure remote installation. The post-hack options are another nice touch. These can help you save the website whenever you detect any suspicious activity on your website.

On the other hand, Wordfence comes with its own suite of options. The dashboard offers more information and provides an overview of the whole website at a glance.

It’s a bummer that the scanner doesn’t cover the latest security threats. The brute force preventing feature will keep the intruders away, while the live traffic will show a handy list of the current visitors.

The web application firewall is a great touch to enhance your website, but you have to be careful with it. Inexperienced users might lock themselves and lose access to the website.

Pricing

As we’ve discussed so far, you know that both of these services offer a free version. But both service also offer a number of premium options.

Sucuri

WordFence

In Closing

Both WordFence and Sucuri have created effective free WordPress security plugins. However, as this WordFence vs Sucuri guide shows, these security plugins do have different features and end-goals.

The Sucuri plugin was originally designed to simply support the premium Sucuri plans, and although it provides an impressive malware scanner, you will need to upgrade to access the Sucuri firewall. Therefore, if you want a free security plugin that not just monitors your WordPress website, but also blocks security threats via a WAF, then WordFence is the tool for you.

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