Wordfence vs Sucuri – WordPress Security Plugins Comparison

Sucuri vs Wordfence – which plugin ensures full WordPress security? This is a question that lots of WordPress website owners find themselves pondering. In these days of state-sponsored attacks, organized crime gangs, and bedroom hacktivists, getting watertight cybersecurity for your WordPress website has never been more important. 

New and more sophisticated hacks and exploits happen every single day, around-the-clock, and after the Solar Winds breach came to light it’s apparent that even governments and multinationals are not as safe as they thought. 

So for the humble WordPress site owner, it’s important to find the most effective means of keeping malign intruders out. Any weaknesses are almost certain to be exploited by criminals (eventually), so it’s essential that you settle on the most effective security plug-in you can get your hands on to thwart nefarious actors. 

Site owners often wonder about choosing between Wordfence or Sucuri, simply because this pair is among the most well-known and prominent of plugins for comprehensive WordPress website protection, and so it’s difficult for many site owners to differentiate between the different offerings and identify the superior example. 

Sucuri or Wordfence: what do you need to consider?

Sucuri vs Wordfence is a tricky question to answer because both have the capacity to keep your WordPress site safe from data breaches, bot-net infections, and other unwanted security risks. 

Another criterion must be that it’s easy to use, because the less time you waste on activities that don’t contribute to selling your digital wares, the better. You don’t want to waste time becoming a security expert just so that you can run a plug-in that keeps your website safe. If that’s what’s required then it’s probably not worth investing in.

Sucuri vs Wordfence: user-friendliness

You shouldn’t need to know how the internal combustion engine functions just to stop your car from being stolen, so you also shouldn’t need to become an expert in cybersecurity to keep your website safe with Wordfence or Sucuri

Wordfence

After installation, you’ll need to confirm that you accept the terms and conditions, and then you’ll be asked for the email address where you want your security updates to be sent. 

The setup wizard that follows will walk you through the basics of the application, including where to find notifications and the results of scans.

Wordfence opens your web app firewall in learning mode and performs a scan in the background. This may take a while if you have a large website but it will let you know as soon as it’s finished.

Click the dialogue box when it’s got to the end and you’ll see what the scan discovered along with suggestions for what to do with any positive hits. If you’re lucky, it won’t find any threats, but it still might recommend useful security-related suggestions, like that you update to the newest version of your chosen theme.

The standard way that the firewall runs is as a WordPress plugin, which isn’t the ideal way of doing things in this instance. Wordfence will let you configure it to work under extended mode for enhanced security, but this requires manual configuration. 

Unfortunately, first-time users of the Wordfence UI will probably find it as difficult to understand as we did. It’s true that it doesn’t ask you to do very much in its basic configuration, so that may not be a problem, but beginners wishing to explore the different possibilities it offers may feel that it’s an uphill struggle. 

Sucuri

There’s no such trouble with Sucuri’s GUI. It isn’t cluttered by unnecessary notifications and your scan results will appear in the plug-in panel. It’s also worth mentioning that its website application firewall (WAF) is based in the Cloud and as a remote resource it doesn’t require any horsepower from your own server that would slow it down.

To set up your hosting server behind the firewall you’ll need to give it your API key and configure the DNS settings for your domain name. Once you’ve installed it, you’re done. It’s a case of “set it and forget it” because updates and maintenance are all taken care of. Also, when Sucuri gives you security recommendations you only need to click once to apply them all. 

The UI is certainly a step up from Wordfence’s design, but some options are still buried in the guts of it and will require some digging.

One hurdle that less technical users may find difficult to overcome when they’re configuring a Sucuri firewall is how to update a domain name server with their domain registrar. It may be helpful in this case to ask the registrar for some help.

Sucuri vs Wordfence: Web Application Firewall (WAF) 

It’s possible to run a firewall in one of two ways. You can run it as an application on your own server or use a cloud-based WAF solution. 

WAFs are useful for blocking website threats, and we believe that cloud-based ones are the superior option for reasons of efficiency and reliability. They constantly keep an eye on incoming web traffic, flagging and blocking issues as they appear. In the case of Wordfence vs Sucuri, both have this capability.

Wordfence

Wordfence features a WAF that keeps an eye on malicious web traffic. The fact that it’s application-based, running as a WordPress plugin, is something of a disadvantage because it means that WordPress needs to load before it can detect and respond to malicious activity. 

You’ll need to configure Wordfence’s firewall manually in expansion mode so that it can monitor traffic before it has a chance to get to your WordPress installation. 

Wordfence’s endpoint firewall only filters bad traffic once it’s reached the hosting server, and once it does, all of its resources will be stretched as it responds to the attack.

Sucuri

Sucuri’s firewall is a remote cloud resource. That means that it can trip up malicious traffic before it gets anywhere near your hosting server. Sucuri also has content delivery network (CDN) servers distributed across various regions, so this should also help to increase the speed of the response.

To use a firewall, you’ll need to change the DNS settings of the domain name. This will route your traffic through Sucuri’s server. 

Sucuri doesn’t have a basic or extended mode. As soon as the installation has finished, Sucuri’s WAF starts protecting your site straightaway.

When you’re choosing between Wordfence or Sucuri you might want to bear in mind that Sucuri uses highly effective machine learning algorithms to cut down on false positives, and its DDoS defences automatically block fake traffic and nefarious bot requests without slowing down bona fide traffic sources.

Security Monitoring and Notifications 

Downtime is money, so a security early warning system is essential for any website owner. To get notifications you’ll need to check that you can pick up emails from your WordPress site using SMTP. Let’s look at how well Sucuri vs Wordfence keeps you informed about attacks.

Wordfence

Wordfence does a decent job of telling you about any problems with elicit intrusions and the like. They show up both in the Control Panel and the Wordfence menu in the WordPress administration sidebar, with different highlights indicating their respective significance. Selecting each one will pull up options for how you deal with them, but you can only see them after logging into the WordPress dashboard. 

If you’d like to be alerted about security issues via email, then you can fairly easily do that in the Email Alert Preferences section on the Wordfence options page. You can also further explore them on this page too. 

Sucuri

It can be very distracting to be constantly interrupted by security alerts, so if you want to tell Sucuri to only bother you with the more serious cases, that’s easily done, and you can also tell the software to send them to your control panel as well. 

Look towards the upper right-hand part of the screen to explore the status of the main WordPress file. This includes the audit log and site status. 

To access the alert management system open the Sucuri security settings page and then the Alerts tab and enter the email address where you want to receive your notifications. 

You can tune the type of event notifications you get and also put a ceiling on their numbers. Your WAF will also send important alerts to your email address. 

Sucuri or Wordfence – Scanning for malware

Both of our contenders feature malware detection. They can also look for files that have been changed and snippets of code that may be up to no good. Out of Wordfence vs Sucuri, which will do the better job here? 

Wordfence

Wordfence’s malware scanner can be tweaked to meet your particular hosting and security needs. Scanning has default limitations to conserve resources.

Wordfence generates your analysis schedule automatically, but you are able to change this. With scanning, you only have access to some options if you’ve opted for advanced versions of the plug-in. Wordfence’s scanner can also check your themes and plug-ins in line with the appropriate repository version. 

Sucuri

Sucuri’s site check API assists the Sucuri scanner in its hunt for unwelcome code. It’s quite clever in that it uses secure browsing APIs to ensure that your WordPress site hasn’t been blacklisted. 

Sucuri has an automated way of checking that your core WordPress files haven’t been tampered with, but you can change any of your settings by clicking on the scanner tab on the security settings page.

The scanner isn’t specific to WordPress, which you’d think would make it less adept at dealing with WordPress security issues but in fact, the result is that it can scan for any kind of intruder. Another aspect in its favour is that it’s relatively lightweight and doesn’t impinge too much on your server resources. 

Cleaning Up Your Website

Getting hacked is no fun, and the cleanup operation that comes after your WordPress site has hosted unwelcome intruders is even less cause for celebration. Trojans and viruses can burrow into files, drop unwanted links, and who knows what else.

Unless you’re an expert you may find it beyond your ability to track down and eliminate every bit of damage that’s been done. Luckily, Wordfence vs Sucuri can do it for you, but which one is going to do the better job?

Wordfence

You’ll need to buy your cleaning solution separately from your Wordfence subscription because it isn’t something that they include in their free or paid packages. Once you’ve signed up though, it’s a fairly straightforward process to get your site analyzed and cleansed of bots and Trojans. Not only that, you’ll also get a compressive rundown of what was cleaned and advice on how you can limit the likelihood of this kind of intrusion occurring again in the future.

Sucuri

If you pay for a Sucuri plan then site cleaning will be included. Just open a support ticket and the service will get underway attending to blacklist removal, remedying SEO spam, cleaning the site, and WAF to avoid such occurrences in the future. 

Sucuri is pretty good at cleaning up viruses and other dodgy intrusions, spammy code injections, and backdoor access files. 

The team assisting you with the clean-up will use FTP/SSH access login details to get in, and they’ll be careful to back-up every file that they interact with to ensure that nothing is damaged or lost. 

Sucuri vs Wordfence – Who Is The Winner?

Wordfence vs Sucuri is a matchup between two seasoned and respected security heavyweights, but in our opinion, it’s Sucuri that crosses the finish line in first place. Its use of WAF in the Cloud is a definite plus point. Wordfence is a competent performer, but its server-side scanner and firewall can’t match Sucuri’s for security. 

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