Website security is a must whether you run a personal blog, or web presence for an international enterprise.
A firewall isn’t the only security measure your website needs, but it is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your website safe from hackers, bots, and other bad actors on the internet.
What is a firewall?
A WordPress firewall protects your website by recognizing unwanted traffic and filtering it out before it’s allowed to access your website. What kind of traffic you want to filter out depends on the nature of your business, and the kinds of users you want to attract to your website. Most firewalls are designed to filter out obviously malicious traffic like bots and scripts, but the best ones can be customized to suit your needs.
Firewalls are usually broken down into two broad categories – cloud-based and plugin-based firewalls. These are sometimes also referred to as DNS-level and application-level firewalls, respectively. A cloud-based firewall is distributed across a set of multiple servers, usually in different locations around the world.
Cloud-based firewalls stop bad traffic before it can ever query your host server, and because the firewall is distributed, it places less strain on your website’s hosting server – so it’s less likely to affect your website’s performance.
Plugin-based firewalls live on the same host server as your website. This type of firewall serves as a last line of defense, and can help catch bad traffic that manages to make it through a DNS-level firewall. Each type of firewall has its own advantages and disadvantages, and in many cases having one of each is the best way to ensure maximum website security.
What to look for in a firewall
Some important features to look for in a firewall are:
- Regular updates to account for new infiltration techniques
- Custom configuration options
- Allowlist and blocklist
Regardless of what WordPress firewall you use, ensure that it is supported by its developers, and ideally gets good reviews. On that note, here is our list of the top 8 WordPress firewalls for 2023.
Cloudflare is one of the most trusted web security providers available today. Ideal for larger enterprises, their DNS-level firewall is distributed across servers around the world, which is advantageous for two reasons.
One, it reduces the processing load on your website’s host server, which allows you to run a powerful firewall without slowing down your site’s performance. Two, having a firewall at the server-level means that a lot of bad traffic is blocked before it can even get to your website, keeping your business information and credentials safe and secure.
Cloudflare is a leader in the cybersecurity industry, and their firewall is no exception in their robust suite of security products.
- Preconfigured rulesets designed to target common WordPress exploits
- Globally distributed network of servers
- Trusted by industry experts
Wordfence is one of our favourite web application firewalls. When combined with other standard security measures it does a good job of blocking bad traffic from entering your WordPress website.
Wordfence offers its firewall in free and premium versions. The free version works to block hackers and bots that are using popular strategies to try to enter your site, and is often sufficient for personal websites without much traffic. The premium version is what we recommend for businesses, because it receives updates immediately – before the free version.
- Blocks malicious traffic using pattern-matching rules
- Well-versed in the most common malicious traffic patterns
- Designed to block attacks against known vulnerabilities in wordpress plugins
- Ability to allowlist traffic from certain URLS or IP addresses even after it has been flagged
Sucuri is a cost-effective firewall option for businesses and users that require strong protection at an affordable price. Sucuri is a respected player in the world of WordPress website security, so it’s no surprise that their security plugin and firewall get pretty good reviews from many users.
Sucuri’s firewall comes with a good assortment of security tools and features that you can use to customize your site’s security measures. The firewall detects suspicious activity and requests based on a robust ruleset, but also gives you the opportunity to review false positives and ensure that none of the traffic you actually want is getting caught up in the web.
- Cost-effective option
- Blocks suspicious traffic and allows you to review false positives
- Good suite of security tools
- Helps prevent brute force attacks
- Detects suspicious bots and activity
4. Jetpack firewall
Jetpack firewall is a plugin-level firewall that is part of Jetpack’s WordPress security offering. This is a solid firewall that offers all of the features you’d expect from a good firewall. The firewall scans incoming traffic and blocks anything that it identifies as dangerous, based on a set of rules that is updated as new threats become known.
In order to use Jetpack firewall, you’ll need a Jetpack hosting plan that includes Jetpack Scan, Jetpack’s site-monitoring and malware scanning feature.
- Malware scanning
- IP allowlist
Malcare is custom-built for WordPress websites, so you can be assured that you’re getting tailored protection with this solution. More specialized rules mean it can help protect against more specialized attacks.
This is a good, high-performance firewall, and the good news is most of the processing load is taken on by Malcare’s servers. This means less drain on your website’s host server, and less risk of your website’s performance being impacted. Malcare’s threat monitoring and real-time updates ensure that this firewall is always looking for, and protecting against, the latest threats.
- Prevents bots from using site resources
- Brute-force login protection with Captcha
- Easy to set up with no manual configuration
6. Ninja Firewall
Ninja Firewall is a true web application firewall that can be installed and configured just like a plugin. This makes it easy for small businesses and individual users to set up without too much effort.
Ninja Firewall is designed to detect a range of common strategies used by hackers and bots to gain access to WordPress sites. Because it was developed as a WordPress plugin, it’s already tailored to threats common to WordPress websites. It scans, sanitizes, or rejects all access requests before they hit your website, so your files stay safe.
- Protects all your local files and scripts from infiltration
- Detects a range of common strategies used by hackers and bots to gain access to wordpress sites
- Real-time threat detection and alerts, so you can know and take action as soon as your site is compromised
- File and event monitoring
7. BBQ Firewall
BBQ Firewall bills itself as “WordPress’ fastest firewall plugin”. Of course, speed is of the essence whenever you’re concerned about blocking hackers from your website. BBQ is fast partly because it’s a lightweight plugin that uses relatively simple logic. It stops common threats well, but it may not be ideal for enterprise sites facing complex threats. If that sounds like you, BBQ might be best used in conjunction with a DNS-level firewall like Cloudflare.
The good news is that as of this article being published, BBQ has a 5-star WordPress.org rating. It’s plug-and-play, with no configuration, so setup is easy.
- Regularly updated with new rules
- Easy to install
- Lightweight and performs well
8. Anti-Malware Security and Brute Force Firewall
The Anti-Malware Security and Brute Force Firewall plugin is exactly what it says on the tin. This lightweight WordPress plugin is available in free and premium tiers, and both can do a decent enough job of blocking bad traffic, provided you use the version that’s appropriate for your website needs.
The plugin is well-reviewed, with over 200,000 active installations – and popularity is a good sign when it comes to WordPress plugins. Both free and premium versions have regular updates to their rulesets to stay agile as threats change. Note that with the free version, these updates need to be manually installed.
- Solid protection against known threats
- Brute force login protection
- Allows you to check the integrity of your WordPress core files
While having a firewall is certainly better than having no firewall, having a good quality firewall that is properly configured can make all the difference when it comes to securing your website. If you need help getting started, contact WordZite today – we’re WordPress security experts, and we’re here to help you keep your website safe.