When you start a blog, online store, or small business site, you’ll need an initial investment for products or services including plugins, hosting, themes, and web development.
While all these are enough to secure your site from the onset, you need to remember to protect the potential investment in the future.
At its core, WordPress offers some security measures by default, but nothing compares to a reputable and strong security plugin on your site. Most top security plugins for WordPress offer firewalls, malware and file scans, active security monitoring, post-hack actions, brute force attack protection, and more.
iThemes Security and Wordfence are among the best WordPress security plugins that offer these and more advanced security features. Not only will your site have server-level safeguards, but they’ll work effectively without harming your site’s performance.
We pit iThemes Security vs Wordfence in this review to help you pick the best one for your site.
iThemes Security vs Wordfence: Overview & How They Work
iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) makes it easy to protect and secure your WordPress site with more than 30 offerings to prevent unwanted intruders and hacks.
The plugin focuses more on recognizing vulnerabilities in plugins, weak passwords, and obsolete software.
Plus, Wordfence eliminates the guesswork in WordPress security so you don’t have to struggle to use a security plugin. You can enjoy some basic security features with its free version, but it’s recommended that you upgrade to the Pro version to access more features including strong password enforcement, two-factor authentication, database backups, and more.
Wordfence Security pairs simplicity with robust and powerful protection tools including security incident recovery tools and login security features.
You can gain insight into hack attempts and overall traffic trends using this plugin, plus protect your WordPress site using its malware scanner and endpoint firewall.
The plugin also offers its Threat Defense Feed. This feature provides malicious IP addresses, the most recent malware signatures, and the newest firewall rules to better secure and protect your site. On top of that, the plugin has a suite of features that make it the most comprehensive security plugin available.
Wordfence vs iThemes Security: Features
There are several features that make iThemes Security the better option of the two plugins including its file change detection, Google reCAPTCHA integration, Away Mode, and more. Here’s an overview of each of its features.
Brute Force Protection
With this feature, the iThemes Security plugin helps you limit the number of failed login attempts each user is allowed to use. If someone tries to guess your login details, they’ll get locked out after a few attempts.
The plugin will lock out any IP from bots that scan your site for vulnerabilities based on the limit you set. This happens because such bots generate lots of 404 errors, so if you set 10 errors in 5 minutes as the default, the plugin’s effect will kick in immediately afterward.
File Change Detection
The iThemes Security plugin will send you an email notification with any recent file changes in case someone gets into your site and modifies or removes files. This helps you know whether you’ve been hacked or not.
Strong Password Enforcement
If you want to set admins, editors, or users on your site that need strong passwords, you can use this feature in iThemes Security to enforce passwords and lock down WordPress.
Lock Out Bad Users
You can also keep out bad users from your site especially if they try to login and fail after several attempts or generate multiple 404 errors. This plugin will also lock them out if they’re on a bot blacklist.
With this iThemes Security feature, your WordPress dashboard can be rendered inaccessible during certain hours of the day when you’re inactive so that no one else can get in or modify your site.
Hide Login & Admin
iThemes Security also lets you change your default WordPress login URL so that attackers won’t know where to look. If you’re an agency, it also helps your clients remember their login links.
These are alerts when someone is locked out after multiple failed login attempts or files on your site have been modified or removed.
You can schedule backups of your site’s database and get them sent to your email. Alternatively, you can use iTheme’s backup plugin, make complete backups, and send them to off-site storage platforms.
iThemes Security offers 2FA so that users can enter a password and code sent to their mobile device. These details will help them log in to their accounts successfully and act as an added layer of security to verify the person that’s actually logging in and keep hackers out.
The plugin works with Authy, Google Authenticator, Toopher, and FreeOTP. Time-sensitive codes are sent via email addresses associated with each user account, and a set of one-time backup codes are also available that can be used to login in the event you lose your primary 2FA method.
With the iThemes Security plugin, you can monitor activity on your site including log entries as it pulls together related entries and displays them in a relevant way to you.
Security Grade Report
This report helps you see the security of your site and make recommended fixes to improve and upgrade the overall site security. The report contains the overall security grade, software and settings details, and action items to improve your security grade, so you can quickly view and resolve security issues.
Trusted Devices With Session Hijacking Protection
For unknown devices, you can add security measures for them together with session hijacking protection. This helps lock down your site and safeguard it from any compromises to logins from known users.
User Security Checks
The plugin offers user security checks to assess the site’s security and user accounts at a go. This helps you take action on them where necessary so that your site isn’t opened up to vulnerabilities that lead to hacks.
The iThemes Site Scanner powers the malware scan feature in the iThemes Security plugin. This function helps check for known malware, blacklist status, vulnerabilities, website errors, and outdated software. You can perform regular daily scans and get alerts via email in case anything is found.
WordPress can get overwhelming, especially as your site grows and you aren’t up to speed with the different themes or plugins.
This can be a risk for your site because security vulnerabilities are associated with outdated software, but with version management, you can always update automatically to new WordPress themes and plugin versions plus increase security measures.
iThemes Security enables stricter security automatically when updates haven’t been installed for a month. You can also check for outdated installs on your hosting account.
This is a new iThemes Security feature that lets you verify user identities without needing passwords to login. It’s a simple and safe procedure and increases the likelihood that people will secure their accounts. The feature sends you an email with a link that logs you into your site at the click of a button or a magic link.
With this feature, you can manage multiple sites remotely or from one place. It’s a secure way to release lockouts remotely and set Away Mode to shut off access to your site’s dashboard. You can also see the IP addresses for users who have been locked out.
Wordfence also has free and paid versions with powerful features for smaller or big sites. You can save tons of money from its developer tools, full firewall suite, monitoring tools, and more. Here’s a brief summary of each feature.
Wordfence runs at your server (the endpoint) to offer better protection than cloud firewalls that can be bypassed and have suffered previously from data leaks. The plugin’s firewall leverages user identity data in more than 85 percent of its firewall rules, making the firewall and scanner effective.
The web application firewall detects and blocks malicious traffic through deep integration with WordPress, and it doesn’t break end encryption so it won’t be bypassed or leak data.
This way, your site is protected against brute force attacks by enforcing strong passwords, limiting login attempts, and other security measures.
Wordfence’s security scanner checks themes, core files, and plugins for any bad URLs, malware, malicious redirects, backdoors, SEO spam, and code injections. In addition, it compares your files with those in the WordPress.org repository, checks their integrity, and reports to you any changes it finds.
The plugin also checks your site for abandoned and closed plugins, known security vulnerabilities, and content safety checks to ensure your posts, files, or comments don’t have suspicious content or URLs.
With this feature, the plugin receives the most recent firewall rules, malicious IP addresses, and malware signatures to safeguard and protect your site. This way, you get unmatched access to data on how sites are compromised, the origin of the attacks, and any malicious code left behind.
Wordfence’s security developers and analysts are focused on security and constantly update you as they find new threats. For members with Premium accounts, data is updated in real time while Free users receive the information in 30 days from the community version of the feed.
Wordfence offers a way for you to manage security for multiple sites in its Wordfence Central platform. It’s a powerful and efficient way to manage everything in one place.
Leaked Password Protection
You can protect your site from attacks that leverage data stolen in breaches and block admin logins where known compromised passwords are being used to try to access your site. The admins will have to reset their passwords in order to login.
This way, you can watch hackers trying to break into your site as it happens, or watch visitors login in and out of your site in real time, see how Google crawls your site, how visitors use your site, and block rogue crawlers in real-time.
Advanced Manual Booking
With this Wordfence feature, you can block entire malicious networks efficiently and quickly, plus any robot or human activity that indicates any suspicious intent based on IP range and pattern matching. Wordfence does this by showing you block ranges of IP addresses, referring sites, specific browser and browser patterns, or a combination of any of them.
Wordfence also lets you block any countries that engage in malicious activities to geographically protect your site. This helps stop attacks, end malicious activity, and prevent content theft. You can also block countries that create failed logins regularly or that generate a big number of 404 errors.
You can block countries by blocking access to your login form or the rest of your site, and see an updated list of country to IP mappings or Advanced Blocking options.
With this feature, you can recover from a hack through Wordfence’s source code verification feature that tells you what changed in plugin, core, or theme files and also helps to repair them. The feature is backed by Wordfence cloud servers and checks these files against what’s in the WordPress repository.
Once you get an alert to file changes, you can see how your files have changed, download the original file and compare it with the current one, and view and overwrite to repair the file using an original version.
Like iThemes Security, Wordfence also offers 2FA to help stop brute force attacks with the most secure remote system authentication.
iThemes Security vs Wordfence: Pricing
iThemes Security offers a Free and Pro version. The Pro version comes in three plans: Gold, Small Business, and Blogger.
- The Gold plan costs $199 per year and secures unlimited sites with one year of ticketed support and one year of plugin updates.
- The Small Business plan costs $127 per year and secures up to 10 sites with one year of ticketed support and plugin updates.
- The Blogger plan costs $80 and offers security and protection for 1 site with one year of ticketed support and plugin updates.
Refer to the iThemes Security pricing page for more details.
Wordfence has free solutions with firewall blocks and brute force protection, but its Premium version starts from $99 per year for one site. If you have more than one site, here’s the breakdown of the costs per license:
- 2-4 sites costs $89.10 with a 10 percent discount
- 5-9 sites costs $84.15 with a 15 percent discount
- 10-14 sites costs $79.20 with a 20 percent discount
- 15 or more sites costs $74.25 with a 25 percent discount
Overall, it pays to get Wordfence, especially for multiple sites. The more you buy, the more you save. If you add more years, you can save more. Consult the Wordfence pricing page for more details.
Wordfence vs iThemes Security: Similarities & Differences
iThemes Security vs Wordfence: Pros & Cons
- Free version available
- Robust login security features
- One-click installation
- Advanced configurations available for developers
- Offers brute force protection and two-factor authentication
- Cell phone sign-in available
- Easy to install
- Less complex than other similar plugins
- Suitable for newbies
- Backs up the WordPress database regularly
- No lifetime support, only updates
- Only useful for defensive measures; can’t be relied on fully
- Doesn’t fully protect the site, only offers partial protection from spam and malware cleaning
- Free solutions available
- Easy to install
- Excellent malware scans
- Offers security incident recovering tools
- Threat defense feed with real-time updates
- Powerful DNS-level web application firewall
- Robust login security tools
- Two-factor authentication available
- View login and logging out for different users and clients
- Real-time threat and spam protection
- Scans all files including WordPress files
- Brute force protection available
- Doesn’t require an extra plugin to remove spam comments
- Fast response from the customer service team
- Native firewall
- Checks and repairs files that have changed
- Passwordless logins available
- Premium plans are pricey
- No pricing plans available for unlimited sites
- Requires technical skills to configure
- Malware scans may use lots of bandwidth as it scans the whole site
- Community version users delayed by 30 days
- Priority support only available for premium plan members
Wordfence vs iThemes Security: Which One Is Better?
When it comes to WordPress security, iThemes Security and Wordfence are among the biggest names especially for all in one solutions. Both plugins are active on millions of sites and maintain impressive user ratings and reviews, which makes them so popular.
Picking one from the two can be daunting, especially because of their similarity in features like malware scans, brute force protection, and more.
For the best value, iThemes Security is worth considering. However, we find that Wordfence is more effective because of its all-in-one approach to website security.
Apart from that, Wordfence offers a native firewall, malware scanner, and free solutions with these core features, which is why we recommend using Wordfence for your WordPress site’s security.