About a month or so ago, we started seeing a huge number of failed attempts of reaching WPBeginner’s login page and wp-admin page. We got extremely cautious about that. From password protecting the wp-admin directory to adding two-step verification process, we tried to do everything on our own. However, we quickly realized that our skills and knowledge were fairly limited. We already have complete backup solution with VaultPress, so we just needed someone that will continuously monitor our site for any odd behavior. Someone who knew what they were doing. Someone who had a great reputation. After doing some research, only one name stood out. It was Sucuri. After landing on the website, we realized that this is the same site that offers a free website scanner which we used when doing a malware cleanup for one of our client’s website. We went ahead and got the account for our websites. As we were setting it up, the only thing that was coming to mind was “WOW”. This should be a MUST HAVE tool for everyone. In this article, we will show you why we use Sucuri and how it really improves our WordPress security.
1. Website Integrity Monitoring
2. Server Side Scanning
So the website monitoring just checks your website on the front-end. But what if you are dealing with a smart hacker, who doesn’t care about infecting your users with malwares. They are simply adding banner ads in your older posts that you don’t know about. What if they have already established a backdoor access that they can use to change your affiliate links with theirs and steal your revenue. This type of hack cannot be detected by their free website scanner. However for the paying customers, there is an option called Server Side Scanning which does just that. It scans your server to make sure there aren’t any suspicious files that are being harbored on your server. It also audit events like file changes and such to keep you informed.
You would think that you would have to install some sort of bloated software on your server to do these scans. All you have to do is upload one simple php file and that’s it.
3. WordPress Audit Log Plugin
Because it is created by folks who love WordPress just as much as we do, they have a special plugin for WordPress users. This plugin is like a gem for beginners and advanced users alike. It audits all the events that happen on your WordPress site. File Changes, New post additions etc.
Often hackers try to disguise their hacked backdoor access files with WordPress file names. So it can be a file sitting in your wp-includes folder called wp-user.old.php or something that an average user wouldn’t suspect to be a malicious file. Sucuri WordPress plugin makes that the integrity of all core files are intact. So if there is a suspicious file among the mix, it will alert you right away. Often hackers try to hide the malware inside your wp-config.php file. Which is a core file. This plugin checks for all that.
If you are a new user, you see various security posts on different blogs. You try to remember all of those on your next site and the one after etc. Some of the hardening tricks are not even talked about. Well Sucuri gives you the ability to improve your security by hardening your WordPress install. With one click, you can protect your uploads directory. Often hackers like to hide their malicious files in your uploads folder. Because the upload folder is organized by year and month, it is an easy place for hackers to hide stuff. Most folks don’t ever check their uploads folder. With a simple click, this plugin will make your uploads directory unbrowsable and disallow php execution. It does the same for wp-content directory and wp-includes directory. With 1 click, you can also move your wp-config file one directory up. With 1 click, it gets rid of your readme.html file and others.
As of right now, there is no way to change the default database prefix with 1 click, but it says that it will be available in the future versions. In the meantime, you can use our tutorial on How to Change the WordPress Database Prefix.
Last but certainly not the least, this plugin adds a web firewall that block spammers and blacklist their IPs. We checked a lot of the IPs that were trying to access areas they are not supposed to be are known blacklisted IPs. For WordPress users, this plugin is the best thing ever.
The most important part about monitoring is alerts. Sucuri allows you to configure email alerts, twitter alerts, IM alerts, SMS alerts, and RSS alerts. This is great because if there is ever a hack, you will be the first to know.
Aside from Malware and Blacklist monitoring, they also have monitoring for DNS changes, whois changes etc. Recently a lot of popular domains were stolen from their webmasters, and this type of monitoring can keep you alerted.
5. Malware Cleanup Service
Even though all the reasons above well justify the cost, they also offer malware cleanup service with no page limits along with blacklist removal. We haven’t had to use this part of the service yet, but can you imagine having security experts cleaning up your site. Normally some of these guys charge $250+/hour for consulting. Let’s say if your site gets hacked and you have their monitoring, they will do the cleanup for you. Chances are that it will be caught before Google and other services blacklist you. But if you did get blacklisted, then they will help you with blacklist removal.
We have the power plan which costs $189.99 / year which covers 5 websites. The monthly cost comes about to be $3 per website. We would much rather pay $3 per website and keep it secure rather than getting hacked and pay someone $$$$ to clean up our site.
Web is a really scary place. Day after day, we hear stories of people and websites getting hacked. Having helped numerous people cleanup their websites from malwares, we can honestly say that Sucuri is hands down the best and most cost effective security service in the WordPress industry. It’s much better to find out that your site is hacked from a monitoring service rather than finding out from your users or better yet from Google when they blacklist your website.
We are using Sucuri and if you care about your site’s security, then you should too. There is a reason why major publications like CNN, USAToday, PC World, TechCrunch, TheNextWeb, and others are recommending these guys. Having personally talked with one of their co-founders Dre Armeda, we know that we are in good hands.