10 Best Free WordPress Security Plugins (With Bad Plugins, Security Tips)


Are you curious about WordPress security plugins and looking for free ones?

I don’t bother with WordPress security plugins, and they can conflict with cache plugins. I don’t use any strict s-plugins on my websites. And every plugin can slow down your website (front/back end). You don’t need to use even image optimization plugins because you can use manual methods like Ezgif or use a CDN to optimize.

On shared hosting, avoid security or any heavy plugins. I wouldn’t use Wordfence, All-In-One, iThemes, Sucuri, or any other full security plugins on shared hosting. 

Because shared hosting lacks adequate server resources to add more plugins without slowing down your site or usually causing failures. If you intend to use heavy plugins, at the very least, use cloud hosting like Scala, Cloudways, GURU, Krystal, or Cloud VPS like DO, Vultr, Linode, etc., with sufficient server resources. (2/4GB+RAM+Cores)

You shouldn’t need a rich security plugin if Cloudflare/Sucuri does the job. Remember that server-level security is better than PHP, htaccess, or codes.

Warning: security plugins can cause your website to slow down because they use PHP and core files to access features. The more and more scripts drive your website becomes extremely slow. Try manual options as you can. Alternatively, use a single-task plugin or good web hosts with enough server resources.

Best Free Security Plugins For WordPress

Always use properly coded themes and plugins, and avoid using NULLED themes and plugins, which are the most vulnerable to hacker attacks. You don’t know what’s inside the script with nulled themes and plugins, and there’s a possibility of malware. These codes can contain malware that can blow up and gather your data.

1. Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security Plugin

Wordfence is a popular multi-security plugin with a plethora of features. This can help secure your site against brute-force attacks, injections, and other features. 

The scanner helps assess code/injections and fix them quickly on the dashboard. The WAF features are extensive to prevent a wide range of threats.

But the biggest problem is that this can heavily slow down your website. I never recommend this plugin on shared hosting, and you can’t even log in to your website. 

All multi-security plugins slow down your website because they run CPU-intensive background tasks on top of features, backend runs, and scans.

Query Monitor allows you to see with your own eyes. Look at this pic:

Wordfence Query Monitor

Wordfence is a Full featured plugin that includes everything. But, some functions are limited to the premium version. However, it can scan and identify whether the data are affected. Wordfence UI is something like W3TC UI, confused but a feature-rich interface and an email feature that alerts you that something went wrong.

Wordfence Free Features

  • Web Application Firewall: This can detect and prevent malicious requests.
  • Malware Scanner: This is useful for equating script differences and quickly fixing them from DB. It could be the most helpful detector, even better than some premium versions. And some valuable features locked to paid versions like Real-time updates, IP Blocklist, etc. But free functions are very effective.
  • 2FA: This is not required but can provide an extra layer of login.
  • Alerts: you can get notifications via email, Text on any security attacks/detects.
  • Others: Wordfence has multiple extra features like live traffic monitoring, tracking logins/password usage, site CAPTCHA, disk space tracking, etc.

Wordfence includes helpful documentation, for example, how to clean a hacked WordPress site. Wordfence free has many features, but you don’t need to use it if you already use Cloudflare and other trusted CDNs, and it’s not suitable for shared hosting. 

To use Wordfence safely, you’ll need a VPS server with at least 2GB+ CPU+RAM. Arguably Wordfence is the best feature-rich free/paid security plugin.

2. Cloudflare Free

Cloudflare Free

Cloudflare is not a plugin, but even the free plan can help a lot with website security. You don’t need security plugins if you use a mix of CDN services like Cloudflare, Sucuri, Fastly, etc., because these have built-in security features that prevent most threats.

Cloudflare has an official WordPress plugin, but it is optional to use it because it makes little difference and has no value to your website.

If you have a crowded website or any website that drags attackers, Cloudflare free can be more helpful. Cloudflare operates at the DNS level, handing it more control over your website’s process and security edges. Even on the free plan, they can defend your site from attacks/spammers and relate other security/performance practices.

Useful Cloudflare Free Features

  • Fastest DNS: Cloudflare is a prompt DNS provider, and having a fast DNS can be helpful in many ways.
  • Free CDN: this is the most fantastic part. Cloudflare provides absolutely free CDN. & CDN is great for security and performance because spammers/attackers must pass through CDN servers before reaching your servers, and CDN servers are highly optimized for stability. Cloudflare provides extra protection/DNS.
  • Free SSL: use the full strict option for the best security.
  • Firewall Rules: helpful in preventing bad bots, regions, XML-RPC, and more.
  • Bot Fight Mode: this can help stop harmful bots, and bot fight mode is better than plugins because it is refined and does not slow down your website.
  • Early Hint: not a security feature, but that decreases latency.
  • Browser Integrity Check: a level to prevent harmful bots and spam, and it looks for threats in HTTP headers from your visitors’ browsers.
  • Privacy Pass Support: a browser extension enhances browsing and reduces the number of CAPTCHAs viewed by your viewers.
  • Hotlink Protection: this helps protect your images/media from off-site linking and reduces bandwidth usage, but off-site linking is not always bad.
  • Server-side Excludes: can be used to hide specific content from unreliable viewers.

Without a doubt, Cloudflare is the most steadfast free CDN/DNS provider, with 200+ data centers and many speed and security features. Related: KeyCDN Review.

In the free version, you can use paid addons such as “APO,” which caches HTML and can provide fast worldwide speeds/minimal latency. Load Balancing can route traffic to quicker data centers. Otherwise, you can use the “PRO” plan, which includes extra features like turbo, image optimization, super bot fight mode, more WAF rules, etc.

3. Antispam Bee

Antispam Bee FREE WordPress Security Plugin

Honeypot is a technology that analyzes attacker behaviors and helps in determining whether a commenter is a bot without a captcha. Honeypot uses challenges to bots. And if they are identified as a bot, they will be barred before leaving a comment.

Antispam Bee is a spam comment filter plugin using Honeypot. And this plugin only does it and has valuable features for dealing with spam comments. The plugin prevents spam comments and reposts without using re-captcha or third-party systems.

The best part is that it is entirely free and has no ads. There aren’t any notifications inviting users to upgrade to the premium version.

Antispam Bee Features

Useful Features

  • Trust accepted commenters: get pre-approved commenters automatically.
  • Trust with Gravatar: typically uses humans, but spammers are possible.
  • Comments only specific languages: Only English comments would be relevant to websites in English.
  • Block certain countries: If you receive a significant number of spammers from a few countries, you can block them.
  • Verify the IP addresses: Can confirm IPs from commentators.
  • Delete existing spam: terminate current spam on set dates.
  • Statistics dashboard: View spam data on the dashboard, daily reports of the spam rate, and blocked spam, but this is unnecessary.

This is the finest plugin for preventing spam, and I use it on all websites.

Additional Recommendations

Remove Website Field: Backlink hunters always try to use the comment’s website URL field. Their intention in a comment is to get a backlink, not to add worth discussion. You can remove the Website URL Field from the comments section. Most WP themes include this feature; if they do not, plugins can help. This can lead to fewer spam comments.

Disable HTML: Users can use HTML in the comments, and it can be used to mask spam links. You can prevent this by disabling HTML in comments.

However, using reCAPTCHA to stop spammers is not the answer. Yes, it can be used, but it will slow down your website. Don’t try to mess with it.

4. WPS Hide Login

WPS Hide Login

WPS Hide Login is a single-task tiny plugin (47KB). It only changes the login page from wp-login to a different URL. It detects page requests and is compatible with any site. 

After installing this plugin, you will see it in the Settings tab. Click, and you will see a page similar to this example image, where you can change the login URL., and you can redirect the URL when someone attempts to access the login page. 

Unlike other security plugins, there are no negative effects on page speed. WPS Hide Login is a simple solution for securing the WordPress wp-admin.

Change the login page from wp-login.php to a different URL.

If you forget the new login URL, removing this plugin restores your site to its old state. Alternatively, you can rename the plugin folder in the file manager.

5. Anti-Malware Security

Anti-Malware Security and Brute-Force Firewall

Anti-Malware Security is an entirely free plugin that scans and removes recognized new threats, backdoor scripts, and database injections. Firewall to stop malware, directory shield, PHP file security, Brute-force protection, and other features.

Although this is not a full-featured plugin like Wordfence, I like that it focuses on checking and Firewall. Don’t waste your time with formal lists that mess with htaccess.

If you only need scanning/Firewall, this plugin is ideal. However, the Firewall provides fewer functions than others. But scanning is perfect and has little hit on page speed.

The UI could be more attractive; you will feel that this plugin isn’t born to WordPress. The plugin is simple enough that it is well worth a try, especially for scanning.

Here’s a pic:

Anti-Malware WordPress Security scan

6. Limit Login Attempts Reloaded

Limit Login Attempts Reloaded

The most common type of attack on websites, even small ones, is a brute force attack. This simply means that a person or a bot will keep guessing your login details until they get them correct and sometimes use codes/addons to do this.

Limit login attempts plugins let users monitor and cap login tries for a set time. However, even with security plugins installed, you can still be hacked.

Limit login attempts reloaded is another single-task plugin developed to restrict logins. After a set amount of retries, this plugin will prevent an IP from making further shots, helping to create a brute-force attack hard. By default, WordPress allows unlimited login attempts. Also, that may slow down a website due to many requests. 

Limit WordPress Login Attempts

With the free version, you can customize the lockout time, the email sent when an attempt is blocked, etc. But I felt this plugin was a little bloated (699 kb in size), and many essential features were only available in the paid version.

Paid features: Automatic backups, timed lockouts, country blocking, etc.

But brute force attacks are a severe issue, especially in WordPress, and you can prevent them with this plugin. However, this plugin is unnecessary if you already use full-featured plugins like Wordfence, All in One, Itheme, Sucuri, etc.

I hate the Dashboard, which repeatedly encourages upgrading to the premium version.

Encourages upgrading to the premium version.

 7. iThemes Security

 iThemes Security Plugin

I’m not a fan of iThemes Security, but you may find it quite helpful, and I like this UI because everything is put on a single, uncomplicated page. Friendly to beginners.

 iThemes Security UI

It’s good that they’re not taking up space. The unfortunate reality is that most of those features are simply htaccess lines, that’s all. Site scan does not perform like Anti-Malware or Wordfence, and this plugin uses up a lot of memory, as tested by Query Monitor.

Some Useful Features

  • Enforce SSL: helpful in ensuring that all connections are secured using SSL.
  • Brute Force: alternative term to limit login attempts.
  • Two-Factor: extra login security layer.
  • File Change: scan the site for file changes, but Wordfence does this better.
  • Ban Users: barring specific IP addresses.

I don’t know why this plugin is popular. iThemes is nothing incredible, only simple and silly things like strong passwords, PHP execution, file access, etc. However, if you are new to WordPress, this can be handy until you learn how to do those on your hands. UI is straightforward. You just need ticks but don’t use this in shared hosting.

8. Shield Security

Shield Security WordPress Security Plugin

Shield Security is another full-featured CPU-hungry plugin with a plethora of features and queries. Yes, the plugin has a lot of positive reviews, but it also causes the website to slow down. That is the main reason why I am not interested in this plugin.

However, if you have a lot of server resources, such as VPS/Dedicated, this is good, but having a lot of unnecessary features feels overblown. In shared hosting, I can’t even log in to the dashboard, and according to Query Monitor, this plugin has a lot of queries, something that I don’t see in other WordPress security plugins.


  • Scanner: you can scan and fix WP core, plugin, and theme files in the free version.
  • AntiBot Detection: This can help to protect security with bot-detection tech without confusion. You can also select security locations like Login, Register, Checkout, etc. Can set your login cooldown time with a Cooldown period in seconds.
  • SPAM Protection: prevent spam in comments and forms.
  • Firewall: Good to see Firewall in the free version. You can customize and set Whitelists for pages/parameters/users that avoid the Firewall. Email report is available.
  • Security Headers: these are just htaccess lines, but they include some extra features like Mime-Sniff, XSS Protection, etc.
  • Traffic Logs: This log allows you to look at traffic and unwanted activities.
Shield Security Firewall

This is a fully functional freemium security plugin, with some features limited to the paid version. My main complaint is that this plugin significantly slows down like hell, particularly the WP dashboard. And many ads to sense the premium version. Have helpful guidelines for each feature as well.

You know that adding more features and checks to every page can result in more queries and processes. That is the most common reason for a website’s slowdowns.

I think this plugin is fine if you have a good web host with plenty of server resources. Otherwise, it’s slow and can cause extra problems. But it’s worth a shot.

9. Loginizer

Loginizer security plugin

Loginizer is a login security plugin that focuses on brute force attacks. Still, it has extra features available in the paid version, like PasswordLess Login, 2FA, Captcha, File Checksum, etc. However, the paid version is not worth it for those features.

This plugin provides useful features and suggestions for Brute Force security and is an excellent alternative to Limit login attempts reloaded. You can configure maximum retries, lockout time, maximum lockouts, extend lockouts, retries, and email alerts.

Loginizer brute force settings

Also, the plugin has IP blacklist features to block unwanted IPs and also IP whitelist features to allow trusted IPs to bypass security. You can customize the error message for failed login attempts, but these features are just lines of code.

My concern about the plugin is that it has few features but has an overload of queries and ads. Also, all other features are only available in the pro version.

Loginizer is unnecessary if you already use a full-featured plugin or third-party protection like Cloudflare, Sucuri, etc. And Loginizer may slow down your admin panel.

Loginizer is beginner-friendly in terms of user experience and ease of use. However, you can do everything manually if you are a skilled WordPress user.

10. Really Simple SSL

Really Simple SSL

Most of the time, Really Simple SSL is a useless plugin, but it can help you configure your website to run over HTTPS. And if your site is small, you don’t need this one.

But if you have a lot of pages and content, they can be mixed together, and this plugin can help. It also has some cool features, but the paid version is unnecessary.

Really Simple SSL Free Version Features

Free Version Features

  • Mixed content fixerMixed content means that some pages load on HTTP and others on HTTPS; this feature is helpful if the entire site is moving to SSL.
  • Backend mixed content fixer: It is possible to mix content on the WordPress backend. This feature is helpful if you have that type of problem.

This plugin has over 5 million installs and all 5-star ratings, and many people can get help with SSL and Mix content problems with a few clicks. For me, this is nothing incredible, and many sites don’t want it. But this is a handy plugin if you have a problem with that. However, I felt a little bloated because it has 600kb+ size and ads.

WordPress security plugins are not always reliable

All plugins aren’t fine or safe. Some were made with great care and are hugely helpful, while others are junk with regular htaccess edits. And have other problems.

Slow down the website

This is a significant problem with security plugins, especially full-featured ones, as they cause your website to slow down with unnecessary features. If you’re worried, you can set up a security plugin for the scanning but deactivate it afterward. When you notice issues with your site, run the scanning, catch the problems, and then uninstall.

However, tiny security plugins or single-task plugins such as Hide Login, Antispam Bee, Limit Login Attempts, and others have nothing to do with page speed.

Firewall, IP blacklist, scanner, brute force, core file validation, and other features dealing with PHP and core files can always slow down your website.

In VPS/Dedicated servers with massive resources, this is a manageable problem because you have enough space for everything. However, on shared hosts, they are always a problem. Use a good cache plugin like FlyingPress when using a security plugin.

They can’t fully protect your site.

That is the point; even if you have installed S-plugins, you can be attacked. Because they cannot detect all bad guys and can only identify known structures, what about new security tactics and scripts? Attackers and bots try to find some holes to exploit. This isn’t a big deal for a small site, but you’re always flying under the radar if you’re a brand.

They are expensive.

S-plugins are not charity services because they are crafted to get some profits rather than protection. Even though they do a good job, most features or support are restricted to a paid version.

They offer unrelated functions to explain the price that doesn’t positively involve security. But I can’t blame them because they run a business, and developing is not easy.

Irrelevant features

I hate this. Because unrelated functions are always slow and cluttered, which is a critical factor in why I liked the one-task plugins. For marketing reasons, many security plugins aim to surpass one another by adding whatever function they can. They are unrelated to security and shouldn’t even be included in plugins.

Security Plugins not on this list (and the reason)

  • Cerber Security: although this plugin is more effective than Wordfence. It was recently removed from the WordPress plugin directory, so I can no longer recommend it.
  • Sucuri: Sucuri is a great company when it comes to WordPress security, but this plugin is ideal in a paid version. If you subscribe to their paid service, it is perfect.
  • Defender Security: Nothing remarkable, but well-designed and user-friendly. However, the most notable features are lacking from the free version.
  • All-in-One Security: nothing unique, similar to iThemes, but the UI is not friendly.
  • MalCare: Although fully functional, it is not user-friendly and requires payment before providing its essential function. And it works outside of the WP dashboard.
  • Bulletproof Securitymatured plugin, but outdated UI and CPU-intensive tasks that seem unnecessarily complicated. Features may be helpful for large websites.
  • Jetpack: isn’t much to say about this; worst WordPress plugin ever, terrible and slow.

Wrapping It Up

There are types of security plugins, like full-featured (Wordfence, Cerber security, Shield security, etc.). Firewall and malware scanning plugins only check and deal with firewalls, similar to Anti-malware security.

Other small checklists and simple task plugins, like Antispam bee, WPS Hide login, Limit login attempts, etc., can be more useful than others.

And third-party security services like Sucuri, Cloudflare, and MalCare.

Security plugins are not required and can slow down your website. But they can be helpful if you have a large website or brand. Anyway, choose the right one for your site.

Many security plugins are overpriced.

Unfortunately, you can be hacked even if you’ve installed a security plugin. Hehe.

This post feels excessive; if you have any questions, ideas, etc., leave a comment.

Read More:

Madushan Bandara
Madushan Bandara

Hey, I’m Madushan. I write helpful tutorials and reviews on WordPress, hosting, design, blogging, tools, marketing, monetization, etc. Check out more from the about page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *