Did you know in 2018, WordPress was the target of 90% of all hacking attempts on content management systems (CMS) (Source: Sucuri)?
And according to Arishi, WordPress receives an average of 90,000 attacks per minute!
But why WordPress?
Well, it powers over 35% of the entire internet, making it one of the prime targets for malicious hackers.
Now, with such a barrage of attacks coming your way, how do you protect yourself?
There are a ton of best practices to keep your WP site safe. And in this guide, we will introduce you to the importance of having a secure firewall.
A firewall is essential for protecting your website from malicious attacks, such as DDoS attacks and other security threats.
That said, let’s explore what a firewall is, the different types of firewalls, and how to install a firewall on your WordPress website.
Definition of a Firewall
A firewall is a network security device that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic.
The firewall is responsible for enforcing access policies and filtering and blocking malicious content.
Well, firewalls can be configured to allow or block specific types of traffic, such as web traffic, email traffic, or other types of traffic.
How Does a Website Firewall Work?
As mentioned above, a website firewall is a security system that protects a website from cyber attacks by filtering the incoming traffic and blocking any malicious requests.
And yes, it is similar to a firewall used to protect a computer network, but it is specifically designed for websites.
When users try to access a website, their request goes through the firewall before reaching the website’s server.
The firewall analyzes the request to determine if it is safe or if it poses a threat to the website.
If the request is determined to be safe, the firewall will allow it to pass through to the server, and the user will be able to access the website.
However, if the request is determined to be malicious, the firewall will block it, and the user will not be able to access the website.
The firewall uses a set of rules and algorithms to determine whether a request is safe.
These rules and algorithms are regularly updated to keep up with the latest threats and vulnerabilities so the firewall can provide the best possible protection for the website.
In addition to protecting the website from cyber attacks, a website firewall can also improve the website’s performance by blocking unwanted traffic and reducing the load on the server.
This can improve the user experience and make the website more efficient.
Benefits of Firewalls for WordPress Users
Here are three benefits of using a website firewall specifically designed for WordPress websites:
- Improved security: A WordPress firewall can help to protect your website from a wide range of security threats, including malware, hackers, and other types of cyber attacks. This can help to keep your website safe and secure and prevent sensitive information from being accessed by unauthorized parties.
- Enhanced performance: A WordPress firewall can help to improve your website’s performance by blocking unwanted traffic and reducing the load on the server. This can help to improve the user experience and make your website more efficient.
- Easy to use: WordPress firewalls are typically designed to be easy to use, even for users who are not tech-savvy. They often provide a user-friendly interface and a range of features that can be easily configured to suit your specific needs. This can make it easy to set up and manage a WordPress firewall, even if you don’t have much technical knowledge.
Types of Firewalls
A. Hardware Firewalls
A hardware firewall is a physical device installed between a computer network and the internet.
It is designed to protect the network from external threats by filtering incoming and outgoing traffic and blocking any malicious requests.
Typically more expensive than software firewalls, they offer a higher level of protection.
Moreover, hardware firewalls are more reliable, as they are not affected by software updates or other changes.
Can you use hardware firewalls for websites?
Yes, you can use hardware firewalls for websites.
Here, a hardware firewall could protect the website’s server from cyber-attacks.
The hardware firewall would be installed between the server and the internet and filter incoming traffic to the server to block any malicious requests.
This could provide an additional layer of security for the website and any software-based firewalls that may already be in place.
However, as mentioned, these types of firewalls are typically more expensive and complex to set up and manage than software-based firewalls.
They may not be the best option for all websites, especially smaller or fewer complex websites.
B. Software Firewalls
A software firewall is a security system installed and run on a computer or network rather than a physical device.
It protects the computer or network from external threats by filtering incoming and outgoing traffic and blocking malicious requests.
Software-based firewalls are typically easier to set up and manage than hardware firewalls, and they can provide similar levels of protection.
They are often included as part of the operating system on a computer or network or can be installed as a separate application.
Examples of software-based firewalls include the built-in firewalls included with modern operating systems, such as the Windows Firewall and the Mac OS X Firewall.
Many third-party firewall applications are also available, such as ZoneAlarm, Comodo Firewall, and Outpost Firewall.
These firewalls can be installed on individual computers or a network to protect against a wide range of security threats.
C. Which One Is Best for WordPress?
Many examples of website firewalls are specifically designed for WordPress websites.
You must have heard about Wordfence, Sucuri, and Cloudflare.
These firewalls are designed to provide robust security for WordPress websites. They can help protect against a wide range of threats, including malware, hackers, and other cyber attacks.
They typically provide a range of features, such as malware scanning, firewall rules, and website performance optimization, to help keep WordPress websites safe and secure.
But it is safe to say that both hardware and software firewalls can be used to protect WordPress websites.
However, hardware firewalls are generally more reliable and secure than software firewalls.
Therefore, a hardware firewall is the best option if you are looking for the highest level of protection for your WordPress website.
Steps to Install a Firewall on Your WordPress Website
A. Research Different Firewalls
Before choosing a firewall, research the different options and determine which is best suited for your WordPress website.
There are various types of firewalls available, so compare the features of each one and decide which one is the best choice for your website.
B. Choose a Firewall
Once you have researched the different types of firewalls, you can choose the best one for your website.
Consider the firewall’s features, reliability, and cost before deciding.
C. Install the Firewall
Once you have chosen a firewall, you can install it on your WordPress website.
Depending on the type of firewall you choose, you may need to install the firewall manually, or you may be able to install it using a plugin.
For instance, here is how to install and activate the Wordfence firewall:
- Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard on your website.
- In the left-hand menu, hover over the “Plugins” option and click on “Add New.”
- In the search bar at the top of the page, type “Wordfence” and press enter. This will show a list of plugins that match your search query.
- Find the Wordfence plugin in the list and click on the “Install Now” button. WordPress will automatically download and install the plugin on your website.
- Once the plugin is installed, click on the “Activate” button to enable it on your website.
- After the plugin is activated, you will see a new menu item called “Wordfence” in the left-hand menu of the WordPress admin dashboard. Click on this menu item to access the Wordfence settings and configuration options.
- In the Wordfence settings, you can configure the firewall rules and other security settings to suit your specific needs. You can also enable the firewall by clicking on the “Firewall” tab and then checking the box next to “Enable the Wordfence Web Application Firewall.”
- Once you have configured the firewall settings and enabled the firewall, click on the “Save Changes” button to apply the changes to your website. The Wordfence firewall will now be active on your WordPress site and will start protecting it from cyber-attacks.
The exact steps for installing and activating the Wordfence firewall may vary depending on your specific WordPress setup and the version of the plugin that you are using.
You can consult the Wordfence documentation or contact the Wordfence support team for more detailed instructions and information.
Configuring Your Firewall
A. Allowing/Blocking Traffic
Once the firewall is installed, you can configure it to allow or block traffic.
This can be done by setting up rules to determine whether traffic types are allowed or blocked.
B. Setting Up Whitelisting/Blacklisting
Another important step is to set up whitelisting and blacklisting.
Whitelisting allows you to specify which IP addresses can access your website, while blacklisting allows you to block specific IP addresses from accessing your website.
C. Configuring Firewall Rules
You will need to configure the firewall rules. This involves setting up the firewall to allow certain types of traffic while blocking others.
You can also set up rules to limit the amount of traffic allowed to access your website.
Maintaining Your Firewall
A. Updating Firewall Rules
It is important to regularly update the firewall rules to ensure that your website remains secure.
As new threats emerge, updating the firewall rules to protect your website from malicious attacks is essential.
B. Scanning for Security Vulnerabilities
It is also important to regularly scan your website for security vulnerabilities.
This can help identify any potential weaknesses in your website’s security and help you address them.
C. Monitoring Network Traffic.
Finally, it is crucial to monitor the network traffic accessing your website. This can help to identify any suspicious activity and take steps to address it.
Some of the key factors to monitor include:
- Traffic volume: Monitor the overall traffic to your website to ensure that it is within a normal range. If you see a sudden spike in traffic, it could indicate a potential security threat or a denial of service attack.
- Traffic sources: Monitor the traffic sources to your website to ensure that they are legitimate. If you see traffic coming from suspicious or unknown sources, it could be a sign of a security threat.
- Blocked traffic: Monitor the traffic being blocked by the firewall to ensure that it is being blocked for legitimate reasons. If you see a high volume of legitimate traffic being blocked, it could indicate a problem with the firewall configuration.
- Firewall rules: Monitor the firewall rules applied to the traffic to ensure that they are correct and up-to-date. It could weaken your website’s security if you see outdated or no longer applicable rules.
- Performance metrics: Monitor key performance metrics, such as website uptime, page load times, and error rates, to ensure that the firewall is not impacting the performance of your website. If you see a decline in performance, it could indicate a problem with the firewall or its configuration.
Summary of Firewall Benefits
Using a firewall is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your WordPress website from malicious hackers.
Firewalls provide an extra layer of security, monitoring and controlling all incoming and outgoing network traffic.
With different types of firewalls to choose from, finding one that fits your needs and budget is easy.
So, if you want to keep your WordPress website safe, start by installing a firewall and following the best security practices to ensure your website is safe and secure.