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How to Protect Your WordPress Website from Malicious Themes and Plugins

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For WordPress -based website owners , it is obligatory to know how to protect a website from malicious themes and plugins.

WordPress has thousands of themes and plugins. Most of these themes and plugins are on the official WordPress database which is rigorously reviewed before they are eligible for publication.

Of course, these themes and plugins are safe from Malware infection and malicious links. However, this does not apply to themes and plugins that you download from outside or third-party websites.

Even based on rumors, many third parties deliberately add malicious code to their themes and plugins .

This is common for various reasons, one of which is because you want to damage or steal your data. The following are the functions of the malicious code found in themes and plugins:

  1. Display advertisements and banners without your permission and knowledge.
  2. Get backlinks from your website.
  3. Gaining access to your data including login credentials.
  4. Direct visitors to your site to another site or product.

So, for WordPress-based web owners, please read this article to the end so you know how to protect your website from malicious themes and plugins.

Why are WordPress themes and plugins infected with malware?

WordPress themes and plugins can be intentionally injected with malware in the hopes that you will install it on your site.

Infected themes have back doors that hackers will exploit to gain access to the site.

Obviously, no one wants to install infected themes and plugins on their site.

But in most cases, site owners don’t realize that they are using a malicious theme.

Then why do many not realize this? Here’s why.

A. Using themes and plugins from untrusted sources

According to an article on the Wordfence blog , nulled or pirated themes and plugins are one of the most common causes of security problems on WordPress-based websites.

Apart from the official WordPress repositories, there are many third-party sources that sell or provide free premium themes and plugins . These themes have most likely been changed and infected with Malware.

B. Using Bundled Themes and Plugins

Some of the themes are bundled with plugins and this makes things complicated.

This is because site owners cannot update bundled themes or plugins , only theme owners can. This triggers vulnerability.

C. Downloading Available Themes and Plugins for Free

In this case, the free themes and plugins in question are those outside the official WordPress repositories.

Themes and plugins are paid for due to strict quality controls. Free themes outside of the official WordPress repositories generally lack quality control, and many include malicious code and malware.

How to Detect Malicious Code or Malware?

The most basic thing you can do to protect your site is to perform a few checks. The most basic checks include keeping an eye on the amount of damage, checking for warning messages from Google and more.

If the site crashes frequently, there are warning signs, or a white screen appears frequently, then there is a strong possibility that your site is infected with Malware.

Apart from detecting the damage, you can also take advantage of specialized software to scan for Malware. There are already many malware or Malware scanning tools in WordPress themes and plugins .

Some of them can even scan all corners for traces of Malware and detect malicious code disguised as genuine code.

Some of the plugins you can try to detect malicious code and malware:

  1. Wordfence
  2. Security juices
  3. Anti Malware
  4. WP Antivirus Site Protection
  5. Antivirus for WordPress
  6. Quttera Web Malware Scanner

Choose one of the plugins mentioned above. Currently, the Maxmanroe.com website uses the premium version of the Wordfence plugin for security and malicious code detector.

How to Protect a Website from Malicious Code and Malware

Are you not 100% sure about the security of your website at this time? If so, then you will need to take the following steps:

1. Scan Your Site

Even if your site’s performance looks fine, it’s a good idea to do a regular Malware scan.

Some types of hacking work silently behind the scenes so website owners may not even notice that there is a malicious script on their website.

This is why it is so important to periodically scan your site for Malware. You can use one of several plugins mentioned above.

2. Removing Themes and Plugins Not Used

There are many WordPress-based website owners who leave unused themes and plugins on their website.

These unused themes and plugins can be a medium for hackers to infiltrate a website.

This can be a potential security risk. Inactive plugins can also slow down the performance and speed of your site.

3. Be careful of updated themes and plugins

While updating your WordPress theme and plugins can help fix security vulnerabilities, you need to be careful.

Some updates can create new problems such as bugs, plugin conflicts , and even cause your site to crash.

Test the update first before you decide to run it on your WordPress site.

4. Install Protective Equipment

You can take advantage of several online tools that can be used to check the integrity of themes and plugins. These tools, such as;

When you think about WordPress security, always think about having multiple layers of security.

5. Enable the WordPress Firewall

Another important step is to set up a Web Application Firewall (WAF) . WAF is the first line of defense against malicious attacks on your site.

This firewall is capable of protecting your site from being hacked due to Malware, Brute Force, and DDoS attacks.

6. Periodic Data Backup

Make backups of your site’s data is not a curative measures when dealing with malware infections. However, it is an effective way to reduce the amount of loss if your site is infected with Malware or gets damaged.

You should always have a backup version of your site ready to restore in case the worst happens.

Currently WordPress doesn’t come with a free built-in backup feature. However, you can keep a backup of your WordPress data with the following plugins:

  1. VaultPress
  2. Updraft Plus
  3. Blogvault
  4. BackupBuddy
  5. BoldGrid Backup
  6. Duplicator

Apart from that, you can also work with a hosting provider that usually offers periodic automatic backups.

Conclusion

Of all the above, the best way to protect against Malware infection caused by themes and plugins is to take precautions. Always ensure the integrity of the themes and plugins you download before installing them.

If a certain error appears sometime after installation, then using an online tool to check for and detect Malware is the next best option.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that you only download themes and plugins from the official website or the WordPress database.

That’s a quick explanation of how to protect a WordPress website from dangerous themes and plugins. I hope this article is useful.