Malicious Themes and Plugins: How to Protect Your Website
Some bad third-parties to add malicious code to their tools. Learn how to protect your website from malicious themes and plugins
The official WordPress database contains an enormous catalog of themes and plugins. All the themes and plugins present on the official WordPress channel are vigorously tested for malware and malicious links by the creators of the themes and WordPress themselves. Sadly, the same isn’t true for the thousands upon thousands of themes available for WordPress on third-party channels and websites. In this article, you’ll learn how to protect your website from malicious themes and plugins.
It is prevalent for such third-parties to add malicious code to their themes and plugins. Not all creators have your best interest at heart.
This code is then used for:
- Getting backlinks from your website without your permission;
- Getting access to your data, including usernames and passwords;
- Redirecting your visitors to other sites and products;
- Showing ads and ad banners.
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Protecting Your Website
The first thing to do during the effort of protecting a website is to perform a few checks. The most basic checks include keeping an eye on the number of crashes, warning messages from Google and WordPress, and a white screen of death.
If the website is crashing more often, or if you are receiving too many warning messages about your website’s behavior from Google and WordPress, or if the white screen of death appears often, all these signs are strong indicators that either the website or the plugins installed on the site contain severe malware.
Following is a list of steps a website owner can take to mitigate or reduce malware and malicious code threats.
Prevention is better than cure. One of the best ways to ensure safety is to take precautionary measures before attempting any installation.
To this end, first, it is important to keep an eye out for the origin of the theme. Ensure that the WordPress theme or the plugin you are downloading or installing is from a reputable source, a reputable developer, or a reputable third-party vendor.
Before and After Installation
After making sure that the source of the themes or plugin is reputable and genuine, the next step is to perform checks on the downloaded packages in the form of running security scans.
The simplest method for checking viruses is running a simple virus scan. This simple and easy method works most of the time for viruses. Yet, it fails to check for malicious code responsible for link redirecting and stolen backing. So, anything related to the source code itself cannot be checked or filtered using regular antivirus software. This is where online tools come in.
Online Tools: Malicious Themes and Plugins Protection
Online tools a website owner can use to check the integrity of the theme and plugins include:
- Theme Authenticity Checker
- Ask Sucuri
- Exploit Scanner
- Brute Force Firewall
- Google Safe Browsing
The above also contains tools that can check for malware and malicious code on installed themes and plugins. Each tool follows different steps to do so. It is best to visit their respective sites to ensure that accurate steps are followed. These tools can be very beneficial for website owners.
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The best options for seasoned developers and technical experts are to check the files on the server if installed manually or to check the system’s files if downloaded. So, seasoned developers can quickly go through all the source files.
Malicious code is often easy to spot if the experts know what they are looking for. This is a manual process, and if the plugin’s theme is extremely large or complex. In addition, it can take a lot of time to perform the check. It is better to use an online tool in such a scenario.
Malicious Themes and Plugins Protection Conclusion
The best method to avoid malware and malicious code is to ensure the WordPress theme or plugin integrity before the installation. If specified errors start occurring sometime after installation, then utilizing online tools to check and mitigate them is the next best option. Each tool follows different procedures and methods to remove malware. Thus, it is better to visit the official website of the chosen tool for detailed instructions.