How to Scan and Detect Malware in WordPress Themes

WordPress has an amazing community and ecosystem. After all, it is used by 30% of the total websites on the web. This immense popularity brings in both good and bad things. The hackers are always on the lookout to infect WordPress website. Developers, on the other hand always try to ward off their activities, but that’s not possible all the time.

From a webmaster’s perspective, it is hard to get malware infected with professionally paid themes. They are built with care, and as a business name is associated with the product, the company takes extra care when releasing their products to the public. However, that doesn’t mean there are not other ways for your theme to get infected.

Reasons why your theme is infected with malware

Your theme might be malware infected for the following reasons.

  1. You downloaded the theme from an unverified source: Hackers may create a proxy for downloading and trick you to download an infected theme.
  2. Free themes: Free themes lack quality control when compared to premium themes.
  3. Through plugins: Plugins can also act as a gateway for malware infection in your themes. They can add malware code and infected it using different hacking methods.
  4. Bundled solutions: Some themes come with bundled software. Even when the theme is free from any malware, the bundled software can be infected.
  5. Infection from hosting: Lastly, your theme can get infected due to malware infection in your hosting. So please go through the reviews available on the web in order to find out the right hosting solution for your needs.

What hackers aim to do with the Malware infection?

What hackers aim to do with the Malware infection?

By injecting malware, a hacker can aim to do a lot of things. Let’s list some of them below.

  1. Visitor tracking
  2. Adding backlinks
  3. Accessing sensitive info including email address and password
  4. Integrate their Ads on the website.
  5. Take down the website for a shorter period of times.

How to find out your theme is infected with malware?

How to find out your theme is infected with malware?

So, how do you know that your website is infected with malware? Many signs hint at it. The symptoms that you should look at are as below:

  1. Constant crashes: Your website crashes too often.
  2. Google warning message: Google knows that your website is infected and warns about the infection. Google may also block your site from search(partially or fully)
  3. White screen of death: Getting regular white screen is also a symptom of a malware-infected website.

How to Scan and Detect Malware in WordPress Themes

How to Scan and Detect Malware in WordPress Themes

Now that we have completely understood the different dynamics of malware infection, it is now time to learn how to scan your website and detect malware. We will also cover methods to remove the malware from your WordPress theme.

Precautionary steps

The best way to protect your website from malware is to understand the source of the theme. To make sure that you download it from the right source, we recommend doing a Google search.

By performing a Google search, you can get a hint from where you are downloading your theme. If you get a get a wrong impression or see a negative review, it is better to leave the website and search for an alternative download source. Also, users who have found malware infection earlier will inevitably leave their review on the site to alert others about it.

Now that you have downloaded the theme, it is now time to check the theme for malware infections.

Scanning Theme before Installing

You should always scan your theme before installing it on your website. If you are not confident about the technicalities of a WordPress theme, it is a good idea to hire a developer to do setup your blog for you. This extra step will ensure that your website is not infected from the get-go.

You can also use tools to do the scan yourself. Let’s list them below.

VirusTotal.com

The first tool that we recommend using is VirusTotal.com. The tool checks the theme zip file for any kind of infection including virus and malware. It is an excellent tool, and you can check your theme in a matter of minutes. After the scan is complete, you will receive a full report scan which you can use to make your theme free from malware.

Theme Authenticity Checker(TAC)

Theme authenticity checker(TAC) is a free-to-use plugin which lets you scan your theme for any unwanted or potentially malicious code. The plugin is handy if you suspect that your theme is infected. If you are using it for a fresh theme, we recommend you to install the plugin in localhost and then test the theme before uploading it to the main server.

PCRisk.com

PCRisk.com is a malware scanner tool that scans the whole website for infected code, unwanted scripts and much more. It does an in-depth analysis and will let you know if it finds something suspicious.

Ask Sucuri

Sucuri offers a free online malware scanner that can also come handy for detecting malware in WordPress theme.

Exploit Scanner

Exploit Scanner lets you scan your WordPress website and checks if there is anything suspicious going on. It also checks your database and examines other information such as plugin list. However, the plugin can give you false alarms which you should be aware of. To make sure you don’t get a false alarm, you can take help of their support.

Anti-Malware Security and Brute Force Firewall

The last tool that we are going to discuss is the Anti-Malware security and brute force firewall. It not only runs a complete scan on your website but also helps you protect your WordPress theme from any exploitation. It does it by using a Firewall. It protects it against plugin exploits.

Final words

This leads us to the end of the guide on how to scan and detect malware in WordPress themes. By following the guide, you will be able to detect and remove malware. We also listed precautionary steps on how to make sure that the theme you download from the internet is free from malware. If you find the guide useful, don’t forget to share it with your friends. Also, do you always scan your theme before installing? If so, comment below and share your method with us. We are listening!

About The Author:
Pawan Sahu is the founder of MarkupTrend. He is a Digital Marketer and a blogger geek passionate about writing articles related to WordPress, SEO, Marketing, Web Design, and CMS etc.


Also published on Medium.

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