The Best Plugins to Scan WordPress for Malware
WordPress is a really popular website platform now. As a consequence, the unwelcome attention of hackers and their malware often draws a lot of attention. At Automattic, the WordPress team works tirelessly to make WordPress a stable CMS to work with. But as fresh malware and hackers keep popping up, this is a continuous operation, a kind of tug-of-war. In the past, WordPress websites have been the victim of attacks that have diverted traffic to malicious URLs, which is why scanning WordPress for malware on a regular basis is so critical.
It is likely that Google will switch away users from your website when anything like this occurs. This is done to protect tourists from malware being corrupted. You will then begin to note that your website’s traffic is beginning to dip. You can read Sucuri’s analysis of the attack if you want to understand how this kind of attack works.
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How Your Website Reaches Malware?
When it comes to themes, WordPress users are spoilt for options. Choose any niche, and for your niche, both free and premium, you will have a multiple choice of themes. Bits of unnecessary code that are hidden in themes are one thing users can look out for when choosing a theme. As most users are not developers, it is unnoticeable for most of them, which is why you should have a mechanism in place to check WordPress for malware.
However, being particularly careful when buying themes from third party websites (not from the author’s website) or downloading free themes is a good place to start. This is because certain unscrupulous vendors of themes will embed code that can damage the website of the customer.
These code bits may be harmless fragments that do little harm. But they can also be dangerous enough to completely pull your site down. They embed themselves unobtrusively in your blog. Most likely, you would never find them while your website is running as usual.
Themes are not the only way your website is reached by malicious code. They can be used in plugins, by hacking or brute force attacks, left in the comments section.
You might often opt to install software that comes bundled with some common software that you download and install. Malware or spyware, disguised as an add-on feature, may also be the program. On your web, where the malware lurks about, you can unknowingly allow these choices, also adding more malware to the site.
Why do hackers inject malware?
What purpose do these bits of code serve ? Why do hackers infect websites ? Malware is embedded by hackers to be able to,
- Add back links and redirects to the sites that they want to promote.
- Track your visitors.
- Add their own banners and advertisements.
- Access sensitive personal information such as names, passwords and email addresses.
- Bring down your website completely, either for a reason or just for fun.
The longer the malware remains undetected, the better it is for the hackers. This is because they can continue to use your website for gathering information and send spam emails, infecting your visitors in the process. It is left to us to regularly scan WordPress for malware and check our websites, even those that appear ironclad, for malware.
The 10 Best Plugins & Services To Scan WordPress for Malware
A great way to check if your website is infested with malicious code, malware or some other security threat is through plugins and scans. There are a range of quality plugins available that can be used to search for malware, and those 10 are the best, in our humble opinion.
Website scanning is potentially a memory-intensive operation. Your PHP memory access and transparent cache directories can need to be updated so that scanning is faster.
Allied protection features are bundled with most of the plugins, and only a few plugins are solely malware detection solutions. Some are full-fledged security or backup solutions, including a detection mechanism for malware. For example, Codeguard is a full backup and restoration service that will search WordPress for malware as well. It warns you if it detects something unwelcome.
If you choose to go with managed hosting services like WPEngine and SiteGround, you can also opt to leave all security, including malware detection, in competent professional hands.
But for those of you on shared hosting, here are some of the more common malicious code detection services and plugin options.
1. VaultPress (included with JetPack plans)
Info & DownloadView The Demo
If you are using a JetPack plan, then you are lucky because you already have access to Automattic’s backup and security plugin, VaultPress.
Although brute force security and uptime monitoring are included in the Personal plan, you will need to upgrade to a Premium plan (starting at $3/month) to access your website’s regular Malware scanning (or spring for a Professional plan to have the added advantage of on-demand scans as well as automated resolutions-so you never have to raise a finger).
It will track your site on its own with the VaultPress plugin installed and attached to your website via FTP/SSH. You will be able to access information about any security threats detected during your regular scan from your online VaultPress user dashboard and make updates if necessary (or restore to a secure full backup VaultPress took of your website).
2. MalCare Security and Firewall for WordPressInfo & DownloadView The Demo
MalCare, developed after analyzing over 240,000 WordPress pages, is a full Security Solution. To keep your website safe from malware, hackers and the rest, it is free and uses the collective intelligence from its network of sites.
The technology for early malware detection helps prevent Google from blacklisting your websites or being blocked by web hosts. MalCare has been able to detect complex malware that goes undetected in other common plugins successfully.
The plugin focuses on the precision of a malware’s detection and decreases the amount of false positives registered significantly. This ensures that only when the plugin is confident that it has found malware and not a ‘potential suspect’ are you notified.
For WordPress sites, brute force attacks are very common, so the Web Application Firewall and Login Protection are automatically enabled in the free plugin. It helps to safeguard your site from bots, hackers, and the likes 24/7.
The premium version cleans malware that has been found on your website automatically. There are options like IP blocking, login protection, and website hardening for an added layer of protection. Especially if you have multiple websites to maintain, managing plugins can be a headache. It is possible to update or remove plugins, themes and core WordPress from within the MalCare Pro dashboard.
3. Sucuri SiteCheck Scanner
It compares all of the pages and links to the malware database of Sucuri and reports the anomalies. Malware, blacklisting, defacing, website errors and out-of-date software will be identified by the scan. A report of the malware found is generated by the scan and recommends how you should handle it.
Your server is not accessed by the scanner. So, the remote scanner does not detect anything malicious on the server that is not displayed in the browser. And hence, for phishing, backdoors and malicious usernames, this scan is not successful.
Audit logging, integrity verification, email alerting, security hardening and other software will do much more with the Sucuri Security plugin. You can trigger the plugin and create a free API if you do not want to run the URL often.
Sucuri also provides many paid services, such as a firewall service, which can prevent hacking, cleanup of malware, security monitoring and more.
4. MalCure WP Malware Scanner & Firewall
malCure Malware Scanner is a recent addition to the malware scanner’s list. The plugin focuses on a very user-friendly interface and super-simplicity while at the backend it is able to detect 50,000+ infections. malCure Malware Scanner executes a database scan as well as WordPress file scan for a complete 360° detection. The thoroughness of malCure Malware Scanner is by virtue of the approach it takes: a hybrid approach which includes multiple scans on every file and database record i.e. checksum integrity, scan against known malware signatures as well as a heuristic scan. This allows for high precision results and extremely rare false-positives. Definitions are updated frequently so malCure is able to detect even the latest infections.
With the plugin focused on simplicity, high-pressure & high-performance for the regular user, one place where malCure Malware Scanner really shines is it’s robust integration with WP-CLI. This takes it’s utility to a whole new level as you can easily scan and clean up WordPress sites from the command-line in case the host has revoked the access to website to contain malware-spread. malCure has a powerful feature-set in WP-CLI mode which makes it very appealing for web-security professionals too. CLI integration helps automate scans via cron and with some scripting knowledge you can utilize malCure Malware Scanner in almost every way imaginable.
You can also connect malCure scanner to your website’s Google Search Console property to fetch any warnings or security notices issued by Google. This ensures that scans also cover injected spam links, Google Transparency blacklist and warnings too. malCure Scanner has a built-in firewall that protects from the most commonly exploited WordPress attack vectors.
5. iThemes Security (Formerly Better WP Security)
Downloaded by over 800,000+ WordPress users, the iThemes Security plugin is one of the most popular choices to protect your site and scan WordPress for malware. The free version of this plugin offers 30 layers of security and security, including a 1-click “Secure Site” check, malware scans (via Sucuri SiteCheck), strong enforcement of passwords, brute force protection, backups of databases, detection of file changes and much more.
Consider iThemes Security Pro, which gives you access to features such as 2-factor authentication, scheduled malware scans, password expiration, WordPress core file comparisons and more, if you want to add even more layers of protection. The plugin costs $80 per year, which for some bloggers might be a bit high, but can you really put a price on safety and peace of mind?
6. Anti-Malware Security and Brute Force Firewal
Not only does the Anti-Malware Security and Brute Force Firewall scan and detect malware, it helps you fix them as well. On your server, it detects malware, viruses and other threats, and marks them as potential threats, leaving them to you to deal with.
However, if you register your plugin with GOTMLS.NET, you will be able to download new definitions, automatically delete them, and patch known vulnerabilities. The WordPress Revolution Slider is particularly susceptible to attack, and so in this plugin the protection for this feature is automatically enabled.
The premium version provides protection against attacks by Brute Force and DDoS, checks the integrity of the core files and automatically downloads new definitions.
7. All In One WP Security & Firewall
Another popular and easy to use option is the All In One WP Security & Firewall plugin. The plugin provides tons of security features such as password strength, protection for brute force login, built-in captcha, options for database prefixes, file permissions, backups for htaccess/wp-config and firewall protection. But the plugin also offers easy security scans to set up that you can use to detect and remove malware quickly.
Use the detection scanner for file changes and the database scanner to search for file changes or tables of data that you have not created. When a file change happens, use the settings to schedule automatic detection and to get an email delivered directly to your inbox. This way, any future hacking attempt would be quickly brought to your attention.
8. Wordfence Security
Wordfence is not only a malware scanner, but a website that provides almost full security protection. To monitor and prevent your website from being hacked, it is free and open source and uses the continuously updated Threat Protection Feed.
Over 44000 identified malware can be picked out by the Web Application Firewall and stopped from accessing your website. It also scans for backdoors, URLs for phishing, Trojans, malicious code, and any other threat to protection.
Generally, the scans are performed at hourly intervals. So in the hour after it hits your website, you are likely to know about any malware material on your website. As well as tracking traffic in real time, Wordfence will verify core integrity.
You will have to pay and receive a Premium API key for scheduled scans, country blocking and some additional features.
9. Quttera Web Malware Scanner
Malware, viruses, trojans, backdoors, shells, insertion of malicious code, auto-generated malicious content and more. If they are hiding on your website, Quttera Web Malware Scanner will find them all.
If Google has blacklisted your website, it will show that in a search as well. It provides a comprehensive report on malware, based on which you can clean up your website. You will have to contact their help for any assistance in removing malware.
10. McAfee SECURE
McAfee SECURE ensures visitor security. A variety of security features, including malware scanning, are included in the McAfee SECURE plugin. And it’s especially great for e-commerce websites (it is 100 percent compatible with WooCommerce). They will be more likely to interact with and make a purchase from your site by showing visitors your site is safe to engage with, knowing they can shop safely and confidently.
How is it working? Only install the plugin, add your FTP credentials, and trigger your McAfee account free of charge. After your website has passed our security scan, your site will display the Mcafee SECURE trustmark. Users would know at a glance that your website is stable and free from viruses, malware and any other malicious behavior.
The trustmark will appear on your site for up to 500 visitors per month with the free version of McAfee Safe. This tells those visitors that they can search your website securely and/or make a purchase from your WooCommerce shop. You can also upgrade to a McAfee Safe Pro plan that provides unlimited visits and extra features to protect security and identity. What else to learn? Checkout below for more McAfee Safe functions!
Keep In Mind
It is likely that scanning for malware will throw up some false positives, which you will have to check out. Can you rely on it if you scan WordPress for malware and the outcome shows that your website is clean? Perhaps, but as scans are not foolproof, take it with a grain of salt.
Downloading themes and plugins directly from the author’s page or from trusted theme houses and not from any suspicious third party websites is one way to reduce malicious code from reaching your website.
If you do decide to scan WordPress for malware, protecting your website is a quick and easy first step. But to protect your website from security threats, it takes more than a few scans and plugins. Security of websites is something that you need to fully think through and diligently implement.
Not to worry, you can use this guide to safeguard your website with WordPress blog security tips. You can find it all right there, starting from WordPress hosting and moving on to backups, plugins, themes and cleaning up your computer, right down to SSL, passwords and folder permissions. Check it out and proactively take precautions.
Have you got any questions as to how to scan for malware on WordPress? Or would you like to add some other security tips? Leave below your thoughts!