What is WordPress Pharma Hack & How to Clean it?


Nothing is more aggravating than learning that your website has been hacked. The most important thing is to maintain your composure. We know how to deal with a pharma hack and can teach you how to do the same with your WordPress account.

Manually removing the hack, on the other hand, is a difficult and time-consuming operation. We recommend that you use a malware removal plugin to quickly clean your website.

You’ll learn not only how to patch your website, but also how it was compromised and what the hackers want from you in this post.

What is a pharma hack?

Pharma hacks are a form of search engine optimization spam attack in which a legitimate website is used to sell illegal drugs. Hackers hijack websites, inject malware such as the favicon.ico virus, and use the pages to market illegal drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra.

It is illegal to sell these drugs (especially without a prescription). That’s why hackers act like parasites on your websites, feeding off your wealth in order to sell illegal drugs.

No, illicit drug trafficking is a lucrative and competitive industry. Sellers are often searching for ways to improve their website’s ranking through SEO techniques such as building links from reputable websites. Your website is exceptionally well-designed.

Unfortunately, if Google discovers spam links to malicious sites advertising illicit prescription products, the website will be blacklisted. That’s just one of the many terrifying results of the pharma hack.

How to detect Pharma Hacks?

Most likely, you discovered a problem with your website and did some Googling to find pharma hacks.

When you visit the website immediately after a hack, all is usually normal. One of your customers is very likely to have found out that your site has some odd pop-ups that redirect to illegal drugs for no apparent reason.

Another reason to be wary is if your platform is ranking for extremely strange keywords that have little to do with your business. If this is the case,

Here are some good ways to see if you’ve been hacked by a pharmaceutical company:

  • Google your website + words like “prohibited drugs” like “viagra” or “cialis.”
  • Google for your website and visit your own site. You’ve been infected by redirect hack, a form of WordPress pharma hack, if you’re redirected to another place.
  • Sometimes these will only show up when you visit from a phone
  • Inside Google Search Console
  • Use fetch as Google
  • Use a malware scanner

Using a malware scanner is by far the most realistic and reliable of all of these options. We strongly advise you to run a server-level malware scan on your website.

Malware scanners, on the other hand, are not always created equal. Even if you have a malware scanner built on your website, the pharma hack is likely to have gone undetected.

The explanation for this is simple: most malware scanners are incapable of detecting malicious code. Instead, they use their database to look up signatures of popular malware. A small change in the malicious code will allow malware to go undetected completely.

How to fix a pharma hack?

There are two approaches to this:

1. Using a plugin (the easy way)
2. Scanning manually (the hard way)

The aim of plugins is to make your life easier. However, if you choose, you are free to take the difficult path.

1) Scan and clean using a plugin

To delete malware from your website, we suggest MalCare.

The MalCare scanner is designed to find even the most difficult hacks, and it will always find a hack that other security plugins will miss.

It takes a few minutes for the first scan to complete. Deep scanning technology is built into the plugin, which looks into every nook and cranny of your website for secret and complex malware.

Simply sign up, and MalCare will immediately begin searching your website for malicious files.

The next step is to clean up your website.

The simplest way to disinfect a website is to use MalCare to remove malware. All you have to do is hit the Autoclean button.

That’s what there is to it. In less than 60 seconds, your website would be malware-free.

2) Scan and clean manually

Manual scanning, unlike plugins, is neither simple nor fast.

We strongly advise against manually scanning, particularly if you are unfamiliar with WordPress, PHP, HTML, or Javascript. Bear in mind that this hack is difficult to come by for professionals.

It takes a long time to find pharma hacks, even though you are a professional developer who is comfortable rummaging through WordPress files and directories. Avoid manual scanning unless you’re able to spend days, if not weeks, going over – line of code on your website line by line.

Remember to back up your website regardless of the path you take. This is an essential move that should not be skipped. WordPress websites, no matter how experienced you are, are susceptible to crashing if you make a single mistake. Installing the wrong plugin update, for example, can cause your website to go into cardiac arrest. It’s also a lot of fun to participate in.

Follow the steps below to find WordPress pharma hacks:

Step 1: Download .php files

In.php scripts, pharma hacks are commonly found, such as:

  • index.php is a PHP file.
  • footer.php is a PHP file that displays the bottom of the
  • header.php is a PHP file that is used to build

Here’s how you can get them:

  • Go to cPanel > File Manager > public html > index.php in your web hosting account. Select Download with a right-click on the link.
  • Go to cPanel > File Manager > public html > Themes in the File Manager section. Open the active theme on your website. Pick the Download option from the context menu when you right-click header.php.
  • In the same folder, look for the footer.php file. Download by right-clicking on the picture.

Step 2: Download the original copy of the .php files

The WordPress core files contain the index.php file. You can get a copy by clicking here. Just make sure it’s the same edition as the one on your website.

Your WordPress theme includes the footer.php and header.php files.

If you’re using a free WordPress theme. WordPress.org has a copy available for free.

Users of paying themes must buy a copy of their theme from the same marketplace where they bought it.

Step 3: Run a Diffchecker

After that, open this URL and manually upload both versions of each file, then run the diff search.

If you come across scripts that aren’t in the original files, they’re most likely part of the hack. However, we don’t suggest deleting any code unless you’re certain it’s malicious.

Different versions of the WordPress core files exist for different languages in many situations. In other cases, the free and pro versions of a plugin or theme can share the same folder structure but have drastically different code.

The following are some of the most popular functions found in malicious scripts:

  • eval
  • base64_decode
  • gzinflate
  • preg_replace
  • str_rot13
  • exec
  • system
  • assert
  • stripslashes
  • move_uploaded_file

By contrast, the functions are not malicious. They’re used by a lot of plugins for good reasons. Furthermore, the checker will take some time to generate the discrepancies, and the results are not always accurate.

Please keep in mind that the diff checker is not a malware scanner. What you want to do is classify hack scripts by eliminating them one by one. It isn’t the most reliable or accurate method of doing so, and it comes with its own set of risks.

As a consequence, removing snippets of code based on the results of the diff checker could result in your website being ruined.

However, if you’re certain the code is malicious, deleting these snippets can get rid of the malware from your web.

Cleaning a compromised website with a manual scan is not a reliable method. We suggest MalCare, which will complete the task in a matter of minutes.

That brings us to the conclusion of the WordPress pharma hack patch. However, before moving on, we strongly advise you to read the following section.

Post-fixing measures

WordPress pharma hacks are often triggered by flaws in plugins and themes. If you don’t get rid of them, the hack will almost definitely come back. This is what you would do:

  • Update your plugins and themes immediately
  • Remove all nulled plugins and themes installed, even inactive ones
  • Delete inactive plugins and themes even if they are not nulled

After you have cleaned your website, hackers also build rogue admin accounts to gain access to it. Find and remove any rogue admin accounts on your website.

There are just a few basic security precautions. We recommend reading our article on WordPress hardening for more detailed and long-term solutions.

How to prevent the WordPress Pharma Hack in the future?

It’s difficult enough to clean up a compromised website once. You must be certain that you have not been compromised again.

Installing a security plugin is the first step. Scanning is just the first step in the process; removal and prevention are the most important aspects of WordPress protection.

A firewall is included with MalCare. The firewall prevents others from accessing your website. It can protect you from a variety of threats, including:

  • Brute force attacks.
  • XML-RPC attacks.
  • DDoS attacks.

Of course, a firewall will not shield your site from any possible attack.

At the very least, you should have a good password.

Your website will be scanned on a daily basis by MalCare. It will also scan your plugins and themes for security flaws.

Impact of pharma hack on WordPress websites

The consequences of a hack are ugly. You will experience some major backlash on your WordPress website such as:

  • A marked drop in search engine rankings for the keywords you’re targeting;
  • High bounce rates as visitors are redirected to different websites;
  • Wasted SEO efforts in the future;
  • Google blacklist warnings on your website like, this site may be hacked, deceptive site ahead etc;
  • Web host suspensions;
  • Email providers blacklisting your website;
  • High cleanup, recovery, and damage control costs;
  • A major decline in your brand’s image and reputation.

To be honest, this can cripple the company in the long run and trigger substantial financial losses in the short term. Taking security seriously is the only way to get out of this mess.

Avoid wasting time and take immediate action if you believe your website has been compromised.

Final thoughts

Take some time now, after you’ve cleaned up your website, to set up your security measures to deter any hack attacks.

After that, you can focus on expanding your business.


What are the signs of a pharma hack?

The signs of a pharma hack include websites being redirected, website ranking for pharmaceutical drugs keywords like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and websites linking to other pharmaceutical websites.

How to check if your website is experiencing a pharma hack?

Finding out if your website is experiencing a pharma hack is not easy. In most cases, you wouldn’t know if your website is hacked by just visiting the website.

  • You’ll need to Google your website along with the banned drugs.
  • Try checking your website on a smartphone. See if you find a page that you did not publish. Or pharma links to a different website in the footer.
  • Check whether your Google Search Console has picked malicious activities on your website.
  • The easiest way to figure out if you are hacked is to run a malware scanner. Check out our scanning guide.

Where is the pharma hack located inside the WordPress website?

The pharma hack can be hidden literally anywhere inside the files and database of your website. It could even be in your sitemap. Typically, you’ll find code snippets hidden in WordPress core files, but there’s no way to tell for sure without a malware scanner.

Hackers will go to great lengths to hide the malware they install on your website. They may even hide fragments of malicious content or code across various hack files and folders. Detecting a pharma hack malware is extremely difficult because it’s hidden in extremely clever ways. On the surface, it looks mostly like a legitimate piece of code.

Usually prescribed methods to search for this will fail. So you can’t download the website and search for keywords like viagra, etc. You will need to use a malware scanner to find malware hidden on your website. Check out our scanning guide.

How did the website get hacked when there is a security plugin installed?

There are way too many ways to hack a website. The reality is that most WordPress security plugins can only detect malware through their signature. This means that your security scanner will only find malware if it’s popular enough to be recognizable.

In simple terms: If a hacker uses unknown malware, it will potentially go unnoticed by most malware scanners. However, a security plugin like MalCare is designed to detect the slightest hint of malicious activity.

MalCare operates on an advanced learning algorithm that can detect even unknown malware. It then uses what it learns so that the same hack never works on any of the 250,000+ websites it protects.

Why was my website targeted for a pharma hack?

Your website was targeted because of a vulnerability, like outdated or nulled plugins or themes, easy to guess username and password, among other things. To protect your website from pharma hack or any other types of hacks, you need to implement security measures listed here – WordPress hardening.

How does the pharma hack work?

The way pharma hacks work as follows –

  • You have a vulnerability on your website which is most likely an outdated plugin or theme
  • Hackers use it to gain access to your website
  • Then they sprinkle spammy keywords or even publish new pages on your website. The goal is to use your website to rank for their keywords.
  • Your website visitors are redirected to a website where illegal pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are being sold.

How do I find the source of the pharma hack injection in my WordPress site?

To find the source of the pharma hack injection on your WordPress website, you need to scan your website with a malware scanner. We have covered how to scan and fix your pharma infection here.

Why are pharma hacks difficult to detect?

Pharma hacks are difficult to detect because of the following reasons:

  • Hackers target high-ranking pages because they receive a lot of traffic. Or they target pages with high earning potential. The hack won’t be present across the entire website making it hard to detect especially if it’s a large website with dozens of posts and pages.
  • This type of hack is not visible to you, the website owner. Nor is it visible to direct visitors. It’s only visible to search engines like Google or Bing. Hackers are targeting organic visitors who are looking for pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra on the search engine.
  • Hackers want to utilize your website for as long as possible so they take steps to ensure that remains hidden. They have developed ways of disguising malicious codes which is difficult to detect even for seasoned programmers.

However, a good malware scanner can easily detect a pharma hack on your website ad help you clean it.

How to remove pharma hack WordPress?

To remove a pharma hack on your WordPress website, you need to use a WordPress malware removal plugin. We have a guide that’ll show you exactly what steps you need to take to remove pharma hack.