How to Detect Website Malware on WordPress Sites

Website malware is a dangerous beast that can do a lot of damage to your website’s reputation and even financial standing. In 2016 alone, WAF (web application firewall) technology prevented around 400 million attacks worldwide. That’s an incredible number!

Most website owners and managers are quite well-intentioned and try to maintain a healthy web surfing experience for their audiences. However, sometimes they make little mistakes that put their websites’ security at risk. In this blog post, we will teach you how to identify and clean up some of the more common website malware threats on WordPress websites.

Malicious WordPress Plugins

One of the most dangerous things about malware on the internet is that it’s quite easy to install on a vulnerable website. The bad guys behind these threats are called ‘pluggers’ because they often try to trick users into thinking their plugins are helpful when, in fact, they’re installed with a really horrible purpose in mind. For example, the Akismet plugin is probably the most popular one on the internet and it does a great job at preventing spam on your site. However, if you’ve ever used it, you may have noticed that it constantly sends your site’s IP address to spammers for verification. Even if you disable that feature, the plugin still sends your site’s IP address to spammers to verify that you’re not a robot. It does this even if you’re not on a publicly accessible server or network!

Another really insidious type of plugger is the one that modifies your website’s code on the fly. This type of malware can intercept and redirect your website’s traffic, change your site’s content, and even install additional malware on your server. Examples of this type of attack include redirect hacks, key logger hacks, and malicious ad injection. We’re not going to delve into all the details of how these types of attacks work, but if you want to protect your website from becoming an extension of the Darknet, you need to be wary of any plugins or services that ask for remote access or server side integration.

Malicious Links And Rich Media

Websites that contain malicious links and/or infected rich media (like swarms of annoying animated GIFs, or large images with unknown EXIF data), are also very dangerous. Since these websites are often designed to look like regular ones, with regular text and images, victims can become distracted and unknowingly expose their site to attacks. Even worse, a lot of these threats try to trick their victims into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that looks like it’s coming from a trustworthy source, like an acquaintance, a friend, or an online business you’ve done business with. So, if you see something that looks suspicious, you should probably assume it’s malware and remove it from your website immediately.

Malicious Header Tags

Worse than malware in the content of a website, is malware in the


of a website. That’s right — rogue header tags can do the same damage to your website’s reputation that the content itself does. A lot of times, this type of malware will redirect your site’s visitors to external websites, steal cookie information, or add a tracking beacon to the website. You should remove all suspicious header tags or the risk of getting infected is very high.

Non-Functioning Javascript

Some website malware will inject javascript into your web pages that does nothing more than try to trick you and your visitors into thinking it’s helpful. For example, the Hex editor (which we’re sure you’ll never need) is typically included in these types of threats. If you’re not sure whether or not javascript is causing problems on your website, you can use the Debugger toolbar for your browser to easily identify which parts of the page are being affected by javascript and which are functioning normally. Remember: if it’s not helping to improve your website’s functionality, it’s most likely malware.

Walking Through The WordPress Mines

Websites are frequently targeted by cybercriminals because they think it’s an easy mark. After all, everyone is using WordPress to some extent, and, as we’ve discussed, the instances of malware on this platform are surprisingly common. If you’re not using some type of security software on your WordPress site to protect it from becoming a host for malware, then you should probably consider doing so.

Fortunately, there are free and easy-to-use solutions that can help you protect your website. For example, you can use Cloudflare’s 1&1 Secure to easily secure and monitor your site from the outside. Alternatively, you can use Wordfence, which secures your site automatically as soon as you install it, or utilizes a paid subscription to provide 24/7 protection. We recommend using a combination of these solutions in order to get the best overall web protection for your WordPress site.

Protecting your WordPress site from malware is not an insurmountable challenge. With a little bit of caution and common sense, it’s definitely not something that should be feared. With the help of these various tools and add-ons, you can rest assured that your site is safe and malware-free, and you can continue to enjoy all the wonderful things that WordPress has to offer.