Scanning WordPress for Vulnerabilities: Why and How
WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) on the internet, powering almost 30% of all websites. While this popularity is great for website owners, it also makes WordPress a prime target for hackers and mischief makers. As a website owner, it’s important to be proactive in reviewing and updating your security measures regularly to stay safe from potential attacks.
One easy-to-implement step in your security checklist is to scan WordPress for vulnerabilities. Regular scans can catch security threats early and prevent your site from being hacked. Here are some reasons why you should scan WordPress for vulnerabilities:
1. Protect Sensitive Information: Your WordPress website may contain sensitive personal information submitted by users. Scanning for vulnerabilities can help prevent this information from falling into unwanted hands.
2. Prevent Unauthorized Access: Hackers can gain unauthorized access to your website and use it to eat into your bandwidth or place backlinks, redirects, advertisements, or banners of websites they want to promote.
3. Detect Malware: Malware can lurk within your website and gather information or send out spam emails to others, infecting them in the process. Regular scans can help detect malware before it causes damage.
There are two main methods for scanning WordPress for vulnerabilities: remote scanners and plugins.
Remote scanners are quick tools that can do a preliminary scan and reveal a number of security flaws. They function by entering the URL of your website on their webpage, and your site will be scanned in a few moments with a report generated. While remote scanners are easy to use, they only look at the final rendered version of your website as it appears on your browser. They cannot look into your server, so any malicious element on your server could remain undetected.
Plugins, on the other hand, offer deeper scans by accessing the server in the hosting environment where they reside. They offer options to set up scanning rules, automations, and complete scans that dive into your database to ensure security. Plugins can detect more complex vulnerabilities and offer more comprehensive solutions.
Here are some of the best free remote scanners and plugins available for scanning WordPress for vulnerabilities:
1. MalCare: This cloud-based scanner offers a free plugin that looks at all your files and your entire database to find even the most complex malware. It won’t slow down your site, and premium plans offer even more options for early detection, automated scanning and removal of malware, CAPTCHAs, IP blocking, recommend WordPress settings, disallowed plugins, and more.
2. Sucuri SiteCheck: This well-known website security company offers a comprehensive vulnerability report that scans all websites, including WordPress sites. It reveals known malware, out-of-date software, website errors, and your blacklist status with services like Google, AVG Antivirus, McAfee, and Norton.
3. WP Sec Scan: This WordPress-specific scanner offers a free account that entitles you to an automatic weekly scan. You can keep track of the security of all your sites from a single dashboard and receive alerts by email if any bug is found or if your WordPress installation is due for an update.
4. WordPress Security Scan: This scanner offers a free basic version and a premium advanced version that checks for obvious WordPress security flaws and recommends security-related improvements in configuration that can step up protection from future attacks.
5. First Site Guide: This scanner tests whether information about WordPress version, usernames, or failed login attempts are detectable. It also checks if the readme.html file, the install.php and the upgrade.php files are accessible via HTTP and if the uploads folder is browsable.
6. Wordfence: This comprehensive security plugin scans anything WordPress-related on your website, including source code and image files. It scans for known malware and backdoors, as well as for phishing URLs in all your comments, posts, and files.
7. Virus Total Scanner: This tool aggregates the results of a scan from multiple scanners like Avira, Comodo, Sucuri, and Quttera. It detects false positives from scanners more easily and shares files and URLs submitted at Virus Total with security companies for their use in improving overall web security.
8. Quttera: This scanner requires you to download their plugin onto your WordPress website and scours your site for suspicious scripts, malicious media, and hidden threats. It lets you know if you’re on any blacklist and provides a detailed investigation report with recommendations for corrective action.
While these free online scanners and plugins do a basic job of revealing malware and vulnerabilities, premium plans offer more thorough analysis and hands-on support when faced with threats. Scanning your website is only the first step in WordPress security, so be sure to review and update your security measures regularly to stay safe from potential attacks.