Scanning Your WordPress Websites for Security Vulnerabilities
In the previous article, I talked about the 5 Best WordPress Security Plugins and Solutions. You should check out that article before reading this one since they are both connected. What if you need to go beyond normal scanning plugins? This article is targeted towards intermediate users (let’s call them WP Super Admins who manage the clients’ WP websites for a living) and WordPress developers. How do you go about searching for a security vulnerability in your site, in the theme you are using or the set of plugins that help you extend WordPress beyond the core functionality? Yes, that’s what I plan to talk about in this article.
WordPress Core Files Verification
With approximately 7.5 million hacking attacks per hour, WordPress websites are prone to security breaches. Despite all the safety measures, there are still several ways through which your site can be left open to hackers. What if another hacked website leads to your sites getting hacked. You cannot predict server level hacks, not very easily anyway.Good WP Super admins should know their way around such situations. Playing it safe right from the beginning is a wise move. This was how the concept of scanning a website for vulnerabilities came into being.
Scanning performs diagnostic tests which detect the security holes (if any) in a WordPress website. If threats are detected, you are informed beforehand with ample time to mitigate the problem. In addition, scanning tools propose countermeasures, and also help you evaluate how well they work after being put into use.
Why Is Scanning WP Sites So Important?
While creating your WordPress security checklist, scanning is one of the few things to get started with. It is very convenient to think that a hacker will not attack your website. But, the hard truth is WordPress remains vulnerable, and a website can be accessed anytime. Sometimes, the real intent of an attacker is beyond just accessing. They might:
- Inject viruses making your site visitors download malware into their computers.
- Hunt for usernames, passwords, and emails; thus using it for identity theft affecting other online accounts.
- Inject malicious code to affect user activity or steal input information like Credit Cards data.
- Redirect your visitors to a site with malware.
All these reasons, enforce a website owner to conduct regular check-ups instead of considering who would really care about your little corner of the web?
Tools for Scanning Your WordPress Website
When I started off as a beginner, I often researched about the mechanism on which scanning tools were built. I’m sure you will be interested in knowing that as well. A scanning tool relies on a pre-built database containing all the information required to check for security holes in every website component. Then using the process called ethical hacking, it tries to exploit each vulnerability that has been discovered.
While choosing a WordPress scanning tool, you must look for the following qualities:
- A precise detection of vulnerabilities.
- Ability to run multiple scans delivering more refined results each time.
- Maintains an up-to-date database of vulnerabilities.
- Generates candid reports of results which are easy to comprehend.
- Suggests remedies to eliminate detected threats.
Scanning Tools for WordPress Websites
Let’s take a look at few of the best tools available to scan your sites against their databases, to help keep your sites secure.
Sucuri offers the best premium model for scanning WordPress websites. Their Sucuri SiteCheck scanner is a free online tool for scanning vulnerabilities. Just enter the site’s URL and start scanning. It detects malware, blacklisting status, errors, and checks if your site is out-of-date.
Sucuri’s services include website malware scanning, monitoring, and cleanup. They provide hands-on support against threats so that you can take measures in time. Their website monitoring services include web technologies which notify you about alerts and changes via email, Twitter, or RSS. For more advanced options you should subscribe to its yearly premium plan which comes highly recommended by so many industry experts.
Exploit Scanner is a free WordPress plugin which thoroughly scans your files and database and detects if your site has fallen victim to malicious hackers. It also checks the list of active plugins for unusual filenames.
However, the plugin lacks the functionality of removing a threat. This part is to be done by the user himself. So, if there isn’t a match between the code used in one of your plugins and the database, you’re notified to fix it. With more than 60,000 active installs, Exploit Scanner is an important plugin, and if you are looking for a free scanning solution, this is surely a reasonable option to choose for someone who knows their way around getting the site fixed after discovering an issue
VaulPress is a premium backup and security solution provided by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. I myself use their services and am very happy with their support. Whenever there is a malicious activity on your site, or if VaultPress ends up finding a malicious file, since it is kinda always scanning for such stuff — you get an email. Now if you do, then you can review the code, ignore the threat, or ask their professionals to look into it for you. I do recommend this solution a lot.
Scanning your WordPress websites regularly is in your best interests to detect any hacking attempt. After running a successful scan, you can start fixing all the highlighted issues. Begin with the ones that need immediate attention and then jump to other issues in accordance with their priority.
What scanning solution do you use? Did you know about how scanning can help you secure your website? If you know of any other good malware scanners, share them in the comment area below.
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