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5 Ways to Check Whether a WordPress Theme/Plugin is Maliciously Coded [How To]

Here’s the evergreen how to guide to Check Whether a WordPress Theme/Plugin is Maliciously Coded. One of the most unarguable reasons why WordPress still shines as the number one platform for blogging is the availability of elegant looking themes and plugins. In the same manner, by exploiting the user’s demands WordPress blogs can easily be hacked when compared to other platforms. This doesn’t mean that WordPress blogs are utterly in threat. But this should not be ignored.

how to find malicious code in wordpress themes and plugins
how to find malicious code in wordpress themes and plugins

Thousands of premium WordPress themes and plugins are releasing everyday in the internet and it’s an obvious tendency to download those from black markets. But by doing so, you are opening the door of your blog’s entrance to the strangers to undertake the whole blog within a fraction of minute.

What are Nulled Themes/Plugins?

Normally, premium files are bound with a proprietary license lock in which others cannot use it without proper license. This is what we see at network locks, it’s quite similar to this. In nulled files, the black brained geeks break the license and let it accessible to everyone without any license where we do not require any username or password. It’s more likely to be downloaded and that makes it the most vulnerable case to hack a blog.

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Why do they Insert Malicious Code to WordPress Themes/Plugins?

The main reason behind the action is nothing but the undertake of your blog. It doesn’t matter whether you protect your blog with paid security services or plugins. They only help to cop with external threats. In this case, the danger is inside the hood and there’s nothing to do internally.

Most of the Black Hat Hackers use Malicious Code

1. To takedown the blog completely.

2. To redirect certain pages to a specific website.

3. To steal keywords.

4. To insert unwanted stuffs in the pages.

5. To show external advertisements.

The list still flaws on. If the hacker is potentially gifted, he/she can get access to your blog completely without any glitch. On the other hand, he/she can display certain discrete ads or links to some pages for their personal use. In either way, it’s something like a nightmare and we should be really alerted about this.

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Here’s the guide for checking WordPress Theme’s or plugin’s virginity. If you are a little bit more concerned about your blog’s security, you can check all these steps mentioned below.

How to Check Whether a Theme/Plugin is Maliciously Coded

1. By Using VirusTotal

VirusTotal is a great online tool to check a file’s purity. All you have to upload the theme/Plugin to the website in zip format. Normally WordPress themes or plugins are given in ZIP format so it’s nothing to do further. Just upload and wait for the results.

If it contains any unidentifiable codes, it will show a red alert. Else you can see a green alert. That’s all. Due to it’s easily usable interface, VirusTotal is considered as the most trusted method to check whether a file is genuine.

Go to VirusTotal

2. By Installing Top WordPress Plugins

WordPress is really blessed with the plugins availability and we should use the most out of it. Security plugins can protect your blog for common possible attacks to a great extend. Here’s the list of some best WordPress security plugins.

* TAC (Theme Authenticity Checker) WP Plugin

TAC stands for Theme Authenticity Checker. Currently, TAC searches
the source files of every installed theme for signs of malicious code. If such code is found, TAC displays the path to the theme file, the line number, and a small snippet of the suspect code. As of v1.3 TAC also searches for and displays static links.

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*. Antivirus WP Plugin

AntiVirus for WordPress is a smart and effective solution to protect your blog against exploits and spam injections. AntiVirus protection for your blog.

* Theme- Check WP Plugin

The theme check plugin is an easy way to test your theme and make sure it’s up to spec with the latest theme review standards.With it, you can run all the same automated testing tools on your theme that WordPress.org uses for theme submissions.The tests are run through a simple admin menu and all results are displayed at once. This is very handy for theme developers, or anybody looking to make sure that their theme supports the latest WordPress theme standards and practices.

*Exploit Scanner

This plugin specializes in plugin scanning and it amazingly does its job. Just install this free plugin from WordPress plugins repository and kick install. It checks all the installed plugins as well as themes in the directory and shows the malicious code of found.

3. By Manually Extracting Downloaded File(s)

This is a Do It Yourself method so that you can manually check whether a file is being infected by a threatening code. First of all, extract the file into your desktop and examine each and every text files (most of the theme/Plugin files are PHP coded text files) by opening it with any good word editor.

Now Press Ctrl+F on your keyboard. It then shows a search bar. Type “a href=” there to find whether it’s coded for external redirects. This is very effective method of you are good at coding languages. You can easily track out any insecure code easily without installing any plugin.

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4. By Analyzing it with Java Decoder

This method is meant for technically sounded geeks. There’s a tool called Java decoder which analyse any codes as per your insertion. Just copy the whole contents in the function.php and paste the text in the respective columns in the decoder website.

It effectively decrypts encrypted malicious code and shows. Pretty easy to read, but it requires enough knowledge in Java to understand the results.

Click Here to go to Java Decoder

5. By Installing the Theme/Plugin on Temporary Blogs

There are lots of companies which provides free hosting with amazing features. So WordPress hosting is easier than ever before. You just create an account in one free host and install WordPress on it. It only takes 2 minutes. No need to buy any custom domains for that. The company allotted sub domain is enough.

Now install the theme /Plugin which you are unsure about and check repeatedly whether the blog is shows any unnatural behavior. It’s in fact an additional yet effective method. But if the hacker is clever he/she can wisely deactivate the code from running for certain website URLs.

About the author

Sidharth Pk

Sidharth. Works at Cyanogen. Android dev. Audiophile. Rider.. Find us on Google+
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