A 1/3 of all websites online are built on WordPress. Main reasons are is inexpensive and requires no coding. Still, WordPress Themes & Plugins represent a cybersecurity risk that not many are aware of.
Today’s read is for you if you’re considering building your business’s website, or if you already have some experience as a webmaster.
Either way, you’ll be surprised by how the WordPress platform is safe, but themes & plugins aren’t.
First of all…
What is a WordPress Theme and Why It Represents a Cybersecurity Risk?
A WordPress Theme is a template to change your site’s design in a matter of seconds. There are thousands of them available for free, and others charge a license fee ($50 /average).
Think about it: How awesome it would read a Home decoration magazine, and find a collection that you absolutely love… Clicking on a “Get” from the catalog, and immediately change how your house or apartment looks.
That’s the equivalent of using a WordPress theme for your site.
Sadly, Free WordPress themes aren’t always optimized for SEO.
And getting them from a non-trustable sources translate into no-support whatsoever, or even malicious coding injected on the script.
The second one could show ads for products or sites you don’t want to advertise (Adware/Malvertising), or redirect user’s to unwanted sites.
All the possible threats could skyrocket your bounce rates to the sky, and your SERPs ranking down to the purgatory.
To avoid that, you should always do some research before installing it into your WordPress site.
If you already installed one for free, at least give it the benefit of doubt and use a “theme analyzer” tool like the ThemeCheck Plugin: It will audit the code quality to know if it’s secure or not. After a test, you will know which theme vendors are legitimate and which aren’t.
Now that we’re on it, there are several trustable sources that appear very frequently among the website’s footer.
These legitimate vendors are Elegant themes (Divi creators), StudioPress (maker of Genesis framework), and WooThemes (founders of WooCommerce).
They stand out for its very-best design quality. Because of that, it can result in costly and complex to start with. Fortunately for us, they and other significant themes offer a simple “Freemium” version to start with at no cost.
The other option left is to jump directly to the premium WordPress themes. Or that’s what most Webmasters think about when just starting.
We will talk about that briefly.
What is a WordPress Plugin and Why It Represents a Cybersecurity Risk?
While themes are the bones and flesh, WordPress plugins would be the hearth and brain.
They upgrade the functionality of your Content Management System (CMS), when you want to do some crazy stuff!
There’s genuinely a Plugin for everything you think.
Go to the WordPress marketplace and see it for yourself… Navigate and see what are they capable of:
- Auditing SEO of pages and create schemas and sitemaps in seconds (RankMath)
- Protecting against spam and backdoor/malware attack (Wordfence)
- … And stop counting.
But not everything is pink-colored roses.
It’s very common for a novice or unethical plugin developers to build something that causes more harm than what it does well—doing precisely the opposite of what it was purposed to do.
Slow down the speed, or even crash it entirely. To show unwanted content, sending negative SEO signals to Search engines, allowing spam, backdoors, and all types of malware.
Everything is possible when you click on “Activate.”
So, taking this into account… There’s something you should know.
There’s a way (which I don’t recommend) to get Premium Themes & Plugins, for Free.
Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins
Developers put hard work into developing beautiful themes and plugins that small, mid, and big-sized business owners can use to grow.
And because from all three, small business owners tend to have a tight budget, they avoid spending the most money at the first stage.
If you feel identified, then you would be happy to know that they can be “pirated.”
Again, I highly recommend to NOT go for that option… And you’ll know why.
Craked or Nulled WordPress Themes and Plugins represent an extreme risk to you and your business assets. Most of them are full of consequences that can ban you from SERP ranks and even your hosting provider.
In case you installed one already, go to your Admin Panel on WordPress, and scan it immediately. If possible, uninstall it as well.
You can get away with it for a couple of days, but once there’s an update release, you’re screwed. Hackers cannot keep up with these releases.
Therefore you are open to new vulnerabilities every time the official vendor develops a countermeasure.
As every illegal activity, you feel lucky and invincible… Until you get caught, and hit the floor really hard. I guarantee you that it is not worth it.
What can you do instead?
How to Avoid Issues with WordPress Themes & Plugins
Research thoroughly those Theme and Plugins that interest you (features, benefits, vendor website, reviews, last update, policy).
Choose a FREE or Freemium version that fits your needs. Then scale with a Premium license when you are ready.
Limit the number of plugins (by five max.) to reduce loading speed, and chances of getting backdoored. If you nothing there are some you won’t using anymore, proceed to delete it.
And not only “uninstall” but actually, erase all of it.
Last but not least – Install a Web Application Firewall to reduce the risk of Targeted attacks, Spam, and malicious threats.
You never who’s wandering around your site.
Ultimately, I give WordPress a “yes” as the go-to website building platform (personal blog, e-commerce, corporate, or other website types).
But I scream a huge “NO” to playing against the system and risking your business life.
To prove this, we invite you to request a FREE consultation, to find out what’s best way to kickstart your online presence – and to keep it away from cybersecurity compromises.
At MyITGuy, we take care of you, your business, and your beloved ones too.