How do I Prevent & Remove Malware

Malware has been around for a while. And, over time has come increased complexity. In its spread and, the obfuscation methods in place to prevent detection. Protecting against and tackling malware is a critical issue for individuals and businesses alike. Especially those with web hosting that relies on WordPress which dominates the CMS market with an over 60% market share according to W3Techs.

Because of its popularity, WordPress also finds itself under the malware microscope quite often. Sucuri reports in its 2022 Threat Report that WordPress accounts for over 96% of all infected CMS sites. With hackers & bad actors alike attempting to discover vulnerabilities in both its core programming and, in the myriad of plugins & themes available to its users.

In this guide, we’ll walk through how you can best protect your site from Malware and some potential fixes in the event that your site does become infected.

How do I protect WordPress from Malware?

Keeping your WordPress site secure isn’t as simple as flicking a switch. However, utilising the principles outlined below will help you maintain a good level of security and prevent the majority of malware from infecting your site.

Staying up-to-date.
  1. PHP Version: Try to use the latest version of PHP. This means that the latest software versions will work for you without errors or code deprecation warnings.
  2. WordPress Core: Always try and use the latest version of WordPress Core to benefit from the newest security patches from the WordPress team.
  3. Themes & Plugins: The team behind your site’s software may have identified and patched vulnerabilities that malware could exploit to gain access to your site.
  4. Remove Unused Software: If you have plugins and themes which are no longer used. It’s best to remove them entirely as they’re a potential point of entry for malware.
Choosing the right software.
  1. Reliable Plugins: Select plugins with a large user base and regular updates. Remember: ‘up-to-date’ doesn’t always mean ‘secure’. It’s essential to focus on plugins that have ongoing development. This means that they should stay protected against current and future vulnerabilities.
  2. Verify The Source: Only download plugins and themes from trustworthy sources. Beware of “nulled” or pirated versions that may contain hidden malware or stolen content.
Software that can help.
  1. WordPress Toolkit: Available for all of our hosting customers, the WordPress toolkit is great for keeping everything updated on your site.
  2. Security Plugins: Security-oriented plugins that help monitor and protect your site from attacks and send alerts when vulnerabilities are detected.

How can I remove Malware from my WordPress website?

Removing malware from your site can be tricky. What makes it worse is that removing it without resolving the vulnerability will almost always lead to re-infection. Addressing this requires a systematic approach rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Using

  1. Identify the Source of Infection: Begin by comprehending the likely entry point of the infection on your website.
  2. Recognise Attacker’s Approach: When an attacker exploits a vulnerability in a WordPress site, their initial move is often to set up a basic ‘uploader’ file. This file allows them to conveniently upload more malicious content or manipulate existing files while concealing malicious ‘payloads’ within them.
  3. Inspect WordPress Core Files: To ensure no hidden malware resides within the WordPress core files, perform a complete reinstallation of WordPress.
  4. Install Malware Toolkits: Attackers might also deploy ‘malware toolkits’ to execute various actions. These actions may encompass adding unauthorized email accounts to the control panel for spam purposes, establishing scheduled tasks within the control panel, or scanning other websites for exploitable vulnerabilities.
  5. Update and Validate Plugins: Reinstall and update all plugins on your site. Evaluate each plugin for security to ensure they are trustworthy. Further guidance on assessing plugin security is available below.
  6. Understanding Vulnerabilities: Crucially, remember that merely deleting uploaded malware files does not guarantee your website’s security. Often, these files exploit vulnerabilities within plugins. Removing the malware files might not eliminate the underlying vulnerability, which can lead to a recurrence of the issue.

ImunifyAV+: All our web hosting plans come with Imunify protection as standard which can be used to scan and remove malware from your site. This is great when trying to identify a malware infection and clean it. However, this needs to be used alongside staying up-to-date, as it will not prevent re-infection caused by out-of-date installations.

By adhering to these instructions, you’ll be on the path to comprehending the infection, eliminating its traces, and safeguarding your WordPress website effectively. Remember that consistent vigilance and staying informed about security practices are pivotal to maintaining your site’s integrity.