WordPress Malware Removal: Stay Vigilant!

A hand in the shadows in front of a screen filled with 0's and 1's. Two fingers are holding "Weak Password" Other words like Privacy and Identity Theft are scattered through out.

The last thing you want to be searching the Internet for is WordPress Malware Removal. Unfortunately, that is one of the cons of running a WordPress Website.

We are going to look at Malware and Security. Its effects on WordPress and some suggestions for staying safe. We will go over the top threats and the harm they can cause from their vindictive behavior.

Fighting Malware is something everyone must deal with no matter what platform your website is built on. The Malware landscape is immense. Staying vigilant with your security measures is key. That’s if you would like to avoid having to use a WordPress Malware Removal Service like ours?

As of Spring 2018, WordPress continues to grow occupying just over 30% of the Internet. That popularity has made WordPress websites big targets for hackers. Out of the 80 plus million WordPress websites on the Internet today. Only one-third are updated with the latest version. That leaves several millions of websites vulnerable. When it comes to hackers and their Malware, this is defiantly not a feast or famine situation. Every day is one big feast for them.

From blogs to RSS feeds to social media and everything in between.

WordPress is always in the forefront and the information presented is not always positive. Especially when comes to WordPress Security. As usual, some people only hear certain parts of a story and then run with it. Then the wrong impression gets circulated around that WordPress is not a secure Content Management System (CMS). On the contrary, WordPress is very stable and secure.

WordPress comes into security issues from people using it and adding to it. Adding to it, as in creating Themes and Plugins. The majority of WordPress website owners will not take care of their websites like they should. Thus, the comment from above “only one-third are updated to the latest version.”

The usual reasons for this are: “I am not sure how to update the core, let alone the themes and plugins.” When it’s actually very easy. Which brings us to the second reason: “What if I execute the updates and there’s a conflict or something breaks? I have no idea how to fix it?” Thinking it’s safer, and not execute any updates. Thirdly: “I do not have the time to keep up with the maintenance tasks like the updates.”

We see the WordPress logo with "Hacked!" in red across it.

By not completing the updates, you are giving hackers more entry points to get into your website. All websites require ongoing maintenance wither you do it yourself or hire a company like us to do it for you.

Plugins give you the ability to extend WordPress. Adding features without knowing how to program. Plugins are also the #1 entry point for hackers. Over half of WordPress hack attacks are via a plugin. There are currently over 50,000 to choose from. The openings for potential hackers are vast to say the least.

To keep yourself from being a hacked statistic, these tips will make your website more secure than not following them.

When you download a plugin look at the last time it was updated. Reputable developers will update their plugins quite often. If it has been over 6 months since the last update, you should be leery about that plugin. If you really want to use it, investigate and see if you can find out any more information. Anything that has not been updated in 8 months or longer, find another plugin to use. Chances are the plugin will never be updated again.

Keeping your WordPress Core updated is very important. But keeping up with your plugin updates is just as important. Theme’s need to be added to the list as well and are just as important. Again, you could always use one of our “WebStop.net Maintenance Plans.”

Updates are only one of several tasks you should consistently be doing for your website. These updates will usually include new features, performance enhancements, bug fixes and security patches. More times than not, the security patches are the result from a hacker(s) finding a vulnerability.

For each update that is not performed, another door is opened. Hackers are more than happy to walk right through those doors. At that point they can do whatever they want like hijacking your server resources and causing havoc by inserting some type of Malware.

Hackers will often use password guessing automated software that are often Bots. The internet-based company from Australia “Working Mouse” has a great to the point description:

“Bots are the software equivalents of robots: automated machines and automated bot software. What tasks they can attempt, let alone accomplish, is wide-ranging, and varies.”

The main function of this program is to methodically test all possible passwords and passphrases until they find the right one. They will use a variety of techniques and patterns using numbers, letters and keyboard symbols. These programs will commonly run continuously, 24 hours a day, entering one password right after another until they get the correct one.

There are thousands of Malware threats daily but there are some that are used quite often. We will give you a look at the most common types that affect the world today.

Malware comes in many different varieties and each one has their own malicious intent.

Malware is the parent name classification for Viruses, Worms, Ransomware, Adware, Rootkit, Spyware, Back Doors, Trojans, Malicious Bots and so on. Code written by hackers or Cyber Criminals specifically for vindictive intentions is “Malware”. It is also referred to as malicious software that targets computers and websites.

An image with Malware in the center. Several other square images with varies Malware-Virus names pointing to it.

Malware and a Virus are often referred to as one in the same. A Virus spreads just like a Human Virus. It infects computers and websites by digging into programs and files. A Virus may clone itself if it can hook onto something running in Windows. Those type of viruses can display advertisements to crashing your website or computer.

The Worm is like a Virus in that it is infectious. A Worm is a computer program that clones itself onto other computers, that it can reach across the internet. One of the main uses for a Worm is to infect large numbers of broadband-connected computers using remote-control software. Unlike a Virus, a Worm will not usually hook onto a Windows process. When a Worm clones itself, it will not target and infect files that are already on a computer.

Trojan malware will present itself one way but then turns out to be another. Trojans are considered one of the most dangerous types of malware out on the market today. It will disguise itself as legit software or a file.

Some Trojans are created to look like common software and will try and persuade you to install certain software on your computer. Once installed, a hacker will have access to your personal information like IP address, and passwords. Trojans are also used to install Keyloggers that will capture items like banking credentials, and credit card data. The hacker will either use it for their own gain or sell it to other cybercriminals.

Most of the Ransomware attacks are implemented by using Trojans.

(We talk more about Ransomware and Keyloggers a little further down on the page.) They will stick the harmful code inside some data that is looked at as harmless. Trojans primary target is to steal financial information.

The Drive-by Download malware is unfortunately something that many of us have experienced before. You are surfing the net and you bring up a page without clicking anything on the page. Opening the web page triggers the malware. Then that exposes a weakness in your browser that is now infecting your computer.

The pages that get infected could be any type of webpage. It does not matter what the content is, the size, or where it originated from. What happens is a hacker will inject the Drive-by Download malware inside the webpage. This is something you will never see or even know when it’s happening. Then it will scan your computer looking for any security vulnerabilities.

Adware is another malicious creation by hackers. That many of us, have unfortunately, experienced before. Adware displays those annoying unwanted ads on your screen. At the same time, it is collecting data from your browsing history, tracking the sites you have visited before. That information is then sent back to advertisers. From that point, you will begin to see advertisements showing up in your browser. The advertisements will be based on your information they tracked.

Two purple cartoon characters with the WordPress logo on their chests and the words to the side of them reading "What to do when your WordPress site gets hacked

The advertisements can come in different forms like with annoying intrusive popups.

It gets ridiculous when you try and click off one popup, then 5 more appear. Another technique is to redirect your searches to their websites and then try to collect data from you there.

Spyware is like Adware and it will collect your browsing information and send it to advertisers. Spyware is often not malicious. You will never know it’s there most of the time. Its purpose is to monitor and collect information on your computer. Unlike Adware, Spyware can collect bank account details, credit card information, logins and passwords.

Ransomware is just like it sounds. It will hold your computer hostage until you give them the payment they demand. For instance, you may try to login into your computer if you use a login and password. A screen will come up stating what they have done to your computer, and how you can restore it to normal again.

This is where they will demand some form of payment with instructions.

The preferred form of payment is the virtual currency of bitcoin. They like to use bitcoin because they can hide their identity. Depending on its creator Ransomware can work in different ways. They may choose to lock you out of your computer or not let you open a browser to surf the net or any other program on your computer. That’s until you pay the Ransom.

A Keylogger, also referred to a Keystroke, that will record every keystroke entry you make on your computer. This type of malware is sneaky like Spyware where you will not even know it’s being done. Just think about everything you type on your keyboard. All that information can be collected. Logins, passwords, answers to security questions, credit card details, banking information and more.

A Rootkit will give an unauthorized user access to computers. Because they operate in the lower levels of an operating system they are hard to detect. A Rootkit can remotely execute files, and even change the system configurations on a host machine. Once you have found a Rootkit on your computer they are very hard to remove. You are better off wiping your hard drive clean, then reinstalling everything else.

Phishing is not considered malware, but it is still a form of crime. The Phishing scam begins when you are either contacted by email, telephone or text message. The person that contacts you tries to act like a legitimate business or organization. The sole purpose is to get you to provide them with your private information. It could be anything like your social security number, bank account number, even passwords.

They might send an email trying to get you to click on a link.

They want you to think it’s your bank, so you will enter in your credentials. That link is part of their Phishing scam to collect your data information.

Last on our list, but not least as far as threatening and dangerous is the bot.net. The bot.net name is derived from putting together “robot” and “network”. Which totally makes sense because bot.nets are a network that has only one mission and that’s to commit cybercrime. The behind the scenes criminal hacker or “Black Hat” are at the controls. They have also picked up the nicknames of Botmaster or Botherder.

A futuristic bot holding a sign that reads "Malicious"

To build a robust bot.net, they will need as many infected online devices as possible under their control. The more they can have under their control the better. Kind of like the more dynamite you put in the hole, the bigger the blast. The more infected devices the bigger the impact they can impose. When the Botherder decides to attack they will command the devices to overload a website. The ultimate goal for them is to make a big enough impact that the website stops working or access is denied. This is known as a denial of service or DDoS.

When it comes to the Internet, hackers are continuously pursuing looking for vulnerabilities in websites they can exploit. From that point, it’s a matter of “when” and “where” they decide to go on the attack. A hacker will often have a garden variety of Malware to choose from in their toolbox. Depending on their objective, will determine which critter they will let loose out their box. You can be sure of one thing though, they are not delivering flowers or a piping hot pizza for you to enjoy.

“If you can protect yourself against plugin vulnerabilities and brute force attacks, you are accounting for over 70% of the problem.”  –Wordfence

Thanks for reading-

The WebStop Crew

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