WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management Systems. It powers more than 30% of all websites on the Internet. As a result, it gets a lot of attention, and not all of that attention is good.
Given WordPress’ popularity, it is often the prime target for hackers. They are looking to exploit a vulnerability and inject malicious code. It allows them to perform other illegal activities. As such, it’s important to make sure your site is safe and secure right from the start. Rather than wait for the worst to happen.
Aside from implementing security measures, the best way to protect your site is to perform regular website malware scans. That’s why in this article we’ve rounded up the top 5 WordPress malware scanners. And we’ll go over their features so you can decide which scanner is the best one for you.
It’s worth mentioning that many sites list iThemes Security as a malware scanner. But the fact is that this security plugin is not a real WordPress malware scanner. iThemes Security uses Sucuri Sitecheck to scan for malware rather than having its own solution. As such, we’re not including it in this comparison.
Our top WordPress malware scanners:
MalCare is a free plugin available in the official plugin repository that offers a lot of features. First off, MalCare can perform regular malware scans on your WordPress website. The way malware scanning and identifying works are by means of intelligent learning. This means that MalCare uses data from thousands of websites it’s installed on to learn and adapt.
This malware detection helps you prevent a WordPress website from being blacklisted by the search engines. Or your site getting disabled by your host.
In addition to that, MalCare offers the following features:
- Web Application Firewall to stop malicious requests
- The ability to block brute force attacks. And stop malicious bots from hacking your website
- Block IP address following a few consecutive failed login attempts
- The option to whitelist IPs so known visitors don’t have to solve captchas
- And more
The major benefit of MalCare, though, is the fact that the plugin uses its own resources for all the resource-intensive processes. This means that your site’s performance will not slow down. Nor will it cause you to go over the allocated resources on your hosting server.
Another benefit of MalCare is that it requires no setup. You can simply install the plugin. And immediately start monitoring your site.
MalCare offers a basic free version that includes the features mentioned above. Scanning WordPress is a feature that comes for free with this plugin. It also has a paid version that includes the ability to automatically remove malware. And that too with a single click. There is site management so you can update outdated themes and plugins from one location, backups, and more. Pricing varies depending on the number of sites you want to protect. And starts at $8.25/month billed annually or $99/year.
Emergency Malware Clean Up
There is also an option to purchase an Emergency Malware Cleaning Service if your site has been infected. And if you need immediate help. This will also give you access to MalCare Premium and BlogVault Backups Premium licenses for a year. And this comes at no additional cost. Emergency Malware Cleaning is a one-time fee.
The next scanner on the list is Sucuri Sitecheck. This is a free and one of the most popular WordPress security scanners. It uses remote scanning to detect any malware or security problems on your WordPress website. To start, you’ll have to visit Sucuri Sitecheck Scanner, provide your website’s URL, and click the Scan Website button.
Sucuri Sitecheck does a decent job of detecting malware, blacklisting, defacing, website errors, and other common WordPress security issues. However, since it’s a remote scanner, there is a possibility that malware embedded deeply on your WordPress website will get missed. This means that malware problems such as phishing, backdoor exploits or malicious usernames will not be detected.
Sucuri also offers a free plugin. These can be downloaded from the official repository. And it includes the following features:
- File integrity monitoring
- Auditing activities related to security
- Malware scanning remotely
- Website hardening
- Blacklist monitoring
- Post-Hack security measures
- Instant notifications
The plugin is a great alternative. That is if you don’t want to go to the web-based scanner every day to check your site.
Sucuri has its own set of paid services as well. The most notable one is their firewall service that can prevent hacking and DDOS attacks. And also includes performance optimization. Pricing starts at $19.98/month.
There is also the option to sign up for their platform. This includes the features that come with the firewall as well as security monitoring. Along with the ability to clean up malware. The pricing for this version starts at $299.99/year.
Lastly, Sucuri offers Immediate Help for hacked websites. This service includes emergency hack cleanup, ongoing protection, and monitoring. Pricing depends on the cleanup turnaround time and starts at $199.99/year.
Wordfence is another service and plugin that offers a free firewall. And it is one of the most popular WordPress malware scanners. When it comes to malware scanning features, Wordfence scans themes, and plugins, core files. As well as backdoors, and code injections. It compares those files on your website against the files in the WP repository. And then reports any changes it finds to you.
Once changed files have been identified, you can then repair those files. And delete any that seem suspicious.
In addition to that, the plugin will scan your site’s content. This includes comments and posts for any malicious URLs. And then check your site for known vulnerabilities.
Other features include:
- Web Application Firewall that identifies and blocks malicious traffic
- Enforcing strong passwords, limiting login attempts, and other login measures. This will help protect your site against brute force attacks.
- Live Traffic monitoring which enables you to monitor incoming traffic and potential hack attempts
- IP blocking and advanced IP range rules
There is a downside to using Wordfence. It’s that all the scanning and monitoring is done using your website’s resources. This means your site might become slow during scans. Another downside of Wordfence is that the plugin will not be able to detect malware. That’s in case your WordPress website is using a lot of premium plugins that aren’t in the official repository. Or if you have custom coded plugins and themes.
Like other plugins on this list, the Wordfence plugin has a premium version of their firewall. This includes real-time feed and monitoring, country blocking, 2-Factor Authentication, blacklist checking, and more. Pricing starts at $99 for one license and one site with discounts available for additional licenses.
They also offer WordPress Site Cleaning Service that costs $179. It’s worth mentioning that this price is dependant on the number of queued orders. And goes up significantly if they are working on a large number of infected websites. This service also includes Wordfence Premium subscription for one year at no additional cost.
Similar to Sucuri Sitecheck, Quttera Web Malware Scanner offers an online scanner. And is regarded as one of the best WordPress malware scanners. You can visit Quttera Web Malware Scanner. Enter your website’s URL. And the scanner will get to work. It can scan for and identify different types of malware. Such as viruses, trojans, backdoors, shells, malicious code injection, auto-generated malicious content, and more.
The scanner will also detect if your site has been blacklisted by the search engines. Or any other blacklisting authorities. Once the scan has been completed, you can get a detailed report. This includes an overview of scanned files. And any additional information the scanner found during the scan.
This scanner uses a patented technology that uses a multi-layered, heuristic approach. It gathers the intelligence from the analyzed system. And digest it into weighted rules to flag a piece of code as malicious. It also has a self-learning mechanism. It gathers information from a worldwide network to detect malware.
Main features include:
- One-Click scan
- Unknown malware detection
- External links detection
- Blacklist status
- No Signatures or Patterns updates
- Artificial Intelligence Scan Engine
- Cloud technology
- Detailed investigation report
- Investigation of WordPress files
- Detection of files infected by PHP malware
- Detection of injected PHP shells
This scanner can be downloaded as a WordPress plugin from the official repository. This means you don’t have to visit their online scanner. Instead, you can perform a scan from within your WordPress dashboard.
Quttera Web WordPress Malware Scanner offers paid plans which include malware removal. Their premium plans start at $149/year, depending on the initial response time.
The last scanner on our list is Gotmls. This plugin was developed out of the author’s own necessity to clean one of his hacked websites. Once you install the plugin, it will run a malware scan on your WordPress website. And it will automatically clean security threats.
Main features include:
- A firewall that prevents exploiting vulnerabilities in some popular plugins like Revolution Slider
- Ability to upgrade timthumb scripts, the ones that are vulnerable
- The ability to download Definition Updates
- The ability to clean malware
You will need to register the plugin on the official website to use the features mentioned above. If you don’t register the plugin, you can still use it to scan your site. But you’ll need to figure out which files are malicious and then remove them.
While the plugin doesn’t have an official paid version, it does accept donations. This adds extra features such as the ability to fix XMLRPC. Prevent hack attempts like DDoS attacks and Brute-Force attempts. Also, checking the integrity of WordPress core files. And an automatic download of new updates during a scan.
If you decide to donate, you’ll notice there are several options. You can donate fixed amounts starting from $15 and going all the way up to $200. Depending on the amount you donate, you’ll have access to different features. You cannot choose the amount to donate yourself which might be a deterrent to some users.
Keeping your site safe from potential security threats is crucial if you want to make sure your site keeps performing at its best. And without running the risk of getting blacklisted by the search engines. An infected website damages your reputation. Not to mention costs you thousands of dollars in malware removal and lost revenue.
While it is possible to do a manual check for malware, keep in mind that this is a time-consuming process. You also might miss a lot of infected files. This is due to the very nature of malware. And the fact that it can reside in different parts of your website.
You can avoid this by installing any of the WordPress malware scanners we mentioned. And perform regular malware scans of your website. The five plugins listed here came out on top due to their features. But our recommendation is to go with MalCare. This plugin can reliably identify malware. Thanks to its technology which uses more than 100 intelligent signals to find even the most complex malware.
When you pair that with the fact that MalCare uses its own servers to do all of the processing. It’s clear that MalCare is one of the most powerful WordPress malware scanner plugins out there.