WordPress Malware Scanning and Removal

WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, powering millions of websites. However, its popularity also makes it a prime target for hackers. Malware attacks can compromise your site, leading to data loss, blacklisting by search engines, and damage to your reputation. Regularly scanning for and promptly removing malware is essential to maintaining the security and integrity of your WordPress website.

What is Malware?

Malware, short for malicious software, refers to any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network. Common types of malware include:

  • Viruses: Code that attaches itself to clean files and spreads throughout a computer system.
  • Trojans: Malicious software disguised as legitimate software.
  • Spyware: Software that secretly observes the user’s activities without permission.
  • Ransomware: Malware that locks the user out of their system or files and demands payment to regain access.
  • Worms: Self-replicating malware that spreads without human intervention.

Why Malware Scanning and Removal is Important


Malware can compromise the security of your website, allowing hackers to steal sensitive data, inject malicious code, or take control of your site. Regular scanning helps detect and remove malware before it can cause significant damage.


Malware can slow down your website, leading to poor user experience and potential loss of visitors. Removing malware helps maintain optimal site performance.


A hacked site can damage your reputation, leading to a loss of trust among your users. Timely detection and removal of malware help protect your brand’s reputation.

SEO Rankings

Search engines may blacklist websites infected with malware, resulting in a loss of traffic and search engine rankings. Keeping your site clean ensures you maintain your SEO efforts.

How to Scan for Malware in WordPress

Using Security Plugins

Several WordPress plugins can scan your website for malware. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Wordfence Security: Offers a comprehensive suite of security features including malware scanning, firewall protection, and real-time threat defense.
  • Sucuri Security: Provides malware scanning, blacklist monitoring, and security hardening recommendations.
  • MalCare Security: Specializes in deep scanning without overloading your server. It includes firewall protection and login protection.
Manual Scanning

For advanced users, manual scanning can be performed by examining files and database tables for suspicious code. Look for the following indicators:

  • Unexpected file changes.
  • Unknown files in the WordPress directory.
  • Suspicious code in theme and plugin files.
  • Unexpected database entries.
Online Scanners

Online tools can also help in scanning your website for malware. Some reliable online scanners include:

  • VirusTotal: Allows you to scan URLs and files for malware.
  • Sucuri SiteCheck: Free tool to check your website for malware, blacklist status, and other security issues.

How to Remove Malware from WordPress

Backup Your Website

Before attempting to remove malware, always create a backup of your website. This ensures you can restore your site if anything goes wrong during the cleanup process.

Identify the Malware

Use the scanning tools mentioned above to identify the infected files and database entries. Pay attention to the detailed reports provided by these tools to locate all instances of malware.

Remove Infected Files

Manually delete the infected files or use the security plugin’s malware removal feature. Ensure that you only delete malicious code and not legitimate site files.

Clean the Database

Use database management tools like phpMyAdmin to examine your database for malicious code. Remove any suspicious entries and ensure your database is clean.

Reinstall WordPress Core Files

Download a fresh copy of WordPress from the official website and replace the core files. This helps ensure that no core files are infected.

Change Passwords

Change all passwords associated with your WordPress site, including admin accounts, FTP/SFTP, database, and hosting account. Use strong, unique passwords for each account.

Harden Your Website

Implement security best practices to prevent future infections. This includes:

  • Keeping WordPress, themes, and plugins updated.
  • Using strong, unique passwords.
  • Implementing two-factor authentication.
  • Limiting login attempts.
  • Disabling file editing in the WordPress dashboard.
  • Using a web application firewall (WAF).

Best Practices for WordPress Security

Regular Updates

Ensure that WordPress core, themes, and plugins are always up-to-date. Updates often include security patches for known vulnerabilities.

Secure Hosting

Choose a reputable hosting provider that offers robust security measures, including regular backups, malware scanning, and a strong firewall.

Backup Solutions

Implement regular backups using plugins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy. Store backups in multiple locations, such as cloud storage and local devices.

Least Privilege Principle

Assign the least amount of access necessary for each user role. Avoid using the administrator account for everyday tasks and limit the number of admin accounts.

Useful Resources

Malware scanning and removal are critical components of maintaining a secure WordPress website. Regularly scanning your site with reliable security tools, promptly removing any detected malware, and implementing best security practices can protect your site from potential threats. Stay proactive, stay informed, and keep your WordPress site secure.