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Malware – it’s every WordPress site owner’s worst nightmare.
Having malware on your site has all sorts of bad consequences – you can lose your SEO rankings, have data stolen/leaked, get listed in Google’s “Unsafe Sites” list (which blocks your site in Chrome), and experience many other issues.
To make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, it’s important to scan your WordPress site for malware and implement other WordPress security best practices.
Proactively preventing and detecting malware will stop most issues before they happen and also help you quickly detect any problems right away so you can prevent long-term damage to your site.
In this post, I will share six WordPress malware scanners that can help you detect malicious files on your site and/or scan your site for vulnerabilites. If you combine these scanners with other WordPress security tips, you can be confident that your website is secure and free of malware.
Six Best WordPress Malware Scanners and Vulnerability Checkers
Here are the six WordPress malware and vulnerability scanners that I’ll share:
- Jetpack Scan
- Sucuri SiteCheck
- Cerber Security
Wordfence is the most popular WordPress security plugin. One of its most notable security features is its firewall, but it also includes full malware scanning as part of the package (along with many other security features)
From inside your WordPress dashboard, you can run a malware scan that checks all the files on your server.
The free Wordfence plugin includes all the malware scanning features, but with one major limitation – the malware recognition signatures are delayed by 30 days. If you want access to real-time malware signatures (to detect zero-day issues), you need to purchase Wordfence premium. The premium version also gets you access to real-time firewall rules (which are similarly delayed in the free version).
Note – as part of its scan, Wordfence will also check for other WordPress security issues beyond malware, such as out-of-date themes and plugins or weak passwords.
One note about Wordfence is that it can have a small effect on performance because it’s actually scanning the files on your server (some tools use a different approach). You should make sure to only run malware scans during periods of low traffic if you use Wordfence so that you can avoid affecting your site’s performance during busy times.
Overall, though, Wordfence is the premier WordPress security plugin and vulnerability checker, which is why it’s active on over four million WordPress sites with a 4.7-star rating on over 3,600 reviews.
To learn more, you can read my full Wordfence review.
Price: Starts free. Paid version (for real-time malware and firewall signature rules) costs $99.
MalCare’s most unique feature is that it doesn’t actually scan the files on your server, which means it will have zero effect on your site’s performance. Instead, MalCare copies all of your site’s files to its own servers and then runs the scan there. This still lets it fully scan your site, but without any negative effect on performance.
It will automatically do this every day on autopilot to keep your site protected and detect issues as soon as they happen.
If you have the paid version, MalCare also offers malware removal/fixing with one click. This is its other unique feature – the option to easily remove any malware that it finds. It also includes a basic firewall and some other security features.
MalCare lets you scan your site for free, which will tell you whether or not you have any issues. However, you’ll need the paid version to actually see which files are infected and remove malware with one click.
Basically, it’s free to check your site for malware. But if it finds something, you’ll need to pay to remove it.
Price: Limited free version. The paid version costs $99 per year. You can also get a bundle of BlogVault (for backups) and MalCare (for malware scans) on the $149 BlogVault Plus plan.
3. Jetpack Scan (w/ Backup)
Jetpack Scan is a malware scanning feature in the popular Jetpack plugin from Automattic, the same developer behind WordPress.com and WooCommerce.
It’s integrated with Jetpack Backup, which lets it use the same off-site, performance-friendly scanning approach as MalCare. Every day, Jetpack Backup will back up all your site’s files to a secure off-site location. Then, Jetpack Scan will run a malware scan on the backed-up version of your site, which means it won’t affect your server’s performance.
If Jetpack Scan detects an issue, you’ll instantly receive an email alert and you can fix the problem with a single click.
It’s a bit more expensive than other tools, but some people won’t mind paying a premium to get a tool from one of the biggest and most established WordPress developers out there.
Price: Jetpack Scan is available on the $25 per month Security Daily plan ($20 per month with annual billing). Or, you can also purchase Jetpack Scan and Backup Daily by themselves for $10 per month each ($20 total with month-to-month billing), which would save you a little money.
Sucuri SiteCheck is a free WordPress malware scanner from a popular web security company (Sucuri).
You can run a scan of your site either from the Sucuri SiteCheck website (by entering your site’s URL) or by using the Sucuri Security plugin. You’ll then see a summary of your site and whether Sucuri found any issues. It will also tell you whether your site is listed in any blacklists (such as Google’s Unsafe Sites list).
Note – the free version of the iThemes Security plugin also uses Sucuri SiteCheck for its security scanning, which gives you another way to use this tool.
It’s very easy to use, but there is one important limitation – Sucuri SiteCheck only scans the files on the front-end of your site. It does not run a full scan of all the files on your server like Wordfence, MalCare, or Jetpack Scan.
So it can absolutely catch a malware infection that’s visible on the front-end of your site, but it wouldn’t be able to detect a malware file that’s just quietly sitting on your site’s server.
As long as you understand this limitation, Sucuri SiteCheck is a great way to quickly assess whether there are any major malware problems with your site.
Cerber Security is another full WordPress security plugin that includes a dedicated malware scanning feature.
First off, it can harden your site and protect your site from threats in the first place with its firewall. Then, to make sure nothing got through, you can run a full malware scan of all the files on your server.
You can either run a “Quick Scan” which only inspects files with an executable extension. Or, you can run a “Full Scan” to check every single file on your server. You can also choose between running scans manually or setting up automatic malware scanning.
As part of its scan, Cerber will also check for other issues, such as file integrity of the WordPress core, themes, and plugins.
If Cerber Security detects malware, it will give you the option to delete it (whenever possible) or quarantine it. You can also configure it to automatically quarantine certain high-risk files to protect your site immediately.
Overall, if you want a full WordPress security solution that also includes malware scanning, this, along with Wordfence, is one of your best options.
Price: Starts free. Paid version from $99.
WPScan is a WordPress vulnerability scanner, rather than a pure malware scanner. However, if you want to prevent malware in the first place, it’s important to detect vulnerabilities on your site and harden them.
WPScan will automatically check for vulnerabilities in your core, themes, and plugins. It will also check a number of other issues, such as WordPress username enumeration, publicly accessible wp-config.php files, and more.
So – this one doesn’t technically scan for malware, but it’s still a very important tool to prevent malware.
WPScan itself is an open-source script sponsored by Automattic. To use it, you can either install it on your own server or you can use one of the hosted implementations.
For the simplest way to use it, you can use WPSec (pictured above). WPSec offers free one-off tests just by entering your site’s URL or automated vulnerability scanning for €19 per month.
Which Is the Best WordPress Malware and Vulnerability Scanner?
If you just want a quick way to test your site for the most visible malware, I recommend regularly using the Sucuri SiteCheck scan. It’s free and will quickly tell you if there’s any visible malware on your site that might negatively affect your users and SEO. You don’t even need to install the plugin – just go to the Sucuri SiteCheck website and enter your site’s URL.
Regularly using the WPScan vulnerability scanner (via WPSec) is also good to quickly detect potential vulnerabilities and secure your site.
On the other hand, if you want a more permanent malware scanning solution, I would recommend MalCare or Jetpack Scan if you only want malware scanning. On the other hand, if you want a full WordPress security plugin that also includes malware scans, you should check out Wordfence or Cerber Security.
Do you still have any questions about how to scan your WordPress site for malware? Ask me in the comments!
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