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How to Perform a WordPress Vulnerability Scan: WP Engine Guide

It’s easy to think that your website is safe and malicious individuals won’t target it. However, the truth is that all WordPress websites are vulnerable. Even if your site doesn’t contain personal or payment information, it can still be used as a vehicle for malware and other attacks. 

To improve the security of your website, you first need to know how vulnerable it is. This is where a vulnerability scanner comes in handy. This kind of tool checks for common vulnerabilities, and many even provide advice on how to overcome them. 

In this article, we’ll look at what a vulnerability scanner is, what it does, and how you can scan your website for malware. We’ll then introduce some of the most popular solutions. Let’s get started!

What Is a Vulnerability Scanner?

WordPress vulnerability scanners help you look for holes or weak points in your website. These weak points are often used by attackers to compromise your site, and they are also what vulnerability scanners look for and alert you to.

The depth of the scan will vary depending on the software you use. Most scanners will at the least check your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins. The more in-depth scans from premium solutions often look for malicious code as well. This is any code an attacker places on your website, in order to gain sensitive data or run malware.  

Vulnerability scanners can also verify whether your website has already been hacked. In these situations, the scanner will provide information about the type of hack, as well as any malicious actions already taken on your website. Many will also offer advice on what you can do next

How Do I Scan My WordPress Site for Malware?

It’s important to scan your website for vulnerabilities and malware on a regular basis. Waiting until you think something has already gone wrong just gives attackers more chances to infiltrate your site.

Fortunately, scanning your website is relatively easy when you have the right tools. The first step is to choose a scanner. Browser-based solutions are common and easy to use, and generally provide basic scans and reports detailing vulnerabilities.

On the other hand, WordPress security plugins can provide more detailed information. Their scans often highlight additional weaknesses on your website. As security plugins offer better protection while still being easy to use, they can often be a superior solution.

If you are using an online scanner such as Sucuri’s SiteCheck tool, you’ll generally need to start by entering your website’s URL:

Once you start the scan, the tool will look for the most common vulnerabilities. You will then receive a report listing your website’s weak points. Some online scanners will also provide advice on how you can address the specific problems they identify. 

If you have chosen to use a WordPress vulnerability scanner plugin instead, you will first need to install and activate it in your WordPress dashboard. After that, you may need to generate an API Key. You can generally complete this task in your dashboard with the click of a button. These keys enable the plugin to work with a remote service in order to store the scan logs:

Many plugins will start scanning your website right after activation. They will continue to scan at set intervals, usually daily (although you may be able to customize this setting). After the initial scan, they will provide a report detailing the security of your site, so you can begin to make changes to better protect it.

WordPress Vulnerability Scanner Plugins

There are many WordPress vulnerability scanner plugins and other solutions available. Most of them offer a free scan feature that looks at limited areas of your website. For deeper scans, you will generally need to purchase a premium product. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular options and see what they have to offer.

1. Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security is a popular security plugin for WordPress users. It checks for known patterns of infection, suspicious code, and pending updates. The plugin automatically scans your website and provides a report on your WordPress dashboard. You’ll also receive emails with notifications about flagged vulnerabilities in real time.

One of the major benefits of Wordfence is its application-level firewall. This firewall helps to prevent brute force attacks and hacking. Wordfence also provides details on how to overcome any vulnerabilities that are found on your website. 

The primary issue with the free version of Wordfence is the lack of scan scheduling. The plugin automatically determines a scan schedule that you are not able to change. You will need to purchase the premium plugin for this functionality, which starts at $99 for one site

2. Sucuri Security

If you want one of the best vulnerability scanners, Sucuri Security may be the right choice. Sucuri has become a leader in website security, and specializes in WordPress. You can use the free scanner online, but the plugin provides a more in-depth scan of your website. 

Many website owners use Sucuri because it offers security activity audits, blacklist monitoring, and post-hack security actions. Another benefit of this plugin is that it can improve the overall performance of your website as well.

Just keep in mind that there is a learning curve with Sucuri that should be taken into account. Its in-depth reporting and wide feature set can be daunting, especially for users not used to working with WordPress files directly. However, it’s a completely free plugin so there’s no harm in trying it out (although Sucuri does offer other premium security features).

3. WPSec

WPSec is not technically a plugin, but it is one of the best vulnerability scanners for your WordPress website. You can use the free online scanner to perform a quick check on your site’s security. There is also a free account that lets you generate up to 20 scan reports weekly. 

The primary benefit of WPSec is its deep scan technology, which makes use of WPScan’s Vulnerability Database. While it is possible to schedule scans in advance, you can also use an instant scan feature. The system also offers push notifications, to keep you up-to-date on your website’s security. 

The main issue with WPSec is the lack of a dedicated plugin. You’ll need to log into a separate dashboard to see your security reports. The free plan is also limited, and you’ll need the premium plan to schedule scans (starting at $19 per month). 

Keep Your Site Secure With WP Engine

Your website might seem secure, but may have vulnerabilities you’re not aware of. Vulnerability scanners can help identify these weaknesses, and provide advice on how to overcome them. You can use an online scanner for basic checks, or a plugin for more detailed scans. 

While plugins can help you stay on top of your website’s security, you don’t have to do it all alone. WP Engine offers a secure environment that protects your website from malicious individuals. This leaves you with more time to focus on providing the best digital experience to your customers!

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