How To Check If A WordPress Plugin Is Safe Or Not (Complete Guide)

How To Check If A WordPress Plugin Is Safe Or Not (Complete Guide)

Imagine you found the perfect plugin for your WordPress website. It has all the bells and whistles, and you can’t wait to see how it boosts your website.

Excited to try it out, download and install quickly.

Within hours, your website load time doubles, your analytics program reports suspicious traffic, and spam floods your email inbox.

Unfortunately, this nightmare scenario is more common than you might think. But with countless WordPress plugins available, how can you determine which ones are unsafe?

Continue reading to find out.

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Not all WordPress plugins are safe

With WordPress powering an amazing 43% of all websites on the InternetIt’s no surprise that it’s a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals.

One of the reasons for the popularity of WordPress is its vast library of free plugins. At the time of writing, WordPress users can access over 60,000 plugins.

Many WordPress plugins be created by renowned developers. They undergo security checks and have active facilities.

But others are not. They may be poorly coded or even intentionally malicious.

Malicious code can lead to plugin vulnerabilities on your website. Exposes your website to attacks, slow performanceand other matters.

To protect your website, you need to discern which plugins are safe and which are not.

How to check if a WordPress plugin is safe

Your online presence is important no matter how big your business is. And if your WordPress site experiences downtime, it could be costly for your business. Not to mention, it could damage your reputation with customers.

Avoiding vulnerable plugins is one way to help prevent downtime and other costly issues. This is how you can check if a WordPress plugin is safe or has security vulnerabilities.

Check plugin source

The source of the plugin is where you plan to download it. The official WordPress Plugin Repository is the most secure and reliable source of plugins. Every new plugin released to the market goes through a review process to ensure it meets quality standards.

While third-party websites also offer plug-ins, they may not be safe and expose you to potential risks.

Browse reviews and ratings.

Reading reviews and ratings of a WordPress plugin can provide insight into its performance, safety, and overall quality. Users who have had problems with a plugin will likely share their experiences in reviews.

This is what to look for in plugin reviews.

Total number of reviews – A large number of reviews can indicate a good plugin. However, it’s always a good idea to read a few to confirm. Also, check third-party sources to verify that the reviews are legitimate. Average Rating – An average rating above four stars is ideal, showing that most users have had a positive experience with the plugin. Recent Reviews: Recent reviews confirm that installed plugins still work fine and are not compromised. Also, they will give you an idea of ​​whether the plugin is being maintained. Common problems: Before downloading, take a look at the negative reviews. Do they have anything in common and would they apply to you? Understanding potential issues allows you to avoid frustration and keep your website secure.

Look for a combination of positive factors and compare them with the negatives. For example, if a plugin has a large number of revisions but they are all old, you should consider alternatives.

We’ll go over the red flags to look for later in the article.

Research the plugin developer

A trusted developer is more likely to maintain high-quality, secure plugins and provide any necessary updates and support.

Start by visiting the developer’s website to learn more about their background, experience, and other products they offer. A professional website with detailed information shows that the developer is serious about his job.

Checking the plugin’s changelog or update history can also provide valuable information. Frequent updates and improvements show that the developer actively maintains his plugin and fixes any issues.

And if the developer is active on the forums, you can bet that they are committed to providing a great product.

Evaluate update frequency and plugin compatibility

A regularly updated plugin has less risk of WordPress security issues. If the developer hasn’t updated the plugin in a while, it could indicate that they no longer actively support it. And using an unsupported plugin could put your website at risk.

Also, check the compatibility of the plugin with your current version of WordPress. Incompatible plugins can cause conflicts or unexpected behavior on your website. Most developers will list the supported WordPress versions in the plugin’s description or documentation.

Inspect the plugin documentation

Whether it’s a user manual or a simple website with tips, a plugin’s documentation or tutorial can save you several hours. It’s a sign that the developer cares about both the users and the product.

If documentation is available, take some time to read it. It can help you avoid problems or surprises with how your plugin works in the future.

Use security scanners and testers

Security scanners allow you to check the security of plugins before installing them. Some popular tools include iThemes Security Pro, WPScan – Plugin Security Scannerand Jetpack Protect.

With these tools, you can proactively identify potential issues and make an informed decision about installing a particular plugin.

Monitor your website after plugin installation

After taking all the necessary precautions, it is advisable to observe the performance and status of your website. Monitor your website load times, analytics data, and error logs for unusual behavior or potential problems.

You can also use a security plugin like fence of words either Sucuri to help protect your website from potential threats. These tools can identify and block malicious traffic, scan for vulnerabilities, and alert you to website security issues.

If you want, you can set up automatic notifications and updates to make sure you handle issues promptly.

Common plugin red flags to watch out for

Now that we’ve covered the green flags of plugins, let’s look at the red flags.

Note: Look for various red flags to determine the legitimacy of a plugin. A red flag does not always mean that a plugin is not safe. But two or three can indicate threats like malware.

Repository of unusual or unprofessional plugins

Beware of plugins found in a suspicious or unprofessional repository. They may not have been thoroughly vetted for safety and quality standards.

If possible, stick to when looking for plugins.

Disreputable developer

When comparing your options, go for the plugin from a high-quality and experienced developer. Low-quality developer plugins might be less secure. User reviews, a quick Google search, and the developer’s website are all good places to find out more.

Plugin flagged as unsafe by trusted sources

If reputable sources mark an add-on as dangerous, it is advisable to avoid it. You can check the WPScan Vulnerability Database or well-established blogs.

Low download count

A plugin with a low number of downloads may not be widely adopted. That could indicate quality, performance, or security issues that discourage users from installing it. But consider comparing it to other options before making a final decision.

Incompatibility with the latest version of WordPress

Another red flag is if a plugin has not been updated to work with the latest version of WordPress. Their use could lead to security risks. The plugin might also have trouble working with other parts of your website, such as your WordPress theme or other plugins.

Infrequent or outdated updates

A plugin with poor update history or long intervals between updates might suggest that it is no longer actively supported by the developer. Using it could leave your website vulnerable to security threats and compatibility issues.

Lack of developer support.

Check to see if the plugin developer is actively participating in the forums, responding to user queries, or addressing concerns. If they don’t, it may indicate that they are not committed to maintaining the plugin. A poorly maintained plugin could have security flaws or compatibility issues.

excessive file size

A plugin with an unusually large file size could consume too many server resources. It can indicate poor optimization or hidden malicious features.

Poorly written code (coding experience required)

If the plugin code looks suspicious, poorly written, or difficult to understand, it could indicate potential security risks or hidden malicious features. You will need to know how to code to identify this red flag. Programming languages ​​you need to understand include PHP, SQL, CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

Final Thoughts: How To Check If A WordPress Plugin Is Safe Or Not (Complete Guide)

While the WordPress community is full of experienced and supportive developers, bad apples still exist. By using these checklists to evaluate potential plugins, you can avoid security, performance, and user experience issues.

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