Downloading Themes from 3rd Party sites? Be careful..!

Being a WordPress user we enjoy the advantage of free themes, Right? Yes Obviously. But, some bad dogs out there, using the same advantage to takeover your blogs. Usually we search and download themes from third party sites. But experts say it’s not safe, as there may be a chance of getting some malicious code along with the theme.

Derek, author at 5thirtyone explains his own experience. Derek develops and shares the WordPress themes for free. But one fine day he received a mail from one of his theme user saying..

Alistair recently tipped me off to another WordPress gallery distributing themes which include malicious code / modifications. The tip from Alistair actually began as a support email:

I have one question about the encoded stuff I saw in the header, [...]

header-code

After kindly informing Alistair that my theme(s) were not distributed with any code outside of the WordPress scope, I discovered that the code in question was downloaded from WP Sphere. Poking through some of the other recognized themes on the site, I discovered that each of the themes made available for download had been repackaged to include the code above – often in plain view within the header.php File. Paul Carroll took the time to break down what the code above exposes users to.

I think the potential for abuse of this script is huge. I see it as a covert channel to setup Word Press enabled sites as thin zombies. The code being sent back to the server and eval’d could be a mailing script for spam or phishing.

The same thing applies to free download plugins too…It’s always better to trace the author of that theme or plugin and download directly from there. If you download from some 3rd party site and something goes wrong, you can’t ask/blame anybody there.

Already Downloaded? What to Do now??

Don’t worry, still we have some ways to scan them now. We have a plugin called Theme Authenticity Checker, which will scan your entire theme directory to find the possible malicious code. Download and scan your theme right now.

We also have sites like http://novirusthanks.org which can find any malicious or iframe codes in your WordPress directory.

Day by day growth in blogosphere causing many problems along with the advantages we enjoy. So it’s always our responsibility to be active and cautious. Scan your themes and plugins right now and contact the original author for any support.

Hope you found it useful. Found any suspicious code in your theme or plugin? Share with us! Happy Blogging!!

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