Website designs can be premade and used for a site with minimal effort. This does mean that the site’s appearance will mirror others on the web as it is not a unique, custom design, but that’s part and parcel of picking a pre-made theme.
Themes are often made for the content management system, WordPress, and can be free or premium themes. In this article, we examine whether there are any risks with using a free theme for your site and what to do about it if there are.
Security Considerations with Free Themes
Some WordPress themes for a website are free. They’re developed for anyone to use. This is usually just a hobby for a designer who’s starting out or is passionate about producing better themes than those available presently.
The main issue is how recently the theme was updated. If the theme wasn’t updated when WordPress was changed, then a WordPress update may well have created new security holes that a website hacker can exploit. Also, if the free theme doesn’t get updated over time, it becomes at greater risk of a hacker finding a way through the site to gain access to customer records.
Can You Make WordPress More Secure?
It’s possible to make WordPress more secure regardless of the inherent security concerns present with free themes. With that said, while they make WordPress itself safer, it still doesn’t remove any present vulnerabilities with the underlying theme code itself.
However, it’s still worth securing the site to reduce the risks across the board. You never know – a hacker might try other attempts first, find them blocked in a sophisticated manner, and give up at that point without trying to hack the theme.
One of the best WordPress plugins to address security issues is WordFence. They provide an excellent, highly configurable security plugin even in their free version. They also have a very active team that investigates themes and plugins for security holes, alerts the developers to get them fixed when they find something of concern, and once fixed, email their subscribers about it.
How to Handle a Website Hack?
If your website has been taken over by a hacker, it’s sometimes possible to get the website to reset by taking it offline and manually replacing it with a backup. This may remove any malicious code added to the site, such as with a SQL injection attack, but depending on when the site was hacked, it may not prevent further attacks.
In which case, what should you do? At this point, it’s useful to use a security firm like SecureForensics.com, who have experts in looking at websites and security logs to determine where an attack originated, how to stop it, and removing the threat for the future too.
It’s also worth pointing out that you should not rely just on the backups that a web host performs. Take your own WordPress backups (UpdraftPlus is an effective plugins) that let you create archives containing your entire website installation and save them to the cloud. That way, you have more than one backup option to recover from.