The perils of “nulled” WordPress themes

Having the largest ecosystem of any CMS ever, WordPress users have a lot of choice when it comes to themes. There’s thousands of open source offerings on as well as many more paid for ones on marketplaces such as Envato.

I recently wanted to assess the code quality of a few different paid themes before deciding on one to buy, so I downloaded some “not quit legitimate” copies from one of the many shady “nulled theme” sites, to run in a sandbox. Obviously you’d have to be a) quite immoral and b) an idiot to use such things in production, but I figured what’s the harm if the winning one’s going to be bought anyway.

After choosing the winner I thought I’d diff the two copies I had. Just how bad was the malware going to be?

Pretty bad, as it turns out! Check out this backdoor that lets someone post whatever they want to your site, and exposes the contents of your whole DB!

Always pay for your themes kids 😉


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