Why You Should Avoid Using Nulled WordPress Themes and Plugins?

Jan 7, 2020

Why You Should Avoid Using Nulled WordPress Themes and Plugins?

Jan 7, 2020

Looking for a nulled WordPress theme or plugin? But before you install and activate a nulled software on your website, have you considered the consequences of using them?

If you are looking to cut costs, you may be tempted to use multipurpose WordPress theme and plugins instead of buying the premium theme versions. But nulled software often poses security risks to the WordPress sites where they are installed.

It can cause severe damage to your website such as your site can be hacked and all your resources could be used to carry out malicious deeds like sending spam emails. Your website can be blacklisted by Google and even suspended by your hosting providers.

But getting hacked is just one reason for not using a nulled software on your website. In this article, we’ve written down all key reasons you should avoid nulled themes and plugins.


If you are already using a nulled theme or plugin and want to check if it contains malware, then install our WordPress malware scanner plugin. Within a few minutes, the plugin will tell you if the nulled theme or plugin is infected.

Before we jump headfirst into the reasons, we’ve laid down a short introduction on nulled themes and plugins for the uninitiated.

What are Nulled WordPress Themes & Plugins?

First launched in 2003, WordPress has made it easy to build a website for people without any technical abilities. Moreover, with the advent of shared hosting, it is now cheaper than ever to create a WordPress website. But unfortunately, this cultivates a mindset where site owners don’t want to invest too much in building a website.

Premium WordPress themes and plugins are expensive. And while there are free plugins and themes that site owners can choose from, free software is not as powerful as the premium ones. This is why there is a demand for nulled themes and plugins.

Nulled themes and plugins are pirated versions of the theme or plugin. But what does pirated version mean?

Every premium WordPress plugin or theme has a license. A single theme or plugin often has a single license. This limits the use of this software to only one website. But someone may find a way to modify the software so that it can be used on more than one website. The modified theme is a pirated or cracked version of the original theme.

There are several websites offering pirated versions of premium plugins and themes. Anyone can download them for free and that’s exciting! Why pay for software when you can get it for free, right?

But pirated software is unsafe and could cause severe damage to your site. In the next section, we cover the reasons why such nulled plugins and themes can put your site in danger and put you at risk.

Nulled themes are plugins are pirated versions of the theme or plugin. Click To Tweet


Reasons To Avoid Using Nulled Themes & Plugins

There are 3 main reasons why you should not use nulled themes and plugins. Those are:

1. Malware Infection

It’s not uncommon to find malware in nulled themes and plugins. On the internet, we are often sold the lie that people pirate software out of goodwill so that everyone can have access to it. It’s easy to believe such a lie because it benefits us. But in the long run, you’d regret using a nulled theme or plugin.

Nulled themes and plugins are often infected with malware by hackers. Once you install the software on your website, the malicious codes become active. It then creates a backdoor that enables hackers to access your website. Hence by installing a nulled theme or plugin, you are opening doors for hackers to enter your website.

2. Lack of Security Updates

If you’re lucky and the pirated software is not infected, it’s still not secure to use.

Like any other software, vulnerabilities creep into themes and plugins over time.

Once discovered, developers usually release a patch within a few hours. These patches are released in the form of an updated version. Users need to update their software to this new version to patch the vulnerability on their website.

If left unpatched, such vulnerabilities can be exploited to hack a WordPress website.

When you use nulled themes and plugins, you are doing it without the knowledge of the developers. So when the developer’s team releases an update, you will not receive that update.


WordPress theme updates

You can update your themes by clicking on Update Now


Running an outdated theme or plugin on your website puts your website at risk. As we mentioned earlier, vulnerabilities in outdated plugins and themes can be exploited to hack a WordPress website.

When you use WordPress nulled themes and plugins, you are doing it without the knowledge of the developers and you are not paying their due. Therefore, if you’re using such software, you’re on your own. If there’s an update released, you won’t be able to update your version. This is especially important if you are using a WooCommerce themes.

Running an outdated WP theme or plugin on your website puts your website at risk. Vulnerabilities in outdated plugins and themes can be exploited to hack a WordPress website. To learn more about the importance of updates, read our guide on WordPress updates.

3. Lack of New Features & Compatibility Issues

Most developers that create plugins and themes for WordPress are very active and constantly take measures to improve their software.

Over time, they add new features, improve the user interface, patch security flaws, and eliminate bugs.

Most importantly, they update their software to be compatible with the latest version of WordPress.

Take, for instance, BlogVault, our backup plugin. It was first launched nearly a decade ago. Over the years, we have introduced new features such as White-labeling Solution, Uptime & Performance Monitoring, etc.


We have also constantly updated the plugin to ensure that it works seamlessly with every new WordPress version. Each time we release an update, the user receives a notification on the dashboard.

But if you are using a nulled version of the plugin, you will never receive the update. This means you won’t receive new features nor will the plugin will fully compatible with the new WordPress version.

Now that you’ve understood the consequences of using nulled themes and plugins, we hope you will choose not to install them.

If you are already using nulled software on your WordPress blog, we recommend scanning your website for malware infection.

We’ll show you how you can scan and detect malicious codes in a nulled theme or plugin installed on your website.

Also read: How to fix “Cannot locate file in WordPress but exists” 


How to Detect Malicious Code in Nulled Plugins & Themes?

You can detect the malware using two methods – with a security plugin or manually.

Detect Malicious Code in Nulled Plugins & Themes Manually

A plugin or theme is made up of files and folders. Manual scanning requires you to open the files and folders and check for malicious codes.

If the software is installed on your website then you will need to access the backend of your website. To do this, log into your hosting account and open the cPanel. From the cPanel, go to the File Manager > public_html > wp-content > plugins/themes.


plugins & uploads folder in file manager

Open File Manager & go to public_html > wp-content > Plugins/Themes


In these folders, you will see a list of all the themes and plugins you have installed on your website. Select and open the folder of the nulled theme and plugin.

The next step is to look for malicious code in them.

Note: If you haven’t installed a nulled plugin or theme into your website and are wondering if you can detect malware in the nulled software without installing it. Well, sure you can. Just download the theme or plugin on your local computer and unzip the folder follow the steps we have mentioned below.

The most common way of finding malware in a nulled theme or plugin is by searching for malicious PHP scripts.

Inside the Theme or Plugin folder, you will find many files that contain a PHP script. You can look for common PHP scripts like stripslashes, eval, base64, move_uploaded_file, etc. If you find any of these in any of the files, it quite possible that it’s malware. But there’s a catch here.

Many plugins use these PHP scripts as regular code. So even if you find such functions, it’s hard to determine if they are malicious or clean.

If you are running a nulled theme or plugin on your website, we suggest that you delete the software immediately. Click To Tweet

Detect Malicious Code in Nulled Plugins & Themes Using a Plugin

In this method, you need to install a WordPress security plugin. But with so many security plugins out there, it becomes difficult to pick the right one. Not every security plugin is capable of finding all the malicious codes in a nulled plugin or theme.

    • Most security plugins only look into places where malware is generally found. This means malware hidden anywhere else goes undetected.
    • Moreover, most security plugins follow the old-school signature or pattern matching methods in which they look for known malware – one that has already been discovered in other infected websites. So if your site has been hacked with new malware, it will go undetected.
    • Moreover, many security plugins have a long turn-around time. It can take something between a few hours to a few days to clean your database. We know that when your website is hacked time of the essence. Delay in cleaning your website can snowball the situation. For instance, your web host may suspend your site and Google may blacklist your site.

You will need a plugin that isn’t plagued by these issues. MalCare is one such security plugin.

Built on the latest technology, it is capable of analyzing every line of code on your website. This makes it possible to determine whether the code is malicious or not. It will find the malware even if it’s new, hidden, disguised or too complex.

Moreover, the plugin goes beyond the known locations where malware is generally found. It looks into nook and corner and investigates suspicious behavior. If there is malware on your website, MalCare will find it.

Scanning Nulled Plugins & Themes Using MalCare

To scan nulled a plugin and theme installed on your website, follow our step-by-step guide.



Step 1: Install and activate the WordPress security plugin on your website. After that, add the website to the MalCare dashboard and the plugin will start scanning your site immediately. The first scan can take a few minutes but when it’s complete, you will be notified in the MalCare dashboard.

Step 2: After the scan is complete, MalCare will show you how many hacked files are present on your site. By clicking on ‘Hacked Files Detects’, you can see the exact location of the malware. Most likely, the infection will be spread beyond nulled themes and plugins folders.


malcare hacked files detected

MalCare found 151 hacked files


Step 3: After you’ve discovered the malware, you need to remove it immediately. Had you been using any other plugin, you would have had to contact them and wait for someone to clean your site.

But with MalCare, all you need to do just click on the Auto-Clean button. And within a few minutes, your website will be malware-free.


malcare's auto-clean option

Clean the nulled theme by click on Auto-Clean


Now that your site is cleaned, you need to get rid of the nulled theme or plugin. It’s probably best to find an alternative theme or plugin before deleting the nulled ones from your WordPress website.

In Conclusion

Nulled WordPress plugins and themes put your website at serious risk. It’s best to never use them.

But these aren’t the only security threats your website faces. Hackers look for any vulnerability such as weak passwords, outdated software that they can use to break into your site.

To ensure that your website is protected against every security threat, you’ll need to take appropriate security measures. We recommend that you keep your website updated and implement WordPress hardening measures on your website. And most importantly, install a WordPress security plugin like MalCare that will block malicious traffic and regularly scan your website. With these measures in place, your website will be secure from hackers and bots.


Try out MalCare to protect your site 24 x 7

nulled wordpress themes & plugins
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