HomeEditor's PickNulled WordPress Themes And Plugins: Usage is a Security Risk

Nulled WordPress Themes And Plugins: Usage is a Security Risk

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Nulled themes and plugins, you might have heard of them. 

Essentially, they’re pirated copies of premium WordPress themes and plugins. They help you gain premium WordPress features and functionalities without paying for them. 

Many people, seeing the words “premium” and “free,” get attracted to these themes and plugins and download them on their WordPress website. 

But the problem is that while you get a ton of premium features for free, nulled themes and plugins pose a security risk to the security of your WordPress website. 

This post aims to outline some of the disadvantages associated with using nulled themes and plugins. 

But before we begin, let’s discuss what they are in detail. 

READ ALSO: The Ultimate WordPress Security Guide

Nulled Themes and Plugins: Explained

Nulled Themes and Plugins Explained

We’ve already discussed the essential nature of WordPress’ nulled themes and plugins.

If we dig a bit deeper, we will find that these themes and plugins are distributed across the internet unethically. 

While it is technically okay to copy these themes and plugins since they’re built for an open-source platform and are licensed under the GNU GPL, it’s okay for users to copy them.

But here’s the problem. This practice discourages developers and companies constantly producing and updating quality products for WordPress websites looking to boost their operations.

It beats the point of creating WordPress. 

But the unethical nature of these themes and plugins scratches the surface of things. When users install these on their websites, more often than not, it causes the site to get infected and hacked. 

For users with established blogs and businesses on WordPress, this poses a severe security threat to website owners of all shapes and sizes who have installed it. 

Now, let’s discuss why these nulled themes and plugins pose a significant WordPress security risk. 

Legal Problems

First and foremost, let’s discuss the legal issues at length.

At their very core, most WordPress themes and plugins are built according to open-source conventions. Under the GPL license, they are free to distribute and use. 

These licenses come in different shapes and sizes. Some have additional copyright considerations compared to others. However, because of their copyright, using these themes and plugins illegally can result in a lawsuit for you. 

If you’re running a small website, using a pirated theme might not get noticed since you’re already under the radar. However, if you’re running a big brand and using copyrighted website code, you can face legal troubles. 

Privacy Concerns

Privacy Concerns

More often than not, the nulled themes and plugins you use on your website are infected with malicious code. 

They come pre-installed with the nulled themes and plugins. When installed on your website, they can cause significant damage to your WordPress website. 

They can steal user information, infect the entire site with malicious code, and cause irreversible damage to your website. Worse off, if it’s a valuable website, they can even steal your website's information on hacker forums or even the dark web. 

In short, when you install a nulled theme on your website, you and your users risk getting hacked. 

Because of this, it’s best to avoid using them at all costs. 

Another reason for not using them is thaten you install such themes and plugins, the errors are planted deep inside the code wh, making hard to detect for regular WordPress website owners. 

Even developers won’t fare that well in detecting where the error occurred since there are multiple points of such errors. 

It’s Bad for SEO

The worst part about using nulled WordPress themes and plugins, which most website owners fail to realize, is that it decreases the SEO value of your website. 

Since they are infected with malicious code that can cause damage to your website, nulled themes and plugins can infect your WordPress pages and posts and cause them to get infected as well. 

This results in the accumulation of spam links on your WordPress that are aimed at reducing the SEO value of your website and hijacking your users. 

Again, since these infections are at the code level, they can be hard to identify.

Even the most veteran developers can face problems with identifying the code. 

However, search engines don’t think that way. They are bots who quickly identify the links going into and out of the website. 

Once they identify spammy links that lead to shady websites, Google (among other search engines) is going to penalize you, drop your rankings, and even de-index and block your website completely. 

SEO experts have argued that it’s nearly impossible to recover a website once it’s been blocked by Google. There’s a lot of work to do in that regard. 

No Updates For Nulled Themes And Plugins

No Updates For Nulled Themes And Plugins

If you’ve been a WordPress user for a while now, you might have updated your themes and plugins occasionally. 

WordPress is heavy on updating and maintenance for those who don't know. Because of the constant hack attacks, WordPress doesn’t lag on its core software updates and encourages developers of themes and plugins to release updates and maintain their software. 

When you have a premium WordPress theme or plugin you paid for, you can easily update them. 

However, nulled themes and plugins don’t have a valid license key. This means that when you install a nulled theme for the first time, you’ll get the premium features, but you won’t be able to update them.

Since you can’t update them, you’re also leaving your website open to malware injections since old themes can get infected with malware over time. 

This is the most crucial reason you shouldn’t go for nulled themes and plugins.

No Support & Documentation

If you’ve installed a new theme or plugin, you’ll have to learn how to use it. 

Besides video tutorials, many people depend upon the documentation of the themes and plugins.

It’s the developer’s job to provide at least some level of documentation. 

Obviously, with premium plugins and themes, an extensive list of documentation is available. 

This means users don’t have to rely on any external tutorial to start with the theme since the premium themes and plugin providers do it for them. 

On top of the documentation, you also get support via email chat and others. 

However, when you install that same premium theme illegally and upload it to your website, you can access the documentation. Still, you will not be able to contact the theme providers for support. 

This presents a serious drawback for users who download these themes and plugins if they want to gain support. 

Nulled WordPress Themes and Plugins: Frequently Asked Questions

Why are nulled WordPress themes and plugins risky?

Why are nulled WordPress themes and plugins risky

  • Security vulnerabilities: Nulled versions often lack essential security updates and patches, making your website more vulnerable to malware attacks, data breaches, and other security threats. Hackers frequently target websites using nulled products, knowing they are less secure.
  • Malware injection: In some cases, malicious code might be intentionally embedded within nulled themes and plugins, allowing hackers to steal your data, redirect visitors to harmful websites, or inject spam into your content.
  • Lack of support: With no official support from the original developers, you’re left alone if you encounter any issues or need help using the theme or plugin.

What are the legal implications of using nulled themes and plugins?

Using nulled WordPress themes and plugins violates copyright laws, potentially leading to legal repercussions. The original developer can pursue legal action against you, resulting in fines or lawsuits. Additionally, using stolen software can damage your reputation and erode trust with your audience.

Are there safe alternatives to nulled WordPress themes and plugins?

Instead of resorting to nulled versions, consider these safer alternatives:

  • Free themes and plugins: Numerous high-quality free WordPress themes and plugins are available in the official WordPress repository, offering various features and functionalities.
  • Premium themes and plugins: Investing in an excellent WordPress theme or plugin from a reputable developer provides access to advanced features, regular updates, professional support, and peace of mind knowing you’re using a secure and legal product.
  • Developing your theme or plugin: If you have the technical skills, consider creating your theme or plugin to completely control the code and functionality.

Conclusion

At the start, premium WordPress themes and plugins can look like they benefit your website. 

However, with the risks discussed in this article, it seems clear that these plugins and themes have more disadvantages than benefits. 

If you don’t have the budget for a theme, there are plenty of customization options for free WordPress themes and plugins. 

You can customize a theme like Astra (free) using a page builder plugin like Elementor

If you have the budget, you can always purchase a paid theme. Either way, don’t download nulled themes and plugins. 


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About the Author:

Editor at SecureBlitz | Website | + posts

Christian Schmitz is a professional journalist and editor at SecureBlitz.com. He has a keen eye for the ever-changing cybersecurity industry and is passionate about spreading awareness of the industry's latest trends. Before joining SecureBlitz, Christian worked as a journalist for a local community newspaper in Nuremberg. Through his years of experience, Christian has developed a sharp eye for detail, an acute understanding of the cybersecurity industry, and an unwavering commitment to delivering accurate and up-to-date information.

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