Pirated Software Will Get Your Website Hacked
It can be quite tempting to use pirated software on your website. This is due to the free access you will have to premium features. Fake and pirated software for building websites (themes and plugins) are trending all over the internet and offer cheap (and even free) alternatives to buying legitimate products from the original source and authors. As tempting as it is to use them, you need to think twice due to the risks that nulled software pose.
What are pirated or nulled software?
Many third-party developers normally come up with themes and plug-ins that can be used to develop websites or increase website functionality. It takes time and money for developers to come up with these applications. That is why many developers charge a license fee to those who want to use their applications.
However, since some individuals or small businesses might not have a lot of money, they will try and avoid paying for these premium themes and plugins. Therefore, they will access premium software at a low price or download them for free from third-party websites run by hackers. Hackers usually null the licenses of these apps. This simply means that they remove the licensing module. Unfortunately, hackers usually include some kind of backdoor to these apps.
This means that once you download the app and start using it, the hackers will use the backdoors they created to gain access to your website or infect it with malware. Those software are often distributed online for free on different forums and websites since they are often in high demand.
This problem becomes even more severe when you discover your web designer has used such methods without notifying you and you only discover what happened when your website has been hacked!
Here are 4 reasons why it is not a good idea to use pirated software:
⚠️ You will not get software updates
There are usually security patches, bug fixes and security issue fixes. These are key to keeping your website running well. However, if you use nulled software, you will be disconnected from the developer. This means that you won’t get software updates, which can leave your website vulnerable to security issues or compatibility issues.
⚠️ Pirated software will get your website being hacked
Nulled software usually comes with infected files, malicious codes and backdoor injections that could compromise your website, steal its data, deface your content or hack your hosting account, including all other sites that the same account might be hosting.
According to Sucuri (2020), a plugin named Sitespeed was found to have malicious malware that had the capability to display ads on the hacked website.
The malicious plugin can be used by the attacker to display ads on the website. To avoid detection and target specific website visitors, the plugin has many functions to check the user-agent, referrer, and the IP of the user accessing the page. If a search engine is detected, then the ads will not be displayed — only regular users will see the advertisements from the website pages.
In essence, the software provider takes over the administrator privileges of your website and they can easily post and change content on your site.
⚠️ No professional support
Paid versions of themes and plugins usually come with updates and professional support. However, if you have a nulled or pirated version, you won’t get any help or support from the developer. Therefore, in case you run into any problem with the theme or plugin and you need the developer’s help, you won’t be able to get in touch with them.
⚠️ Spam generator
Another risk is that nulled software can turn your site into a spam generator. Thousands of spam emails can be sent from your server through a hidden code in a plugin or a theme. This will lead to your site getting blacklisted by search engines. It can be quite hard to get your site whitelisted again. What’s more, your brand image will be negatively affected as a result of this.
Until lately, the trend of using pirated software was rather limited to amateurs playing around with their first blog but recently, this has intensified and we are seeing hundreds of websites offering pirated software at low costs or even for free. The problem is we are witnessing more and more “professional” web design companies using this kind of software and codes for projects they are actually selling to their clients! Not only do they sell items that are not legitimate, but they also compromise the website they create such that it can get hacked and they are called to rescue the site and recover it, which means they get more to do so.
Using pirated software is one of the worst things you can do when you want to create a website as it greatly predisposes you to the risk of getting hacked and blacklisted by search engines.
While many WordPress plugins have free versions, you can also find pirated copies of the pro or premium versions online. These pirated copies use a “nulled” license key to get you access to the plugin.
It’s against most plugins’ terms of service, is illegal, and could put your site’s security at risk. Here’s why you shouldn’t use a nulled version of any WordPress plugin.
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