What Is File Integrity Monitoring (& Scanning) for WordPress, and do you need it?

Everyone who owns a WordPress website knows
how difficult it is to manage its files. Leftover backup, database and source
code files that developers and plugins leave behind are very common. These
leftover files are one of the most common sources of sensitive data breaches.
Do you know if there are any on your WordPress site?
And have you ever had to clean a WordPress
website from a malware infection? In case of a successful hack attack it is
almost impossible to detect the infiltration and identify all the source code
changes. Do you know how to find out which code was compromised?
This article explains how File integrity monitoring (FIM), also commonly
known as file changes scanning, helps you answer all these questions. IT also
explains how you can get a better overview of your WordPress sites files with a
plugin.
 

What is file integrity monitoring
(FIM)?

File integrity monitoring (FIM) is a process
that scans files on a system to determine if they have been corrupted or
tampered with. File integrity monitors or scanners are used to scan the
operating system (OS), databases, application software and any other files
found on  system, like a WordPress
website.
File Integrity monitoring (aka file integrity
scanning or file integrity checking) software works by creating a fingerprint
(cryptographic hash) of a file or number of files. When the content of a file
changes, so does its fingerprint. Therefore, when the file integrity scanner
identifies the change in the file’s fingerprint it notifies the administrator.
 

File integrity monitoring on
WordPress websites

In case of your website, a WordPress file integrity scanner plugin such
as the Website File Changes Monitor helps you keep track of the integrity of
your WordPress website and files. It helps you guarantee that the:
?
new theme or plugin you installed
has not modified any files on your site
?
your admin / dev team only changed
the files they are supposed to change
?
no developers’ leftover files
(such as database and unused code / script files) that could leave you exposed
are on the site
?
in case of a hack you can easily
spot which files were tampered and where the malware was injected
?
you are always automatically
alerted of file changes on your WordPress website.
So with File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) in
place you can monitor and protect the security of your files and WordPress
website.
 

But I have a WordPress security
plugin with a firewall

It is good practise to install a WordPress
security & firewall plugin on your website. However, every WordPress
security solution has its pros and cons. There is no master of all solution.
The more tools you have at your disposal, the easier it is to identify and
block hack attacks. With the right tools you can also learn about the attacks
and improve the security of your WordPress site.
 

The ideal WordPress security
solution

In an ideal scenario, the firewall blocks
malicious hack attacks. The WordPress activity logs keep a record of what
everyone is doing and also help you learn how attackers are trying to hack into
your WordPress site. Logs also help you identify malicious activity, allowing
you to thwart attacks before they happen.
The WordPress file integrity monitoring plugin
helps you ensure that no files on your site can leak sensitive data and
identify the malware / code changes during a post-attack analysis. It helps you
find where exactly backdoors, trojans and other malware is injected and eases
the process of cleaning and recovering your hacked WordPress website.
 

Which WordPress file integrity
monitoring plugin should I use?

There are quite a few available on the
official WordPress plugins repository, and many all in one security plugins
also have a file integrity scanning module in them. However, the Website File Changes Monitor plugin for WordPress
stands out because it:
?
scans all your files including any
customization you might have on your WordPress site
?
uses an exclusive smart technology
that detects WordPress core updates, plugins and themes installs, uninstalls
and updates so it does not flood you with hundreds of false positive alerts
prompting a false alarm.
Also, the plugin identifies file changes by
comparing the fingerprints between scans rather than comparing the scan results
of your website to a central repository, which typically also generates a lot
of false positives.

Getting started with file integrity
scanning on your WordPress

The Website File Changes Monitor plugin for
WordPress is very easy to use. Once installed it starts scanning your site for
file changes automatically.
The plugin is a zero-admin plugin. All
non-executable media files, such as JPGs, are automatically excluded from the
scan. Therefore you do not have to configure much unless you want to exclude
something else, or change the scan schedule. Download the WordPress file changes plugin from the
official repository
and add an additional layer of WordPress
security to your site!

 

Irfan Shakeel
Irfan Shakeel, the founder of ehacking project, he also hosts cyber security training classes at EH Academy. He has discovered many vulnerabilities in the famous platforms (like Google, Dailymotion, Harvard University & etc.). He specializes in Network hacking, VoIP pentesting & digital forensics. He is the author of the book title “Hacking from Scratch”.

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