How to Identify and Remove Web-Based Malware from Your WordPress Site

July 5, 2024


Malware can be a major threat to WordPress websites, causing not only security risks but also damaging user experience and trust. Recently, a client brought to our attention an issue that might resonate with many WordPress site owners. Their site was showing suspicious behavior only on the first visit, raising concerns about a potential malware infection. This article will walk you through the problem, how to identify it, and steps to remove the malware.

The Issue

Our client reported an issue on their WordPress website,, where the site behaved oddly only on the first visit. Here are the details of the problem:

  • When accessing any page on the site for the first time, a malware popup appeared, asking for various permissions and notifications.
  • Subsequent visits to the same page worked fine without any suspicious behavior.
  • The issue persisted across different devices and networks.

Upon further investigation, the malware was identified as originating from a known malicious source:

Identifying the Malware

If your WordPress website exhibits similar symptoms, follow these steps to confirm the presence of malware:

  1. First Visit Check: Access your site from a new device or clear your browser cache and history. If you encounter suspicious pop-ups or requests for permissions, it is a red flag.
  2. Cross-Device Testing: Test the website from different devices and networks to see if the issue persists.
  3. Inspect the Source Code: Look for any unfamiliar scripts or code snippets in your WordPress theme files, especially those that reference external sites.
  4. Use Security Plugins: Utilize plugins such as Wordfence, Sucuri Security, or iThemes Security to scan your site for malware.

Removing the Malware

Once confirmed, here are the steps to remove the malware from your WordPress site:

  1. Backup Your Site: Before making any changes, ensure you have a complete backup of your website using a plugin like UpdraftPlus or BackWPup.
  2. Update Everything: Make sure WordPress core, themes, and plugins are up to date. Outdated software is a common entry point for malware.
  3. Scan and Clean: Use security plugins such as Wordfence, Sucuri Security, or MalCare to scan your site and remove any detected malware.
  4. Check User Accounts: Review all user accounts with administrative privileges and remove any suspicious accounts.
  5. Replace Infected Files: Manually inspect and replace any infected files with clean versions from your backups or original sources.
  6. Enhance Security:
    • Install a Firewall: Use a plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri to block malicious traffic.
    • Strengthen Passwords: Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for all accounts.
    • Regular Monitoring: Continuously monitor your site with security plugins and keep everything updated to prevent future infections.


Web-based malware can be tricky to detect and remove, especially when it disguises itself by only appearing on the first visit. However, with vigilant monitoring and robust security practices, you can protect your WordPress site from such threats.

If you encounter similar issues or need professional help to secure your WordPress website, feel free to contact us. Our team specializes in identifying and removing malware to keep your site safe and secure.

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