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10 Best Website Malware Scanners for Robust Security

Malicious software infections can wreak havoc on websites, putting data and functionality at risk. That‘s why regularly scanning for malware is a crucial part of any security strategy.

In this comprehensive 2800+ word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to choose an effective website malware scanner that fits your needs and budget.

The Growing Threatscape for Web Properties

Before diving into specific scanners, it’s helpful to understand today’s website threat landscape and why vigilance is necessary:

![Threat statistics](https://i.ibb.co/Bwzzf2n/ threats.png)

As shown above, over 33% of global websites harbor malware or other threats, based on 2022 Sucuri data. Infection rates have steadily risen over the past decade in tandem with the following trends:

  • Increasing supply chain attacks: Rather than directly attacking websites, hackers now commonly hijack third party code libraries, themes, and plugins to stealthily plant malware. For example, phishing javascript was bundled into widely used libraries like Browserify, infecting thousands of sites that relied on it.
  • Proliferation of vulnerabilities: Outdated content management systems like WordPress and plugins with unpatched security flaws provide ripe malware gateways. Between Cross-Site Scripting bugs enabling injections and admin consoles secured with weak passwords, the attack surface has grown.
  • Evolution of malware techniques: Encrypted “file-less” malware resides strictly in memory without detection while tactics like keylogging evade many scanner signatures. Even once-reliable signals like domain blacklisting can no longer keep pace as hackers constantly switch domains and IP addresses.

This rising threat level means website malware detection can’t be a set-it-and-forget-it affair. Regularly scanning with updated tools provides indispensable visibility.

And infections bear steep costs:

  • Blacklisting domains, blocking access for visitors
  • Search engine penalties tanking organic rankings
  • Defaced sites eroding customer trust
  • Sensitive data theft enabling identity fraud
  • Hijacked infrastructure for cryptomining or DDoS botnets
  • Inventory/order disruption from corrupted databases

Yet many small businesses hesitate to invest much in security. The following sections outline both free scanner options plus expert recommendations for more advanced protection.

Why Both Malware and Vulnerability Scanning Matter

Before exploring specific tools, it’s worth clarifying the distinct yet complementary roles of malware vs vulnerability scanning in website protection:

Venn Diagram showing malware and vulnerability scanning

  • Malware scanning directly checks for malicious code and scripts spread across files, databases, and application logic. Like anti-virus software, it uses constantly updated signatures to recognize threats.
  • Vulnerability scanning focuses instead on application flaws and misconfigurations that enable malware injection rather than the malware itself. For example: unused admin panels, unpatched software like outdated WordPress plugins, weak user passwords, etc.

Addressing both angles limits infections gaining an initial foothold while catching malware already present.

Now let’s explore capable tools available to secure your website on both dimensions…

Key Features of Website Malware Scanners

When evaluating your options, here are some key criteria to look for in malware-focused scanners:

  • Comprehensive threat detection: At minimum, scanning for viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and adware. Checks for keyloggers, skimmers, and coin miners also improve coverage.
  • Blacklisting monitoring: Testing whether the site IP/domain appears on blacklists like Spamhaus or Norton that block access.
  • File coverage scope: Scanning application code, media uploads, scripts, plugins, external dependencies, and databases for threats.
  • Frequency of updates: Regular updates to malware signatures and behaviors ensures detection of new threats.
  • Speed: Faster scans minimize impact on site performance. Cloud-based scanning isolates heavyweight processing.
  • Support for various platforms: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, custom web apps, etc.

We’ll use these criteria to evaluate both free and paid website malware scanners in the sections below.

Free Online Website Malware Scanners

For basic protection at no cost upfront, the following free online scanners serve as useful starters:

Quttera

Quttera offers one of the most comprehensive free malware scans available. It checks site files, external links, iframes and more across 50+ threat categories.

Key features:

  • Scans WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other CMS sites
  • No software downloads required
  • Classifies scanned items as clean or malicious
  • Provides removal guides for some threats
  • Completely free with no limits on scans

We like how Quttera’s scans emphasize malware precursors like suspicious redirects as well as outright malicious scripts. This early visibility paired with understandable results reports make it a great springboard for small business sites.

Start Scanning with Quttera

Google Safe Browsing

Part of the same malware detection used by Chrome and Google Search, Safe Browsing focuses on identifying social engineering threats that deceive users plus dangerous sites spreading unwanted software.

Key features:

  • Checks pages against Google’s frequently updated web threat databases
  • Capacity to scan large numbers of URLs in batches
  • Customizable threat scoring thresholds
  • Options for deep scanning of complex sites
  • Free even for commercial use with generous limits

For site owners already using Google Analytics, AdSense or other stack tools, its API-based scanner and reporting integrate neatly.

Learn More About Google Safe Browsing

VirusTotal

VirusTotal aggregates over 70 anti-malware engines to enable rich, comparative analyses of threats detected across services. You can scan URLs, IPs, domains and files.

Key features:

  • Scans reveal malware detection rates across integrated engines
  • Provides links to specific threat signatures for further research
  • Rescan capability enables periodic checks for new signals
  • Option to monitor domains/IPs for security changes over time
  • Generous free allowance covers most smaller sites

For enterprise IT and security teams, VirusTotal provides invaluable perspective on threats. Even for smaller sites, it serves as free infrastructure to augment other scanners.

Start Scanning with VirusTotal

Paid Website Malware Scanners

Mission critical sites like ecommerce stores and SaaS apps require preventing even minor infections. For them, paid scanners provide necessary layers of proactive protection:

Scanner Comparison Matrix

Let’s explore top paid options based on specific site types and needs…

Sucuri SiteCheck

Sucuri leads among specialized cloud-based website security platforms focused on malware threats.

Sucuri SiteCheck dashboard screenshot

Key features:

  • Daily automated scans plus on-demand as needed
  • Over 2000+ malware signatures detected
  • Immediate alerts for blacklisting and fast-emerging threats
  • Scans files, scripts, libraries, media, plugins, themes, etc.
  • Fixed pricing starting at $16/month

We particularly like Sucuri’s malware removal auto-remediation feature. When threats are identified during scans, infected files get cleaned automatically.

Their accompanying WAF and DDoS protection also strengthen prevention and uptime. For the growing segment of small yet security-conscious site owners, Sucuri brings enterprise-grade protection at accessible pricing tailored specifically to the unique website attack surface.

Learn More About Sucuri Security

Wordfence

For sites built on WordPress, Wordfence brings specialized malware protection designed specifically around WP’s architecture.

Key WordPress-focused features:

  • Integrated discovery identifies all installed themes/plugins/files
  • Checks filenames, versions and hashes against malware database
  • Isolates and disables WP-specific malicious redirects
  • Rules updated hourly focused on WP threats
  • Plans from $4.50/month

WordPress grew 25%+ to power over 60% of all sites due to its expandability. But with great flexibility comes security risk if extensions aren’t vetted and access isn‘t controlled.

Wordfence makes securing WordPress easy even for non-technical users – crucial for individual bloggers and marketing teams using it as a content management system.

Learn More About Wordfence

SiteLock

For securing complex web applications and sites built on multiple platforms like Drupal, Joomla and custom code, SiteLock is an astute choice.

Key features:

  • Scans WordPress, Drupal, Joomla plus custom web apps
  • Over 10 million malicious threats detected
  • Automated infection reporting and removal
  • Daily scans check for malware and other vulnerabilities
  • Starting at $15 per month

SiteLock occupies a unique position with deep expertise honed over years of incident response. Leveraging knowledge of the most potent threats, they fine-tune scans to identify common infections other tools miss.

Paired with auto-remediation workflows designed specifically around malware, SiteLock deploys advanced website cybersecurity typically accessible only to large enterprises down to SMB budgets.

Learn More About SiteLock Website Security

Emerging Threat Horizons

The website attack landscape continues advancing rapidly. Looking ahead, growing infection vectors to monitor include:

  • Supply chain malware propagation through embedded third party code
  • Evasion tactics like polymorphic malware evading signature detection
  • Targeted attacks utilizing site-specific intelligence
  • Non-website offshoots like connected databases/APIs/web apps

As these threats evolve, website malware scanners must advance as well to keep pace. Integrating directly with WAF, DDoS and access control systems also strengthens protection through correlated signals.

What To Do If Your Site Gets Infected

Despite best efforts, infections still occur. When they do, time is of the essence for minimizing disruption. Here are steps to take:

1. Quarantine the site – Block visitors until clean to prevent spread

2. Disconnect outbound links – Prevent click-throughs to malicious destinations

3. Scan using multiple tools – Alternate scanners sometimes detect threats others miss

4. Isolate all compromised files – Remove infections from production until fixed

5. Restore site from clean backups – Built externally for cases where fixes would be too complex

6. Monitor recovery – Rescan after remediations to confirm threat elimination

Planning these protocols before trouble strikes optimizes response, especially for sites with significant traffic.

Summing Up the Best Options

Cybercriminals constantly evolve. Having an ongoing website malware management regimen anchored by capable detection tools provides invaluable visibility and protection.

To recap scanner recommendations:

  • Quttera, Google Safe Browsing and VirusTotal each provide free scanners fit for many SMB sites.
  • Sucuri leads for affordable yet enterprise-grade cloud-based security tailored to constantly combat website threats.
  • Wordfence brings specialized wordpress security to guard the platform powering over a quarter of all sites.
  • And for complex custom applications, SiteLock leverages decades securing web properties to meet demanding security needs.

Much as anti-virus software must run continuously to detect viruses on computers, website malware scanners now serve as indispensable safeguards against the tireless efforst of hackers. All responsible web property owners should deploy one commensurate with the level of protection required.

What other tips would you add for keeping websites secure? Which scanners have you used? Share your experiences below!