If you are currently seeing “The Site Ahead Contains Malware” or “Deceptive Site Ahead” when you try to access your website, then you need to act in a timely manner, for two main reasons.
First, this message can seriously harm the reputation of your site, both to search engines, and to your readers. Second, and more importantly, this error indicates your site has been hacked or infected with harmful programs.
However, there’s no need to panic. Although this error is quite serious, there are tested and true methods you can use to fix it, and get rid of this message. Follow our step by step tutorial below to fix deceptive site ahead error in WordPress.
In This Article:
- What Causes This Error?
- How to Fix “Site Ahead Contains Malware”
What Causes This Error?
As we hinted above, seeing this error indicates that your site has been hacked or infected with malware. This can happen in many ways.
You may have uploaded a file from an infected computer that compromised your site. If you are on shared hosting, one of the users on your shared server may have an infected site and it has spread to yours, etc.
If your site has been hacked, then very likely, a theme or plugin in your site contains a vulnerability that the hacker has exploited.
Thus, Google realizes that your site is infected, and wisely decides to warn users with “the site ahead contains harmful programs” message, so the infection does not spread.
Great job on Google’s part, but bad news for you the site owner.
How to Fix “This Site Ahead Contains Malware” Red Screen
To fix this error, you need to rid your site of malware and fix your site security.
Gladly, WordPress has plugins that you can use to do this without too much difficulty.
Warning! Before you implement any of the steps below, ensure you have a very recent backup of your site. Read our guide to learn How to Create WordPress Backups.
1. Scan Your Site with a WordPress Malware Removal Plugin (WordFence)
Malware removal plugins enable you to scan your site, identify unwanted programs, and remove them.
WordFence is one good WordPress plugin for this purpose. Using this security plugin, you can scan your site, rid it of malware, and ensure ongoing website security.
First, you would need to install WordFence. To do this, login to your Dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New.
In the search box, type “WordFence”. When the plugin appears in the search results, click Install, wait a while for the installation to complete, and click Activate.
Removing The Malware
After installing and activating WordFence, go to WordFence > Scan.
In the scan page, click on Scan Options and Scheduling.
Since it is suspected that your site might be hacked, set the scan type to “High Sensitivity”. Next, click Save Changes, and when the changes are saved, click Back to Scan.
In the scan page, click Start New Scan. Depending on the size of your site, the scan might take a while, so go ahead and grab a cup of coffee.
When the scan completes, WordFence gives a scan report like this one:
To proceed, click Repair All Repairable Files.
You will be greeted with a warning message. As long as you have a recent backup, continue with the repair.
If the repair completes successfully, you will be greeted with a success message.
However, your site may contain unwanted software that cannot be repaired. In this case, you can use Delete All Deletable Files to get rid of them.
ENSURE you have a backup before clicking this option as it might break your site. Then go on to click Delete All Deletable Files to clean your site.
When this completes, your site should be free of malware.
2. Scan Your Database For Malware
After scanning and cleaning your site with WordFence, you can be quite sure that your site was thoroughly cleaned.
However, to be extra sure, you may decide to scan your database to see if there’s any residual malware and clean it all at once.
You can use the Exploit Scanner plugin to scan your DB.
First, install and activate this plugin (installation steps are similar to those for WordFence explained above).
After activation, go to Tools > Exploit Scanner.
In Exploit Scanner, click Run the Scan.
When the scan completes, hit Control F in your keyboard to open Find in Page, and input “database”.
Next, check through all the database related errors to locate those that indicate suspicious activity. You can the trace the file manipulating the database in a suspicious way and edit or delete it.
As you must have noticed, exploit scanner does not give you an option or button to fix vulnerabilities. It only helps you identify them.
You have to be a pretty advanced user to follow these instructions and remove the vulnerabilities or hacks.
If you are unsure about this, you may decide to request our WordPress Malware Removal Service so we help you secure your database.
Alternatively, we have an extensive guide on ridding your WordPress database of malware that can help you.
3. Get Google To Remove The Warning
After fully cleaning up your site, you want to inform Google of this using Google Search Console (Google Webmaster Tools). This way, the malware warning can quickly be removed.
To add your site, go to Google Search Console and login with your Google account.
In Search Console, Click Add Property.
Next, type in your site url and click Continue.
You will be asked to verify ownership of the site. The easier way to do this is with the HTML Tag option.
Scroll down and click on HTML Tag to expand it. Next, go to your WordPress site and install Insert Headers and Footers.
Next, go to Settings > Insert Headers and Footers.
Go back to the Search Console and copy the Html tag verification code. Next, return to your WordPress tab, paste the verification code in the scripts in headers section, and click Save.
Next, go back to Search Console and click Verify.
After verification, go to Security Issues page, address any malware issues found, and then click the checkbox to request a review.
If no issue is found and Google still shows the Malware warning, it could be your site is affected by Cross-Site Malware Warnings. Learn more about this and how to address it.
How Can You Use This Information?
Keeping your site malware free is absolutely important to a good online presence.
Hopefully, you have been able to clean your site from the malware infection and regained your site’s good standing.
Next, it is very necessary to avoid getting into this situation in the future and you can do this by securing your site using our WordPress Security Guide.
If you have any other steps you used in getting out of “deceptive site ahead error” warning, please share them in the comments below. For more WordPress tutorials and guides follow our WordPress blog.