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Astra saved my website from the dreaded Japanese SEO hack. Have used Astra for my website's security ever since & super happy to see dozens of attacks being stopped & the support I've received Ingrid Kjelling
Owner, IK Photography

The Ultimate Joomla Security Practices and Malware Removal Guide

This Joomla guide will help you to secure your Joomla website from hackers & how you can fix your hacked website.

The Ultimate Joomla Security Practices and Malware Removal Guide

With each passing year, online security is becoming a riskier domain. While the number of online businesses and users are increasing rapidly, so are the risks associated with these operations. Hackers are getting smarter in circumventing security measures and are resorting to newer ways of probing for vulnerabilities.

Content management systems remain one of the most exploited systems by hackers globally. Out of the various CMSs used by businesses worldwide, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal occupy the largest market share. Businesses running on these CMSs are often eye candy to online fraudsters who exploit security holes to steal data, credit card information or alter the website.

Joomla is one of the largest and the most popular open source content management system which is widely used by online businesses. Joomla has a large user base, and the popularity has brought the CMS in the radar of attackers and malicious programmers. As a result, Joomla encounters a wide range of security-related issues.

Astra has put together an exhaustive guide on how you can identify and track potential vulnerabilities and follow some basic guidelines to completely secure your Joomla site to run a hassle-free online business: 

Basic Security Steps

Here is a list of some basic security steps to follow to secure your Joomla site:

  1. Stay up-to-date: Failure to patch an outdated extension or outdated core is the amajor reason why Joomla sites get hacked. Always check your control panel for available updates and make sure that you are running the latest Joomla version.
  2. Check extensions for vulnerabilities: You can check your Joomla site for vulnerable extensions by visiting the extension manager in your Joomla backend and enlisting all non-Joomla components, modules, templates, and plug-ins you have installed.  Enter each extension into the Joomla vulnerability database to check for that version’s vulnerability. Apply any patches needed to fix a vulnerable extension or template.
  3. Security Notifications: It is important to sign up for security notifications. Joomla’s two e-mail notification services notify members when a new vulnerability is discovered or when a vulnerable extension has been identified.
  4. Strengthen admin password: Easy passwords are easily hacked by hackers by using brute force attacks. Thus, all administrator accounts must contain strong passwords which are complex to hack.
  5. Use good hosts: Using a budget host puts your Joomla site to risk as hosting requires technical skills and investment in that skill. Do not give in to free hosting as these you may run the risk of not having your server configured for Security, making it easier for hackers to compromise your Joomla site.
  6. Check PHP version:  Joomla is powered by PHP which is also vulnerable to security shortfalls at times. Thus it is recommended to run a secure version of PHP. You can check your version, go to the “System” menu item and at the bottom open “System Information” which will tell you your PHP version.
  7. Remove old installations and files: Check and remove any not-so-important PHP files which pose a security risk, backups that expose information like database dumps, older versions or backups of your site in subdirectories. A publicly available older version even if not linked to your site exists as a security threat.

Recommended Security Steps

Implementing the following security practices will protect your Joomla site from the majority of attacks:

  1. Regularly update Joomla Version, Extension & Plugins: A secure Joomla site is one which is updated regularly. Every version update is released with security enhancements and bug fixes. An outdated version of Joomla or any other outdated extensions/plugins can sneak in hackers.
  2. Use Strong Passwords: Weak credentials can be ultimately leaked through Brute Force and act as common security holes, thus leading to compromised security. Easily guessed passwords and default admin accounts make it easier for perpetrators to gain illegal access to your Joomla website, thus exposing it a host of malicious activities.  A long length password with multiple characters makes it for a secure passcode than a  shorter one.
  3. Periodic backups: Regularly backing up the archives of your files and databases saves your back in case anything goes wrong. Some extensions like the Easy Joomla Backup provide automatic scheduled backups which can later be restored in case of data loss resulting from a hack.
  4. Restrict access to Admin Page: Perpetrators often resort to brute force attacks on easily guessed admin login pages. Thus it is imperative to restrict access to your administrator area. It is advised to not use a default admin login page URL, rather replace it with a specific name. Moreover, the admin panel must be password protected. Extensions like Admin tools, RSFirewall etc allow a Joomla site owner to change their login page URL
  5. Security Extensions: Using security extensions go a long way in securing your Joomla site. These extensions, when configured with your site properly, allow you to block any kind of malicious activity and cover up security holes. extensions allow you to block hacker attacks and close security holes of your Joomla site.
  6. Using Two-factor Authentication: A two-factor authentication code (commonly known as the One time password: OPT) makes your Joomla site even more secure. Even if your password is guessed or leaked, one still has to go through an authentication code to gain illegal access of your account.
  7. Be wary of corrupted downloads: Never download premium extensions, plugins or any items for free from unauthenticated or unofficial sources. Plugins from an unknown source may be corrupted or contain malware, which may harm your site. Do not consider saving money here, rather spend on authentic sources.
  8. SSL Certification: Whenever a user logs into a site, his/her credentials are sent to a server sans encryption. By using an SSL certificate, these credentials will be encrypted before sending to the server. In this way, an SSL certification provides an additional layer of protection to your Joomla website.
  9.  Disable FTP Layer: FTP layer is generally not needed in Joomla and it is disabled by default. It is necessary to keep it so, as an enabled FTP layer is a major security hole in Joomla sites.
  10. Proper File and Directory Permissions: Always manage permissions to files and directories, and never give full access of permission 777. Never give full access or permission 777, but rather use 755 for folders, 644 for files and 444 for configuration.php files 

WaterTight/Ultimate Security Tips

  1. Joomla Security Extensions: There are a wide variety of excellent Joomla extensions which not only secure your site but also provide an array of functionalities like periodically scan for vulnerabilities, limit or block security threats, block malicious networks, enforce stronger passwords, look for file change patterns,  block common security threats through a firewall, to name a few. Some popular Joomla extensions are:
    • ACL Manager: Helps to discover & fix issues with your Joomla assets (permissions) table / ACL.
    • AdminExile: Allows you to conduct Brute force detection, blacklist and whitelist IPs.
    • QuickLogout: Allows you to get rid of logout confirmation prompt to ensure people log out.
    • Securitycheck Pro: A global protection suite which is designed to protect your Joomla website without affecting server speed.
    • jomDefender: CSRF prevention, remove Joomla PHP header, Admin password prompt

    You can also scan your Joomla site with Astra’s Website Malware and Security Scanner. 

  2. Block Bad Bots: Bad bots, scrapers, and crawlers are constantly lurking on websites and drastically reduce your bandwidth. Abovementioned security extensions can work to block these bots, but at times it is needed to do so at the server level.
  3. Secure Connections: Always ensure your connections when connecting to your Joomla site are secure. Use an SFTP encryption ( if provided by your web host ) or SSH. If you are using an FTP client the default port for SFTP is usually 22.
  4. Search Engine Friendly URLs: It is always recommended to enable search engine friendly URL and conceal the file names like index.php from appearing in your URL structure. This enables you to conceal essential information and prevent hackers from unearthing any vulnerabilities.
  5. HTTP Security Headers: To protect your Joomla site against online attacks and vulnerabilities, add HTTP security headers. These provide an additional layer of security and can be configured on your web server. Typically, these headers instruct your browser on how to handle your site’s content. Below are six common HTTP security headers we recommend implementing and or updating:
    • Content-Security Policy
    • X-XSS-Protection
    • Strict-Transport-Security
    • X-Frame-Options
    • Public-Key-Pins
    • X-Content-Type

Malware Removal Steps

Certain common indicators like Blacklist warnings by Google and other search engines, abnormal browser behavior, modified files, and the presence of malicious new users in the Joomla dashboard exhibit a hacked Joomla website. Mentioned below is a guide to identify and clean your hacked Joomla site:

Download Astra’s Secure Coding Practices Checklist for Developers

  1. Identify hack

    Scan your Joomla site to identify malware locations and malicious payloads. Astra’s integrated Joomla security ensures timely monitoring and identification of a hacked Joomla site. Thereafter, check for any modified files including your core files. You can do so by manually check your files via SFTP.

    Audit for malicious user accounts and administrators. In case your Joomla site shows as blacklisted by Google or other website security authorities, you can check the security status of your Joomla! website by using their diagnostic tools. To check for Google transparency, visit the Safe Browsing Site Status website where you can view

    • Site safety details which give information about malicious redirects, spam, and downloads.
    • Testing Details which inform about the most recent Google scan which discovered the malware.

    Make use of free security monitoring tools like Google Webmasters Central, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Norton SafeWeb to check security reports for your website.

  2. Fix hack

    On gaining information about potential malware location, compromised users and threat assessment, opt for a full website clean. Compare infected files with previous backups to assess the extent of modifications and remove malicious changes. Clean hacked Joomla database by using a database admin panel, such as PHPMyAdmin or tools like Search-Replace-DB or Adminer.

    Next step would be to secure all user accounts. Often hackers leave multiple backdoors so as to again gain access even after a website has been cleaned. Backdoors are embedded in legitimate-looking files usually but located in the wrong directories. Therefore, it is imperative to thoroughly cleanse your files from backdoors else there is a threat of re-infection.

  3. What to do Post hack?

  • The first step to follow post cleaning the hack is a Joomla update. One of the primary reasons why sites get infected is using outdated versions of sites which are easily vulnerable to malpractices. Updates essentially remove vulnerable extensions and fill in security holes thus providing you with a secure environment.
  • Currently, Joomla version 3.x is the most stable major version as they are still actively developed. Those using 1.x and 2.x branches should immediately switch to 3.x and keep the core files updated.
  • It is advised to update all Joomla core files, components, templates, modules, and plugins. Also, reset all passwords to avoid getting reinfected if hackers gained access to your credentials. Ensure that you’ve set up two-factor authentication on user accounts. Also, practice the least privilege and give limited access to people who need to do a particular job.
  • Post-hack, it is also advised to reinstall all extensions to ensure they are functional and malware residual free. In case you have deactivated themes, components, modules, or plugins, it should be removed them from your web server.
  • After cleaning your hacked Joomla site, make a backup. Having a good backup strategy is at the core of the best security practices. Store your backups in an off-site location, as storing them on a server can also lead to a hack.
  • Lastly, it is advised to scan your system with a good antivirus. There is a possibility of system compromise if a user with an infected computer has access to your website. Protect your site using a website firewall which basically shields your site from any malicious users or malware threats from the web. Astra’s Web Application Firewall mitigates against any online threats and keeps malware at bay.

Wish to know more about how to protect your Joomla site from online threats? Visit Astra’s Joomla protection plan to know about securing your site while you do business.

Joomla Security Suite​

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Excellent service, always responding super fast when I need them, and never had any problem with hackers since I'm with Astra.

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Joomla Malware Scanner & Backdoor Removal Plugin

The page contain details about our Joomla malware scanner & how can you use it to clean your website

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Astra saved my website from the dreaded Japanese SEO hack. Have used Astra for my website's security ever since & super happy to see dozens of attacks being stopped & the support I've received Ingrid Kjelling
Owner, IK Photography

Joomla Malware Scanner

Accurate, fast & machine learning powered Joomla malware scanner now at your finger tips. Astra’s Joomla scanner detects all malware, backdoors & core file changes on your website without effecting speed of your website in any way

Super Fast

Astra’s malware scanner optimizes itself with each scan making subsequent scans visibly faster making malware scanning a 5 minute affair for you

Ever Evolving

Our malware scanner is powered by machine learning which intelligently detects early signs of malware & flags them for you

Intuitive Reports

Malware, backdoors & core file changes are beautifully visualized telling the exact instances of malware within your code making everything super simple for you

Astra's Joomla Malware Scanner

Unveil all Malware & Backdoors

One-Click Start from Dashboard

Now scan your Joomla website by just a click of button, anytime as per your convenience 

Detects Hidden Malware & Backdoors

Our Malware scanner is highly tailored for Joomla & detects the hidden, encrypted malware 

Beyond Malware Signature Matching

Our malware scanner is deeply coupled with our firewall, security audit & community security offerings helping us stay on top of the security world & bringing in that intelligence to malware scanner 

Community Powered

Astra’s community powered Joomla malware scanner brings collective intelligence of thousands of website to your website’s security, helping you stay a step ahead of hackers 

Resource Optimized

Unlike other malware scanners, Astra’s malware scanner would never slow your website. Our intelligent scanning technology helps us scan faster than other scanners without slowing down your website 

Astra's Rock Solid Security For Your Joomla

Web Aplication Firewall

Astra’s Web Application Firewall is highly tailored for Joomla websites and stops attacks like XSS, SQLi, SEO Spam, RCE, Bad Bots & 100+types of threats in real time

Manual Malware Cleanup

Apart from automated scan, our engineers perform in-depth malware cleanup of your website & assure it remains secure throughout the year, no questions asked

Community Security

Lend a friendly hand to security researchers by running your own Bug Bounty program to reward hackers for finding vulnerabilities in your website

FAQs - Joomla Malware Scanner

Our Malware scanner can be installed as a Joomla extension. You can download the plugin from Astra dashboard after the sign-up.

Our Joomla malware scanner which will give you a well detailed report of all malware & backdoors. Then you need to go to the file path & delete the malicious code or file.

Yes, with malware scanner you get access to Astra firewall which stops all malware attacks in real time.

Hosting malware scanners are not tailored as per CMS & they scan only limited files of your website. You need a scanner that is tailored for your CMS & updates periodically with the hacks

Still have a question? Read more FAQ’s or feel free to contact us

Astra is amazing!!! I bought Astra after having used malcare and webarx religiously. I run a digital marketing agency so having web security is extremely important. First I had malcare do a manual cleaning of my site cause they had said there were some malicious code in my site. They send me the email when they complete it and my site is in the clear…so I think. I immediately installed Astra about an hour later on my main site (no client sites yet). Astra did it’s initial scan and came back with 9 malicious codes installed!

I am thoroughly amazed and impressed by Astra and its abilities let alone the support response time. The report isn’t generalized in any way, it’s extremely specific and detailed about your specific site. This is a must in my opinion if you have any type of website. The security it gives me in knowing that I have a capable company like Astra watching over my site and if something goes wrong they are there to rid the problem. Astra is a major relief and weight of security off my shoulders.

Ferdinand Mehlinger

owner of Bluoo Digital & Laptop Lyfestyle

Astra's Joomla Malware Scanner

Disclose all Malware & Backdoors

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Joomla Security Audit & VAPT

This contains all details of tests, pricing & sample Joomla Security Audit report.

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Astra saved my website from the dreaded Japanese SEO hack. Have used Astra for my website's security ever since & super happy to see dozens of attacks being stopped & the support I've received Ingrid Kjelling
Owner, IK Photography

Astra Uncovers Security Vulnerabilities in your Joomla based Website - Joomla Security Audit

The Joomla security audit focuses on evaluating the vulnerabilities in your website by methodically validating & verifying the effectiveness of security controls. The process involves an active analysis of the Joomla website for any weaknesses, technical flaws, or vulnerabilities.

Comes with 150+ security tests followed by tests tailored to your tech stack & needs.

  • Detailed Code Analysis
  • Business Logic Testing
  • Dedicated Engineer
  • Prevent Credit Card Hack

Our team that has helped to secure

Adobe
Blackberry
Yahoo
Microsoft
AT&T
Buffer App

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Joomla Security Audit - Features

Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing

Exhaustive VAPT for your Joomla website is performed that would identify security loopholes in the Web Application which could potentially allow a malicious user to gain access to the system or perform malicious operations.

Static & Dynamic Code Analysis

Astra’s Web Application Security Testing is based on the OWASP Testing Methodologies and the OWASP Testing Framework. We perform over 150+ ‘active’ tests that have been classified on the basis of type of vulnerabilities found.

Business Logic Testing

It is the core logic of your Joomla website. Here we check Price Manipulation, Getting More Discounts, Privilege Escalation, Bypass Security Restrictions, Access to Unauthorized Information. You can read more about it here.

Payment Handling & Integration

Checkout Portals and Payment Gateways are thoroughly checked for credit card hacks, formjacking, price manipulation vulnerabilities and more. Such vulnerabilities in a web application’s payment flow directly affects the business. 

Server Infrastructure Testing & DevOps

Securing the perimeter becomes the initial step here. The key activities would involve Auditing Existing Configurations, Ensuring Encryption & Safe Data Storage, Optimizing DevOps Processes & suggesting best practices.

Network Devices Configuration Audit​​

An assessment of the device patch level, the logging & auditing implementation, authentication mechanisms. Audit based on device configuration, administrative and authentication services, network filtering, protocol analysis.

Testing for Known CVEs

While Joomla security audit we test for common vulnerabilities and exposures. This will ensure that your website is protected from all known vulnerabilities that were exploited in the past

Assistance in Patching Security Vulnerabilities

Our engineers will share a detailed report with step by step POC (screenshots/videos) and detailed fix information with code/config examples that will help your developer to patch vulnerabilities. 

Dashboard for Vulnerability Reporting​​

Vulnerabilities are reported on our intuitive dashboard where your developers can interact directly with our security engineers. Also, you can request for a re-scan to ensure that the vulnerability is patched.

Top Security Issues Tested - Joomla Security Audit

  • Configuration and Deployment Misconfiguration

    Tests HTTP Methods, HTTP Strict Transport Security, Network/Infrastructure Configuration, Application Platform configuration

  • Application or Framework Specific Vulnerabilities

    We test for all possible major causes of Joomla hacks such as SQLi, XSS, RCE, CSRF, LFI, RFI etc.

  • Broken or Improper Authentication

    Tests for Weak & Guessable passwords, Test for lack of appropriate session Timeouts, User Enumeration, use of default credentials, Account Lockout Policy, Session ID randomness etc.

  • Identifying Technical & Business Logic Vulnerabilities

    We test for OWASP Top 10, WASC Top Threats, etc. and our Testing methodology is based on OWASP Testing Guide v4.

  • Over 150+ Active Security Tests

    Testing for Input Validation issues, SSL issues, Authorization/Authentication issues, security best practices etc.

Astra Pricing For Joomla Security Audit

CMS Scan

A comprehensive security audit for your website built with Magento, OpenCart, WordPress and other CMSs. We perform 80+ active tests with the right mix of automated & manual testing.

Be safe from critical issues like CC theft, Malware, Known Exploits, Security Misconfigurations, Vulnerable Plugins & more.

  • Cloud Dashboard
  • Steps to Fix
  • Amazing Support
Flat fee of
$499
/scan

Business Logic Scan

An in-depth VAPT (Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing) for custom built web-apps or CMSs with custom development. We perform 120+ active tests specific to your tech stack.

We pinpoint Business Logic Errors, Payment Gateway flaws, Price Manipulation Vulnerabilities, Customer Data Theft & more.

  • Security Manager
  • Cloud Dashboard
  • Steps to Fix
Starts from
$999
/scan
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Astra's Rock Solid Security For Joomla Website

Web Aplication Firewall

Our Web Application Firewall is highly tailored for Joomla & stops attacks like XSS, SQLi, SEO Spam, RCE, Bad Bots & 100+types of threats in real time.

On-Demand Malware Cleanup

Astra’s on demand malware scanner is super fast. It detects all malware & backdoors in your Joomla website. You can run scan as per your convenience.

Community Security

Lend a friendly hand to security researchers by running your own Bug Bounty program to reward hackers for finding vulnerabilities in your website.

Top Brands Using Astra Security

What Our Customers Have to Say

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a security audit is an in-depth exercise that requires hours of effort of human & technology resources. That’s why an upfront payment is expected.

Definitely, once you’ve fixed the vulnerabilities you can request a scan simply by clicking a button on your dashboard. Following which, our engineers are notified and they plan a re-scan. If you are a business plan customer, you get a re-scan every month. If you’ve opted for a security audit separately then one re-scan is available to you.

Not at all, the security audit and VAPT are agnostic of the technology stack and work well on all websites.

You start seeing vulnerabilities reported by us from the day testing is started. You can ask for support in fixing the vulnerabilities for 30-days, starting from the day our engineers finish testing. During these 30 days, our engineers will be available to work with you or your developers and assist them in fixing bugs via the comment system of our dashboard. At any point, if the engineers feel that there is a need for a chat, they’ll be happy to talk to you over a chat too.

Yes, for sure. We assist your developers in fixing the vulnerabilities reported. Your developer can comment under each vulnerability if they have any questions regarding the fixation process.

Definitely, we test mobile apps too. You can learn more about them here.

Still have a question? Read more FAQ's or drop us a message in the chat box

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