When choosing the right theme and plugin for your website, you have two options: use a cracked or nulled theme or plugin or pay for a premium version. Using a cracked plugin or theme could put your website at serious risk. While it’s possible that nulled themes could work for very straightforward and small websites, using them for projects that are in production would be a recipe for trouble. As a decision-maker, it’s up to you to determine if there are any problems with using cracked or nulled versions of plugins and themes. All the information you need to make the best choice is outlined below.
What Are Nulled Plugins And Themes?
Nulled WordPress themes and plugins are illegal copies of paid WordPress themes and plugins that are shared on the internet.
People who re-distribute nulled items say that since WordPress and any derivative works (like plugins and themes) are licenced under GPL, it’s OK to copy and distribute them.
Even though this is true, it often comes at a very high price. Not only does it cause good WordPress companies to lose money, but it also makes websites that use these free WordPress themes and plugins less secure and less trustworthy.
Yes, these free themes and plugins often cause your websites to be hacked.
Here are some of the most important reasons why you shouldn’t use pirated plugins and themes for WordPress on your website.
Here are seven reasons you should never use nulled plugins and themes
1. They cause security issues
The primary problem with nulled plugins and themes is that they create a security risk. If you don’t purchase the Theme or Plugin from the official website, you can’t be sure it’s the same one premium users get. Any changes made to the installer by the third party before your download are completely at their discretion. If you want it simplified, you have no idea if the installer is safe to use.
Indeed, the third party who distributes the nulled plugins or themes always makes some sort of change to them. The distributor often makes unauthorised changes to the source code of the plugin or theme before distributing it.
You probably won’t mind too much if you have to provide the licence number that you don’t have. However, distributors who use cracks go further. Many cracked plugins actually do include malware. For instance, they may install a backdoor on your website to provide the distributor access. Using a cracked plugin leaves your site vulnerable to hacking. The expense of fixing a site that has been hacked might easily reach five figures.
2. They can steal sensitive data
It’s not just that cracked plugins can access your site, but they can also steal information from it. They may be programmed to steal sensitive information from your users. So, the distributor will access the personal details of everybody registered on your site. Names, addresses, and passwords to email accounts are just some information that can get into their hands.
This is particularly important given the uniformity of some data protection regulations like GDPR. A data breach involving your site’s users provides grounds for a substantial lawsuit.
These hacks are hard to find; if your WordPress site keeps working normally, you might not notice them.
3. They can absolutely destroy your SEO
It is essential for any website to have effective search engine optimization. Nulled plugins, on the other hand, have the potential to damage that by adding links to your website that are dangerous. Alternatively, they may send users to websites that contain spam. Your bounce rate may increase due to this, not to mention that Google will see these links. Therefore, they have the ability to damage your ranking or, in the worst-case situation, cause Google to blacklist your website.
In reality, in most instances, you will not even become aware of the issue until it is too late. In most cases, such malicious scripts won’t appear for admins. Therefore, you will only realise that you are missing out on traffic, but you won’t understand why.
4. You won’t receive updates
A licence key is necessary to update premium WordPress themes and plugins. Those who purchase the products directly from the author are the only ones with access to this licence key. In other words, if you use a nulled plugin or a nulled theme, you won’t be in ownership of a licencing key. You cannot update the theme or plugin if you do not have the key.
Why are new versions so vitally important? They might include critical updates or fixes. For instance, there are security fixes. Or even compatibility codes with the most recent releases of WordPress and PHP. You may use the most recent WordPress version, plugins, and themes to reduce potential security threats. Therefore, you should always utilise the most recent version of WordPress and your theme and plugins.
If you cannot update your theme or a plugin, updating WordPress or PHP may result in changes that break your website. If you cannot update a plugin, your only options are to either delete it from your site or cease updating it.
5. You won’t get support from the author
Premium plugins and themes also have the additional feature of requiring a licence to access customer service in the event of a problem. Developers spend significant time on product development, documentation, and maintenance. As a result, they can only assist individuals who have paid for it.
A plugin or theme’s author is not obligated to provide technical support for a product that has been illegally downloaded. Some plugin and theme developers restrict access to their documentation to paying customers alone. Accordingly, the product’s documentation is inaccessible even to those who haven’t yet purchased the software. You’re on your own to figure out how to use the plugin or theme.
6. They can create legal complications
You’re probably wondering why legal problems are so low on this list. Don’t crack plugins and themes break the law? Shouldn’t you have started by talking about the law?
Most of the time, it’s not illegal to use plugins that have been cracked. The General Public License covers WordPress (GPL). Most plugins and themes for WordPress are also under GPL. This means that once someone gets the installer, they can run, study, change, and share it.
But many themes and plugins do not have full GPL licences. They have some files that are licenced under a different set of rules. If you don’t pay the author for the plugin or theme, you aren’t allowed to have it on your server.
Also, some hosts’ terms of service say that it’s against the rules to use pirated software. Hosting can get the host into legal trouble if the plugin or theme is not fully licenced under GPL. The malicious code they contain is also dangerous for the server.
7. You won’t be able to use new features
As was just discussed, WordPress themes and plugins are frequently updated, and most of the time, these revisions provide brand-new features. If you are using a WordPress product that has been pirated, then you will not be able to receive automatic updates, and you will not even be aware that there are new features that can be used.
These brand-new features could make a big difference to your website and help you make more money from online activities. On the other hand, you won’t know about these changes at all and will have to keep using an old version.
Nulled plugins and themes give you access to products that normally cost money but are very expensive. Even though there is no charge associated with downloading them, they come with a significant price tag. The cost of fixing a hacked website is one hundred times more than that of purchasing a premium theme or plugin.
In the end, nulled plugins and themes are dangerous, and you shouldn’t install them on your site. Check out WordPress.org if you want to find a theme or plugin that you can’t use for free. There, you can get a lot of great things for free.