WordPress Sites Targeted in World Cup-Themed Spam Scam

Spammers using a ‘spray & pray’ approach to post comments on WordPress powered blogs, forums, says Imperva.

WordPress-powered websites are being targeted in a comment spam campaign designed to get users to click on links to sites offering betting services on the 2018 FIFA World Cup games.

Security vendor Imperva recently observed a botnet spewing out meaningless text messages generated from a template to comments sections in blogs, news articles, and other sites that allow people to comment.

The spambot has been attempting to post comments to the same Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) across different WordPress sites indiscriminately and without regard for whether the site is vulnerable or even has a comments section.

The template that is being used to generate the messages has been around since at least 2013 and essentially gives spammers an automated way to craft slightly different versions of the same message. For example, one version of a message generated via the template might begin with ‘I have been surfing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found an interesting article like yours’. Another version might say, ‘I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found an interesting article like yours.’

“Our analysis found that the top 10 links advertised by the botnet lead to World Cup betting sites,” Imperva said in its report on the campaign. “Interestingly, eight of the top advertised sites contained links to the same betting site, hinting that they might be connected in a way.”

The botnet itself is comprised of some 1,200 unique IPs, which by today’s measures is not especially large. In many cases that Imperva analyzed, the botnet has been using URL-shortening, URL redirection, and other techniques to try and hide the destination of advertised links in its spam messages.

In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, the botnet was being used in remote code execution attacks and other attacks on WordPress sites. But once the games started, the botnet’s main activity shifted to comment spam. This suggests that the botnet is available for hire and that the betting site being advertised via the current spam campaign are the ones paying for it, says Jonathan Azaria, security researcher at Imperva.

“Either the owners, or someone that benefits directly from the increased traffic via an affiliate program, for example,” looks to be behind the campaign he says.

Comment spam — like other forms of spam — has been around for a long time, but continues to be popular among threat actors because of how effective they are in delivering marketing messages or links to websites via comments on online forums.

WordPress itself has called comment spam a “fact of life” for anyone with a blog and has offered numerous tips and links on how to mitigate the issue.

The most common approaches have been to blacklist IPs sending spams messages and also the URLs that they advertise. Plug-ins are readily available for vetting comment submissions and ensuring comments and posts are not being generated by a spambot.

“Numerous solutions exist for comment spam,” Azaria says. “In some cases, a simple plugin will suffice. In others, a more complex solution is required such as a WAF, Captcha, [or a] bot detection and classification [tool],” he says.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year … View Full Bio

More Insights

Advertisements

7.12.18 Your morning briefing

The information you need to start your day, from PaymentsSource and around the Web:

It pays to have more currencies
WordPress has updated its CampTix plugin to make Stripe the automatic payment method for WordCamp tickets.

Stripe attracted WordPress because of its wide range of currencies, more than 130, to the few dozen offered by PayPal, according to WordPress — which said its ticketing service was harder to access in certain countries, requiring local bank accounts for processing.

It’s not a total swap out, since Stripe was previously available as a beta plugin and WordPress will continue to offer a PayPal option as part of a diversification strategy.

Stripe office

Alipay picks up another travel channel
Alipay’s business for Chinese travelers and temporary residents has grown so quickly that the wallet provider has not felt a need to aggressively pursue domestic markets, particularly in the U.S.

That strategy has gotten a new boost at travel company ARC will enable airlines to accept Alipay transactions for tickets sold through the agency, reports Travel Weekly.

ARC is collaborating with Universal Air Travel Plan to deploy Alipay with airlines and other third party travel providers affiliated with ARC.

Crypto browser
The Opera browser for Android devices plans to support cryptocurrency storage, a plan that could enable micropayments on the Web.

TechCrunch reports the system is will store crypto and ERC20 tokens in the browser, with the phone’s biometrics or passcode providing security and could pave the way for similar functions in other browsers.

Users pay for orders through Coinbase Commerce, which processes the transaction and transmits cryptocurrency directly from the browser.

No contact in Norway
Handelsbanken is partnering with Norwegian bank-led payments scheme BankAxept and local IT company Evry to pilot a contactless card that can be placed inside a wristband, bracelet, watch strap or keyring.

The project is aimed at concessions and other smaller transactions that accompany exercise or other outdoor activity.

Finextra reports the card will link directly to bank accounts and will support payments of up to about $25. The scheme will run a test shortly before a full rollout this year.

From the Web

Macy’s warns customers of online data breach
USA Today | Wed July 11, 2018 – Macy’s is warning customers that the retailer discovered a cyber threat that targeted a small number of customer profiles for almost two months. According to a letter mailed to macys.com and bloomingdales.com customers this week, Macy’s cyber threat alert tools detected suspicious login activities on June 11.

PayPal Threatened Legal Action Against a Customer for Dying—a ‘Breach’ of Its Rules
Fortune | Wed July 11, 2018 – Lindsay Durdle died on May 31, succumbing to cancer. But earlier this month, she received a letter from PayPal, saying her death was a breach of its rules—and the service was considering legal action against her. Durdle reportedly owed PayPal £3,240 ($4,299) when she died.

India proposes easing local data storage rules for foreign payment firms
South China Morning Post | Thu July 12, 2018 – India’s finance ministry has proposed relaxing a directive from the country’s central bank that would compel global payment firms to store customer data only locally, following weeks of intense lobbying by US companies and trade bodies. Easing the proposal would be a relief for firms including MasterCard, Visa and American Express, which fear India’s data onshoring move could cost them millions of dollars and set a precedent for other major governments to implement similar rules.

More from PaymentsSource

A cheap take on Amazon Go turns surveillance cameras into cashiers
Since Amazon Go’s announcement, there has been a rush to duplicate the company’s cashierless store concept without the same level of tech investment. The latest competitors are focused on the cameras that identify items as consumers take them off of the shelves.

Mainframes are a card data disaster waiting to happen
Even though much of PCI data is stored and maintained on mainframes, many are currently not being evaluated or scanned accurately for PCI DSS compliance, writes Ray Overby, co-founder and president of Key Resources.

Ex-Heartland CEO’s straight shooter rep takes a hit with SEC charges
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is putting its weight behind allegations of insider trading that Heartland Payment Systems has levied against its former CEO.

Data: Fraud after the Equifax crisis
Fallout from the Equifax breach is coming into clearer focus as more companies begin pinpointing its effects over the last several months.

John Adams

John Adams

John Adams is Executive Editor of PaymentsSource.

More from this Author

7.12.18 Your morning briefing

The information you need to start your day, from PaymentsSource and around the Web:

It pays to have more currencies
WordPress has updated its CampTix plugin to make Stripe the automatic payment method for WordCamp tickets.

Stripe attracted WordPress because of its wide range of currencies, more than 130, to the few dozen offered by PayPal, according to WordPress — which said its ticketing service was harder to access in certain countries, requiring local bank accounts for processing.

It’s not a total swap out, since Stripe was previously available as a beta plugin and WordPress will continue to offer a PayPal option as part of a diversification strategy.

Stripe office

Alipay picks up another travel channel
Alipay’s business for Chinese travelers and temporary residents has grown so quickly that the wallet provider has not felt a need to aggressively pursue domestic markets, particularly in the U.S.

That strategy has gotten a new boost at travel company ARC will enable airlines to accept Alipay transactions for tickets sold through the agency, reports Travel Weekly.

ARC is collaborating with Universal Air Travel Plan to deploy Alipay with airlines and other third party travel providers affiliated with ARC.

Crypto browser
The Opera browser for Android devices plans to support cryptocurrency storage, a plan that could enable micropayments on the Web.

TechCrunch reports the system is will store crypto and ERC20 tokens in the browser, with the phone’s biometrics or passcode providing security and could pave the way for similar functions in other browsers.

Users pay for orders through Coinbase Commerce, which processes the transaction and transmits cryptocurrency directly from the browser.

No contact in Norway
Handelsbanken is partnering with Norwegian bank-led payments scheme BankAxept and local IT company Evry to pilot a contactless card that can be placed inside a wristband, bracelet, watch strap or keyring.

The project is aimed at concessions and other smaller transactions that accompany exercise or other outdoor activity.

Finextra reports the card will link directly to bank accounts and will support payments of up to about $25. The scheme will run a test shortly before a full rollout this year.

From the Web

Macy’s warns customers of online data breach
USA Today | Wed July 11, 2018 – Macy’s is warning customers that the retailer discovered a cyber threat that targeted a small number of customer profiles for almost two months. According to a letter mailed to macys.com and bloomingdales.com customers this week, Macy’s cyber threat alert tools detected suspicious login activities on June 11.

PayPal Threatened Legal Action Against a Customer for Dying—a ‘Breach’ of Its Rules
Fortune | Wed July 11, 2018 – Lindsay Durdle died on May 31, succumbing to cancer. But earlier this month, she received a letter from PayPal, saying her death was a breach of its rules—and the service was considering legal action against her. Durdle reportedly owed PayPal £3,240 ($4,299) when she died.

India proposes easing local data storage rules for foreign payment firms
South China Morning Post | Thu July 12, 2018 – India’s finance ministry has proposed relaxing a directive from the country’s central bank that would compel global payment firms to store customer data only locally, following weeks of intense lobbying by US companies and trade bodies. Easing the proposal would be a relief for firms including MasterCard, Visa and American Express, which fear India’s data onshoring move could cost them millions of dollars and set a precedent for other major governments to implement similar rules.

More from PaymentsSource

A cheap take on Amazon Go turns surveillance cameras into cashiers
Since Amazon Go’s announcement, there has been a rush to duplicate the company’s cashierless store concept without the same level of tech investment. The latest competitors are focused on the cameras that identify items as consumers take them off of the shelves.

Mainframes are a card data disaster waiting to happen
Even though much of PCI data is stored and maintained on mainframes, many are currently not being evaluated or scanned accurately for PCI DSS compliance, writes Ray Overby, co-founder and president of Key Resources.

Ex-Heartland CEO’s straight shooter rep takes a hit with SEC charges
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is putting its weight behind allegations of insider trading that Heartland Payment Systems has levied against its former CEO.

Data: Fraud after the Equifax crisis
Fallout from the Equifax breach is coming into clearer focus as more companies begin pinpointing its effects over the last several months.

John Adams

John Adams

John Adams is Executive Editor of PaymentsSource.

More from this Author

ZNetLive’s simple and affordable fully managed WordPress Hosting: A quick review

2018 seems to be the best time to start a website. Why? Well, per Internet Live stats, there are over 1.5 billion websites on the world wide web today and the number is growing with each passing moment. So, there can never be a better time to start your own website than now.

And when we say hosting a website, I can’t think of anything better than WordPress hosting. Simple interface that can even be used by people with limited technical knowledge. For those, who are completely unaware about technicalities of managing a website, fully managed WordPress hosting service can be of great help.

If you’re having any of these thoughts,

  • What’s the difference between shared hosting or managed WordPress hosting? Or
  • Why should I go for fully managed WordPress Hosting? Or
  • How to choose the best WordPress hosting service provider?

Then my friend, you are at the right place.

For many of you who still trying to understand – what is Managed WordPress Hosting, here’s the answer:

In a managed WordPress hosting, all the technicalities of running a WordPress site, like speed, security, updates, backups, uptime, scalability etc. are managed by the host.

I have tried a few WordPress hosting services till now, and so I am able to recommend some good services. I usually look for three important things in a WordPress hosting service:

  • Page loading speed
  • Service uptime
  • Customer support

I recently got to know about ZNetLive WordPress Hosting and it seemed to be a very competitively priced feature-rich solution to host a website.

Hence, I decided to take a deep plunge into ZNetLive’s fully managed WordPress Hosting. Here’s what I found.

A quick overview of the host – ZNetLive

Established in 2001, ZNetLive is a hosting and cloud solutions provider to more than 100K+ domains and websites across the globe. With 17+ years of expertise, they are known for high uptime, great customer support, technical acumen and value for money.

ZNetLive introduced fully managed WordPress hosting in India and across the world for improved website performance, with a focus on simplicity. The mission was to help small businesses and individuals start their own website with affordable WordPress hosting plans in India.

The main features of their service include:

  • Full management
  • Plesk control panel
  • WordPress and SEO toolkit
  • Smart updates
  • Automated backups

All plans have:

Solid infrastructure and security features:

  • NGINX for improved security, fast content and application delivery, and scalability and availability features.
  • One-click restore to help backup data on time and restore it as and when required.

End-to-end automation:

  • Automatic update to the latest versions as soon as it’s available.
  • Ability to host multiple sites on the same WordPress hosting account.

The power in users’ hands:

  • Pre-installed WP-CLI to manage WordPress installations, update plugins, perform multi-site installations and more.
  • FTP access for manual backups, addition of plugins and themes manually and more.

Page Speed Test

Page loading speed is one of the most important features of a successful site. I ran a quick speed test on a site powered by ZNetLive’s WordPress hosting via Google PageSpeed Insights. Here’re the results:

It is clearly a good result. Nevertheless, you can always decrease the load time of a website through proper optimization techniques.

Getting Started

To understand the services and to take a closer look, I decided to purchase a WP hosting trial. Luckily, they offer 30 days trial too.

ZNetLive WordPress Hosting

Step 1:

From the pricing section of the plans, one can select any plan based on his/her requirements Found it quite different from other trials, where you just get to take trial of a single plan.

ZNetLive WordPress Hosting Plans

As I only wanted to experience it, hence WP starter free trial looked good to me.

As I proceeded, I was prompted to choose domains: Either you can purchase a new domain, or you use a domain you own through another registrar.

However, I found that with Free Trial, I could also choose a free subdomain. So, I decided to go with that only.

ZNetLive Fully Managed WP Hosting

Step 2:

Now we came to the billing cycle. They offered monthly, yearly, biennial and even triennial billing cycles.

I had to simply sign-in and place the order. Voila! Yes, it was that simple.

If anyone decides to go with a WP-starter plan with 1 year of billing, here’s what his order will look like.

Wordpress Hosting by ZNetLive

As soon as I checked out and made payment (0 here), I started receiving welcome emails from ZNetLive team. I also got a panel from where I could manage my services with ease. That I will discuss in the next section.

Dashboard

WordPress Hosting at ZNetLive comes with the powerful Plesk Onyx control panel. You will get its details in your mail through which you can set a password and log into your hosting panel.

From here, you can manage and configure your WordPress site with the help of multiple extensions and features within the control panel. I will be discussing each of these features in detail for better clarity:

Plesk WordPress Management

WordPress Toolkit

WordPress Toolkit, powered by Plesk, is one of the most attractive features of ZNetLive managed WordPress hosting. It is a highly useful tool that makes life of a WordPress user easy with a single management interface that helps them easily install, configure and completely manage their WP instances. It also helps automatically secure and manage all plugins, installations and themes.

Also, with the latest WordPress Toolkit 3.3 update, the users will get more functionalities like:

  • Quick search capabilities through filters on the plugins and installation screen.
  • Ability to check for updates and apply updates to more than one WordPress Instance at a time.
  • Availability of CLI for WordPress Installation.
  • Ability to check security by clicking on the Check Security button present on the Mass Security screen.
  • Ability to change passwords for additional WordPress administrator accounts.

By clicking on the WordPress tab, you can see WordPress dashboard in the control panel.  Here you will find three sub-sections: Instances, Plugins and Themes. The Instances section allows you to manage functionalities like backups, cloning, security scans, updates etc. Through Plugins and Themes, you can set new themes and plugins on your site.

BoldGrid Extension

With ZNetLive’s managed WordPress hosting, users also get the BoldGrid extension – a tool for building websites. It provides plugins and themes for ease of usage. With ZNetLive WP hosting, the users can easily buy its licenses from within the control panel and start building their WordPress website.

Git

With Git extension with your WP hosting account, you can manage the Git repositories and deploy web site files from the repositories to a specific public directory. You get to choose either GitHub/BitBucket or a local repository. You can even decide whether you want changes to be deployed automatically to the production site or manually.

Backup Manager

In control panel, you will also find the Backup Manager that allows you to take backup of your site data. You can either go for automatic backups or scheduled backups.

Backup Manager

With this WordPress hosting,  you can choose your remote storage from following leading options:

  • Amazon S3 backup storage
  • Google Drive backup storage
  • Dropbox backup
  • Acronis backup

Remote Storage settings

AI powered Smart Update

Now this is something really distinguishing. ZNetLive’s WordPress hosting comes with the Smart Update feature. Leveraging deep learning technologies, this feature helps users secure their WordPress site by keeping it up-to-date.

It runs staged simulation to analyze each update to know whether its compatible with the production site or not. On detecting any issue, it alerts the user for the same. So, the final decision to install the update depends upon you.

There are two options for the smart updates: A) Interactive Mode: Here, the user will need to manually initiate the test. The system analyses the update in the test environment and shows the results. It’s up to the user then to decide whether to install update on live/production environment or not. B) Automatic Mode: In the automatic mode, the system runs the test automatically. If the test environment changes completely match with the live site, then the changes are automatically synced. In case of any breaks, the system sends the information through email to the respective user.

File Manager

You get a built-in File Manager to help you manage your files at one place. You will find all files under the Home Directory with individual categories. You can also create new directories.

File Manager

Logs

Here, you can find the logs of all activities in your hosting account. You can either start real-time updates or filter logs. You can also find settings related to FTP Access, Node.js, DNS, Apache and Nginx etc.

Databases & Statistics

Under databases section, you can create new or manage existing databases. Statistics lets you view detailed reports on how resources that come with your subscription are consumed.

SSL certificate

You get a free Let’s Encrypt or Digicert SSL certificate with WordPress hosting by ZNetLive. However, you can still choose to add a custom SSL certificate if you have one. For adding the free SSL certificate, click on Let’s Encrypt section. Enter your email address to receive the details of the certificate. Select the suitable options and click Renew. Your free SSL certificate is now enabled. Simple, isn’t it?

The SSL certificate will automatically get renewed in 30 days before the expiration of the service.

ServerShield by Cloudflare extension

This extension in ZNetLive WordPress hosting helps users protect their website against online threats like hacking, botnets, spamming, DDoS etc. This eventually decreases the page load time too. Features like securing and speeding up the website, automatic provisioning of SSL certificate, server statistics, automatic static content caching etc. are free. User has to update to advance plan to get more features.

Staging & Cloning

With ZNetLive WordPress Hosting, staging and cloning is safe and quick. It lets you create a copy of your site in a safe place for testing purposes. Here, you can test any changes and propagate it to the live environment only when you are completely satisfied.

Security Check and Scans

You also have the option to scan your website for any vulnerabilities and fix them on time. Though it’s good at the beginning with less traffic and data, I recommend going for dedicated security solutions to protect your WordPress site, as WordPress is the most favored target for hackers.

Plugins

This is my second favorite section (first is yet to come). WordPress has numerous plugins available for enhancing your site’s functionalities. Under the Plugins section, you can see the plugins already installed on your site and from here, you can install new plugins as well.

WordPress Themes

Under Themes tab, find all the themes installed on your site currently. You can also add new themes from here. WordPress offers a wide variety of themes for your site. You can select one that best suits your needs.

SEO Toolkit

This is my favorite section. Your website is of no use if it does not rank in the search engines’ results. You need to optimize your site content for increasing its SERP ranking. ZNetLive WordPress Hosting comes equipped with SEO toolkit. This toolkit gives you real-time insights into your current search engine ranking. You get complete analysis, comparison with competitors’ ranking and tips to optimize your site.

This was a quick tour of WordPress hosting experience at ZNetLive. Let’s have a look at the pricing now.

ZNetLive WordPress Hosting Plans & Pricing

They have some good WordPress Hosting plans: Starter, Standard, Professional, Premium and Enterprise plans. Prices for Premium and Enterprise plans are provided on request, while WP Starter starts from $4.60/month, Standard from $6.14/month and Professional from $7.68/month.

ZNetLive Fully Managed WordPress Hosting Plans

Per me, they have been priced to perfection.

My final verdict on the service:

I found the service to be very simple to use and perfectly priced. Per me, people with little to no technical knowledge can also go for ZNetLive WordPress Hosting, as it is very simple to use. It’s suitable for both – individuals with limited hosting needs and enterprises with dedicated hosting needs.

Stay tuned till I come up with more such reviews.

Best Market for WordPress Themes: TemplateMonster or ThemeForest?

This article was created in partnership with TemplateMonster. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

Most users feel overwhelmed when they need to select the best ready-made design for their website. There are plenty of agencies and web design studios offering unique designs to help users get started with websites for multiple purposes.

The number of web platforms selling themes crafted by vendors worldwide grows quickly all the time. If you want to select the best ready-made design for your site and feel confident that you’ve made the right choice, then it’s always a great idea to choose the industry leaders.

TemplateMonster and ThemeForest have proven to be the two leading digital marketplaces selling WordPress templates of top quality. Comparing these two options, which one is a better place to buy themes for your websites? That’s the question that we are going to answer in this post.

Why You Should Select WordPress Themes with Caution

WordPress has become one of the leading content management systems in the world. With its help, you will find no difficulty launching any kind of website, representing any business niche in an effective style.

Selecting the most optimal starting point for your site, you need to make sure that your WordPress theme complements the content that you are going to share on your site. Using WordPress, you can create stunning blogs, portfolios, business and corporate web projects, landing pages, and even eCommerce sites. Depending on the goal and the type of the online project that you need to launch, you need to select WordPress themes that meet your specific requirements. For example, launching a blog, you need to select a template that improves the readability of your content. If you want to launch a portfolio site, then the template of your choice should be optimized for handling image-rich web projects perfectly well.

Many WordPress templates available today are pre-installed with plugins and extensions intended to enhance the performance of niche-specific web projects. Just in case the selected WordPress theme isn’t loaded with the necessary tools, make sure that it’s compatible with the respective functionality.

Security is one of the top priorities that you need to take into consideration while selecting the best WordPress theme for your site. Although WordPress is known as one of the safest CMSs on the web, featuring regular updates, you need to make sure that you download a template that features regular updates so it won’t become outdated a few months after the launch of your site.

Let’s compare the functionality included in two of the top-selling business WordPress themes from both marketplaces. There are some features they have in common and certain peculiarities that make each of them unique. So, let’s compare and choose the best theme of the two reviewed.

EasyJet vs Argenta Multipurpose WordPress Themes

EasyJet is a functional multipurpose template sold by ZEMEZ in the TemplateMonster digital marketplace. This is a usable ready-made solution that is easy-to-handle by both beginners and expert webmasters. This is a feature-rich WordPress template that comes loaded with everything that you need for the launch of personal, business or eCommerce sites. There is no need to be an expert web designer or a programming specialist in order to handle the theme on your own. The theme’s download pack includes a wide range of features that will appeal to users of all skill levels.

Argenta is a creative multipurpose WordPress template sold by Colabrio on the ThemeForest marketplace. This is one of those feature-rich WordPress templates suited to be used for content-heavy web projects. Collections of the fully editable layouts that are included in the theme’s download pack are ready to be customized by means of the usable modification features that can be accessed via the dashboard.

Both of the reviewed WordPress templates are multipurpose solutions that include a handful of tools and features that provide for specific needs. Both templates include similar options and different sets of tools, which make one of them stronger than the other. Well, enough said. Let’s get straight to the comparison.

Installation

In order to start working with any WordPress template, you need to have WordPress installed. If you haven’t done this yet, make sure you install the latest WordPress version on your web host.

In order to start working with the EasyJet WordPress template, you need to make all the necessary preparations and run the plugin installations. This guarantees that the chosen template will work correctly after the installation of all its components.

EasyJet features the automatic and manual installation of all components. One-click installation is realized with the help of the Cherry Wizard plugin. As soon as the theme is installed, you will receive a notification window asking you to select the skin for your future site. It’s generally considered that automatic installation will be the best choice for non-tech-savvy users, as well as those webmasters that look forward to using all the tools included in the theme’s pack.

EasyJet can also be installed manually. To use this method, you need to have access to your WordPress server via FTP or the File Manager of your hosting control panel. While installing EasyJet manually, you can select the plugins, tools, and extensions that are essential for your future site, and skip those solutions that won’t affect the usability of your online project.

As for Argenta, the theme features regular installation, which will upload all components of the theme’s archive to the web server.

Additional Demos

The availability of additional skins is one of the biggest advantages of both of the mentioned WordPress themes. Both templates feature growing collections of child skins, which are expanded with the release of every consecutive update.

EasyJet includes a collection of 12+ outstanding homepage demos that are intended to be used for a range of niche-specific web projects. You can preview all demos on the theme’s live demo site. If you have already bought EasyJet, then you may expect new skins to be delivered to you automatically each time a new update is released. Switching between demos you may rest assured that all of your data will remain untouched. The demo skins include CrossFit studio, beauty, business, construction, architecture, photography, restaurant, car repair, and other niche-specific skins.

Argenta gives users access to 14+ demo skins, all of which can be installed with just one click. Similar to EasyJet, new skins will be delivered with the release of new updates. The skin demos are available for free online preview, so you can see how different skins work and feel before making your final decision. The demo skins include personal blog, cafe and bar, fashion store, corporate portal, mobile app, sports and fitness, etc.

Pre-made Layouts

EasyJet includes collections of pre-made layouts in every demo skin from the gallery. This guarantees that the pre-designed layouts will fit your niche-specific web project, making it so much easier to bring the necessary changes to the page in the future. For example, selecting a skin for a business blog, you will be provided with the possibility of choosing from several blog layouts. Portfolio templates include sets of portfolio layouts, and so on.

Details | Demo

The Argenta template is loaded with a range of pre-designed layouts, ready-to-go pages, and six headers that are ready to be adjusted in any way that matches your personal or business needs.

Details | Demo

Visual Builder

EasyJet is loaded with the WordPress Live Customizer and Elementor page builder, which provide for the code-free modification of pre-designed layouts. WordPress Live Customizer is one of the most popular WYSIWYG solutions that allows you to change general site settings, colors, typography, social icons, page layout, menus, sidebars, widgets, etc.

Moreover, EasyJet is loaded with one of the most functional frontend drag-and-drop page builders – Elementor. It helps you to create unique content without any specific coding skills. The builder is loaded with a large number of elements that provide for the quick and seamless customization of the theme’s design. Additionally, you will be provided with a variety of content modules, which make it quicker and effortless to enhance your site’s pages with videos, buttons, dividers, carousels, image galleries, sliders, etc.

Argenta includes WordPress Visual Composer. This is one of the most popular WordPress extensions included in the theme’s package for free. With its help, you can make any sort of changes to the theme’s layout code-free. The layout structure, header and footer can be personalized as you simply drag and drop different page elements.

Plugins

EasyJet includes:

  • The JetElements addon. This is an outstanding module, which was developed to enhance your experience of working with Elementor page builder. The module includes a rich collection of features intended to make your website unique and engaging. These include an advanced carousel, map, animated texts and boxes, banners, brands, and a number of additional elements that are intended to help you deliver all pieces of data quickly and easily.
  • EasyJet contains Cherry Data Importer. This is a plugin that will help you export posts, comments, widgets, settings etc., from one site to another. With a single click of a button, the plugin generates an XML file that can be imported to another website.
  • As mentioned at the beginning, the Cherry Wizard plugin is included as well. With its help, you will need just a couple of minutes to get all of the theme’s components installed on your site.
  • Thanks to the Contact Form 7 plugin, you can manage multiple contact forms. It also lets you customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup.

Argenta includes three premium WordPress plugins under the hood.

  • Visual Composer is provided for the code-free modification of the template’s ready-made layouts without the need to change a line of code.
  • Thanks to the built-in Revolution Slider, you will be able to create fully responsive slides featuring usable transition effects.
  • ACF Pro is the advanced custom fields plugin for web developers. With its help, you can bring changes to all sections of your site, thus taking full control of your WordPress edit screens and custom field data.

The things that both of the reviewed themes have in common include:

  • 100% mobile-friendly layouts
  • cross-browser compatibility
  • compatibility with all the major WordPress plugins and extensions
  • WooCommerce support
  • SEO-friendliness
  • Retina-ready designs
  • valid code
  • performance optimization

Both of the templates are ready to be customized to meet your demands, using the functionality that’s included in their download packages.

Pricing

EasyJet is sold for $75. The single site license provides you with the non-exclusive permission to use the template on a single site. The cost includes all premium extensions that were mentioned in the review. It also includes free 24/7 technical support, detailed documentation, and free lifetime updates. Additionally, you can order installation and optimization of the theme for a fee.

Argenta is sold for $49 for the regular license and $2950 for the extended license. In addition to the features that were highlighted in the review, you will be provided with documentation, free updates, and 6 months support. The latter includes:

  • Availability of the author to answer questions
  • Assistance with reported bugs and issues
  • Help with included 3rd party assets

Customization and installation services are not provided.

Final Thoughts

If you asked me which of these two multipurpose WordPress themes I would like to choose for the launch of my own web project, my answer will be EasyJet for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s likely that I will need some help with installation and customization as I start working with it. While the tools and theme options are rather intuitive, I’d like to feel confident that I won’t be left alone.

The availability of extra modules, widgets and premium plugins saves me extra cash and time while uploading the theme with my content and changing the layout.

The wide choice of skins and diversity of pre-designed layouts attracts me as well.

Launching a customized website in a matter of days becomes possible with the frontend Elementor page builder. Additionally, I can feel safe that all data will be protected and up-to-date thanks to the regular updates.

3 Best WordPress Alternatives for Serious Business Owners

We have all fallen in love with WordPress over the past decade, but there are some seriously legitimate competitors that give it a run for its money. Since most of these competitors focus on certain types of websites only, it ensures a more optimal performance compared to WordPress’ all-in-one strategy.

One of the biggest reasons for a poorly performing WordPress website is a faulty theme or plugin. Some website owners simply install countless plugins, which can cause the entire website to come to a crawl.

These three solutions I am sharing here are admittedly nowhere near as rich in features or capabilities as WordPress; however, they certainly have some important advantages, which I’ll go over.

Statamic (content-based websites)

Source: statamic.com

Statamic is a flat file CMS software powered by one of the most popular PHP frameworks: Laravel. Flat file means there is no database storing all of the pages and information of your website; instead it is all stored in individual files on the hard disk.

Due to the lack of database, this can make Statamic perform really fast. In addition, it can also be easier to set up various caching techniques to increase the performance even more.

Based on thousands of available WordPress plugins, the features available on Statamic cannot match or beat WordPress. But if your website is using Statamic, it will most likely perform better in addition to being overall more secure. According to Sucuri, in 2017, 83% of the CMS-powered websites hacked were WordPress.

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

So while you would have to sacrifice on some features, Statamic is a great alternative to WordPress if you need a general CMS platform.

One major downside of Statamic is that it is not free. Although there is a free trial available, you will have to fork over $199 for one site license when you’re ready to go live.

Shopify (e-commerce websites)

Source: shopify.com

If you’re selling things on your website, then the best alternative to WordPress e-commerce plugins is Shopify.

Shopify is a hosted solution, which means they host everything on their servers. You do not need to pay for web hosting or anything else like that. However, you do need to pay at least $29 per month for the basic Shopify store, and this cost can be as high as $299 per month.

So what does Shopify offer that’s better than e-commerce solutions on WordPress such as WooCommerce?

That answer can be pretty complicated. When you’re dealing with WordPress, you can do pretty much anything with it. But the biggest issue I’ve seen is when WordPress owners go crazy installing random plugins that can cause serious performance issues. With Shopify, that’s much less likely to occur.

One of the reasons is simply because there aren’t so many plugin choices available. That also means that in theory, you will always have more features available on WordPress.

If you want a more stable and lower maintenance e-commerce platform, then Shopify has WordPress beat in that regard. In addition, it also offers just about all the features you’ll need to start selling things right away.

Medium (blog only)

Everyone has probably heard of Medium already, but did you know it offers a great way to create a hosted blog? Similar to WordPress.com, albeit with many less features, Medium (called Medium Publications) is a great way to have a no-nonsense simple blogging platform for your business that can be set up in a matter of minutes.

Medium Publications allows you to specify writers and editors in order to control who can write and who can edit your publication.

One of the best features of Medium Publications is that it gets all the wonderful editing features from Medium. This extreme minimalism is hard to find these days, and perhaps if you only need a simple blog, this could be the perfect solution for you.

Conclusion

As you can see by the three choices above, it is very difficult to beat WordPress in all areas. But these three platforms certainly have WordPress beat in certain areas that matter a lot to website owners.

Although WordPress is still the best general CMS platform you can find today, it is getting to be more of a maintenance and security nightmare every year. If you’re not web-savvy, you most likely need to hire a web developer to harden the security of your WordPress website so that it does not get bombarded by automated bots, fake comments, and brute force login attempts.

RELATED: How to Get a Website Up and Running for $100

WordPress issues out of band security and maintenance update

WordPress issues out of band security and maintenance update

WordPress issues out of band security and maintenance update

WordPress issued an out of band security and maintenance release today with version 4.9.7 being pushed live patching18 bugs in the content management system.

The top issues fixed by this release eliminate a flaw that could potentially allow an unauthorized person with certain capabilities to attempt to delete files outside the uploads directory and to ensure the default privacy policy content does not cause a fatal error when flushing rewrite rules outside of the admin context, WordPress said in its security release.

WordPress strongly recommends all users update their sites immediately.

Other issues fixed with the release were:

  • Taxonomy: Improve cache handling for term queries.
  • Posts, Post Types: Clear post password cookie when logging out.
  • Widgets: Allow basic HTML tags in sidebar descriptions on Widgets admin screen.
  • Community Events Dashboard: Always show the nearest WordCamp if one is coming up, even if there are multiple Meetups happening first.