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Spy on Your Competitor – Find Out What WordPress Plugins They’re Using

With most installations of WordPress there comes a small security flaw that potentially could be exploited but in most cases it’s harmless. This is not a new trick and it’s nothing illegal to do but usually you can find out exactly what plugins other WordPress blogs are using. This simple way of sniffing out one’s plugins is basically done by browsing directly to their plugin folder.

Here’s how you’d do it.

  1. Find a site that runs WordPress (it’s usually easy to spot them) and figure out where their WordPress installation is located. If you view the source, just look for /style.css and you’ll find their /wp-content/themes/ directory.
  2. Copy that path and instead of /themes, put in /plugins. The final url that you’ll construct will be something like https://www.competitor.com/wp-content/plugins
  3. Paste that url in your browser and you’ll quickly find out if they’ve taken any steps to hide their plugins. If not, you’ll see something that looks like this:


Now you can see exactly what plugins they’re using. There’s really no harm in knowing this but there’s a chance someone could exploit their blog. Say for example, one of the plugins like “wp-grins” has a security hole. Now you know this site runs it and you can launch an attack. There’s never been any cases that I’m aware of and that’s probably why the WordPress developers haven’t done anything about it.

It’s also a good way to figure out what certain plugin a site is using so you can get it for your own site. I’ve done this a few times in the past when I stumble upon a site with some cool features. How I’ve done this is by usually just viewing the source, looking for their .js or .css files and then searching Google by that name.

Is Your WordPress Blog Secure?

Now that you’ve had fun browsing someone else’s plugins folder, it’s time to try your own. If you’re able to see your plugins via a browser, then I’d recommend tightining up your security. The easiest way is to create a blank index.html or index.php file and put it directly in your plugins directory. This will make it so a blank page will load instead of the directory itself.

Another way to block people is by turning off directory browsing which is a web server configuration. It’s more involved and technical vs the quick and easy blank index.html file.

I hope you’ve had fun and in the process and tightened up your own blog’s security. You can never be too safe!

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16 Responses to “Spy on Your Competitor – Find Out What WordPress Plugins They’re Using”

Fatos on Feb 20, 2008, 11:43 pm  

Hi, I was just wondering how did you add this What’s Next under the post. I noticed Problogger has that too. Is it a plugin or what is it?

David on Feb 21, 2008, 12:53 am  

@Fatos, it’s actually not a plugin but that’s a good idea to create one. The What’s Next links are individually coded to dynamically work on each post. An easier way to get similar functionality is to download and install something like ShareThis or AddThis which both work great on WordPress. You might want to give those a try.

Fatos on Feb 21, 2008, 9:54 am  

Thanks for your reply. And yes I know about these other plugins but I just happen to like that one and maybe it’s just that I want that too and that’s why I asked. And go ahead man a create a plugin like that, I would be the first one to use it. Good 💡

David on Feb 21, 2008, 6:47 pm  

@Fatos, maybe I’ll write a new article about how to create it. It’s easier to explain than to create a plugin. 😉

David on Feb 23, 2008, 8:51 am  

Alright Fatos, I’ve just written up an article on how to implement this feature. Check it out –> How to create a “what’s next” post footer section. Thanks for the suggestion!

john on Apr 2, 2008, 10:12 pm  

wow came across your blog and it’s really tight and alot of great info,signed up for the feed>I’ll be back thanks

Nick Wallpaper on Feb 23, 2009, 11:47 am  

Nice trick! I’m going to patch my wp blog .htaccess file to prevent that =) Thanks.

Tim Resource on Apr 29, 2009, 11:30 pm  

Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t seem to work anymore.

Amy on May 16, 2009, 6:44 pm  

can’t just place an index.html page to hide that?

Amit Cohen on Sep 10, 2010, 9:55 am  

Ohh, never thought about that,
Sure going to some blog updates

John de Gagnez on Feb 6, 2013, 8:39 am  

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