I was a fan of using nulled and cracked software when I was a school boy. I used to experiment with various software, download demos and apply so-called cracks and use full versions for a while, then uninstall them search for latest version and so on till I understood how harmful it can be, using cracked or nulled software. I am not advocating for paid software vendors but there are some advantages on buying paid software, particularly in case of wordpress and similar online projects.
Why and how cracked/nulled wp themes appear?
In case of application software, crack providers sell cracked versions for a share of price of the original software. In case of wordpress themes, this is almost the case, but with some added advantages to the provider. The themes can contain malicious codes/plugins and loop holes which can help looting valuable personal data of end users. Other possible threats caused by nulled themes are as below.
1. Malicious codes
These codes can appear in any form. Some are unobtrusive advertisement blocks where appears ads provided the by the nulled program provider. Sometimes, it can be a looting setup in the form of forms or plugins by which personal data of users may be transmitted to a far away hacker.
2. Links to provider’s websites
By this method, a forced backlink to provider’s website is given by the theme, which cannot be easily identified or removed. This helps the provider to gain a legible backlink. However it is harmful to users, as they may get penalized for providing link to banned or illegal websites.
3. Open to wordpress installation entirely making vulnerable
Themes are open parts of wordpress installations, to a certain extend. Nulled themes makes things worse by making it more vulnerable for external attacks.
4. Incompatibility issues
Most themes are designed for a few wordpress updates from the date of making. However, nulled themes can lose this property and may make themselves compatible for a particular version or two.
5. Cannot update
Sometimes, wordpress updates require/force themes also to be updated. However, nulled themes are not provided with timely updates or no updates will be available at all. You will be then forced to roll back wordpress update, making your website outdated.
6. Data loss due to mal-functioning
In some not-so-rare cases, users suffered data loss due to mal-functioning themes especially when themes deal with a lot of custom post types like those are used in reservations, booking, comparison etc.
Nulled themes never come with authorised support from the original provider as you will be required to submit proof of purchase in the form of login information to get prompt support. If your site is a huge one with good user base, you cannot wait for answers for long days till someone else asks the same query in some forum and get answered.
8. Even able programmers may not be able to help
Web designers and programmers can help you if an original theme went out of order. This is because they can get access to the source theme you have purchased and see what is wrong with the theme. This occurs rarely, still there is a chance. However, in a nulled theme, programmers may also find it difficult to find what is wrong and where as you may not have a working copy of the theme.
9. Paid are becoming cheap
Why thinking of stealing? Paid themes are becoming dead cheap, thanks to the competition all over the world. You can get fully customisable, complete packages of themes as you wish for dead cheap prices and that too forever. Licenses need not be renewed and updates are free for a year or two or forever. Then why cant you go for paid themes which offers maximum customisation according to your needs? Many paid themes I found in themeforest is sold for just 20-70$ for a personal license, which is really reasonable for the features they offer.
10. Cheap alternatives for expensive options
Gone are the days of hiring a programmer for customised web templates and waiting for his free time to make an update. Theme providers offer Coupon codes, purchase offers etc. which makes it come cheap. Many premium plugins are given for free along with a package. Once requested in support forums, next update of theme itself come with the requested feature as well. Then why spending for expensive options like hiring programmers and downloading nulled craps?
11. No guilty feeling about theft
To top things off, think it this way. By using nulled themes, be it a perfect non-malicious script, we are using a stolen material. It is not going to give us success in a long run. It may seem attractive and impressive but still, there is hardwork of someone else, for what we haven’t paid for. We haven’t made millions out of the stealing but some 50-100$, which is not gonna make us rich. Think the humane way and pay due attention to the hardworking programmer and reap success in your project as well.