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    Categories: Insights

Why Regularly Updating Your Website CMS is Essential

Updating your website CMS is critical to security

A content management system (CMS) is the easiest way to add, edit and refine content on your website. The ability to easily and quickly add and manage content is essential for anyone with a professional website. If you don’t have some form of CMS built in to your website, it’s time to seriously ask yourself the question – Is your website offering you what you need it to?

Most people have heard the phrase ‘content is king’, and since good content is the cornerstone of any effective website – content should be revised and updated regularly.

A CMS allows you to control the content on your site on your own terms without having to have a working knowledge of HTML or CSS (web coding languages), and means you also will be able to avoid having to get in touch with your web developer every time you want to add or amend content.

Not only is having to deal with a third party when it comes to updating content time consuming, it also means that you’re probably not going to end up adding as much content as you should. In the competitive world of online marketing and appearing in Google’s search results, new and insightful content can be the difference between people finding you over one of your competitors.

From Joomla, WordPress and Drupal, there are many different content management systems that are used internationally, but none more popular (and arguably as easy to use) as WordPress. Therefore for the purpose of this article we will be focusing mainly on updating WordPress, although the main point is consistent for all CMS’s, with the major point being – update or beware.

Do I really need to update?

In one word: Yes. While a newer version might seem unnecessary when everything is already working fine, and update notifications annoyingly appear all too often, updating is crucial from a website security standpoint.

Updating doesn’t mean you have to do anything onerous, and only takes a couple of minutes – and a few clicks of the mouse. Some users might be hesitant to install the latest update of their CMS since they fear it may change the layout or make using their CMS more complicated. Fear not. With WordPress, apart from a few stylistic changes, the main dashboard looks and functions the same with each update. Most updates, in fact, are purely software based and are just to to enhance security and to fix any bugs, instead of a major upgrade which can mean changes to the style and layout of the system. 

What’s the worst that could happen?

Similar to anti-virus software updates, CMS updates are provided regularly for good reason. Like anything else, when it comes to online security, everything on the web can become vulnerable with time and hackers are always finding new holes, and new ways to exploit the back end of a website.

Outdated software is especially prone to attack as coding languages have changed and gaping holes can be left which black hat operators are all to keen to exploit for their own gain. Third party plugins, themes and scripts can also present a security risk to your CMS, so before installing any third party plugin or theme on your site, make sure to do your research to verify the safety and reputability of the add-on you are installing.

So if your site becomes compromised, the worst that could happen could be any of these below:

  • Thousands of spammy links from questionable sites which may cause your site to be penalised by Google leading to loss of traffic and enquiries
  • Stealing of private user data including email addresses, credit card information, passwords and other private customer information
  • Hi-jacking of your site to change layout, delete or add offensive content, or change the way your site functions.
  • Changing of your CMS password restricting access to your site. 

Ouch! The consequences of not updating can really hurt your site, and potentially your business. Therefore being proactive and updating as soon as new security updates become available is the single biggest thing you can do to prevent your site becoming compromised. If you wait until your site has been hacked, even if you eventually update, it’s possible the hacker has installed ‘backdoor’ software that allows access again at a later date. This means that even though your compromised site may be able to be fixed to a point, it’s always going to be the best option to start with a clean slate, which obviously is less than ideal due to the time and cost.

Other reasons to update your CMS

Apart from the major reason of security, updating your CMS also offers a range of other benefits. New updates contain more efficient codes and features which help to improve the speed and performance of your site, while also using less bandwidth. As your site grows, this will also alleviate pressure on your web server.

An updated CMS also gives access to new features that can enhance the usability of the platform to integrate with CRM tools like Sales Force. New updates also help to simplify the way you add content to your site, including the ability to drag and drop rich content without the need for reformatting.

For those who don’t manage a website themselves, it’s important to have a plan in place with your hosting company or website administrators to ensure your CMS is regularly updated. This ensures that neither party assumes the other is responsible for updating the software and a plan is in place for the ongoing security of your site. This could be as simple as making someone in your business responsible for doing this, and checking that the version of the CMS that you are using is the latest one, or it could mean paying your hosting company or website development Brisbane company to take responsibility of your site security including an updated CMS.

Ok how do I update my WordPress?

The good news is that updating is simple and painless, although if your site was built by a Brisbane web design company, you should check with them about updating it first to ensure that any custom plugins or themes remain intact.

In the WordPress main screen this will be under the updates section in the Dashboard screen. By clicking the ‘update now’ button WordPress will automatically install all of the features of latest update if available.

Updating WordPress platform – website CMS

 

Sometimes it may be necessary for your web developer or webmaster to manually update WordPress by downloading the latest version and transferring files across to the server.

If you experience any problems with the update from a theme or plugin that may not compatible with the latest update, a manual update may be needed. This however is becoming more unlikely as most reputable plugins and themes are updated regularly to support the latest updates – and keep their customers happy.

And that’s it – updating is both simple and quick, and will ensure you will continue to add content to your site with confidence. Because a CMS is a must have on any modern website, updating the software as it becomes available will ensure you have the peace of mind that your CMS platform remains secure and operates with peak performance. When it comes to online security, peace of mind is something that’s always worth having.

Alistair Roberts :