WordPress, the most popular content management system (CMS) on the planet, powers millions of websites around the world. As a CMS, it has revolutionized the way people build and maintain content on the Internet. But, all of that well-deserved popularity comes with a price.
All of that popularity makes WordPress sites tempting targets for hackers. After all, find an exploit that allows access to one website, and it could potentially grant that same access to millions more. To combat the ever-rising tide of malicious web activity, the WordPress community and the makers of various plugins and themes regularly update their software to patch known vulnerabilities. Some developers also offer security products for WordPress.
However, all of these measures require site owners to take a few easy steps to implement them. Fortunately, doing so may be easier than you think. Better yet, the long-term benefits will make it completely worth any minor inconvenience.
Hacking attacks continue to rise. Many hackers play a volume game when it comes to choosing targets. They find a weakness common to many sites, then try to use it over and over to gain access to an array of sites. Once they gain access, they can hijack your server, deface your brand, steal private information, or cause other harm.
Developers often find themselves in an ongoing cat-and-mouse game with hackers, patching vulnerabilities as quickly as someone discovers them. The developers then disseminate fixes for these exploits via software updates. These updates usually include improvements and new features, as well. Keeping a WordPress site constantly upgraded helps to plug security gaps as soon as possible, discouraging hacking attacks.
Of course, the idea of immediately updating software may be counterintuitive for many. Once, the prevailing logic of software upgrades held that one should wait until the last possible moment to upgrade software in order to ensure the developer had found and removed all the bugs. However, that old wisdom has given way to better, more stable software and very relevant security concerns. Thus, the new words of wisdom for WordPress site owners will likely hereafter remain “upgrade as soon as possible.”
Features and Performance
In addition to discouraging hacking attacks, upgrading a WordPress site ensures access to the latest features and best performance enhancements. It also ensures compatibility between outside services, plugins, and the CMS itself. Many features call third-party services to perform part of their function. For example, eCommerce plugins may call payment processors and security features outside of the site to execute a transaction. Those third-party sites will update their software frequently to remain as secure and functional as possible. A WordPress site that does not also remain upgraded may lose compatibility with the third-party service, potentially costing you traffic, sales, and consumer confidence. Similarly, if the CMS upgrades, your WordPress plugins will likely need an upgrade to ensure ongoing compatibility. Too many upgrades to either the CMS or a plugin without a corresponding upgrade of the other can cause instability, security vulnerabilities, and even crash part or all of your site.
How to Stay on Top of Upgrades for your WordPress Site
At this point, you may feel convinced of the importance of keeping a WordPress site up-to-date, but skeptical about having the time or technical skill to do it. So, how can any site owner stay on top of upgrades? First, InMotion Hosting’s phenomenal new WordPress Hosting product includes free automatic upgrades. The service makes a backup of your site, applies the upgrade, and can roll everything back should a problem occur. That way, your site remains updated, but you do not have to worry about the upgrade crashing your site. InMotion Hosting also offers powerful tools that can scan and patch vulnerabilities in your WordPress site and upgrade your plugins for you automatically. Check out our WordPress Hosting page for more information about these features, or live chat with one of our friendly and knowledgeable salespeople now.