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How important is WordPress security?

Anybody who has managed a WordPress site knows how frequently the “WordPress x.x.x is available! Please update now” message appears on your Dashboard. But how important is WordPress security? Is it really necessary to keep your WordPress website up to date?

WordPress Security

The simple answer is yes. Here’s why…

WordPress Security Updates

WordPress is software that lives on the internet. That means your website is vulnerable to malicious attacks via software based hacks.

Occasionally security holes and exploits will be identified in the WordPress code. The WordPress team treats security very seriously and releases updates to WordPress that contain bug fixes to remedy these holes and exploits. The same happens for plugins and themes. If updates are available, it’s highly recommended that you update them immediately.

Not updating WordPress means leaving holes and exploits on your website, which may lead to your site being compromised. If someone does hack your site your site may go down, it may display inappropriate messages, deny you access, or any number of things. It’s also possible that you may not notice that your website has been hacked. However, it will be clear to Google and search engines may start warning your customers that your site isn’t be safe, which could be very detrimental to your business.

Applying updates ensures your WordPress install is as robust as it can be, thus minimising the risk of attack.

Bug Fixes

Even with the most in depth testing process, bugs can exist in code that may cause issues, however minor they might be. Any time new features or functionality are added to a piece of software, the likelihood of bugs existing increase, simply because more code has been added.

This requires developers to be constantly working to fix issues that come up, priority being given to the most serious of problems. Every new release of a piece of software will include fixes to bugs that have been found since the last release.

Applying updates gives your WordPress install the best chance of operating at optimal efficiency.

New Features and Additional Functionality

The WordPress team regularly add new features to the WordPress software. Some examples of these are enhancements to editing tools, easier to navigate dashboard, faster admin processing and custom menus. All of these features allow you to manage your website more easily and with more flexibility.

Likewise with your plugins. Most plugin developers strive to improve their product and utilise new technologies as they’re released. By updating your plugins you’re ensuring your website is modernised as well as secure.

That’s great, but how do I go about updating WordPress?

Before doing anything to your website, it’s important to review the WordPress Blog. Every time a new release is posted, the WordPress team adds a post to their blog explaining what is included in the update. After reading the post, you’ll have a better idea of what the release is about and if it poses any risks to your install.

With regards to plugins, you can visit the homepage for each plugin via the WordPress Plugin Directory. There, you will find details in the right hand sidebar that outline the plugin version, the WordPress versions it is compatible with, and when it was last updated. That should give you good information as to whether or not to update.

Having determined the risks, it’s now time to perform the update. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Take a complete backup of your site – both files and database. BackUp WordPress is a handy plugin that will help you with this.
  2. Visit your ‘Updates’ area via your WordPress Dashboard. Follow the instructions provided to update your WordPress installation.
  3. Following the update, test your websites performance and functionality thoroughly.
  4. Fix any issues that may have been caused.
  5. Review your theme and plugins. Do they also need updating? Is the plugin update compatible with your new version of WordPress? If yes, follow the same process above, being sure to test thoroughly between each update. That way if a particular plugin update causes issues with your site you can easily identify the culprit and simply deactivate it.

It might be important to ask yourself if this is something you can do on your own. It may be wise to contact an expert to assist you with the process. If your site uptime is important, you have custom functionality, your site is especially large or utilises a large number of plugins, you should go to an expert. Webhance Digital is here to help!

WordPress is a wonderful platform for your website but it does need your love and care. Approximately 25% of all websites worldwide are built on WordPress, which speaks of how great it is but it also means it has become a bigger target for online hackers.

So, for peace of mind it’s always wise to update your WordPress install and your theme/plugins as soon as it is required. That way your site will be secure and operating at optimal efficiency. If you’re not comfortable performing updates yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be pleased to help.

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