A Content Management System (CMS) is a web application that helps you build a website without writing any code.
You can easily create a blog, forum, social network site, an eCommerce portal, and various other types of websites with the help of a CMS. While it makes it incredibly simple to build and manage a website, it does require input from your side to keep it secure.
Every CMS differs from one another in terms of features and inherent security, but there are a few common aspects that you need to keep in mind to secure them. So how do you choose the right CMS for you? And how can you secure your content management system?
How to Choose a Secure Content Management System
Depending on your use case, you need to ensure that the CMS you choose is secure out-of-the-box.
For instance, if you want to use a CMS to build your eCommerce site, the security of your CMS should be one of your top priorities. But, if you’re going to create a personal blog, you may not necessarily need the same level of security.
Once you evaluate your priorities, you need to keep a few things in mind to make sure that the CMS you choose is secure enough:
- The CMS is not relatively new.
- It is being actively developed and receives regular updates.
- It offers decent community support (optional premium support is a plus).
- There’s proper documentation to list all the features/options available in the CMS.
Of course, if you have a specific requirement, you may have to manage with a CMS that may not fulfill all the pointers mentioned above. However, we recommend you pick one that fulfills all of them or at least as many as possible.
Considering you pick a popular CMS, it should automatically tick all the points. But popularity is not the only measure. A less-popular option could be more secure while offering restrictive features. You need to carefully evaluate the options to come to a proper decision.
How to Secure Your CMS
Note that some CMS may come with pre-configured settings that ensure the best security. So you should always check the documentation and the recommendations for a particular CMS in addition to these tips.
Set Up a Backup Method
When it comes to a CMS, a backup is always the vital part of securing any website. This is essential, not just in case an attacker affects your CMS, but also because it can be a minor bug that could end up with a data loss. It could be available as a plugin, extension, or a third-party service for your CMS.
For starters, you can choose any free backup solution; there should be several available. If you need advanced control for backups, you would need to opt for premium backup solutions.
In either case, you can always try to manually back up everything, just in case.
No matter how you configure a backup method, make sure you back up your site regularly.
Secure Admin Account
You need to enable all the available security features for the administrator account in your CMS. If an attacker gets administrator access, it is easier to make malicious changes on your server and website.
Some of the common things that you should take care of include:
- Two-factor authentication (2FA) for the admin account.
- Avoid common username and password combinations like admin and pass.
- Make sure you use a strong password.
- Use a dedicated email for your website that’s not been previously exposed in a data breach (optional).
To step up your game, you should try some of the best password managers available.
Restrict User Permissions
Securing the admin account does not guarantee complete protection. You will have to do more than that.
If you have a website where users can register and create accounts, you need to check what features and options are accessible.
Providing several features to your users is a good idea, but it could end up being a security nightmare. So it is best to limit your users’ access to essentials and make sure they do not get any options that could affect your entire CMS.
Enforce User Security Policies
In addition to the restrictive user permissions, you can add strict requirements to enable 2FA and other useful security features when creating an account.
That way, you can ensure the security of your user accounts without manually reaching out to them to fix it.
Do Not Install Unnecessary Plugins or Extensions
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the extensions available for a CMS to enhance the functionality of your site (or make things easier).
However, introducing unnecessary plugins could add security risks.
Stick to the plugins you need. Furthermore, make sure that the plugin is actively maintained and has good reviews.
Keep Track of Your Site Activity
With extensive monitoring, it is easy to secure your CMS proactively. So keep an eye on your CMS by tracking all your site activity like plugin installations, user registrations, and file uploads.
The site activity history should also help you pinpoint issues if the need arises.
Use a Web Application Firewall
To step up the level of security, you can opt to use a web application firewall. You can start using Cloudflare for free and upgrade to premium plans later. Most of the popular web application firewalls will cost you money.
It could be overwhelming if you are building a site for the first time. But, if you have the budget, having a firewall gives your CMS an extra layer of protection. In either case, you can start with some free options like Cloudflare and try premium options later.
Update Your CMS
If the CMS is actively developed, you will find regular updates to fix bugs and address security issues.
For starters, don’t ignore any updates. However, when it comes to major upgrades, you can choose to test them in a staging environment before you apply them to your live web portal.
Securing a Content Management System Is Easy
It is easy to secure a CMS, but you need to follow all the tips mentioned and explore more options as you go. There are always new security threats, so it is crucial to get the essentials before you opt for advanced security configurations for your website.
If you get the basics right, it would be tough for attackers to compromise the CMS.