How to secure your content management system

A content management system (CMS) is a web application that helps you build a website without writing code.

You can easily create a blog, forum, social network site, e-commerce portal, and various other types of websites using a CMS. While it’s incredibly easy to build and manage a website, it does require some input from you to keep it secure.

Each CMS differs from each other in terms of functionality and inherent security, but there are a few common aspects that you need to keep in mind to keep them secure. So how do you choose the right CMS for you? And how do you secure your content management system?

How to choose a secure content management system

Depending on your use case, you need to make sure that the CMS you choose is secure and ready to use.

For example, 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 are going to be creating a personal blog, you might not necessarily need the same level of security.

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Once you’ve assessed your priorities, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that the CMS you choose is secure enough:

  • CMS is not relatively new.

  • It is actively developed and receives regular updates.

  • It offers decent community support (optional premium support is a plus).

  • There is proper documentation to list all the features / options available in the CMS.

Of course, if you have a specific need you may need to deal with a CMS which may not meet all of the pointers mentioned above. However, we recommend that you choose one that fulfills them all or at least as many as possible.

Since you are choosing a popular CMS, it should automatically tick all the points. But popularity is not the only measure. A less popular option might be more secure while still offering restrictive features. You need to carefully weigh the options to make an appropriate decision.

How to secure your CMS

choose a secure cms

Note that some CMS may come with preconfigured settings that ensure the best security. You should therefore always consult the documentation and recommendations of a particular CMS in addition to these tips.

Configure a backup method

When it comes to a CMS, a backup is always the vital part of securing any website. This is essential, not only in case an attacker affects your CMS, but also because it can be a minor bug that could lead to data loss. It may be available as a plugin, extension, or 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 will have to go for premium backup solutions.

Either way, you can always try to back everything up manually, just in case.

Regardless of how you set up a backup method, be sure to back up your site regularly.

Secure administrator account

You must enable all the security features available for the administrator account in your CMS. If an attacker gains administrator access, it is easier to make malicious changes to your server and website.

Some of the common things you should take care of include:

  • Two-factor authentication (2FA) for the administrator account.

  • Avoid common user name and password combinations like administrator and past.

  • Make sure to use a strong password.

  • Use an email address dedicated to your website that has not been previously exposed to a data breach (optional).

To step up your game, you should try some of the best password managers available.

Related: How to Check Password Strength

Restrict user permissions

Securing the administrator 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 should check what features and options are accessible.

Providing multiple features to your users is a good idea, but it could end up being a security nightmare. So it’s best to limit your users’ access to the essentials and make sure they don’t get any options that might affect your entire CMS.

Enforce user security policies

In addition to restrictive user permissions, you can add strict requirements to enable 2FA and other useful security features when creating an account.

This way, you can keep your user accounts safe without manually contacting them to fix it.

Don’t install unnecessary plugins or extensions

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the extensions available for a CMS to improve your site’s functionality (or make things easier).

However, the introduction of unnecessary plugins could add security risks.

Stick to the plugins you need. Additionally, make sure the plugin is actively maintained and has good reviews.

Keep track of your site’s activity

With extensive monitoring, it’s easy to proactively secure your CMS. So keep an eye on your CMS by tracking all your site activity, such as plugin installations, user registrations, and file downloads.

The history of site activity should also help you identify problems if the need arises.

Use a web application firewall

To increase the level of security, you can choose to use a web application firewall. You can start using Cloudflare for free and upgrade to premium plans later. Most 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. Either way, you can start with free options like Cloudflare and try the premium options later.

Update your CMS

If the CMS is actively developed, you will find regular updates to fix bugs and resolve security issues.

To get started, don’t ignore any updates. However, when it comes to major upgrades, you can choose to test them in a staging environment before applying them to your live web portal.

Securing a content management system is easy

It’s easy to secure a CMS, but you should follow all of the tips mentioned and explore other options as you go. There are always new security threats out there, so getting the basics right before deciding on advanced security configurations for your website is crucial.

If you know the basics, it would be difficult for attackers to compromise the CMS.


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