The Benefits of a Hosting Provider to Ensure Secure, Compliant WordPress Sites

By Elizabeth Clor

WordPress is one of the most commonly used content management systems (CMSs) today, and powers about 40% of all websites, including some of the internet’s most popular webpages like The New Yorker, Reuters and Skype. This is due in part to the open source platform’s versatility: With more than 58,000 plug-ins and thousands of pre-built themes to choose from, WordPress users can build effective, customized web applications to meet their specific needs. 

But with all of the capabilities that WordPress offers comes increased complexity in ensuring website security. Every WordPress site is the sum of all its components, meaning that if just one plugin or theme is outdated, corrupted, or attacked by malware, the entire site is at risk. And the more plug-ins or themes a site contains, the harder it is for an owner to ensure that each and every one of those add-ons is secure and up-to-date.  

Prioritizing security, therefore, can be a challenging and laborious process for WordPress users. Not only do IT and developer teams have to regularly update a system’s core software and in-use applications, they also need to find and install solutions that protect against other cyber threats common for WordPress users, like SQL infections and malware attacks. 

A third-party WordPress hosting provider like BlackMesh by Contegix can ease the burden of WordPress security maintenance, supplying users with the expertise, bandwidth and resources necessary to keep their plug-ins or themes up-to-date, protect against common WordPress security issues and establish security best practices. This way, WordPress users can focus more on how to grow their site and its capabilities—while Contegix worries about keeping everything within it secure. 

Running Security Updates on Plug-ins and Themes 

WordPress users can drastically reduce potential for security breaches and cyber attacks by running regular security updates on their system’s plug-ins, themes, or features. Without these updates, the sites will be left vulnerable to cyber threats, including malware, cross-site scripting and SEO spam attacks. Hackers can easily place malicious code into an insecure plug-in that, when used, will infect the rest of a site and its data. A report by the website security service provider Scuri found that 49% of WordPress installations were outdated at the point of corruption. 

WordPress routinely releases updates to its core software and features that include security upgrades and bug fixes. As soon as these are made available, users should begin integrating these updates into their systems. New versions of plug-ins or themes aren’t always compatible with a website’s existing infrastructure and result in White Screen of Death (WSoD) errors. In order to resolve a plug-in compatibility issue, WordPress users have to perform an extensive review of their site, locate the source of the issue and remove it. Security updates can also be difficult to keep track of: WordPress does send alerts to the internal dashboards of its users’ websites for most security updates, but not for any themes or plug-ins bought from a third-party marketplace, like ThemeForest or CodeCanyon. 

With a third-party WordPress hosting provider like BlackMesh, WordPress users receive the experience and bandwidth necessary to perform and keep track of security updates for their plug-ins, themes or applications. BlackMesh regularly scans its customers’ WordPress sites, looking for applications running on outdated versions and updating them with the newest software. BlackMesh also performs updates to a WordPress site’s core software. This ensures that an application’s backend infrastructure also doesn’t contain any security loopholes and is just as secure as the applications living on the site. 

Protection Against Common Cyber Attacks 

In addition to performing regular security updates to a system’s core software and features, WordPress users need to defend their site against common cyber threats, such as brute-force attacks or structure query language (SQL) injections. 

Brute-force attacks—a type of cyber attack where hackers use a bot to input billions of potential username and password combinations until they gain access to a website’s backend—are common for WordPress sites, especially if users are not implementing password strengthening tools or password managers. SQL injections are another familiar threat for WordPress sites, and occur when attackers use SQL (WordPress’ preferred language for database management) to make fake accounts on a site and gain access to its data. 

WordPress users can install security plug-ins and firewall modules to protect against these types of attacks, and establish security best practices—like how to create a strong password and username—for its teams to follow. They should also run regular scans of their site’s internal and external files to locate and address SQL injections or other malicious activity before it spreads. But for overwhelmed or inexperienced teams, integrating these preventative measures can be daunting and labor-intensive tasks. 

A WordPress hosting provider like BlackMesh can add ease and assurance to the process and supplies users with the additional bandwidth and expertise necessary to develop and enforce security best practices, like two-factor authentication and password strengthening, that will protect against brute-force attacks. And using its file monitoring capabilities, BlackMesh will regularly review a site’s users inputs, looking for any files that appear malicious and could be a SQL injection. BlackMesh can also help WordPress users choose and install security plug-ins, like the WordPress form plugin or WordPress security plugin, that offer extra protection against cyber attacks.  

BlackMesh as Your Third-Party WordPress Hosting Provider 

In addition to security updates and solutions, BlackMesh can create and maintain other aspects of a WordPress site’s security strategy, like its backup plan. The provider will run automated, scheduled backups on a user’s WordPress site, saving copies of its data and infrastructure to a secure, remote location. This added precaution prevents downtime or data loss in the event of a natural disaster, security breach or other malfunction. 

Our team of experts also stays up-to-date on all WordPress security news and vulnerabilities so that users don’t have to. When a plug-in vulnerability is located (like the XSS vulnerability recently discovered in WordPress’s search plugin, Ivory Search), we spring to action, reviewing a user’s website to make sure that it wasn’t affected, or addressing the issue if it was. 

With 24/7 remote support and extensive hosting capabilities, BlackMesh gives web developers and IT teams more time to focus on their strategic projects and business goals, rather than their website’s infrastructure. Our platform is FedRAMP and HIPAA compliant and is used by many high-profile public sector organizations.

To learn more about Contegix’s BlackMesh and its compliant WordPress hosting offerings, visit our WordPress Solutions page.