The impact of Headless CMS on website security: what you need to know

By Arso Stojović
Read time 5 min
Posted on March 3, 2023
Updated on August 23, 2023
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Impact of Headless CMS on Website Security

As technology advances, so do security challenges and attacks. Is headless CMS security the most effective way to defend against malware and DDoS attacks?

There is no doubt that headless CMS platforms, with their third-party integrations and open-source nature, can overcome the most common CMS security threats found in traditional platforms. To understand why you should opt for headless CMS security, let's define headless CMS.

What is a Headless CMS?

The most basic definition of a headless CMS is "an updated and upgraded version of WordPress." But in a broader context, headless CMS represents a modern platform that makes website creation, maintenance, and managing content effortless and more intuitive by separating the front and back ends.

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Is a headless CMS more secure than a traditional CMS?

Did you know WordPress is the most commonly hacked CMS, with over 95.6% of infections? Such a high percentage confirms there are many challenges to overcome to ensure a secure content management system.

Why are traditional CMSs so vulnerable to attacks?

Interestingly, some of the features and options traditional CMSs are known for can negatively affect security.

Plugins and themes

WordPress is known for its themes and countless plugins that allow users to create visually unique website pages. But those two things simultaneously represent vulnerabilities in CMS. Automated attacks targeting known vulnerabilities, such as plugins and themes, often hack websites. It is not uncommon for hackers to compromise websites by exploiting vulnerabilities in CMSs and third-party components.

Weak passwords

Using brute-force attacks, hackers guess thousands of combinations of login credentials. Therefore, you are much more likely to fall victim to a brute-force attack if you use weak passwords on your website or database, especially if you don’t implement a website firewall.

Incorrect file permissions

Web servers use several rules to control access to website files. It is easy for hackers to modify files on websites if file permissions are too relaxed.

What about headless CMS security?

In contrast to a traditional CMS, a headless CMS has no link between its front and back ends. The front end of your website is not predetermined, so even if your content database is compromised, the hacker cannot take your website/app offline. As a result, DDoS attacks are less likely to occur.

How does headless CMS improve website security?

Depending on your business’s specific requirements, there are some advantages to choosing a headless CMS over a traditional CMS. Due to the architecture of headless CMS, you can’t access the content publishing platform from a database. As a result, you are much less likely to be subjected to a DDoS attack and lose access to systems or network resources. By separating the display layer of the site from the data-holding area, you can tightly secure your headless CMS. You can even limit IP access to the headless CMS using this method.

Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS

HEADLESS CMS SECURITY: BENEFITS

Complete control and flexibility

A headless CMS can push content to any device or channel with internet access as a content-only data source. It can publish the same content anywhere you need, and a predetermined user interface doesn’t bind the content. This means a headless CMS provides the ultimate flexibility in deciding how and where your content appears while enhancing security.

Built-in security features

Most CMS platforms have built-in features to help you secure your content and website. Headless CMS provides the following features:

  • Powerful firewall

  • SSL

  • Personalized CDN

Single source, omnichannel presence

Headless CMS must support multi-tenancy, which helps you share content assets across multiple areas, allowing easy regulation. It is also easier to stay safe when you have a single source. You’re more likely to find threats when all your content is easily searchable and arranged in your CMS rather than running through a maze. As a result, the problem is easier to identify.

Cloud-based CMS

Headless CMS is usually cloud-native, enabling you to leverage the cloud’s scale by choosing your tools and infrastructure. By relying on the cloud (usually AWS), it’s easier to secure valuable native content and archives without worrying about storage threats or system failures.

API approach prevents DDoS attacks

DDoS attacks are prevented by the way a headless CMS displays content. JavaScript is typically used to render the content delivered by a headless CMS. Since most of it is rendered on the client side, a DDoS attack can be mitigated.

Unlike a traditional CMS, a headless CMS is built on APIs that allow the layers to be separated and coupled together. APIs make a headless CMS less vulnerable to attacks.

Content delivery network (CDN)

The speed of content delivery can significantly impact performance and security. Besides positively impacting content delivery, SEO ranking, etc., a CDN improves headless CMS security by providing DDoS mitigation, security certificate improvements, and other optimizations.

Scalability

A traditional database creates bottlenecks that a headless CMS has eliminated through scalability. As all components are decoupled, they can be scaled independently. You can customize or upgrade any resource whenever you want. Due to the separation of the front and back ends, you won’t experience any downtime.

Headless CMS security: Use cases

Headless CMS can enhance your website's and your business's security in various ways. To name a few:

  • Website launch: Headless CMS allows you to build new, secure websites faster and easier.

  • Sensitive data in headless CMS: Specifying where you want the data in your forms to be submitted can increase the accuracy and efficiency of your business processes. Headless CMS gives you more control over those processes. More control equals more safety.

  • Mobile apps: Mobile apps and devices store confidential information. You cannot afford data leaks or security issues when dealing with mobile devices. Because headless solutions are backend-only, vendors can update them to prevent hackers from exploiting known security vulnerabilities.

  • E-commerce websites: Native headless commerce platforms quickly deliver highly customized experiences that render perfectly on any device by leveraging e-commerce APIs and decoupling the front end of an e-commerce platform from the back end, resulting in enhanced security. The front end interacts with customers, while the back end stores the technical elements of your store, including the shopping cart system, order processing, checkout, shipping system, and tax calculations.

  • Financial industry: With its API-first approach, headless CMS maintains high-security performance across various foreign countries and business units, keeping website content architecture consistent.

Headless CMS security: Best ways to maintain website security

There are various steps users can take to defend their systems from attacks. Headless CMS will stay safe and secure if you do the following:

  • Keep your CMS platform up-to-date.

  • Review your CMS users and eliminate unnecessary ones.

  • Monitor your websites and microsites to identify potential defacement.

  • Back up your CMS regularly.

  • Change default usernames like “admin."

  • Use strong passwords.

  • Document your security incident processes.

  • Implement security measures such as encryption and access controls.

  • Test and monitor for vulnerabilities.

  • Scan the headless website using automated testing tools.

Why is headless CMS the most secure CMS technology?

There is no doubt that headless CMS is the most stable CMS technology at the moment. Its versatility and various protection methods make it irresistible to hackers and other threats.

All those methods enable an almost completely masked Headless CMS, which can stop or confuse any external influence or attempt to discover the server's IP address.

Even though the server's IP address where the headless CMS is hosted is an essential part of the network communication process, some measures can be taken to enhance the server's security and protect it from potential threats. Here are some standard security practices:

Reverse Proxy

Set up a reverse proxy server in front of the headless CMS server. The reverse proxy is an intermediary between clients and the CMS server, handling incoming requests and forwarding them to the CMS server. The reverse proxy can have a public IP address while the actual CMS server remains hidden behind it. This way, clients only interact with the reverse proxy and are unaware of the server's IP address.

Load balancer

Employ a load balancer that distributes incoming traffic across multiple backend servers. Load balancers can be configured to hide the IP addresses of individual backend servers, adding an additional layer of obfuscation.

Firewall protection

Implementing a firewall can filter incoming and outgoing traffic to the server, blocking unauthorized access and protecting it from potential attacks.

Intrusion detection and prevention systems

Utilize intrusion detection and prevention systems that monitor network traffic and detect suspicious activity. These systems can help identify and mitigate potential attacks.

Is headless CMS security that secure?

Does a headless CMS offer more security? For sure.

How? The API-first approach makes headless CMSs less susceptible to DDoS attacks.

An API is the most significant component of a headless architecture because it reduces internet-facing infrastructure. Security benefits help you stay protected, so you can focus on ensuring your existing content grows and gains recognition on a secure content management system.

BCMS is a CMS emphasizing security, ensuring your content is continuously protected and free from attacks.

If you value a secure CMS and want to protect yourself from risks, upgrade to a headless BCMS today.

  • The first BCMS instance is free

  • Free migration

  • Free support

  • No credit card needed‍

Create your account

FAQs

Why does using Headless CMS improve website security?

With a headless CMS, you cannot access the content publishing platform from the CMS database, which enhances the security of your CMS. It reduces the chances of being affected by a DDoS attack and being rendered offline.

Is Headless CMS secure?

A headless CMS can provide better website security. Unlike the traditional approach, there is no link between a Headless CMS's front and back end. The front end of your website/app is not predetermined, so even if a hacker gains access to the content database, they cannot take it offline. Is Headless CMS secure? For sure!

How to maintain CMS security?

There are various things users can do to defend their systems from attacks. Headless CMS will stay safe and secure if you:

  • Keep your CMS platform up-to-date

  • Review your CMS users and eliminate unnecessary ones

  • Monitor your websites and microsites to identify potential defacement.

  • Perform regular backups of the CMS

  • Change default usernames like ‘admin’

  • Use strong passwords

  • Have your security incident processes documented

  • Implement security measures such as encryption and access controls

  • Testing and monitoring for vulnerabilities

  • Scan the Headless website using automated testing tools

How to improve website security?

Ignoring CMS security can lead to the growth of vulnerabilities that can put your entire organization or business at risk. The good news is that there are ways to prevent cyberattacks.

Top 8 CMS security measures:

  • Use CDN

  • Use an open-source CMS

  • Avoid using a CMS that relies on third-party plugins

  • Use a CMS with fine-grained user permissions

  • Use strong passwords

  • Use two-factor authentication

  • Use a headless CMS

Which CMS is the most secure?

Some of the most secure CMSs are leading open-source content management systems that create many of the world's most recognized digital experiences. Some of these should be your choice:

  • Drupal

  • Joomla

  • WordPress

  • TYPO3

  • BCMS

How secure is BCMS?

No one wants to be vulnerable, so BCMS can be that unified solution that can reduce overall all obstacles regarding protection:

BCMS combats security in the following ways:

  • Keep your website up to date

  • Uses different authentication measures

  • BCMS is headless

  • BCMS is an open-source

  • BCMS is API-first

  • BCMS is cloud-based

  • BCMS follows regulations and standards

  • BCMS is a platform for different kinds of website

  • BCMS protects data