The risks of ignoring CMS security and how to mitigate them

By Arso Stojović
Read time 3 min
Posted on March 3, 2023
Updated on July 19, 2023
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CMS security risks

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. Before we dive into that, let's take a look at some statistics made by Purplesec:

  • Cybercrime has gone up 600% since the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The average cost of a data breach to a small business can range from $120,000 to $1.24 million.

  • 71.1 million people fall victim to cyber crimes yearly.

According to Purplesec statistics, security issues evolve simultaneously with technology. Purplesec's research indicates the most common cyber attacks are as follows:

  • Extortion

  • Identity theft

  • Personal data breach

  • Non-payment

  • Phishing attacks

How do these statistics resonate with a secure CMS? Is CMS messing with your biz, or is it the ultimate way to stay safe?

CMS solutions enable users to create and publish web content without knowing HTML or web development. CMS effectively manages changes to each piece of work involving multiple authors and editors. Security measures are imperative for CMS, like other web server software and services.

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CMS vulnerabilities

Since CMS solutions are used worldwide, they are attractive targets for attackers. Traditional CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are the most hacked.

In addition to being the most frequently used platform for managing content, these CMS solutions are most loved by hackers because they comprise third-party plugins that can easily compromise the CMS’s security.

An attacked plugin can launch massive force attacks, which crack admin credentials and compromise SSH, databases, and server management.

Furthermore, the CMS is often a security risk because attackers can strike in various ways, such as through plugins and multiple login credentials.

Even though it seems counterintuitive, open-source systems are more secure when updated.

The most frequent CMS security concerns

It is necessary to have a multilayered defense strategy because attacks on CMS can take many forms. Here are the most common ways CMS can cause weaknesses:

  • Security breaches occur when a cybercriminal successfully infiltrates a data source and extracts sensitive information without authorization.

  • Data loss: Malware is one of the most frustrating causes of data loss. One virus can compromise business-critical files or create instability in your software and operating systems, leading to catastrophic data loss.

  • Code injection involves inserting (or injecting) extra code into a website, often with unwanted results. SQL injection is one of the most common cyberattacks.

  • Cross-site scripting: An injection attack in which code is executed from the browser instead of the CMS or website files. The XSS vulnerability affects several coding languages.

  • Cross-Site Request: Visitors are tricked into submitting an unintended request, leading to data leaks, account manipulation, and other problems.

  • Session management: Attackers take advantage of session tokens to gain the privileges of legitimate site visitors. It is then possible for an illegitimate visitor to make purchases, access sensitive information, or carry out other unwanted actions.

How to mitigate CMS security risks

CMS security vulnerabilities need to be addressed with a robust set of measures. These measures must prevent attackers and cover security vulnerabilities as soon as they occur. Regardless of the situation, modern, decoupled SaaS solutions offer native advantages.

Top 8 CMS security measures

#1 Use CDN

Content distribution networks are networks of servers that accelerate the loading of websites. Visitors connect to the CDN instead of the site’s server, providing better security. Most CDNs offer additional security features such as the following:

  • DNS services

  • Network security

  • DDoS protection

  • Web application firewall (WAF)

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

#2 Use open-source CMS

By opting for open-source, you are choosing a more secure CMS solution.

Open-source CMS platforms supported by a large, active development community are generally more secure. By allowing everyone to access the code, the number of developers working on a vulnerability will be much larger than on a proprietary CMS.

#3 Avoid using a CMS that relies on third-party plugins

Third-party code can seriously hurt your site’s performance. Plugin vulnerabilities pose a big problem because the plugin’s creator must patch them once discovered. Furthermore, users must ensure they are up-to-date to be adequately protected.

So if your CMS relies too heavily on third-party plugins, you are not only putting your security in danger but also giving control to plugin vendors and creators.

#4 Use a CMS that allows you to backup data regularly

To manage data effectively, backups must be made of collected data. When primary data is lost, backups can be used to recover the data. As a result of blockages, systems are protected from human error, hardware failure, virus attacks, power outages, and natural disasters.

#5 Use CMS with fine-grained user permissions

Take advantage of the ability to assign roles and permissions. Content management systems should allow you to set different roles for different users; for example:

  • Author - publishes their content

  • Editor - publishes or edits their own and others’ content

  • Administrator - has complete control of the site

Apply the principle of least privilege: users and applications should have access only to the resources they need and no more. This way, you get more control over your CMS security.

#6 Use strong passwords

It may sound trivial and redundant, but strong passwords effectively mitigate security risks, helping to ensure a secure CMS. They protect your electronic accounts and CMS platform from unauthorized access, safeguarding sensitive information. The more complex the password, the better your information will be protected from cyberattacks.

#7 Use two-factor authentication

Web security relies on two-factor authentication to eliminate the risk of compromised passwords. Without the approval of the second factor, a password alone cannot give an intruder access if it has been hacked, guessed, or even phished.

#8 Use Headless CMS

Is headless CMS a secure CMS? While traditional CMSs face security challenges due to their linkage between front-end and back-end platform functionality, headless CMSs avoid this potential vulnerability by design.

Headless CMS avoids placing sensitive operational applications on public websites by separating content management from delivery. This way, headless CMS has a positive impact on CMS security since APIs make content management systems less susceptible to DDoS attacks.

CMS Security highlights

Managing content can be a challenge in today’s information-intensive working environment. CMS can help you get a handle on creating, publishing, and organizing all that content. However, don’t forget the need for security to protect your servers and networks.

Traditional CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla have many more security issues since they rely on third-party plugins.

CMS platforms are susceptible to attacks and must have a multilayered defense strategy. Headless CMS solutions like BCMS can improve website security by separating content management from delivery, treating content as data, and using APIs to build safe editing workflows and content sharing.


What is CMS security, and why is it important?

CMS security helps prevent hackers from accessing sensitive data. Websites, networks, and other IT infrastructures can be infected with malware and attacks without a proactive security strategy.

What are some common security risks associated with CMS?

The most frequent CMS security concerns:

  • Security breaches

  • Data loss

  • Code injection

  • Cross-site scripting

  • Cross-Site Request

  • Session management

What are some best practices for mitigating security risks associated with CMS?

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

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