Why Website Security Needs to Be Part of Every WordPress Website Support Conversation

Quick Summary

Website security is crucial for any online organization, protecting against threats, building trust, reducing downtime, improving SEO, and safeguarding data. A website care plan that includes regular updates, secure hosting, strong passwords, and ongoing monitoring ensures long-term success and peace of mind. By investing in a comprehensive website care plan, you not only protect your business but maintain a resilient online presence that helps you achieve your goals and grow.

Three women in a business meeting on a video call with others on a laptop in an office space.

Website security is essential to the long-term sustainability of any online business. Taking the time to implement security best practices goes a long way in shielding your organization against common issues. This proactive approach saves you from the time-consuming and frustrating challenges of dealing with malware, hacks, and downtime, which can negatively impact brand reputation, lead generation, and sales.

The good news is that you don’t have to be the person responsible for the security of your website. A website care plan is one of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure your website is always up and running and secured from potential threats.

Having your website security handled for you, including updates, monitoring, and backups, means your business can stop worrying and start benefiting from a relationship with an experienced and responsive partner.

Security benefits for your website

From the start, a good security setup brings your business some immediate benefits:

  • Dealing with immediate threats:
    Websites run 24/7 and experience threats every day from automated attacks. Security measures like firewalls, malware scanning, uptime monitoring, and regular updates help protect websites against those immediate threats.
  • Building reputation and trust:
    Websites that remain secure help reinforce an organization’s reputation. When a website is secure, people feel comfortable staying longer and engaging more, increasing their likelihood of returning.
  • Reduced downtime:
    Security measures that prevent downtime caused by vulnerabilities, poorly configured websites, and mismanaged updates help ensure uninterrupted access for visitors and leads.
  • Finding SEO improvements:
    Search engines favor secure websites and penalize insecure ones. Ensuring your website remains secure has a real impact on search engine rankings.
  • Protecting your data:
    Websites can contain a lot of user data. Implementing good and consistent security means sensitive records, such as personal information and payment details, remain safe and secure.

Security benefits for your business

The immediate impacts are some of the easiest to see, but over time, those security best practices provide important long-term benefits for any organization.

  • A practice of prevention:
    Preventing security issues is always better than reacting to them after the fact. A proactive approach to security can stop potential threats before they become a problem, saving you time, money, and a lot of stress.
  • Reducing long-term costs:
    Investing in security and a website care plan upfront can be far more cost-effective than trying to hire someone in an emergency. The penalties and legal fees can be even higher if the problem involves stolen personal information, payment fraud, or compliance violations.
  • Meeting regulatory compliance:
    Security is critical to complying with data protection regulations (HIPPA, GDPR, PCI, and Individual State Privacy Laws). Meeting those requirements helps avoid the legal fees and penalties involved in violations, not including the damage to your reputation.
  • Fueling business growth:
    A website that operates securely and smoothly for the long term allows your organization to generate more revenue, grow donations, and continue to attract new users. Good website security becomes even more essential to protect a growing user base as your organization grows.
  • Saving time:
    Security measures that prevent downtime caused by vulnerabilities, poorly configured websites, and mismanaged updates help ensure uninterrupted access for visitors and leads.

The reality is that website security is constantly evolving, and keeping up with it can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. A website care plan that implements security best practices for your business can provide much-needed peace of mind. Without going too deep, here are a few security-related details you should look for when evaluating a support partner and whether a website care plan will meet your business’s needs.

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Website care plans and security

Regular website updates

Your website runs on software that is constantly changing. 

For a WordPress-powered website that includes WordPress core, your theme, and all the plugins that extend your website’s functionality. Keeping each piece up-to-date is essential to ensuring your website continues to run as smoothly as it did the day it was launched.

Automated bots actively target outdated software and plugins with known vulnerabilities every day. Regular updates are essential for security patches, new features, and resolving bugs, contributing to a stable user experience.

Watching for these updates and running them regularly is the simplest and most effective way to protect your organization’s website and keep a vulnerability from becoming something more. It’s also the easiest to get wrong. In a business, there will always be other things that take priority or keep getting in the way. A website support plan removes that burden, letting your staff focus on what they do best and ensuring all updates are run consistently, on time, and in a safe workflow.

A good update workflow includes:

  • Monitoring Change Logs:
    Every plugin update includes a change log that lists everything the update contains. Before running updates, review those logs to understand any impact that update may have and whether to run an update.
  • Running a Regular Schedule:
    A regular bi-weekly update schedule helps ensure your website is consistently protected with the latest releases while minimizing interruptions.
  • Visual Testing:
    Updates can bring unintended changes. By automatically running a visual comparison of your website before and after an update, unwanted changes are spotted and can be fixed immediately.

Website backups and restoration

It’s not a question of if but a matter of when something will happen to your company’s website. 

Whether it’s something as simple as human error or something more severe like an active vulnerability, backups are your first and quickest line of defense. Having regular backups that are securely stored off-site and can be easily restored minimizes downtime. It acts as a safety net against anything that can go wrong, allowing for fast recovery and minimizing the loss of revenue and leads that could result.

What makes a good website backup?

Good backups don’t happen on their own, and having a well-defined backup and restoration plan in place as part of your website strategy provides a valuable layer of protection. A strong backup strategy should include:

  • Backup Frequency:
    How often the content on your website is updated will inform how often backups need to be run. Daily backups are the best solution for most service-based businesses. A more frequent backup will be better for websites that process transactions, memberships, or essential business processes.
  • Retaining Backups:
    Not all site compromises are detected right away. If you only keep a small number of backup points, you risk not having a safe backup to restore from. While 30 days of backups is a good starting point, 90 days provide more security, and some organizations may prefer even longer.
  • Automation:
    For a backup system to be effective and consistent, it needs to be automated. An automated backup process provides reliability and minimizes the chance of human error. In addition to keeping your backup process on track, an automated system can notify you when backups fail or encounter issues.
  • Offsite Storage:
    Storing backups of your website’s data away from your hosting environment helps protect against loss if anything happens to your website’s server, hosting provider, or local computer. A backup is only useful if the information is safe and can be easily accessed in an emergency.

Secure website hosting

A reliable and reputable website host is the base on which most of your website security rests. 

Choosing the wrong host can leave you with a website that will never live up to its potential. With so many hosting options available, it’s easy to end up with one that doesn’t align with your security and performance needs. Bad hosting can lead to sluggish loading, frequent downtime, and a higher susceptibility to security breaches. 

Managed WordPress hosting, on the other hand, offers security features and a setup specifically for WordPress. A knowledgeable agency partner can help your business choose the right website host with the best setup for your needs.

When choosing a hosting company, here are a few elements you want to consider:

  • Account Access and Management:
    Hosting accounts should be able to add team members to your account and customize and control the security and features they can access.
  • Site Security Features:
    Some important security features you should be looking for include dedicated resources and isolated accounts, free SSL security certificates, web application firewalls, rate limiting, access to logs, updated PHP versions, secure SSH & SFTP connections, and regular security patching.
  • Backups:
    Good hosting should include daily backups of your website files and database that are easy to restore. On-demand backups should also be available to use before making significant changes.
  • Staging:
    Website staging is a feature that’s easy to overlook but offers a secure and separate copy of your site where updates, changes, and new features can be tested without affecting your live website.

Website support and collaboration

When it comes to website hosting, quality support is invaluable. But the reality is most website hosts don’t provide great support. A Managed WordPress host can provide more dedicated and specialized help when it comes to identifying and dealing with issues.

  • Specialized Support:
    Because managed WordPress hosting support specializes in one system, less time and effort need to be spent going back and forth trying to get help from someone who doesn’t have any particular experience with WordPress.
  • Hosting Liaison:
    With support from a website care plan, you never need to deal with your website host on your own. Your support provider can help communicate on your behalf and collaborate with the hosting provider when troubleshooting problems, so you don’t need to.

Strong passwords and website user roles

Passwords are one area of website security that is the simplest to implement but always seems to cause the biggest headache. 

It’s a recurring issue, and without the right policies and tools in place, it’s an issue that will always be a problem. Establishing good password policies, educating your users about password best practices, and controlling account permissions go a long way in contributing to your website’s security.

  • Password Requirements:
    A good password policy involves a few simple requirements that help encourage your website users to create strong, unique passwords. A good policy should require a minimum number of characters and encourage the use of numbers, letters, and special characters.
  • Avoid Compromised Passwords:
    Password reuse is a significant issue, and while tools like password managers will go a long way to helping enforce good password behavior, preventing users with access to your website from choosing passwords that have been compromised and are part of public password dump is a good safeguard.
  • Two-Factor Authentication:
    Passwords can still be compromised even when you have taken the right steps. Passwords can be scraped through malware,  stolen through phishing, released through data breaches, and more. Requiring two-factor authentication adds a second form of verification besides a password that acts as an extra safeguard against unauthorized access.

Account permissions

A lot of people can be involved in making a successful website run. From business partners, content editors, marketing teams, and dedicated volunteers, maintaining user accounts’ integrity is essential to your website security.

  • Individual User Accounts:
    Each user must have their own account, and sharing accounts should be avoided. It makes controlling access and data privacy easier and can improve workflows.
  • Restricting Access:
    Every user should have the minimum access level needed to perform their tasks. Restricting access isn’t a question of trust but of safety. It gives attackers fewer opportunities to exploit and reduces problems caused by human error. Custom user roles can be set up to provide just the right level of access and make delegating tasks easy.

Monitoring and automated testing

Where many businesses get it wrong is assuming that caring for your website is just a simple to-do list of monthly health checks, software updates, content updates, and ensuring nothing’s on fire. Website security that protects your business proactively involves ongoing monitoring and testing.

Any care plans should also include these key elements of ongoing monitoring and automated testing.

  • Uptime Monitoring:
    Websites can go down for any number of reasons, from something as simple as a failed update or plugin error to something more severe like a vulnerability. Uptime monitoring is an automated test that runs frequently to check your website’s status and let you know the moment your website goes down. That reliability and uninterrupted presence increase your user’s trust, allows for growth, and improves engagement.
  • Vulnerability Monitoring:
    Website and plugin security issues are inevitable. With a vulnerability monitor, your website is regularly scanned for known issues and compromised plugins, allowing you to get ahead of problems and run updates as soon as they become available rather than waiting on a schedule or for when it becomes convenient.
  • Functionality Testing:
    If you depend on your website for communicating with clients, generating leads, making sales, receiving donations, or gathering information, it is vital that those functions are reliable and offer a consistent experience to your users. Automated testing can quickly identify issues by testing your website’s workflows, much like a user would, to detect unexpected outcomes. Detecting errors early on helps maintain your users’ experience and reduces disruptions.
  • Email Deliverability Testing:
    Forms aren’t the only part of your website that can fail silently. Automated testing that monitors your website’s email deliverability helps ensure that important communication from your website, such as notifications and transactional emails, reaches recipients’ inboxes.

Emergency response

Even when you have done everything right, problems can still arise. Having someone monitoring your site regularly helps identify issues sooner. If you’ve ever experienced website problems, you know the peace of mind that comes with having someone you trust available to answer questions, provide guidance, offer recommendations, and resolve issues is priceless.

With the right partner in place, you get:

  • Dedicated Fast Response:
    A website care plan means having a dedicated partner available to respond promptly to emergencies. This eliminates the need to waste time wondering when or if someone will get back to you. Instead of just being another number on a support ticket, a good partner can be reached via email, phone, or video conferencing, providing personal and timely support.
  • Expert Hands-on Support:
    A care plan provider will not only help resolve immediate emergencies but can also help you discover and understand the underlying causes. Instead of simply being reactive to situations, they can help website owners implement long-term solutions that prevent similar issues from recurring.

Security is the foundation for long-term website success

Website security is never done. While the basics of website security are simple, it’s the details that provide the best protection. The risk of getting those details wrong is too serious to leave it to good intentions and chance. Without a regular approach to maintenance and security, it’s only a matter of time before you run into problems that can become costly to your business.

A website care plan means having a dedicated partner available to respond promptly to emergencies. This eliminates the need to waste time wondering when or if someone will get back to you. A good partner can be reached via email, phone, or video conferencing, providing personal and timely support.

Don’t be left scrambling to fix problems, often at the worst possible times, on your own and taking valuable time away from the amazing work your team does every day to advance your mission.

A website care plan that provides these website security best practices for your site means your business will continue to perform at its best, and the impact you make in the world can always come first. If you want to get a jumpstart on your website security or learn more about the proactive approach and maintenance support I bring to my client’s websites, or if you are just ready for some peace of mind, explore my website care plans or lets setup a time to talk more about your needs.

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About the author

Patrick Boehner is a seasoned website designer with over a decade of experience. He works with mission-driven organizations, non-profits, and professional service firms to bring their bold visions to life by building websites showcasing their brilliance, experience, and the transformation they create. If you're looking for a website that truly reflects your organization's unique mission and story, I would love to talk with you.

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