Security in CMS: Prevention of Vulnerabilities

Security in CMS: Prevention of vulnerabilities.

Sucuri's Website Threat Research Report 2022 highlights emerging and current trends and threats in website security. Sucuri's Research and Remediation experts analyzed data on web-based malware, vulnerable software and attacks to identify the most common types of infections and threats. The analysis revealed that website backdoors and SEO spam were still prevalent in 2022, and that a years-long campaign of website redirects to spam websites via vulnerable plugins continued.

The report also noted a significant increase in credit card theft attacks on e-commerce websites, particularly those using WooCommerce plugins, with many malicious payloads created specifically for the victim's website. Mid-tier websites continued to be the main targets of threats.

Most compromised websites are due to vulnerable plugins and extensions rather than outdated CMS files. Even with a fully updated website, it can still be vulnerable if an element discloses its vulnerability and is not quickly remediated.

Why is risk analysis important for the security of CMS?

In recent years, there have been numerous high-profile security breaches. Some of the notable cyber attacks of 2022 included Medibank, a large Australian insurer that suffered an attack affecting nearly 10 million customers; the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) was also affected, and content producer Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. confirmed unauthorized access to its internal systems across multiple companies within the Group in Asia.

These events have served as a reminder that security is a crucial aspect of proper development, and websites and CMS platforms should be audited and updated regularly to address modern security challenges.

While CMS platforms like blogs are often overlooked as potential targets by hackers, they can still remain vulnerable due to the use of commonly used technologies, interaction with end customers, and their significant potential to create brand visibility.

Common concerns about CMS security

  • CMS can lead to code injection, a technique of inserting additional code into a website without the developer's consent, resulting in unintended consequences. And it is one of the most common cyberattacks.

  • Cross-site request forgery is another type of attack that tricks site visitors into sending unwanted requests, which can lead to data breaches, account manipulation or other problems.

  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) is another form of injection attack that relies on code execution from a web browser instead of the CMS or website files. Many coding languages are susceptible to XSS attacks, making them a major concern for developers

Closed-source and open-source CMS platforms:

When choosing a CMS, one also needs to consider the type of provider and, to some extent, whether it will be open-source or closed-source.

  • Open-source content management systems (CMS) are available for free and maintained by a community of developers who can be located in different regions of the world. These CMS platforms allow developers to contribute to the project by making the source code publicly accessible. As a result, the public can freely modify and enhance open-source CMS platforms. Although open-source software is built upon the principles of sharing and the ability to be quickly and continuously improved, it can also be vulnerable to exploitation. This is because the source code is open to everyone, making it easier for code manipulation, website attacks, or malware distribution to occur.

  • Proprietary content management systems (CMS), also known as closed-source CMS, are not publicly accessible, and only internal developers have access to the source code. To maintain closed-source CMS, payment is required for maintenance, and they are distributed under a commercial model to paying customers. Closed-source CMS are protected to preserve the value of the product and are marketed to customers as a polished system.

In comparison, open-source content management systems lack a clear security directive and do not primarily focus on resolving security issues for end-users. Unlike closed-source CMS, open-source CMS do not have a dedicated security team to manage security issues. For instance, WordPress, an open-source CMS, advises users who suspect their site has been hacked to acquire cybersecurity elements or delete their website. This is because they are not responsible for the security of their users' websites.

On the other hand, closed-source CMS have specialized security teams and extensive support options to address any potential issues, making it one of their most appealing features.

Measures to protect content management systems

With the help of content management systems (CMS), it is possible to design and launch a website with just a few clicks. There are dozens of these CMS platforms available to individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, and large companies alike.

However, the proliferation of these websites has not gone unnoticed by cybercriminals, who are increasingly targeting them in search of vulnerabilities. The more widespread the software is, the larger the number of potential targets, and the more energy and resources criminals invest in finding possible weak points.

Prompt installation of security patches can significantly reduce the risk of attacks on CMS. However, there are other measures that website owners can take to enhance the security of their CMS. Regular backups, strong passwords, and limiting user privileges are some examples of best practices that can help protect against cyber attacks.

Swift updates

It is important to stay vigilant about updates when using a popular CMS because hackers quickly take advantage of known vulnerabilities. Ensure that updates are applied promptly, especially those addressing known vulnerabilities. However, customized versions of CMS can be challenging to update as changes made to the system may break its functionality or leave vulnerabilities unaddressed. To avoid these issues, it is recommended to make changes in separate program modules rather than in the core modules of the CMS, which receive regular updates.

Swift Patch Management

Attacks can be mitigated by installing security patches. It is recommended to install them as soon as they are released or enable the automatic update feature, which is often a default offering from many manufacturers.

Two-factor authentication

To increase the security of access to the administration area, it is suggested to use two-factor authentication (2FA) along with the normal username and password. This can be done by employing Google Authenticator, which generates a unique, time-sensitive password. A smartphone app is required to use this feature, and the generated password expires after 60 seconds. There is a plug-in for this method in several content management systems, such as Typo3 and WordPress.

Access Control

It is also recommended to restrict administrator access to specific IP addresses or IP ranges using extensions or an .htaccess file. Additionally, protecting the webmaster's computer by installing anti-malware software, keeping it updated, and using an encrypted FTP connection can help prevent FTP credential theft.

To secure the administrator account, it is suggested to enable all available security features, such as 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication), strong passwords, and dedicated email accounts. It is also important to restrict user permissions to essential functions and implement user security policies that require 2FA and other security measures.

Which CMS platforms have the best security record?

When it comes to content management systems (CMS), the most common comparison is between Drupal and WordPress. Although WordPress is more popular than Drupal, it relies more heavily on third-party plugins and is considered less secure than Drupal. However, the WordPress plugin problem is relatively easy to fix. Regularly updating the site and its plugins can resolve most security issues.

In 2018, a study conducted by Sucuri on 25,466 infected websites showed that 90% of infected sites were running on WordPress. However, this figure is not very useful because it reflects the popularity of each CMS.

It is for this reason that every website needs to be audited and updated regularly. Any site can become insecure for numerous reasons and has different types of assets to protect. Platforms are updated regularly, and each update can solve many problems. Therefore, it is not always a good idea to choose a CMS based on statistical figures found online.

However, every organization must take precautions to keep their websites secure. The issue of website and CMS security should be reviewed regularly, and action should be taken if a weakness is detected or expected to appear in the near future. For sites with access to sensitive information, a CMS audit or website security audit should be performed by a professional web development agency when in-house resources are not sufficient.

The future of CMS security

Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, the future of CMS security is difficult to predict. Obsolete CMS versions will continue to present a greater risk, and new and innovative malware is expected to emerge. However, there are some trends that are likely to have a positive impact. For example, single sign-on (SSO) and two-factor authentication (2FA) are becoming more widespread and will soon become standard practice.

Business owners who do not have the expertise or resources to properly manage CMS security should consider contacting a web development agency for an audit. A remote fractional team can provide economic benefits and convenience to organizations that lack in-house web developers. After all, the best defense against cyber-attacks is to stay vigilant and keep your software up to date.

Is a Headless CMS a secure CMS?

A headless CMS is considered more secure than a traditional CMS in every possible way. It consists of a backend layer and connects to various frontends through APIs, which reduces potential security threats.

The absence of a database also lowers the chances of a security breach. Additionally, headless CMS requires fewer updates, meaning that a minor change in one component may not impact the security and performance of the entire system. Moreover, website continuity remains unaffected by temporary issues. Lastly, the more secure the CMS, the easier it is to adapt to future demands.

However, it is crucial to choose a headless CMS system with a solid track record and security technologies and protocols that protect against cyber attacks. The chosen software should adhere to industry standards, and the infrastructure should follow best security practices.

Aplyca and Cybersecurity

If your organization is interested in implementing a solution for your content strategy with the highest standards of quality and security, we invite you to contact us.

You may also be interested in:You may also be interested in: