Why is WordPress security important? 6 reasons you need it
By Andres Monzant
6 Min read
Website security is one of those aspects of WordPress management that many people only become aware of after it’s been compromised. Many don’t fully understand the context of cybersecurity and aren’t aware of its necessity.
For that reason, this article will explore six reasons you need to stay on top of WordPress security in a digital environment where data breaches and other cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and expensive.
Keep reading to know more about WordPress security and why you need to invest in it with time, resources, or both.
6 reasons why you need WordPress security
Security breaches are expensive
Cybercrime is a big business that has cost $6 trillion to global businesses in 2021, increasing from $3 trillion in 2015. According to the World Economic Forum, costs could rise to $10 trillion annually in 2025. It isn’t surprising, considering large-scale attacks can temporarily cripple even the largest companies.
Cyberattacks are also becoming more frequent as malicious methods and technologies advance. In 2020, worldwide malware and ransomware attacks increased by 350% and 430%, respectively.
These problems are compounded by the fact that security experts are scarce and highly sought-after, most businesses have poor security reporting habits, and there aren’t global agreements to regulate cyber threats. Together, these factors create an environment in which hackers can thrive.
When your site is hacked, you face considerable costs, including:
Time and resources spent containing the breach. Keep in mind that breachers become more expensive and time-consuming to stop when they remain undetected for longer.
Extra work hours for cybersecurity employees.
Loss of revenue from disrupted activities while the breach is contained, especially for eCommerce businesses.
Potentially fines and lawsuits. Their severity depends on the nature of the website, national/international jurisdiction, and other factors.
Observing cybersecurity best practices will reduce the chances of being hacked and the time and costs necessary to overcome the hack.
Lack of security personally affects your users and consumers.
Cyberattacks are often approached from the business perspective, exploring how brands can boost their security, prevent breaches, and react to them when they happen. The user and consumer sides are often ignored. However, it’s still important to understand how they respond to cyberattacks and how cyber threats change interactions with the businesses they engage with.
According to ISACA’s “Cybersecurity 2022: A Consumer Perspective” report, about one in three surveyed users (or a member of their household) has stolen their personal data. Also, one in three users will stop interacting with businesses that fail to protect their personally identifiable information (PII).
Some of the most common ways in which users and consumers are affected by cyberattacks include:
Feeling hopeless or resigned about their ability to protect their data.
Suffering from malware installations on their devices resulting from interactions with infected websites.
Suffering from fraud, identity theft, and social engineering scams resulting from leaked PII sold to malicious actors.
Emotional and financial distress from medical and financial data leaks.
A hit to their budgets. As affected companies try to offset the costs of cyberattacks, these costs ultimately reflect on the prices of their services and products, hurting consumers’ budgets.
Many worries about state-sponsored cyberattacks on American institutions in the US, primarily from China and Russia.
Getting hacked affects your brand’s reputation.
Digital trust is the confidence customers have in their relationship with the businesses they use in the digital world. This confidence is crucial for maintaining your reputation, plays a role in your finances, and ensures growth opportunities.
Businesses that suffer a customer data breach or any other cyberattack lose customers’ trust in managing cyber threats and securing their personal data. They may also question the business’s transparency and integrity regarding their values around cybersecurity.
According to Arcserve, despite recent data privacy regulations (GDPR and CCPA), 70% of customers don’t feel like companies are doing enough to protect their data. This reiterates how important transparency (being clear about what data you collect from users and why) is for maintaining high digital trust.
Tech-savvy customers feel most comfortable doing business with companies with professional, expert cybersecurity teams and industry certifications. Increasing the security of your website may help you improve your reputation and reap the associated benefits.
Your users expect high-security standards.
Consumers are taking cybersecurity more seriously than ever. ISACA’s 2022 report determined that consumers expect their PII to be protected when they engage digitally, to the point of being willing to cut ties after a breach. They’re also more inclined to support businesses that take PII privacy seriously.
A 2020 ransomware report by Arcserve determined that many consumers simply don’t want to wait when digitally engaging with a business. One in four consumers is willing to abandon a product or service after a single ransomware-related disruption of service, failed transaction, or case of inaccessible information.
66% of surveyed consumers would switch to a competitor after three days of having services interrupted by a cyberattack. Over one-third of these respondents would leave after 24 hours.
These stats show that consumers are growing increasingly frustrated and impatient with the current state of cybersecurity and are less willing to give businesses a second chance.
Unsecured websites can suffer legal consequences.
Businesses that digitally collect and store consumer data must take measures to protect it from theft. However, there is no global standard for legally handling cyberattacks, so every country and state will handle it differently.
In the European Union, for example, companies abide by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the US, there’s no federal law on consumer data protection. Still, the states of California, New York, and Nevada enforce legislation with their respective regulations. Some of the potential legal consequences of a cyberattack include the following:
Fines of various values depending on the breach’s severity, nature of the compromised data, transparency in reporting the issue, preemptive and responsive measures, number of individuals affected, and regional jurisdiction.
Lawsuits from regulatory institutions and individuals affected by the stolen data.
Enforcement notices by relevant authorities.
If working for public bodies, data loss by a cyberattack may lead to a breach of contract and being forced to pay the affected clients.
It boosts your search engine optimization (SEO)
Secure sites are rewarded by Google and other search engines, boosting their ranking in searches. Search engines consider various factors when determining where to position your web pages on search results, and security factors have become increasingly relevant in their algorithms.
Some of the security-related factors that drag down your website’s SEO include the following:
Automated comments left on your blog posts lead to malicious sites. These comments can be mitigated by disabling anonymous comments, requiring CAPTCHAS before commenting, employing moderators, and more.
Not using HTTPS.
Not having SSL certificates.
Outdated plugins and themes.
Your hosting server is close to its storage limit (it limits how many crawlers can follow links on your site).
Taking care of these variables and generally having a secure website will make it seem more trustworthy to search engine algorithms, boosting its rankings.
As cybercrime becomes a multi-trillion-dollar industry, cyberattacks are getting more frequent and costly. Customers have increased awareness about security breaches and the consequences it unleashes upon their lives. They have become less tolerant of them, quickly changing services when one fails to protect their data.
This creates an environment where website owners, developers, and managers, using WordPress or otherwise, have to up their security game to protect their data, avoid expensive breaches, and keep their customer’s loyalty.
You need to double down on your WordPress security for all these reasons. This goes for all sites, especially those that collect and store customer data (personal, medical, financial, etc.) or allow monetary transactions.