Let’s say you’ve got a great WordPress site for your business. You or someone else set up the site, and loaded some content. You, your team, and your visitors all seem to think the site looks pretty good, and you are happy with the content, which doesn’t really change much.
If you think that your WordPress site is fine as is, and you won’t need to do anything further until you next need to revise your content, think again! WordPress is a constantly evolving platform, one that changes in response to issues, bugs, vulnerabilities, and user feedback. As such, WordPress releases numerous upgrades each year – sometimes even several in one month – and these upgrades (wherever applicable) should be applied as soon as possible to even the most basic websites. Depending on how each release goes once it is released to the public, WordPress may need to be upgraded again sooner than you expect.
Hacks and security breaches pose real threats to WordPress users, and yet, running WordPress updates is an often overlooked task. Without technical support of some kind, WordPress sites are often handled by the site owners, who are solely responsible for maintaining their website and completing safe, reliable and secure backups and regular updates. Unfortunately, many site owners don’t have much (if any) technical knowledge, and are therefore not very aware of the potential threats that lurk out there. Some site owners might forget to run important updates, others are often so afraid of breaking something that they just won’t touch anything beyond their content, and yet others simply don’t have the knowledge to even know that they must regularly check for updates in the WordPress admin. All of this leaves a website site open to vulnerabilities that newer versions may be addressing, and it’s a good idea for any site owner to consider using a web technician to complete their WordPress upgrades on a regular schedule.
The important thing to keep in mind about the WordPress upgrades, is not just that a new version can include new or enhanced features, but that new versions can also address serious security issues, protecting you from hackers accessing your site, your company info, and, if you use your website to transmit client information, even your clients’ info. “Major” WordPress releases are made every few months, adding new features and enhancements for both users and developers, and “minor” WordPress releases are made whenever necessary, to address critical bugs and fix security vulnerabilities. For example, WordPress released “major” version 4.6 on August 16, 2016, then released “minor” version 4.6.1 less than a month later (on September 7, 2016), deeming 4.6.1 to be a “a security release for all previous versions”, and urging all users to upgrade as soon as possible.
Beyond the WordPress core upgrades, new versions of the numerous WordPress themes and plugins are also frequently released – often in concert with new WordPress releases, and also to address issues with and/or enhance the themes and plugins themselves. Since all of these things are designed to operate in cohesion, it’s very important that WordPress, plugin and theme updates are all applied as soon as possible after new versions are released. When each new version is applied, it’s important to then review the website before and after the updates, to make sure that no changes have occurred. It’s also important to implement a backup process, to a safe and secure server, and ensure that backups are completed without issues, before each and every upgrade is applied.
While the WordPress team goes to great lengths to foresee and block and possible security threats, WordPress security ultimately depends on a company’s WordPress maintenance procedures. It’s impossible for WordPress to stay on top of all threats if updates are not applied sequentially as they are released. When WordPress (and all themes and plugins being used with it) is kept up-to-date, it is an extremely secure platform, but it takes planning and maintenance to keep it running as effectively and securely as possible. Employing the services of a knowledgeable WordPress technician who will back up your site, then upgrade your WordPress core, themes, and plugins on a regular schedule, review your site for any issues with the updates, and address such issues right away, can be a small price to pay in comparison to leaving your site open to security vulnerabilities that hackers are just waiting to pounce on.