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Have you ever overlooked website updates, perhaps because you don’t have the time to sit and update each of your plugins, or maybe you just don’t know what to do when it comes to updating your website. If either of these sounds familiar, this guide is an essential read because it guides you through some of the alarming statistics about website security and the risks that you are taking by not updating your website. 

Websites aren’t something that can be built and then left without any maintenance. This is because technology (and threats) are constantly evolving so the developers of website themes and creators of plugins which make your website work if you use WordPress are having to constantly adapt their products to protect them against the latest security threats online. To keep website and customer data secure it is important that you check for and implement all updates on a regular basis. Security should be one of your main priorities as a business owner online and it is absolutely essential to prevent attacks on your website. 

According to a survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses security issues cost £5.26 billion to the UK economy. Moreover, there are 5.4 million businesses in the UK, and they are attacked over seven million times every year. While the majority of small businesses have in place some kind of security for their business online, 93% in total, almost 66% of these have fallen victim to cybercrime in recent years. Even the most secure websites are vulnerable to attack and those without security in place have a lot to lose, both in terms of reputation management and lost customers. 

Perhaps one of the biggest threats to businesses in terms of security and the integrity of data is BOYD or Bring Your Own Device. In many instances, staff will use their personal devices such as tablets, mobiles and laptops for work purposes and many of these don’t have sufficient security safeguards. This presents an opportunity for hackers to access sensitive and valuable company information. 

Another alarming statistic is that between 2016 and 2017 cybercrime accounted for almost 30% of all crimes recorded in the UK. The Office for National Statistics reported that there were 2.5 billion incidents of credit and bank fraud and these statistics only include those which were reported, there are many more which go unreported to the authorities, so the actual figure could be much higher than this. 

Furthermore, it takes a business 120 days on average for them to recognise that information has been compromised and this makes it even more important to secure your website, implementing the highest level of security that you possibly can. So how do you keep your website updated to reduce the risk and most importantly what do you need to update? 

When your website is built it should be developed on a platform that is secure. If you are using a platform that isn’t properly developed it can leave your website open to all kinds of vulnerabilities. WordPress is one of the most popular development platforms and the various elements that allow your website to function through plugins can also be updated. 

Third-Party Resources 

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Websites are great in that you can add to them all kinds of functionality from an eCommerce plugin to a contact form and more. With all of these plugins comes risk if they are not properly and regularly updated. There are so many plugins that are available from developers all over the world and sometimes hackers can find vulnerabilities in these plugins which allow them to gain access to your website. Hackers will always target websites that are prone to these vulnerabilities. As a result, plugin authors are constantly evolving their plugins to prevent such vulnerabilities and subsequent attacks which makes it even more important to regularly update your plugins when an update is available through your control panel. You also need to make sure that you choose carefully when it comes to installing plugins. Before you install anything, you should check the credibility of the plugin author and ensure that they offer regular updates and support for security issues. 

Your Website Theme 

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If you use WordPress, you may have a template theme, or a custom made one. Like with plugins, certain elements of these themes can expose your site to vulnerabilities and create all kinds of security issues. That is why it is important to keep your website themes updated and any security patches regularly applied. Bug fixes can also be applied too, ensuring that any threats are eliminated. 

The importance of updating your website cannot be underestimated for eCommerce owners. If you fail to update your site, you are offering an open invitation to hackers to access customer data. Sometimes the hackers can break into a website and upload malware and a Trojan which can be used for all kinds of other attacks compromising the integrity of your customer data and of course, your business reputation. 

Hackers are constantly scanning the internet, looking for websites to exploit and vulnerabilities to attack. They work to exploit weaknesses in apps, plugins and software. They also rely on website owners failing to update their themes, PHP, WordPress installations and plugins. A research study undertaken by WP beginner found that 83% of WordPress blocks that were hacked in 2012 had not been updated. Updates are one of the only ways that you can stay ahead of hackers and while they can’t eliminate security problems, they can reduce the risk.