We all recognize WordPress as a profound and invincible platform that allows anyone, irrespective of their technical knowledge, to build any type of website. And I am pretty sure we can all agree that we don’t want our websites to be compromised by a malicious hacker.
To simply put, you wouldn’t want to open your website only to realize that it is now redirecting to a completely unknown site or displays a totally spammy message like “You have been selected to win an iPhone” or “You are a lucky winner”. If you want to establish a successful online presence and earn your visitors’ trust, such a result can be potentially disastrous.
As a matter of fact, WordPress team releases updates every now and then packed with security fixes, bug fixes, new features and much more. Not keeping all of your plugins and themes up to date with these updates can significantly increase the chances of someone getting unauthorized access to your website and wreck havoc.
Still not convinced that you should keep your site up-to-date? Let’s see the two recent stories to prove my point efficiently.
WordPress.org Plugins hack
You would be surprised to know that recently 3 most popular WordPress plugins i.e. WPtouch, W3 Total Cache and AddThis were changed by an authorized party. The code inserted into these plugins worked as a backdoor for the hackers to gain access to all the websites that installed any of these plugins.
TimThumb, as we all know is a popular PHP Image Resizer that has been used by many plugin developers, was at the center of a massive security violation that revealed over millions of websites to the risk of compromise. In simple language, the tool’s script vulnerability enabled any resourceful hacker to add a script to it, and any site that is using the script.
Well, the above cases show that you cannot prevent any plugin or tool from being hacked, but we definitely can limit our exposure to risk, and perhaps prevent it.
Updates are the solutions:
There are basically following major reasons to keep every aspect of your WordPress website up-to-date.
I don’t think this needs any introduction and explanation. Thanks to WordPress’s growing popularity, it has become the target of many hackers and spammers around the world. A Content Management System that powers up more than 24% of the websites will definitely capture the attention of anyone wanting to wreck havoc to your website. But the very reason has gained it a huge community of volunteers, supporters and developers.
Thus security threats are located and handled rapidly.
All of this means that when the security of any theme or plugin is breached, it can be rapidly rectified and an update launched right away.
However, you cannot leverage any of these benefits unless you update your WordPress themes and plugins with the latest available updates.
2. Bug fixes
Apart from security threats, another important reason for minor WordPress releases is to rectify bugs present in the previously released versions.
Major releases i.e. X.X.X. version number are often extremely stable and bug-free merely because of the scrupulous development cycle and the team of people associated with development and testing of the CMS. But there are times when a bug slips through and persuade developers to release a minor update.
As an instance, a version 3.8.3 was released with an update of Quick Draft tool which was broken in the previous version.
3. Added Functionality:
The new versions of themes and plugin come with new features and functionality that make it necessary for you to upgrade to the new version to make the most of them. Keeping your WordPress, themes and plugins can give you an access to the recent goodies.
Updates are not just for security and bug fixes, they also improve your website’s performance. As an instance, WordPress 4.1 consisted of modifications to complex queries to enhance the performance of the websites with them. Plugins also have updates to enhance performance, or to accelerate queries to execute more efficiently.
Keeping your website, themes and plugins updated is a crucial part of running a successful WordPress website. It ensures that your website functions well and more importantly, it keeps security threats and bugs at bay.