Blogs
Rachel Weiner
Documentation Project Manager

Enterprise Cyber Security: Why Your CMS Must Be Your Strongest Link?

Sep 21, 2021
By: Rachel Weiner

Content management systems are the most critical components in your security plan for a few major reasons: they store all of your company's data and are responsible for processing transactions, storing customer information, and providing access to employees.

As you can imagine, the security of these systems is imperative to protecting your company's intellectual property and sensitive data. In this article, we will share some CMS security tips and help you choose a secure CMS.

Understanding Cybersecurity

Let's look at some real numbers to understand why cybersecurity is of utmost importance for your CMS.

According to IBM's latest statistics, data breach costs surged from USD 3.86 million to USD 4.24 million in 2021, the highest average total cost in the 17-year history of this report.

In the first half of 2020 alone, data breaches exposed 36 billion records as per research by Risk-based. By 2023, Cisco claims that there will be a total of 15.4 million DDoS attacks each year worldwide.

These stats are appalling because apart from DDoS, there are numerous other ways a cybercriminal can penetrate your systems. Findings from an AVtest investigation mentions that as of June 2021, there have been 92.45 million new malware samples, which may cause a new high of cyber attacks before the end of 2021.

All these numbers indicate why your enterprise should have a paramount focus on cybersecurity as never before. Having a cybersecurity strategy that ignores your CMS could cost you your entire business.

First-party and Third-party Cybersecurity

When it comes to devising a cybersecurity strategy, you need to take two main types of cybersecurity into account: first-party and third-party.

  • First-party cybersecurity: This refers to securing your own company's assets against cyberattacks.
  • Third-party cybersecurity: Refers to securing your clients or related third-party's assets from attacks for which your enterprise is liable. These assets can be devices, software-run machines, data, networks, access keys to critical software or tools.

Cybersecurity and The Cloud

Cloud computing has transformed the way businesses store their information, applications and provide services to their customers. However, as the use of the cloud increases, enterprise data and CMS threats have increased as well.

Jay Heiser, VP, and Cloud Security Lead at Gartner mentioned that "the volume of public cloud utilization is proliferating so that inevitably leads to a greater body of sensitive stuff that is potentially at risk."

Some of the major security risks posed by the cloud are: data breaches, data leaks, loss of intellectual property, compliance violations, malware attacks, account hijacking, insecure APIs, misconfigurations, insider threats, insufficient due diligence.

As an enterprise, you can protect your cloud environment as follows:

  • Establish solid access management policies
  • Leverage automation to monitor, log and analyze user activities
  • Increase employee awareness and conduct security training
  • Consider cloud-to-cloud backup solutions
  • Conduct a cloud security assessment regularly
  • Prepare a disaster recovery plan

Although the cloud brings potential risks, companies can employ it with proper measures. Further, complementing the cloud with sophisticated technology like a headless CMS improves its benefits and security even more for overall business health.

Why Should a Headless Content Management System Be A Fundamental Piece in Your Cybersecurity Strategy?

Headless CMSs are being adopted widely across many industries because of their frontend flexibility to deliver data to the users in extremely personalized ways on any device.

But did you know a headless CMS can act as a primary element when it comes to elevating your security strategy?

To understand this, let's have a look at the architecture of a headless CMS.

The headless CMS architecture eliminates direct interaction between the content editor changing the frontend and the backend content repository. Instead, all the communication between the backend and frontend happens through APIs.

Unlike the traditional content management systems, in a headless CMS content rendering is done through client-side JavaScript instead of being done on the server-side. This architectural setup makes a headless CMS more secure than monolithic platforms.

Headless CMS vs Other CMS Options

Now let's take a closer look at why opting for headless CMS can help enterprise businesses handle most cyberattacks efficiently compared to a monolithic, legacy CMS.

SaaS-based CMSs Handle Updates Themselves

Headless CMS solutions are often provided as a cloud service. Choosing SaaS web content management (WCM) gives you peace of mind over traditional WCM when it comes to protecting your business from potential cyber threats.

With the SaaS option, you don't need to spend time monitoring and maintaining your CMS application; instead, your provider does that for you. A SaaS WCM enables automatic updates to make sure your system is working on the latest software versions and patches so that your enterprise is protected at all times.

On the other hand, on a traditional CMS applying patches and software updates requires your attention, extensive testing, resources, and money. This may lead to functionality breaking within your business applications.

Due to the serious risks and costs associated with updates, most companies run on out-of-date systems for two or more years, which increases the risk of cyberattacks.

Separation of Frontend and Backend

Following the architectural pattern of the headless CMS, you now know that the content design and content delivery sections of headless CMS don't have any shared functionality. This secures your infrastructure against cyberattacks.

Unlike the traditional monolithic CMS, you can add additional security layers that can be employed to deter potential threats before they disrupt the server-side.

Unaffected by DDoS Attacks

A distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) means flooding the networks and servers with excessive amounts of traffic. It's done with the malicious aim of impairing your website and preventing legitimate traffic from accessing the website.

With a traditional CMS, DDoS may lead to system crashes as both clients and servers are tightly coupled, and there is only one common pathway between them.

Headless CMSs reduce the impact of DDoS, as all the rendering of content is done on the client-side. In fact, multiple content repositories serve multiple frontends through APIs. This means that even if a DDoS attack affects a headless CMS, it will only affect one channel, while the others will continue functioning, unaffected by the attack.

How To Choose a Secure CMS

You're only as strong as your weakest link, and the last thing you want is your CMS being the entry point for hackers. It houses all your content, has APIs communicating customer data back and forth, and could give hackers immediate access to your public-facing websites and apps.

To make sure your business is well-protected, ensure your CMS has the following features:

Secure CDN

Before choosing a CMS, you should assess if they have a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or not. If it does, it should be reliable and should not have a record of vulnerabilities.

A Content Delivery Network is a series of multiple servers located in different parts of the world to improve the speed and security of your internet-facing client side.

With a secure CDN, you enjoy several security-related benefits including pre-configured firewall rulesets, free SSL certificates, DDoS protection, brute force protection, advanced protection to your login pages, blocking xmlrpc.php attacks, and much more.

dotCDN has 54 edge locations, helping you bring your content closer to the users. dotCDN cloud infrastructure was designed to scale with you and respond to your website loads granularly thanks to its 30Tbit bandwidth and 10 Tier 1 network partners.

Automatic Updates

Every software worth its salt will keep releasing updates during its lifecycle. Hackers exploit CMSs like WordPress as they require manual updates, which developers and non-technical users usually forego for the sake of stability.

The worst consequences of using an obsolete CMS version are security threats like loss of sensitive information, compromised websites, data breaches, access removal of legit users, and so on.

To mitigate this, you must ensure that your CMS has automatic updates on all the time. You can also diminish this problem by choosing a SaaS-based CMS.

Single Sign-on (SSO)

Single sign-on is a critical feature to look for in any CMS.

With SSO, users of your system get a single id and password to log in to all their related applications, sites, or pages. The chances of a cyber threat sharply decrease with SSO since the number of logins done by each user is greatly reduced compared to separate sign-on processes with multiple users and passwords.

Having SSO helps prevents users from re-entering their passwords again and again due to incorrect credentials. Users only have to remember a single pair of ID and password, making remembering their password easier.

You can also combine SSO with risk-based authentication to further monitor user habits related to login attempts and block users with abnormal behaviors.

SOC2 and GDPR Compliance

Legal compliance certifications like SOC2 and GDPR are vital for any business to operate seamlessly, they are just as vital for your CMS provider:

  • A CMS stores all your and your client's sensitive information, which means that your CMS vendor must abide by the legal compliances you are liable for.
  • SOC2 compliance provides businesses with pointers regarding document trails and enables businesses to develop security policies and guidelines that alleviate cybersecurity risks.
  • GDPR compliance, on the other hand, deals with protection rules related to collecting users' personal data and processing their data.

Cloud Hosting

You've already seen some of the advantages and benefits of the cloud. In addition, you get the added benefits of cloud hosting like role-based authorities, and dedicated personnel focusing on your system's security. You don’t need to worry about handling the infrastructure, testing, and resources that ensure you are safe against any cyber attack since that is handled for you in cloud hosting.

dotCMS Cloud allows your team to build powerful, engaging, and continuous customer experiences across all your channels while dotCMS handles the infrastructure and the security.

dotCMS: A Secure CMS from The Get-Go

dotCMS takes your security seriously. We strive to ensure the security and integrity of every installation, instance, and process. This allows us to make sure that when a security issue gets found, it gets promptly addressed to minimize potential customer exposure.

dotCMS is committed to providing the highest level of security for our products and customer sites. We demonstrate that commitment by internally reviewing and scanning all our code for vulnerabilities, keeping up with the latest security concerns and tools. And finally addressing security issues and potential vulnerabilities proactively.

If you want to read more about dotCMS security best practices, take a look: Security Best Practices in dotCMS

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