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WordPress website security for law firms

March 9, 2023

75% of law firms surveyed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority had been the targets of a cyber attack over a three-year period from 2016 to 2019. We know that malicious activity online has increased sharply since then because the UK’s figures rose by 40% between 2020 and 2022. A dramatic increase in remote working in law, as in other industries, inevitably shifts more meetings, transactions and data into the potentially vulnerable digital space.

Hacker compromising web security

Firms must avoid storing sensitive information such as client confidences or financial data on their websites, but modern sites increasingly have connections to wider systems across the business for pulling HR information, integrating with CRM/intranets or checking calendars. A hacker who gained access to a website might be able to exploit these avenues to internal systems. Even a relatively toothless minor breach can disrupt the system and the service. Can you spare enough man-hours at the drop of a hat to put things right? Will your reputation survive the hit if you’re made to look vulnerable?

WordPress is great, but…

In our 2022 industry report into website performance, we found WordPress to be the single most popular Content Management System for UK law firms. This open source CMS has matured in recent years, and in expert hands it can make total sense. It powers 43% of all websites on the internet for good reason. This does however present a problem, because having such a vast usership makes it a target. There is a little more scope for security risk here, when compared to some of the more costly enterprise CMS alternatives. 

Bug fixing

It’s rather tedious to keep banging the drum of ‘cyber hygiene’. We all know its importance… then brush it aside in favour of something more tangible in the here and now. For once, let’s get the bit between our teeth for a few minutes and run through four conspicuous stones that you cannot leave unturned if you want to keep your WordPress site secure:

1. Keep core software up-to-date

The biggest security risk to WordPress websites is outdated software. WordPress releases updates regularly to fix security vulnerabilities and add new features. By neglecting these updates, law firms leave their websites vulnerable to hacking attempts and data breaches. Stay protected by updating to the latest version of WordPress.

2. Maintain Plugins and Themes

Third-party plugins and themes can add functionality to a website, but also introduce vulnerabilities if not regularly updated or maintained. Hackers often target outdated plugins and themes to gain access to a website’s backend, resulting in data theft or malicious changes to the code. Ensure that all plugins and themes are up-to-date to reduce the risk of attack.

3. Prevent Brute Force Attacks

Brute force attacks are a common tactic used by hackers to guess login credentials and gain access to a website’s backend. Harden your website security by using strong login credentials and implementing two-factor authentication.

4. Combat Malware and Viruses

Malware and viruses pose a significant threat to WordPress websites. These malicious programs can spread quickly through a website and infect all files and databases, compromising sensitive information. Fight back with a strong antivirus solution and regularly scanning your website for signs of malware or viruses.

Depiction of web security accreditation

Getting help with website security – can you afford not to?

We all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Handling the four key points above is enough that you should be able trust in your WordPress site as much as in any other. And those four points are not rocket science. There are many resources and tools that can help non-technical people to address them. Covering the four points is not a one-off operation, however. It’s a process.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear. 

Can you realistically take on this ceaseless operation in-house? Website security, and protection from data breaches and cyber threats, is not the best place to try to economise. A professional team of developers who have the knowledge, experience, tools and workflow to manage this is a wise investment. To learn more about WordPress maintenance and support packages, how they typically work and what benefits they provide, check out our related article here.