Popular software is usually popular for a reason – it does its job well. People flock to solutions like WordPress because it offers the functionality that they need alongside an interface that’s easy to use. Once users get familiar with how to achieve the desired results on their chosen platform, they’re often sold on it for life. But can you get too comfortable using a particular piece of software? Or more specifically, a particular version of that software?

With updates and new versions being released all the time, all supported software is in a constant state of evolution. Alongside improved performance, enhanced security is a huge factor when it comes to software updates. By reacting to current risks, vendors can provide critical patches to protect users from the latest emerging threats in the forms of viruses, spyware, malicious attacks and data theft. Unfortunately however, some users don’t always appreciate the importance of keeping their platform up-to-date.

Tech-savvy users of course, tend to be the early adopters who jump onto the newest platform as soon as possible. Often you don’t even need to be on the latest release to benefit from solid security, with some users clinging to previous versions for reasons of cost, compatibility and convenience. However, as time marches on and support falls away, you could find yourself exposed.

That Windows Update

Probably the most significant recent example of this came in 2014, when Microsoft finally ended support for Windows XP after 12 years. Despite no new security updates or technical support being offered, some users still doggedly stuck by the old operating system.

In a highly unusual step, Windows decided to provide a one-off update for Windows XP as a response to the malware ‘Wannacry’ in 2017. Large companies and organisations who should have known better, such as Telefonica, FedEx and many UK hospitals, suffered a ransomware attack that encrypted their computers and demanded a $300 ransom. While a number of temporary fixes and workarounds allowed Windows XP to stumble on, it’s fair to say that most remaining Windows XP users are still woefully vulnerable to malicious attack.

You still need to update WordPress!

Threats like malware can creep into software anywhere when an ageing platform accumulates a large user base that can’t be easily migrated. Installing WordPress is free and a lot simpler than replacing your old OS thankfully, but the same basic security principles apply. From online content management platforms to operating systems and web server software, if you’re not getting updates – you’re not fully protected.

In recent years companies have become better at streamlining updates and balancing any disruption with the benefit of new features. Ultimately however, it’s the responsibility of the end-user still to make sure that they stay up-to-date. This is especially important when it comes to managing your plugins on WordPress. As WordPress plugins are developed by third-parties, many are infested with weaknesses that can allow hackers entry into websites that they’re installed on.

Only a few months ago, a popular third-party WordPress plugin called File Manager became the chink in the armour that allowed hackers to invade hundreds of thousands of websites across the world. The vulnerability itself was caused during a routine update four months prior, when the third-party developer renamed a certain file and accidentally added it to a project instead of keeping it a local change.

Just this small action allowed unauthenticated access to the file, and enabled hackers to invade and completely take over any website that had the File Manager plugin installed. The developers of File Manager released a new software update that fixed the issue the very day that the flaw was exposed, yet anyone who didn’t install it remained vulnerable.

With Fasthosts, you’ll always be informed of important updates, whether you’re on Web Hosting, a Dedicated Server, our CloudNX, or any of our other platforms. With multiple software management options you can ensure that your project takes full advantage of the newest features and the latest, water-tight security.