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Don't compromise your website's security, upgrade your CMS

Rich Atkinson
May 25, 2023
A laptop screen showing the backend of a content management system being worked on by a developer.

Security is a top priority for all digital businesses. With cyber-attacks on the rise, it's more important than ever to have a secure and reliable Content Management System (CMS) in place.

If you're uncertain about your CMS security or want to update your platform, it’s time to consider the benefits of moving to a headless CMS.

What is a monolithic CMS?

A monolithic CMS is an all-in-one platform that includes both the front-end presentation layer and the back-end content management system. This type of CMS is known for its simplicity, but it can be prone to security vulnerabilities.

Examples of a monolithic CMS:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Kentico
  • Drupal

The traditional architecture of the monolithic CMS has been widely used for years. Its all-in-one capabilities come with a pre-built front-end presentation layer, a back-end content management system, and a database. Monolithic CMS platforms are built as a single, tightly integrated unit, which means that changes to one part of the system can impact the entire system.

Monolithic CMS platforms are typically simple and easy to use. They provide a complete solution for building and managing websites or applications without requiring extensive technical knowledge. However, the cost of this is they can be prone to security vulnerabilities, slow performance, and limited customisability.

Another downside of monolithic CMS platforms is their limited integrations with other systems and tools. Since they are tightly integrated, making changes or adding new integrations can be difficult and time-consuming. Additionally, as your business grows and your needs change, you may find that a monolithic CMS no longer meets your needs.

Despite their drawbacks, monolithic CMS platforms are still widely used today. They are used most by small businesses or those with limited technical expertise who need an easy-to-use, all-in-one solution for building and managing websites. However, as technology continues to evolve, more and more businesses are turning to modern CMS architectures like headless or decoupled CMS platforms, which offer greater flexibility, scalability, and customisation options.

What is a headless CMS?

Unlike a monolithic CMS, a headless CMS separates the front-end presentation layer from the back-end content management system. This allows for more flexibility and customisability in terms of design and user experience and offers greater security as sensitive data is kept separate from the public-facing website.

Examples of a headless CMS:

  • Sanity
  • Strapi
  • Netlify
  • Contentful

In a headless CMS, the back-end content management system is responsible for storing and managing content while the front-end delivery layer is separate and is responsible for delivering content to various channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and other digital platforms.

With a headless CMS, developers have flexibility to design and build custom front-end experiences, as they are not tied to a specific template or design. Content can be adapted to fit various channels and devices, and updated in real time without the need for full website deployment. 

Additionally, because the front-end and back-end are decoupled, security is improved as sensitive information is not exposed to the public-facing website.

Software developer working on a laptop with his headphones on.

Should I move to a headless CMS?

Deciding whether to move from a monolithic CMS to a headless CMS can be a big decision. While a headless CMS offers greater flexibility and customisation options, it’s not the right option for everyone.

CMS change considerations

First, consider your specific needs and goals. If you have a large, complex website with many different content types and integrations, a headless CMS is likely a good fit. However, if your website is smaller and simpler, a monolithic CMS may be sufficient. 

Alternatively, if you have a small website and want to avoid the pitfalls of a monolithic CMS, a no-code CMS like Webflow could be a better option altogether.

Another consideration is the resources and expertise available within your business. A headless CMS typically requires more technical knowledge and development expertise to set up and maintain, whereas a monolithic CMS may be easier to manage for teams without extensive technical knowledge. Alternatively, you can outsource this work to a team with the technical capabilities.

Businesses should also think about their future growth and scalability needs. A headless CMS may offer more room for growth and scalability, as it can support multiple channels and devices. On the other hand, a monolithic CMS is more limited in its capabilities and may require more manual updates and maintenance as the website grows.

Finally, budget is an important factor to consider. A headless CMS can be more expensive to implement and maintain, as it may require more development resources and additional integrations. However, it may also provide cost savings in the long run by streamlining content creation and management processes.

Headless CMS benefits:

There are several benefits to switching to a headless CMS. Some key advantages include better security, improved flexibility, scalability, faster development, and multi-channel support.

  • Better security: keeping the front-end presentation layer separate from the back-end content management system can reduce the risk of security breaches.
  • Improved flexibility: you have more freedom to customise your website's design and user experience, without being limited by the restrictions of a monolithic CMS.
  • Scalability: a headless CMS is more easily scalable, allowing you to expand your website's functionality and capabilities as your business grows.
  • Faster development: development time can be reduced as there is no need to worry about the front-end design layer.
  • Multi-channel support: a headless CMS is perfect for businesses looking to support multiple channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and social media platforms.

Is my website’s CMS a security risk?

Whether you are using a monolithic CMS or not, there are several security issues to keep in mind. 

Below are some signs that your website may be at risk:

Outdated software

If you're running an outdated version of your CMS, you could be leaving your website open to security vulnerabilities. It's important to keep your CMS up to date with the latest security patches to prevent attackers from exploiting known vulnerabilities.

Weak passwords

If your CMS is using weak passwords, you're essentially giving attackers a free pass to your website. Make sure that all user accounts have strong, unique passwords and that you're using two-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security.

Lack of HTTPS

If your website isn't using HTTPS, any data transmitted between your users and your website could be intercepted and read by attackers. Make sure that you're using HTTPS to encrypt all traffic to and from your website.

No backup plan

If your website goes down due to a security breach or other issue, it's important to have a backup plan. Make sure that you're regularly backing up your website and that you have a plan in place for quickly restoring your website in the event of an issue.

Unsecured plugins

If you're using plugins with your CMS, make sure that they're regularly updated and that you're only using reputable, trusted plugins. Using outdated or unsecured plugins can leave your website vulnerable to attacks.

By taking these security considerations into account, you can help ensure that your website is secure and protected from potential security breaches.

If you don’t want to change CMS but still want to mitigate security risks, you do still have options. You could consider implementing additional security measures, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and regular security audits. You should also prioritise keeping your CMS up to date with the latest security patches and updates.

Looking for ease of use and better security? A no-code CMS might be right for your business

While headless and monolithic CMS platforms have their advantages, some businesses may benefit more from using a no-code CMS platform. No-code CMS platforms like Webflow allow businesses to build and manage their website without the need for coding knowledge.

Webflow offers all the benefits of a headless CMS but is also simple to use. With its decoupled architecture and intuitive drag-and-drop interface, Webflow makes it easy to design, build, and manage your website while keeping security top of mind. Plus, with Webflow, you can easily manage content and assets across multiple channels and devices.

Another advantage of Webflow is the level of customisation it provides. With Webflow, businesses can fully customise the design and functionality of their website, without the limitations of a monolithic CMS. 

Webflow also provides businesses with hosting, meaning they don't have to worry about finding a separate hosting provider. Webflow hosting provides fast loading times and secure hosting, which can help to improve website performance and security.

Need help deciding on a CMS, migrating your site, or securing your website?

Our team has years of experience helping businesses identify their technology problems and ensuring that their website, app, portal, or software solution meets both their, and their users’ needs. We offer a range of services, including research, UX & UI, development, support, maintenance, and more, to ensure a successful website launch and ongoing success. You can reach out to our team via our contact page and we will be in touch to help.

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