The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca.
The data breach has so far brought down the Prime Minister of Iceland, currently threatens the Pakistanti PM and has surrounded Russian President Putin and former British Prime Minister David Cameron with controversy.
But how does a story involving 12 national leaders, 43 politicians and offshore tax havens relate to you?
At the time of the hack, the Mossack Fonseca website was running WordPress and an out-of-date version of the Revolution Slider plugin which was known to be vulnerable to attack. As the Mossack Fonseca mail server shared the same network as their web server, the hackers were able to access mail data as well as web site data.
While your own website or email data might not cause a government to fall, none of us would wish to experience any form of hack or data loss.
As of July 2017, WordPress powers 28.3% of all websites in the world. Now while there are many upsides to this immense popularity in terms of the support available and the wide range of themes and plugins which can be used to improve your site, the downside is that WordPress is unfortunately a popular target for hackers.
With each new release of WordPress, security is improved, bugs are fixed, speed and performance are improved, new features are added and existing features are enhanced.
This all ensure that WordPress stays up to date with new industry security and performance standards.
So if you do not keep your WordPress site updated, you are risking your website security and missing out on new features and improvements.
Overall, there are 5 key reasons for keeping WordPress up to date:
1. Web Site Security
As outlined by the Panama Papers hack, web site security is the most important reason for keeping your WordPress website up to date.
Any time a security vulnerability is identified or reported, WordPress developers work quickly to release an update which addresses the security issue.
However, unless you update your site with the latest release, you may be running a site with known security vulnerabilities. Hackers who search for websites running older versions of WordPress may identify your site and you may be hacked.
Security updates apply not only to WordPress itself but to any additional plugins which you may be using for SEO or slider images etc.
2. WordPress Bug Fixes
While every major WordPress release goes through extensive software testing, nevertheless sometimes bugs may not be identified until the software is installed on some of the 75 millions sites worldwide which are powered by WordPress.
That’s why there are version releases of WordPress which deal with some of these minor issues.
For example, the recent WordPress 4.2.3 update fixed 20 bugs from the 4.2 release.
3. Web Site Performance and Speed
Each new WordPress version improves performance which makes WordPress run faster and more efficient.
Since speed is a huge factor in SEO and your Google performance, keeping your WordPress site updated will ensure maximum performance benefits.
4. Additional Features
Each major WordPress release comes with new features and changes to the software. For example, WordPress 4.0 came with improved plugin install experience, 4.1 introduced inline image editing and 4.2 came with faster plugin updates.
5. Theme & Plugin Compatibility
Developers of plugins and themes will co-ordinate their new releases with WordPress updates to ensure they are taking advantage of any possible new features and enhancements.
However, if a theme or plugin does not meet best practice coding standards, the update may highlight this fact which gives you an opportunity to change your theme or plugin to a compliant one.
Our best advice is to ensure that all your WordPress plugins, themes, and the core itself is always up to date.
Some of our clients have a WordPress update maintenace SLA in place which means we update their version of WordPress and all relevant plugins every 2 months.
If you would like to avail of this SLA option or if you would just like to check on your current WordPress status, please contact any of the webmakers team on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to discuss this with you.