Choosing a Secure CMS: 9 Crucial Things to Look For

Victoria Burt

Security is a critical component for any enterprise business. For core software solutions such as your CMS, the level of security it has can make or break a company. The largest organizations in the world need their CMS to support them in providing personalized content to their customers, prospects and business partners - wherever they are.

These content experiences largely drive success in the digital world, so businesses can’t afford to have an unsecured CMS causing their website to go down or leaving sensitive data accessible to bad actors. Escaping all cybersecurity threats is almost impossible, but with the right tools in place, it’s possible to mitigate threats and implement swift response plans to get back on track quickly. That starts with choosing a secure CMS, the centerpiece of your digital marketing and commerce stack. 

Why CMS Security Matters

A malicious actor can target your CMS platform and compromise the underlying architecture if there is any vulnerability. Some of the most common vulnerabilities include:

  • SQL injection

  • File inclusion exploitation

  • Denied Denial of Service(DDoS) attacks

  • Brute-force attacks

  • Cross-site scripting

  • Arbitrary remote code execution

CMS security issues can lead to unexpected downtimes and website availability issues. These issues result in losing revenue in many ways. For example, Facebook lost $60 million in 2020 for downtime of roughly 6 hours.

Many businesses still rely on traditional CMS platforms like WordPress to handle their content. Unfortunately, WordPress is the source of many vulnerabilities, including unauthorized access, malware, skimming, SQL injections, and more. These vulnerabilities often stem from outdated plugins as well as legacy architecture.

Instead, organizations should opt for a CMS that provides a high level of security. To do that, the CMS needs to meet certain criteria. 

9 Things to Look For In a Secure CMS

  • Managed Cloud Hosting

Managed cloud hosting is the first thing to look for to ensure CMS security. A typical SaaS-hosted CMS exists in a managed cloud environment. In this way, your IT department does not need to worry about managing the infrastructure. Additionally, SaaS providers offer automatic updates and regular security patches to ensure security doesn’t falter.

  • Headless Architecture

A headless CMS decouples the frontend presentation layer from the backend database where content gets managed. This enables you to deliver content to multiple channels and provides greater security against common threats such as DDoS attacks. 

  • SOC II Compliance

SOC 2 evaluates how well a software solution provides a safe operating environment that protects both the organization’s and the client’s data privacy. In order to gain SOC 2 compliance, organizations are assessed on security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. It means that the vendor has monitoring, real-time alerts, audits, and actionable insights to protect against any threat and respond accordingly should a threat arise. dotCMS just renewed their SOC 2 Type II Compliance.

  • GDPR & CCPA Compliance

GDPR(General Data Protection Regulation) gives residents in the EU more control over their personal data. The CCPA(California Consumer Privacy Act) does the same for California residents. These regulations outline what organizations must do to protect consumer data and impose heavy fines and civil penalties on businesses that do not comply with the regulations. A CMS compliant with these regulations will offer the best reliability to every visitor and your enterprise. dotCMS meets all the requirements to comply with any legislation.

  • Firewall

Your CMS’s firewall may include software or hardware devices configured to deny, permit, or proxy data through your network. The firewall lets the data through the network with different trust levels, reducing the number of security threats that reach your network. dotCMS Cloud comes with a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to give that extra layer of security.  

  • CDN Support

CDN support from a CMS means it relies on a network of servers for higher security and better performance. CDN caches data and content with its servers geographically distributed. So whenever someone accesses your network, they access the nearest server instead of your primary location. dotCMS Cloud comes with a proprietary CDN: dotCDN.

  • Authentication

Authentication is an access control feature that verifies a user’s credentials to match with one stored in your system. This could include single sign-on, SAML, and OAuth in a CMS. Additionally, a secure CMS should provide OpenID and Default authentication protocols and permissions. dotCMS Supports all OAuth and  SAML-based authentication out of the box.

Authentication can also include approval workflows that add an extra layer of security. For example, four-eyes approval ensures that at least two people must see and approve any decision or transaction.

  • Encryption

A secure CMS should feature data encryption capabilities that maintain the security of any data and content assets that are shared between systems or stored in the CMS.

  • Open Source

Unlike closed source systems, an open source CMS can be exposed to potential threats more quickly and become hardened against them. When combined with the other security features already mentioned, it allows new threats to be swiftly disarmed before patches are released to deal with them once and for all. 

dotCMS: The Most Secure Headless CMS

dotCMS was developed with the mission to deliver efficient and scalable content-driven applications that will make managing images, assets, and content easier in a centralized location for users. Here are a few reasons why dotCMS will be your perfect choice. 

Checks All Boxes

While searching for a secure CMS, there are various things you will consider, especially the features we have mentioned above. dotCMS provides all these capabilities and more in a hybrid CMS built for the enterprise. 

MACH+ Architecture

Modern enterprises opt for a MACH-ready CMS to provide microservices, APIs, cloud-native infrastructure and headless capabilities. dotCMS offers this functionality but takes it a step further with MACH+

With dotCMS, enterprises can also benefit from more marketer freedom and flexibility, visual content editing, content orchestration, increased extensibility and future-proof freedom. 

dotCMS Cloud

dotCMS cloud is a secure, efficient, and scalable hosting solution. The managed hosting services help you increase agility and performance while maintaining security and compliance. 

Content Management Capabilities 

Every CMS can manage content in some way, but dotCMS’ hybrid headless features provide the marketer-friendliness of a traditional CMS and the content delivery freedom of a headless CMS. With drag and drop with visual content editing, NoCode content modeling, relationships and taxonomies, and more, dotCMS gives you everything you need to create personalized experiences on any content channel. 

Security is paramount for your CMS. Learn more about how dotCMS delivers by watching our webinar: Long Term Support +dotCMS Cloud.

Image Credit: Scott Webb
Victoria Burt
Director of Product Marketing
November 30, 2022

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