Should you pay for WordPress security? That’s probably a question a lot of website owners ask themselves. After all, much of the allure of the WordPress platform is its price tag: zero. It’s one of its many benefits and probably among the main factors WordPress has become the most popular content management system in the world.
Yet, in some areas, it does make sense to invest money. For example, there are a number of premium plugins that are worth their price. Hosting is another one of those areas where you pretty much get what you pay for. Is WordPress security another one of those areas? Let’s find out.
The following post will examine this topic from several angles. It will first examine reasons why many users don’t pay for WordPress security and go over the possible costs of having your site hacked. Finally, it will look at how much it costs to put a premium WordPress security solution in place.
Let’s get going.
Why WordPress Users Don’t Pay for Security
In order to give an answer to the question “should you pay for WordPress security?” let’s first talk about why many WordPress users put the topic on the back burner.
There is No Perceived Benefit (Until It’s Too Late)
When it comes to security, a lot of users go with the ostrich tactic: stick your head in the sand and hope for the best. So far nothing has happened, so why invest in stronger security measures?
The problem is, this only works until something actually happens. And when it does, you likely have to deal with much harsher consequences than if you had taken precautions.
Plus, you might not even know that you have a problem. The signs that your site got hacked can be subtle, so you might not even know that you need a solution.
Aside from that, a lot of the day-to-day work security solutions do is usually invisible. It’s only when you turn on notifications and check your reports that you notice how often someone tried to log into your site.
For that reason, WordPress security is one of those areas where an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure. Even if you don’t see the benefit right away, it is definitely there.
You Think You Are Not a Target
I have heard this argument many times before, “Why would anybody want to hack my site? It’s just a hobby blog. There’s nothing interesting on there for a hacker to gain.”
People who say this usually have seen too many Hollywood movies. They picture someone in a dark room, painstakingly hacking their site by hand to gain access to super valuable information. While this also happens, the day-to-day reality is quite different.
The first thing you need to understand is that most website attacks are automated. There isn’t a person trying to get into your site specifically.
Instead, your website is much more likely to be attacked by an automated script. These are similar to search spiders, only that they roam the Internet looking for vulnerable sites. And because WordPress is so widely used, websites built with the CMS have become a favorite mark.
As a consequence, you are more likely to simply be a target of opportunity. Your site gets hacked because it’s possible, no other reason. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether you have a small hobby blog or a large successful ecommerce site.
Plus, most often hackers are not interested in the information on your site. Instead, they use your site to spread malware, redirect visitors to phishing sites or take over your server resources. So, even if you don’t think it makes sense to be a target, the mere existence of your site makes it one.
You Already Have a Free Solution in Place
The final argument for not using a paid security solution is if you already have a free one in place. That is definitely a step in the right direction. There are some great security plugins out there, especially when you combine them with other measures to keep your site safe.
However, you need to be aware that these free plugins usually don’t cover all the bases. In fact, many of them deliberately switch off features in their free version so you opt for the premium edition. This is just part of their business model.
So, even if have a free WordPress security plugin installed on your site, it’s still possible that there are vulnerabilities. That means you can still end up hacked. When that happens, it will cost you.
Possible Costs of Having Your Site Compromised
What happens when your site gets hacked? What are the consequences, especially financial, for your business? Here are a number of possible outcomes.
Expenses to Fix the Problem
When your site gets compromised or hacked, it’s up to you to clean it up. Unless you are a developer, that often means hiring someone. Specialists like that can easily cost a few hundred bucks an hour, which will rack up quickly. Plus, they not only have to fix the damage but also figure out how it happened in the first place, then fix that.
In some cases, the hacker will hold your site ransom. That means, they will ask you to pay money to gain back access to it. It wouldn’t be the first time. If you can’t afford it (or are unwilling to negotiate), you will have to invest in rebuilding your website instead. This, too, brings extra costs or at least extra time and effort. Which often results in the same thing.
Loss of Revenue
In many cases, having your site hacked will cause it to vanish from the web. More often than not, that will be the work of your hosting company. If they find illegitimate behavior (such as sending spam emails), it’s usually part of their terms to take your site offline. Alternatively, you might be the one who takes the site offline until you can fix its problems.
Of course, if your site is incapacitated and no longer available online, visitors are no longer able to purchase your products, click on your ads or take any other action that would earn you money. As a consequence, you are missing out on revenue.
In 2013, Amazon experienced a site outage of just 40 minutes. This led to losses of almost $5 million in missed sales. While you might not be quite on the same level if your site is central to how you make a living, having it compromised will also compromise your bottom line.
Extra Work Hours
Of course, fixing your website is not as easy as putting money on the table. In most cases, it will take considerable time and effort to get it back on track. Time that could be spent elsewhere, such as business development.
There will be a need to communicate with different stakeholders. Your IT team will have to put in more hours in order to prevent similar events from happening again. Deadlines will be derailed. Plus, you will spend time answering customer inquiries about what is going on, what consequences they can expect and when they can get back to business as usual.
All of this will further increase your losses and increase the general stress level.
Loss of Reputation
Financial blowbacks are not the only thing coming out of having your site hacked. Something that is harder to quantify (and recover from) is the loss of credibility.
Consumer trust online is scarce as it is (even if you take measures to increase it). If you lose their data once, have your site defaced or taken out of commission by a hack, you will have a hard time earning it back.
Sales and conversions may take a hit post hack. Plus, you may have to invest in PR to rebuild the trust you lost when your site got hit.
However, it’s not just consumers who may lose faith in you, Google may as well. If your site is infected by malware, redirects visitors to spam sites or similar, it can quickly land you on the Google blacklist. This will, at the least, add a warning next to your search results to let users know about potential danger.
However, it may also ban you from the SERPs completely, thus nullifying your SEO efforts.
Removing yourself from the Google blacklist is another endeavor that takes time, effort and money. Plus, they are not the only company out there that keeps track of potentially dangerous sites. There are a number of other services that you might have to appeal to as well.
Possible Legal Repercussions
Depending on how well protected your site was to begin with and the data that gets lost, being hacked can also have legal ramifications. If hackers get away with highly sensitive consumer data lawsuits can follow. It did in the cases of Target and Equifax. At least the former paid almost $20 million to settle the damages.
As is visible from the recently introduced GDPR regulations, the landscape is shifting more and more towards online consumer protection. Under the new laws, at the very least you will be required to report when a breach has happened and private data has been exposed.
However, if hackers access sensitive data through your system, it’s also possible that you will be held responsible financially. Same if someone’s computer was infected from your website. So, be aware of that.
How Much Does Good Security Cost?
I think by now we can settle on the fact that having your site hacked can have serious real-life consequences. Ergo, “hoping for the best” is not a good security strategy. Instead, it can make a lot of sense to invest in premium website security cost? In contrast to the possible ramifications of having your security breached, it is downright affordable.
For example, pricing for MalCare, a WordPress security service, starts at $8.25/month for a single site. For that you get plenty of features:
- Website vulnerability check
- One-click malware removal
- Login protection and site hardening
Plus, the WordPress security plugin is made by the same people as BlogVault. As a consequence, it comes with real-time backups, complete site management, and detailed security reports. In short, everything you need to keep your site safe. If you have more than one site to protect, their pricing also accommodates that.
Looking at premium versions of other popular security plugins paints a similar picture:
- WordFence — from $99/year
- iThemes Security — from $80/year
- Sucuri — from $199.99/year
In short, you can protect your site from a WordPress security disaster for the price of two beverages from a well-known coffee chain per month. Is that worth it? That’s up to you.
So, Should You Pay for WordPress Security?
Having your WordPress site hacked can happen to anyone. While you might consider your website too insignificant to be a target, trust me, it’s not. Hackers don’t care who you are, all they care about is whether it’s possible to get into your site.
Once that has happened, you are in for a huge headache. Getting hacked can result in a number of expenses to get back on your feet, revenue loss, extra time and effort spent, damages to your reputation and possible legal repercussions.
It’s really not worth it. Especially since it’s entirely preventable. There are lots of affordable premium solutions out there that can make your site as safe as Fort Knox. If you take your business seriously and/or if your livelihood depends on it, it’s worth asking yourself if it isn’t an investment that makes sense to make.
What do you think? Should you pay for WordPress security? Who is your favorite provider? Let us know in the comments section below!