Since even before the movie War Games in 1983 with Matthew Broderick, cyber security has long been a concern for governments, corporations and small businesses. However, in the last election cycle of 2016, the issue of cyber security and political campaigns came to the forefront. With hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the 2016 election, the hacking of the Marcon campaign and release of emails days before the French Presidential Election, and the breach of millions of voters’ data by a contractor for the National GOP, cyber security has become a critical, timely and urgent issue for campaigns, parties and candidates at all levels. While education and training for staff regarding two-step authentication of third-party systems and avoiding phishing attacks are all important for a campaign’s cyber security, a WordPress Maintenance program is a vitally important way to keep local campaigns and county political parties from being hacked and is often overlooked usually to the peril of those organizations involved.
The majority of local campaign and party websites are built on the WordPress platform. In fact, over 28% of the world’s websites are built on WordPress. This includes big brands like Disney, Sony, and The New York Times just to name a few. There’s a reason for this – WordPress is simply the best content management system out there. Its ease of use, functionality and affordability make it of one of the best CMS systems for the fast paced world of campaigns and elections. There are so many themes and plugins for WordPress that enable folks to create awesome websites with little or no hard coding involved. The open source community of WordPress, which includes the developers of the many themes and plugins for WordPress websites, is a treasure trove of resourceful information and can serve as a guide for web designers through any questions and problems that they may encounter in creating a WordPress website.
However, new versions of WordPress and the plugins and themes integrated with the platform are constantly being issued. For busy political operatives, state legislators, and county party officers, finding the time to do routine WordPress website maintenance is not easy. In a preliminary analysis of local campaign and county party sites across the country, it was found that many have outdated WordPress versions and are vulnerable.
Outdated versions of WordPress core, themes, and plugins can result in potential hacking. According to quarterly reports from the security company, Sucuri, three out of four websites hacked in 2016 ran the WordPress platform with 25% of these sites having the plugins TimThumb, GravityForms, and RevSlider. According to Sucuri, a majority of these hacked sites were running outdated versions of WordPress and the popular plugins. The majority of Word Press core, theme and plugin updates have to do with patching security vulnerabilities. WordPress and theme and plugin developers are always striving to make their products better and improve their features with new versions, but security is a paramount issue and dominates new releases.
Political hacking is on the upswing and WordPress sites are the most vulnerable when not updated. A WordPress maintenance program that provides updates to your site on a routine basis is affordable and the best way to avoid hacking. A WordPress maintenance program is proactive, smart and provides peace of mind.
A safe, secure, and fast performing campaign website is vital to being able to raise awareness about your campaign’s message to voters, donors, and potential volunteers and grassroots supporters. It is crucial in achieving your subscriber, volunteer, fundraising and electoral goals. In today’s new paradigm of electoral hacking, a WordPress maintenance program is an easy way to keep your site intact, free from danger and a quick read for viewers.
What should a WordPress maintenance program entail? A couple of key things should be provided by your vendor. First and foremost your agency should be accessible by phone and email and provide customer service that answers technical questions, provides prompt bug fixes and enhancements, and is willing to communicate with your website’s hosting provider when there is an issue. The agency should also do daily backups of your website files and database that are independent of the back ups that are done by your hosting provider. WordPress core and your site’s plugins and themes should be regularly updated to the latest version. Real time up-time monitoring and security scanning should also be provided along with regular site speed and performance testing. Your vendor should also do regular site optimization through the cleaning of your database and any post revisions. Finally, a monthly analytics and performance report that includes minor design and content update recommendations to help you achieve your subscriber, volunteer, fundraising and electoral goals should be provided.
Interesting in learning about our WordPress website maintenance program for campaign websites? We have experts who have been tested in the crucible of political campaigns, public service, technology and digital. Our passion and experience in WordPress website development and maintenance makes us the right choice for any political campaign. Contact us here or via Facebook Messenger now.