Website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress provide easy drag-and-drop interfaces that allow anyone to create a professional looking website without coding. With their pre-designed templates and built-in features, website builders make it simple for small businesses, bloggers, artists, and anyone else to get online quickly. However, with this simplicity comes potential security risks that builders and their users should be aware of. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the security of major website builders and how you can help keep your site safe.
Common Website Security Threats
All websites face a range of potential security issues, including:
- Malware attacks: Malicious software is designed to infect sites and gain access to sensitive data or server controls. This includes viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and more.
- Phishing scams: Fraudsters create fake login pages or falsely mimic emails from a trusted source to trick users into revealing passwords or financial information.
- SQL injection: Hackers insert malicious SQL code into input fields like login forms in order to access and manipulate the site’s database.
- Cross-site scripting (XSS): Attackers inject malicious client-side scripts into a site that other users then unknowingly execute on their devices.
- Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks: By overloading a site’s server with fake requests, hackers can make the site slow, unresponsive, or even crash it completely.
- Data breaches: When a hacker gains access to a site’s sensitive user data like names, emails, addresses, credit cards, etc.
- Vulnerabilities in third-party services: Plugins, themes and other third-party tools connected to a site can contain their own security flaws.
Website builders must account for these risks in their core software, while also giving site owners tools to keep their own content and visitors protected.
Website Builder Security Features
The major website builders each use a variety of methods to help improve security across the millions of sites created with their platforms. Here are some of the key protections they offer:
- Secure data transmission – Builders use HTTPS encryption to keep data exchanged between sites and visitors secure from prying eyes.
- Content delivery networks (CDNs) – CDNs distribute site content across servers globally, providing better uptime, speed, and DDoS attack resilience.
- Backup systems – Builders enable daily or real-time backups of site files and databases to aid recovery from data corruption, accidental changes, or malicious attacks.
- Access controls – Admin login areas are protected by username and password requirements, two-factor authentication, and/or IP-based access restrictions.
- Server security – Builders’ servers are hardened to block infiltration and utilize web application firewalls, regular patching, and constant monitoring.
- Vulnerability scanning – Automated tools and human experts check builder software and existing sites for potential weaknesses.
- DDoS mitigation – Specialized third-party services filter DDoS traffic before it can overwhelm builder infrastructure.
- Plugin/theme reviews – Third-party tools are manually reviewed or automatically analyzed to catch malware threats before they spread.
However, no website builder can provide 100% protection against all threats. Site owners must also take responsibility for security.
How Website Owners Can Enhance Security
While builders lay the foundation, website owners have a role to play in keeping their sites secure. Here are key best practices they should follow:
- Use strong passwords – Create a unique, complex password for your site’s admin login and update it periodically. Avoid common words or strings of sequential numbers/letters.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) – Adding an extra verification step like a code sent to your phone blocks intruders even if they have your password.
- Limit user roles – Only grant admin access to those who truly need it. Review permissions regularly.
- Update plugins/themes – Apply security patches for any third-party tools to eliminate known vulnerabilities.
- Avoid pirated tools – Stick to builders’ official directories. Pirated plugins and themes often hide backdoors.
- Sanitize input data – Scrub form submissions and other user input of potential SQL/XSS threats.
- Monitor traffic – Watch for spikes that may indicate DoS attempts or bots scraping content.
- Back up regularly – Download copies of your site to make restoring after an attack easier.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi – When managing your site, connect only on secure private networks to avoid snooping.
- Use a firewall/VPN – They conceal your admin IP address from potential attackers.
- Manage user accounts – Delete inactive accounts, require strong passwords, and look for strange activity.
Being vigilant in these areas decreases the risk of your site being compromised via an unpatched plugin, brute-forced admin account, or other preventable security flaw.
Comparing Core Security of Leading Website Builders
While all website builders share some basic security methods, there can be differences between their approaches that users should be aware of. Let’s compare the core protections offered by the top three website building platforms.
With over 200 million sites built, Wix is the most popular website builder globally. Their focus is ease of use for beginners, but security is still a priority.
- SSL encryption on all sites
- Daily backups, with option for real-time backups
- CDN and DDoS protection via partnerships
- Automated vulnerability scanning
- Firewalls, layered access controls, and monitoring protect servers
- Bug bounty program rewards researchers for finding flaws
However, Wix requires site owners to manually apply plugin/theme updates, and they experienced breaches in 2019 and 2021 when intruders accessed some user data.
Squarespace aims for sophisticated design options over beginner-friendliness. Their elegant templates rely on strong security foundations.
- Automatic HTTPS on all pages
- Daily or real-time backups available
- CDN capabilities distributed across global network
- Server hardening, firewalls, and constant monitoring
- Centralized app/plugin updating for all users
- Proactive patches for framework and dependency flaws
Unlike Wix though, Squarespace currently lacks brute force attack protection or uptime guarantees around DDoS attacks.
The open-source nature of WordPress means site owners have more flexibility, but also more responsibility for security.
- Free SSL via Let’s Encrypt integration
- WordPress core is patched rapidly, but plugins/themes require manual updates
- Huge plugin/theme directory, with some questionable options
- Lockouts after failed login attempts, plus other brute force protections
- DDoS mitigation requires separate service like Cloudflare
- Content delivery from WordPress.com’s servers, but no uptime promises
WordPress is a common target, giving it strongAwareness around security needs, but openness leaves site owners more vulnerable to attacks via unvetted third-party tools.
Security Tips for Specific Website Builders
While the above summarizes overall security postures for Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress, looking at specific guidance for each platform is also beneficial for users.
Enhancing Wix Security
As the most beginner-friendly builder, Wix prioritizes ease of use over forcing strict security. Site owners bear more responsibility for protection. Tips include:
- Add two-factor authentication to all user accounts. Wix supports Google Authenticator and SMS codes.
- Manually apply plugin updates rather than accumulating vulnerabilities.
- Review permissions for users and staff to limit access.
- Install a security plugin like Sucuri or Wordfence for malware scanning and firewall.
- Use Wix’s site backup tool or an external option like UpdraftPlus.
- Enable IP blocking under account settings to stop attacks from repeat offenders.
Overall Wix makes security accessible for novices, but hands-on site owners will be better protected.
Boosting Squarespace Security
Squarespace’s elegant templates and centralized updates create a robust starting point. Recommendations for further safety include:
- Enable two-factor authentication through Google Authenticator.
- Avoid pirated or beta third-party extensions which may be unstable.
- Review account privileges regularly to remove access from inactive or former users.
- Install update notifications to be alerted when Squarespace patches vulnerabilities.
- Leverage available Sitewide Content Freeze and Maintenance Mode features while updating plugins/themes.
- Use Squarespace Domain Registration to prevent your domain from being hijacked.
As a tightly integrated platform, Squarespace reduces security busywork for site owners significantly.
Locking Down WordPress Sites
WordPress’s openness requires more vigilance from users against threats like:
- Use strong unique passwords, change them regularly, and enable two-factor authentication.
- Only install trusted plugins and themes from the official WordPress directory. Avoid pirated tools.
- Keep plugins, themes, and WordPress core up to date to patch vulnerabilities.
- Limit users to the least privileges they need through roles and permissions.
- Install security-focused plugins like Wordfence to scan for malware.
- Use a service like Cloudflare to filter DDoS attacks and suspicious traffic.
- Leverage options like Limit Login Attempts to guard against password brute forcing.
A hands-on approach is key for building and maintaining security on WordPress sites.
The Importance of Website Security
Security may seem like an intimidating topic for non-technical website owners. However, attacks are far too common to ignore – over 4 million WordPress sites alone were impacted in 2021. Taking basic precautions enhances safety and saves hours responding to incidents. At minimum:
- Use strong login credentials everywhere – not just the admin but FTP, hosting, domains etc.
- Avoid software from questionable sources instead of official channels. It often hides nasty surprises.
- Follow site builder guides for locking down access controls, backups, and permissions.
- Be selective in granting admin privileges. Few users truly require full control.
- Keep software like plugins, themes, and core system updated. It closes off known holes.
- Install a firewall and malware detection to catch threats that may slip through.
- Back up site files and databases frequently in case you need to rollback after an attack.
- Monitor traffic for unusual spikes, bot behavior, and signs of DDoS assaults.
Website builders ease creation but securing your site is an ongoing process. Stay vigilant and follow security best practices to avoid becoming another cyber attack statistic.
Creating sites through user-friendly drag and drop builders like Wix, Squarespace or WordPress simplifies getting online, but also exposes webmasters to potential security risks. These platforms provide baseline protections like encryption, backups, and firewalls – however site owners share responsibility for safety. Using strong login credentials, limiting access, updating software, monitoring traffic, and taking precautions like two-factor authentication substantially improves security. Understanding the specific approach of your chosen website builder – whether it’s Set and Forget like Squarespace or DIY like WordPress – allows tailoring protections appropriately. No system is impenetrable, but with proper precautions website builders can enable anyone to create and manage a site safely.