What is a CMS?

A Content Management System, or CMS, is a web application that helps web developers and managers efficiently maintain and organize the website’s content. In recent years, content management systems have become integral to the development and maintenance of complex websites. Content management systems offer many benefits, but there are a still a few security concerns.

Traditional Web Content Management

Business and organizational websites may rely on content given by different departments, parties and sources. During the early days of website management, the burden of uploading and updating web content fell to the IT department. IT professionals started out relying on file transfer programs, such as file transfer protocols (FTPs), but they quickly found that customized in-house programs could interface with websites. In this way, different users could select and upload various files via HTTP.

Outsourcing the time consuming duty of uploading content saves IT professionals times and shares the workload with key members of the organization. Some small and medium sized organizations still use website interface programs to upload content. Content management systems are reliable solutions that allow any designated user to upload content and maintain certain features of the website. The problem of having to use technical staff to translate content into suitable web page formatting is gone because content management systems offer user friendly tools, guides and wizards.

New Web Content Management

Modern web content management systems make it easy for users to collaboratively update a website from different locations and through different platforms, such as tablets and laptops. This effective and manageable way allows any users to upload web content like text, audio, images and video. Content management systems come with easy to understand workflow tools and features that streamline the processes of creating, storing and updating of web pages.

Web developers can take advantage of versioning, approval-based sub-procedures and check-in and out auditing to effectively track the daily updating of web pages. This is critical for popular publicly accessed websites that rely on user generated content, such as Yelp and Wikipedia. Content management systems offer faster response times for things like marketing materials, more efficient workflows for web content managers and improved control through designated approval processes. This drastically reduces the likelihood of incorrect content, user errors and poor quality material being published by mistake.

New Security Challenges

Content management systems are vulnerable to bugs, viruses and malware like any other program. Some major vulnerabilities have been found in certain open source products that allowed remote users to access and download sensitive files. Another common security concern is the protection of authentication credentials when accessing content management systems. Because these software solutions are primarily designed to solve the content management problems of complex websites, they may come with inadequate security protection for logins and passwords.

Similar to this, the publishing and uploading processes in poorly designed content management systems may still rely on out dated file transfer protocols to transfer files and store data on the server. FTPs are not secure protocols because the passwords and authentication credentials may be transmitted as plain text files over the network, which can easily be intercepted by savvy hackers.

A Content Management System is a standard way for organizations and companies to manage their web content and empower staff to contribute to the maintenance of the website. You can review a list of popular content management systems here.