Magento Security Patches: Why They are Critical To Your Business
By David Ephraim, ATAK Interactive President, Development + Operations
For many e-commerce businesses, the Magento platform is the backbone of their e-commerce business. Magento is one of the most progressive and innovative open platforms available to e-commerce businesses. Unfortunately, due to its popularity, this also means that it is a prime target for hackers. Although open platforms have their advantages, they also have their drawbacks. One of the most common drawbacks is the vulnerability for a breach in security. It is important for e-commerce business owners to be able to keep both their company’s and their clients’ information safe and secure. Failure to do so can result in disastrous consequences.
The Importance of Keeping Magento Updated With the Latest Security Patches
You’re likely familiar with security patches but may not understand their purpose. When a weakness, vulnerability, or breach is discovered in a software platform, it must be fixed. The fix is called a patch, which is simply new lines of code that correct a vulnerability in the program.
Developers and analysts work furiously to create “patches” for weaknesses once they are found in the platform. Patches are used to prevent hackers from accessing your administration system and stealing or altering information from both you and your clients. There will always be a need for patches because hackers are constantly innovating new ways to hack into open platforms and take advantage of the information found. Due to the ever-present threat of a security breach, it can be extremely harmful to your business and your customer’s data if you do not regularly ensure your business is keeping up with the latest Magento security patches.
The Potential Harm to Your Business
Failing to stay on top of Magento security patches can put your entire e-commerce business at risk. When customers complete transactions online, they expect their data to be protected and the process to be completely safe. Anything less than that will not be worth the risk to consumers. Operating a business on an unsecured platform will lead to a loss of customer trust and revenue. Even worse, if your business gains a reputation as unsafe for conducting online transactions, customers will not return to your business.
A breach in security can also result in a loss of important and sensitive company and client data. Hackers are constantly looking for weaknesses in platforms. As soon as a new security patch is announced, hackers race to exploit the vulnerability before owners install the needed security patch. The bottom line is a failure to stay up to date on security patches can eventually lead to a failed business.
How to Install Magento Security Patches
Magento security patches can be self-installed by users if done so correctly. The proper installation of a patch consists of four steps.
Before you make any changes, including a security patch, it is important to back up the Magento installation. By doing so, you ensure you have the ability to restore all of your data should something go wrong during the update.
Editors note: The first step is absolutely critical. Do not proceed without backing up first!
Secondly, download the recommended Magento security patches for your particular edition. Each security patch will give you a description of what issues and problems the patches are designed to fix.
Disabling the compiler is the third step of the installation. The compiler takes code input by a human programmer and turns it into machine code. This must be temporarily disabled or it will interfere with the security patch installation.
The fourth step is to install the patch. There are three different methods. The method you use is dependent on your hosting provider. The most common installation method is the SSH method, but you can also use either the Run a Script method or upload pre-patched files.
There are cases in which you may need to revert a patch, meaning uninstalling the security patch. The process is basically the same except for the addition of the -R flag. Make sure you have the proper permissions to access the Magento installation directory. If you do not have the necessary permissions, you will not be able to uninstall the patch.
Benefits of Working With a Qualified Development Agency
While it is possible to install Magento security patches on your own, it is not advised. Failure to correctly install the recommended patches can leave your business vulnerable and you unsuspecting. Incorrect installation means the patch will not work as intended. More than likely you will not discover this costly mistake until an actual breach occurs. By then the damage may already be done and it may be too late.
Going at it alone can lead to costly downtime for your business. It takes time to stay on top of security patches and install them in a timely manner. Every minute or day that you do not install a recommended patch is time that your business is a prime target for hackers. When you are running a business, this may not be something you have time to stay on top of. If you are not computer savvy, installing patches may prove frustrating and eat into time you didn’t have in the first place.
Working with a qualified development agency provides many benefits to the security and protection of your Magento platform. When working with a qualified agency, you can rest assured all security patches are installed in a timely manner. This greatly reduces the degree to which your business is vulnerable to hackers. Secondly, you can assure that the security patches are downloaded and operating correctly. The last thing you want is to believe you have downloaded the necessary patches, only to find that you have in fact downloaded them incorrectly and they are not providing your business any protection. At ATAK Interactive our development team makes sure your Magento platform stays up to date on security patches with as little downtime to your business as possible.