7 handy Security Tips for PHP Developers

PHP is one of the most popular programming and server-side scripting languages for the web. This is the most common language that is used for website and application development. Some people also consider it as a feature-friendly language as it helps developers to creep in the security holes and create roadblocks in the development path. The new version of PHP, i.e. PHP7 is the most appealing version for developers.

There is a common myth that PHP is not s suitable language from security point-of-view, but a very few people know that it offers robust security. It depends completely on the PHP developers whether they implement the security codes correctly or not.  Given below is the list of top PHP security tips that PHP developers can follow while developing PHP based web applications.


1. Prevent access to administrative page

Every web application has an administrative page, which is used to manage and configure the app. Whenever you install a PHP-based app, always remember to either change script’s default directory name and remove installation script. This will prevent user to have an access to administrative page. There are many apps that automatically remove script after completion of the installation procedure. Another way to protect administrative directory or script is by creating an .htaccess file and uploading it to the administrative directory.


2. Protect your passwords in database

Always make sure that the passwords you store in your database are in encrypted format. Even if anyone gets an access to your database, they will not be able to read any of the passwords as they all will be stored in encrypted form. Always prefer using stronger encryption function as it will prevent a hacker to break your passwords.


3. Include/require files

It very common practice of reusing codes, using includes or require file command in the script.  While you are using both these files in your script, make sure you save it with .php extension; otherwise, the codes of that file may be exposed to the outside word. Moreover, if you forget or don’t use .php extension, your file will not be processed and all the content of the file will be returned if someone types path of that file. Also, putting include/require files in a non-root directory is a good way to prevent their access publicly. You can also protect your directory containing includes/requires a file with the help of password.

4. Protect session data from hijacking

Everything when you log into your PHP web app, session data is generated. This session data contains sensitive information. If anyone tries to nose around your network and interrupt into your session cookies, he can use this information to access your account. Using someone’s id to get illegal access to users account is called as session hijacking. The best possible solution to session hijacking is the use of super global variables. With the help of computer’s IP and browser type, these super global variables generate complex session id. When user requests for a web page in a browser, it will generate a new session ID. When user returns to the page, server will calculate a new session id using IP information and browser type. Then this information is matched with the stored value in the user’s machine. If IP id or browser is different than the stored value, then server will presume that session id has been hijacked and user will be requested to authenticate.

5. Creating separate database user

If multiple PHP apps use same database server, then it is necessary from security perspective that you must create separate user for each app. If any one of the apps puts under suspicion, then other apps will not be affected and the extent of damage and security breach will be partial.

6. Secure your app by disabling PHP errors

Errors in your coding gives you an idea as a developer that what are the coding mistakes that you are doing. But these same errors can prove to be a good opportunity for hackers to breach the security of the website.


7. Avoid cross site scripting attack

There is a golden rule to protect your PHP app against cross site scripting attack. This rule states that any user generated data or input must be authenticated and cleaned.  When you produce your data, employ output escaping.
These are just a few tips to scratch the surface of your PHP app security. It completely depends on the developers to ensure that apps they build are safe by acknowledging themselves about the risks to their app and the most common types of weaknesses and attacks.

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