PHP Security

Some Common Security Issues and How to Avoid Them with PHP

PHP is currently the most popular programming language worldwide for making dynamic websites. But, since most web servers are publicly accessible, they are posed to security threats each day!

Hijackers use many methods to confiscate these servers via cheap tricks and hijack the data and personal info of many users.

Some common issues with PHP websites and how to counter them are mentioned below:

1)      SQL Injection

SQL injection happens when database-driven websites are infected with code via hackers who send special SQL queries to the web database that can modify it entirely or delete it as a whole.

SQL injection is one of the most common types of hacking and it is specifically targeted at database-driven websites or web applications which link to and interact with databases. This attack is a type of code injection, where attackers exploit vulnerabilities in the site’s security measures to send invalid data functions to add his own external sources into the site.

  • Normally, the entire database is affected by this attack and it can be prevented by validating all the data can be entered into the coding application.
  • All the sensitive information such as the passwords and user scripts should be encrypted using SHA1 or SHA methods.
  • Prevent words in your tables such as ‘insert’, ‘drop’, ‘update’, and ‘union’ from being added to the database since these can be used to edit the database.
  • Error messages should be custom made or disabled as a whole since these files reveal security vulnerabilities of your website to the attacker.
  • Limit all permissions granted to the database access process. Trust only known sources.

 2)      Cross Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross Site Scripting is the most common type of hacking where hackers use a legitimate site’s security vulnerability to force that site into doing certain things by infecting the web page with a malicious side script which loads instead of the actual script when a and when a user visits this page.

This script results in the stealing of cookies and sending important information such as session ID details to any malicious third-party website. It can also be used to redirect users to spam websites or key logging if malicious JavaScript is embedded into the HTML.

  • To prevent these attacks and Cross Site Forgery, use escape functions to escape any characters that can compromise the HTML and JavaScript syntax.
  • Use syntax like bbcodes on websites that act as user forums so that HTML characters cannot escape the session.
  • Test the website as much as you can before making it go LIVE. Also use the htmlspecialchars () function which converts any HTML that you do not want to output and converts into a plain HTML entity.

3)      Session and Cookie Hacking

The session and cookie hacking compromises user accounts via malicious web applications and tries to store cookies on the user’s browser cache which steal information like users’ preferences, account authentication data, login codes or ecommerce shopping cart information.

Not only is the session ID affected when a user logs into a website, the hacker tries to obtain the legitimate session ID of the user via such applications and login posing as an authentic user to cause damage to the account especially if it is an administrator account.

  • It can be prevented by setting session IDs prior to login and changing it often by using the session_regenerate_id() function which creates a fresh ID every time a user logs in.
  • Also constantly validating a user’s credentials is important especially when they make changes to their account or try to change their password.
  • If the password is being saved in the current session, it should be encrypted immediately with the (using the sha1() function)to prevent any misuse of the account during the process of password change.
  • You should use SSL and secured connections, especially if your web application or portal handles user sensitive information like debit or credit card information. This can prevent session hacking or cookie phishing.

Use these methods to efficiently manage your PHP powered website and cut down on such malicious attacks even before they can happen.

This will not only save your time, but protect your brand’s credibility and a user’s trust in your motives.