Secure PHP Programming Practices

It is accepted that PHP has been one of the most useful and useful when it comes to web development. There are plenty of great features and functionalities that PHP has been packaged with. With the growth PHP has been through variety of threats and malicious activities. To overcome some of these and to avoid some of the mistakes it is highly advisable for any PHP Programmer to follow a highly secure yet simple programming techniques in order to overcome these issues.

This article would discuss about three of the major techniques using which a PHP Developer can write a secure PHP Code.

PHP Programmers do know that certain aspects of the code are accessible and that can be avoided, but many of them either don’t follow the practice or they just don’t know.

Three major aspects are:

  1. Global Variables
  2. Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
  3. SQL Code

1. Global Variables

Register Globals – A PHP feature is one of the most useful yet can be used to access the data of the website, which is not supposed to be accessed. For example, if you have not initialized the variable and if you are using that as part of the verification process for the administration, the value that is uninitialised can be treated as the actual value, and one can actually go through the data that is not supposed to be visible to anyone except administrator.

To overcome this issue, it is best to disable the Register Globals and use the local variables for the programs and initialize them. But as far as possible, use of Register Globals should be avoided to maximize the security of the website.

2. Cross Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross Site Scripting is highly used with AJAX. Specifically the use of comment box when the AJAX is called and the user is asked to login, the details once logged in are stored in the cookies and a malicious user accessing the server remotely can definitely get hold of that, compromising the security of the website database. Normally, when the JavaScript (JS) runs when the person writes the comments and the content can be captured and manipulated by the same malicious user which may affect the database.

It is a great practice for the PHP Programmers to make highest use of filters in order to protect the database from any inputs that are not filter qualified, and if detected, programmer can use die() function to exit the task and stop inputting that value to the database. Again, while outputting the same database the same practice needs to be followed. This would be a great practice to make sure that you website doesn’t store plenty of spammy or malicious entries of comments in the database.


3. SQL Code

The SQL code is another place where the malicious users can enter as and when the dynamic code is written without completely filtering the data. This is just like one of those Cross Site Scripting feature. There is a very simple method that a PHP Developer should follow: First of all as far as possible the code should not be dynamic, and in conditions where it is necessary to write the dynamic code in that case, the code before inputting to the database should be verified using the filters if the values that are inserted are actually true or not. This can be done more effectively by typecasting the data.

It is true that there are plenty of other ways to break the security and get in but majorly, these are the areas, if taken care of properly there are lesser chances of website being compromised.

Of course some of the other recommendations we prefer would be:

  1. Securing the Files using protections.
  2. Database needs to be Protected using a secure link and password.
  3. Verified and validated inputs.
  4. Systematic protection of the entire PHP Program or a system.

Once PHP is used with highly secure and most efficient way for coding, the application, or website or the program developed would definitely be protected from most of the spammy and malicious activities and malicious users. Follow the correct practices of PHP Programming and enjoy the luxury of plenty of great features from PHP to create biggest innovations in the industry.

We would love to know, if you can throw some coding examples of how each point can be used to break the security and an example of how to protect that. A great tutorial and practice for all of the PHP Programmers. Lets be part of secure PHP Coding practices.

Nisarg Mehta - CEO Techtic Solutions Nisarg Mehta

Nisarg Mehta, CEO & Chairman of Techtic Solutions, is the vision of the company. Nisarg is active in operations in his daily routine as he is one of the key decision makers in terms of technological advancements of the company. He is a friendly leader with hardworking, motivating, visionary and passionate personality.

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