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Re: How secure is PHP ?
From: Dan Margolis <krispykringle () gentoo org>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 12:45:05 -0500

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Gary E. Miller wrote:
I am unaware of ANY php bug that has not required a preexisting
server side php program to be explioted.  If I am wrong please
enlighten me.

I am unaware of any, either. But there are some that merely require
*any* PHP script, irrespective of what functions or how poorly written
the script is. Well, this begs the question: if you don't intend to run
PHP scripts, why do you have PHP installed? :P

I see this as exactly analogous to the recently found libgd bugs.  If
you had a C program or a PHP program that called libgd then you had
a problem.  This is a problem in the function library not in the
language per-se.  Since PHP and C heavily share the same libaries they
will heavily share the same vulnerabilities.

It is analogous. That's exactly my point; that as a developer, one
should be able to make various assumptions about the safety of provided
functions (that striptags will really strip all tags, for instance, or
that a file upload will really upload to where you told it to, or that
enabling limitations on the size of POST data will not result in remote
code execution); if those functions are unsafe, they should not be
provided.

So as I said, the issue is not with insecure PHP programs, but with the
PHP engine and libraries themselves. This is not to say that one must
not be running PHP scripts--sometimes even scripts with specific
functions or using specific libraries--in order to be vulnerable, but
like I said, it's a safe assumption, if one has PHP installed, that he
is running PHP scripts.

"Strong typeing is for weak minds" :-)

Cute.

Have you ever written code with a security flaw? Ever? :P

So the only question should be is whether PHP is sanitary enough for
a public server and that is clearly a yes.  Plus the maintainers have been
very responsive to security bugs.  Known PHP holes do not stay open
for long.

I didn't come to debate languages, and I fully agree that PHP can be
used publicly in relative safety. I just wanted to dispell the notion
that the only vulnerabilities derive from poorly written code, and that
a good developer who uses PHP according to specifications has nothing to
worry about. Clearly, as I pointed out above, that is not always the case.

If you'd like to discuss the relative merits of PHP further, I'd
actually be glad to, but I'd rather do it off-list (my primary
complaints focus more on the cleanliness of PHP as a
language--inconsistencies in naming conventions, the unnecessarily vast
number of built-in functions in the global namespace, inconsistencies in
argument order, multiple built-in functions that perform the same
function but have different usage, etc).

Cheers,
Dan
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