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daeken is arguing, based on quite a bit of experience, that PHP applications (even those written with frameworks) tend to have more security vulnerabilities than Rails apps. I happen to agree with him.

One very illustrative example: arbitrary code execution. I've lost count of the number of arbitrary code execution vulnerabilities I've found in PHP applications. In contrast, I recall very vividly the last arbitrary code execution vulnerability I found in a Python application: I uploaded a PHP script to the server, which was also running mod_php. ;-)

The problem here is simple: most web servers that run PHP are configured with a rule that says "If a file ends in .php, execute it as PHP." This is useful for new users: it allows them to run and execute separate PHP scripts very easily. But it's also a potential security vulnerability if an attacker can upload a PHP file to your server.

If you're using a framework, you typically have a fixed number of scripts that should be executable and you can configure your web server appropriately. However, that requires a VPS or dedicated server.

Edit: If you're interested in an actual language-level difference between PHP and Ruby/Python that affects security, PHP scripts accepted null bytes as part of filesystem paths until recently (PHP 5.3.4, which added protection against it, was released at the end of 2010).




I'm not disputing any of that. I just get annoyed when people compare languages with frameworks. Ruby and Python have many advantages compared to PHP, but out-of-the-box XSS prevention is not one of them.

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