5 Things You Need on Your PHP Security Checklist in 2022


Meta Description: Looking to secure your WordPress websites? Here are some key things you need to add to the PHP security checklist for enhanced protection.

Imagine the base of your office building being compromised? Will your office stand against a minor quake? The same stands for your WordPress website. If the PHP frameworks at the heart of your WordPress website are not secured, how can you expect the site to be secured?

WordPress uses PHP because,

  • It allows interaction with the database seamless
  • Fetching of data from the datastores easier
  • Ready to use codes
  • Cross-platform capabilities
  • Faster loading speeds

While there are several benefits of using PHP at the core of your WordPress website, without proper security, your site can also be compromised. According to research, PHP websites and applications face cross-site scripting(XSS) and cryptographic issues. So, there is no denying that securing your PHP WordPress websites becomes vital.

Securing PHP needs due diligence and best practices that help ensure there are no vulnerabilities. You will need a PHP Security checklist to ensure that all the best practices are used and that your site is secure.

So, here we are with a comprehensive PHP Security Checklist for your WordPress website.

Validate data


Filtering the input data and validation is key to securing your PHP website. So, it would be best if you kept it right at the top of your PHP Security Checklist.

There are two major approaches that PHP developers take for data validations,

  • GET is used to generate GET requests to fetch data from the source and can be saved in the browser’s cache, making it less secure.
  • POST is used to POST data to the server and is far more secure than the GET requests.

Here, you can ensure security through POST while sending sensitive data such as passwords, emails with HTTP requests, and others. However, the GET approach is the best option if you can retrieve data from the server directly.

Another aspect of validating users’ data is to reduce padding or extra spaces in your PHP code. This will help you avoid XSS attacks where an attacker can inject malicious code to expose usernames.

You can achieve the removal of extra space and protection against XSS attacks through the usage of two special functions,

  • trim()
  • htmlspecialchars()

Other functions that you can use for specific user input validations are,

  • Email data- FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL flag with filter_var() function
  • URLs- FILTER_VALIDATE_URL flag with filter_var() function
  • Booleans- FILTER_VALIDATE_BOOLEAN flag with filter_var() function

Validating input data can help your PHP-based WordPress websites to prevent XSS attacks, but for SQL injections, you need to leverage parameterized queries.

Parameterized queries


Parameterized queries can help prevent SQL injections and are simple to write. In addition, they enable you to define the SQL queries and leverage placeholders for different variables provided by users. 

Once the SQL statement is defined, you can use parameters for each command to distinguish between the user’s data and SQL commands. Now, if an attacker injects malicious SQL commands, parameterized queries will treat them as untrusted requests or inputs blocking their execution.

Proper execution of parameterized queries can ensure that the user’s data is secure, and no SQL commands get executed, which is injected by an attacker. This is why placing the parameterized queries on your PHP Security Checklist makes more sense.

Next and probably one of the most important PHP security best practices for your WordPress website is upgrades.

Keep your PHP updated.


You can’t miss this one when it comes to the PHP security checklist. Whether it’s for web or mobile development, any framework needs regular updates.

These frameworks have new versions that have enhanced protection against newer threats from time to time. So, if you are not updating to a newer version, you are risking the security of your PHP-based WordPress website.

For example, the current stable version for PHP is 8.1.3, which you need to update for your WordPress website. If you are using an older version, there are several changes that you need to accommodate for secure WordPress websites, like configuration of passwords, changes in the security policies, code, and compatibility.

Keeping your PHP-based websites secure needs more than just upgrading your framework. This is where you need to check whether SSL/TLS certificate for your website is active or needs renewal.

SSL/ TLS certificates


SSL or TLS certificates enable HTTPS protocol for your website securing the communication between the user’s device and browser. Most modern-day browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and others recommend websites to have HTTPS protocol.

With SSL certificates, your website can prevent XSS attacks and other cyber threats by keeping the data anonymous to hackers. Here, Certificate Authority (CA) plays a vital role. Installing an SSL certificate from a trusted CA does not only lend security but excellent features.

For example, SSL certificates can be of different types, which should be from reputed CAs like GlobalSign SSL, Comodo SSLRapidSSL certificate, etc. can offer compatibility across 99.9% of browsers powered through 256-bit encryption. SSL certs from well-known CAs are leading CAs in the market and provide excellent features. Similarly, there are many options in the market that you can explore to secure your PHP websites.

Limit data access


One of the biggest causes of security breaches is unauthorized data access which you can avoid by limiting data access for your PHP websites. Here, you can use the open_basedir function, which allows you to limit access to files that PHP can access from your system.

This is especially helpful if you are using an older version of PHP, vulnerable to malicious attacks. If the attacker gains access to the PHP and tries to get sensitive data, the open_basedir function will block it.

Signing Off

Whether you are a PHP developer or a business looking to secure a WordPress website, you must have a security checklist for your development project. You can use this list to keep your site secure and ensure no vulnerabilities exist in the code.

Moreover, the best practices we discussed here will help you reduce the chances of cyber-attacks and ensure the protection of sensitive data. These five best practices are the ones you can’t ignore while preparing a PHP security checklist.

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