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PHP Penetration Testing and Security Audits – Tools and Steps

PHP Penetration Testing and Security

One of the most commonly used programming languages in web development is PHP. For that reason, it is no surprise there is a need for effective security auditing tools and penetration testing applications. These applications help PHP developers and business owners improve the security of their web applications.

It can be difficult to know where to start when you’re looking into PHP security. This blog post will discuss some tools and steps that will help you get started with your own security audit or penetration test.


How to Carry Out a PHP Penetration Test

Penetration testing is the process of testing a computer system or network for vulnerabilities. It is usually done to find security holes that could be exploited by hackers.

Luckily, the development community has several PHP penetration testing applications to try, allowing anyone with technical knowledge to carry out a security audit of their own. Let’s discuss some of the most popular and effective tools.

1.) Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)

This is probably the most popular and widely used penetration testing software. ZAP allows developers to easily scan their web applications for vulnerabilities. It’s a great tool that can be used by both beginners and experts.

It can be used to find SQL injection, XSS (Cross-Site Scripting), malware injections, and many other types of security issues. It even has an easy-to-use interface that is accessible for most users.

2.) Wapiti

This is an open-source tool that supports command-line functionality, which means you should have experience with a CLI to take full advantage of it. This shouldn’t be a problem for intermediate and above PHP developers, since it is quite common to use a command line in development.

Wapiti is a great tool with many scanning options and great automation features. It allows you to find security issues in your website with ease. There is also decent documentation available for the installation and configuration steps.

This tool is often used to scan for brute force attacks, command execution detection, XXE injection, and SQL injection!

3.) W3af

This tool is built on the Python programming language. It is known for its graphical interface that makes it very easy to use. In fact, it is perfect for users who are just starting to learn about penetration testing, since it has a wide range of features and options within its GUI.

It includes scanning features to help identify vulnerabilities and exploitations, with a great reporting system. This makes it an all-in-one solution for any security audit or penetration testing requirement. In fact, it can be used to find over 200,000 security vulnerabilities in a PHP web application!

4.) SonarQube

This is another great tool that is aimed at both PHP developers and security testers. It allows for the tracking of bugs and vulnerabilities in the source code or web application.

This tool is incredibly versatile. In fact, SonarQube can conduct security audits in over 20 different languages! It allows you to quickly identify insecure code and security holes.

5.) Vulnerability Management Platform

By Astra, the Vulnerability Management Platform (VMP) is a powerful and advanced solution that allows you to conduct your own security audits. The tool allows you to quickly identify all the vulnerabilities on your website or web application.

You can get custom audits for your PHP web application and use their expertise to identify and fix security flaws. They also offer to constantly monitor your website so you don’t have to worry as much about ongoing vulnerability management.

VMP also provides a complete report of your website’s security profile, which is an added benefit for peace of mind.


Is PHP a Secure Programming Language?

Yes, if your web developers use PHP correctly it will be a very secure programming language for your application. As with any programming language or development platform, it is only as secure as the weakest element of your security posture. Most exploits are often from a simple, overlooked mistake that had nothing to do with the programming language itself.

To help improve the security of your PHP application, follow these basic suggestions:

  • Keep your PHP version updated.
  • Keep your third-party applications updated, such as WordPress, Laravel, PHP extensions, etc.
  • Ask your PHP developers if they are using prepared statements for database communication.
  • Use secure passwords, and rotate them often.
  • Don’t leave debug functionality enabled in a production environment.
  • Disable insecure functions within PHP’s configuration.
  • Use asymmetric encryption (keys) for root server access.
  • Limit access to your PHP applications and hosting environment to as few developers or agencies as possible.
  • Have a PHP security audit performed by someone who is experienced in this service.

There are numerous attack vectors in a PHP web application that have nothing to do with the PHP language. You must understand web application security is an iterative process that is not strictly dependent upon the programming language you choose.


Is it Necessary to Run a PHP Security Audit, or Penetration Test?

Yes, businesses and organizations with a PHP web application should have a security audit performed by a trusted vendor on a routine basis. You don’t have to follow every security suggestion, but you should at least make an effort to understand the risk of leaving security vulnerabilities in your web application.

Having a security audit performed on a regular basis, and following the suggestions as best as possible, will help reduce your risk to cybersecurity threats. This can have many positive benefits, including:

  • Improved uptime of your web applications
  • Improved perception of service quality by vendors and users
  • Reduced expenses from security breaches and emergency support

Cybersecurity is never 100%. There’s always a chance that something may slip through the cracks, which is why it is important to stay vigilant in your cybersecurity posture!


Final Thoughts on Penetration Testing Tools for PHP

In conclusion, PHP security audits and penetration testing services are important to ensure the quality and availability of your web application(s). With the help of the right PHP security tools, experienced web developers, and mindful business practices, you should be able to operate a secure PHP-based web application for years to come.

I hope this article was helpful in understanding the importance of security audits and penetration testing. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know!

Disclaimer: WebCitz, LLC does not warrant or make any representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the information found on this page or on any web sites linked to from this page. This blog article was written by Timothy A in his or her personal capacity. The opinion(s) expressed in this article are the author's own and may not reflect the opinion(s) of WebCitz, LLC.