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Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 12:01:36 +0000
From: Duncan Simpson <>
To: "Jim Harrison" <>
Subject: Re: PHP as a secure language? PHP worms?

Nobody has seen fit to point this out but there *are* secure languages. In 
these languages have limited feature sets or, at least in the case of java, 
explicit sandbox
features intended to stop bad things happenning. Groups of monks competing for 
an abacus
are probably unable to read your password file, for example.

Some languages make particular vsorts of vulnerability easy to implement and 
arguably this is
a bad thing. Nobody would not be hit if they did proper input validation but 
that requires
real effort and is tedious to implement.

PHP's URL as filename and register_globals features make several sorts of 
abuse trivial.
I know the latter is off by default but lots of vulnerable scripts require you 
to enable
this feature.

C makes bofs and integer overflows easy to implement but fopen(3) lacks magic
features, so putting in front of a filename 
the crackers nowhere. Arguably writing CGI applications is harder too, so 
those that
do have more clues.

perl is nice but you have to wacth out for strings containing nulls and the 
features of perl's open function.

etc ad infinitum.

I am currently using C for my CGI programs but that is because several large 
that get used a lot are a few thousands lines of C for speed. My choice of CGI 
library also
offers ZIP arhive expansion and there are multiple instance where this is 
useful (the filenames
in the ZIP acrhive are ignored).

AFAIK there are no bof, integer overflow or SQL injection features yet :-)
Duncan (-:
"software industry, the: unique industry where selling substandard goods is
legal and you can charge extra for fixing the problems."

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