amelierosalyn

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3 posts from 2008

PHPAskIt is insecure!1!1!zomg!11

I came across a couple of websites discouraging the use of PHPAskIt because it uses a database and therefore absolutely must be insecure.

One such example states:

PHPAskIt isn't completely secure, either. It uses a database so I woulda thought that was more INsecure than the flat file of Waks Ask & Answer script.

Another says:

PHPAskit is just as insecure [as Wak's Ask&Answer] only people think it's secure because it's not flat file.

And so on, and so forth.

For the record, there is no difference in security in using one method or another, as long as they are both done properly. Wak's Ask&Answer and CuteNews (flat file scripts) aren't. PHPFanBase and SimpleDir (MySQL scripts) aren't either. Jem's Bella~ series and FlatPress however, are flat file scripts and they are fine. Similarly, WordPress and PHPAskIt are MySQL scripts and they are absolutely fine.

Yes, it's true that hackers discover more and more vulnerabilities in scripts and programming languages all the time, so those scripts may not always be secure in their current versions so it is very important to keep your scripts up to date. But to say a script is insecure because of the method of storage that they use is stupid and shows complete ignorance. If you are going to say a script is insecure, don't just back it up with "well I looked it up online and it said it was insecure". People seem to like publishing fake reports of insecurities (probably where all this is coming from, actually... PHPAskIt had a nice security hoax published about it - and in case you're still living in the dark ages it was wrong) so "looking it up online" isn't always the answer.

If in doubt, ask someone who knows what they're talking about. :)

You don't need to ConvertToPHP just to use includes

I have seen countless threads on the various forums from people who are asking for help because their member lists don't show in whatever popular fanlisting script they're currently using. When asked for their code, 9 times out of 10 it looks like this:

<?php
include('header.inc');
if(!$_SERVER['QUERY_STRING']) { ?>

Here are all my members!!!!
[Insert member list code here]

<? } include('footer.inc'); ?>

Can you spot what's wrong with that?

If you can't, here's the answer. Most fanlisting scripts use the query string (that's the bit that comes after a ? in a URL, such as country=USA in a URL like members.php?country=USA) to display members from different countries. The code there includes a line which says if (!$_SERVER['QUERY_STRING']) { which means "if there is no query string, do the following..." ... and the person has stuck their member code in the "do the following" bit (signified by the { and }). The members list WILL fail here, because it relies on the query string. If you tell the members to only show when there is no query string, it will break when you attempt to go to a country.

Now the reason this is happening so often is because it seems that people think "ooh I need a PHP page... How do I do that? Ah, NL-ConvertToPHP." This is wrong, people! All you need to have a "PHP page" is to give it a .php extension. If you want headers and footers (which NL-Convert uses as well), there are millions of tutorials on how to do this online. Don't assume that just because that script is called "ConvertToPHP" it is the be-all and end-all of how to make PHP pages.

Oh yeah, and I have internet again. Just in case anyone was wondering.

How to change your WordPress username

Sick of using the name 'admin' to login to your WP installation? Have a user with the login 'PiNkbUnNiEz!1" but want to change it without that user losing all their posts/creating a new account etc.? Tried to do it but found the field disabled in your WP admin panel?
Here is what you need to do.

  1. Before you do anything, backup your database. If you don't know how to do this, ask at the WP forums or Google it - there are some plugins that will do this for you if you don't have access to things like phpMyAdmin (a MySQL tool which can be used to backup your database - Jem has a tutorial on this which may be useful)

  2. Paste this into a file. Name it anything you like, as long as it has a .php extension:

    <?php
    $existing_username = 'admin';
    $new_username = 'MY_NEW_USERNAME';

    // —————

    if (!file_exists('wp-config.php')) exit('Could not find wp-config.php, please make sure you place this file in the same directory as all your WP files.');

    require 'wp-config.php';

    $link = @mysql_connect(DB_HOST, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD);
    if (!$link) exit('Could not connect to MySQL');
    mysql_select_db(DB_NAME, $link) or exit('Could not connect to MySQL');

    if (mysql_query('UPDATE `' . $table_prefix . "users` SET `user_login` = '" . mysql_real_escape_string($new_username, $link) . "' WHERE `user_login` = '" . mysql_real_escape_string($existing_username, $link) . "' LIMIT 1", $link)) echo 'Username updated, your username is now ' . $new_username . '.';
    else echo 'Could not update your username. MySQL said: ' . mysql_error($link);

    mysql_close($link);
    ?>

    Change the first two lines (excluding the one that says '<?php', obviously :P ) to your existing username (probably admin) and your new desired username. Save the file, then upload it to your WordPress directory. Make sure this file is in the same place as wp-config.php.

  3. Go to the file in your browser, e.g. yoursite/wordpress/the-file.php and voilà! :D