Table of Contents
In the bustling world of PHP development, security remains a paramount concern. At Fuse Web, we specialise in the development of complex PHP applications and understand the importance of building secure software. In this guide, we will share our expertise and best practices to help you fortify your PHP applications against potential threats.
Understanding PHP Security
Securing PHP Applications: Why It’s Important
In any PHP application, and particularly in Laravel, security plays a significant role. Laravel comes with many security features out-of-the-box, such as hashed password storage and protection against SQL injection. These features can go a long way in securing PHP applications and building user trust.
Common Security Vulnerabilities in PHP
When it comes to securing PHP applications, developers often face several common security vulnerabilities, including SQL Injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF). Laravel offers built-in protections against these attacks, but understanding these vulnerabilities can further secure your PHP applications.
PHP Security Best Practices
To secure PHP applications, particularly when using Laravel, here are some best practices:
Use Prepared Statements and Parameterised Queries
One of the most common security vulnerabilities in PHP applications is SQL Injection. This can be mitigated in Laravel by using Eloquent ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) or the query builder for database operations.
$id = $_GET['id'];
$users = DB::select("SELECT * FROM users WHERE id = $id");
In this bad example, the user input is directly embedded in the SQL query. Suppose the user provides a value such as
1; DROP TABLE users;, the SQL statement becomes
SELECT * FROM users WHERE id = 1; DROP TABLE users;. The result is catastrophic: it deletes the ‘users’ table from your database.
$id = $request->input('id');
$users = DB::table('users')->where('id', $id)->get();
In the good example, Laravel’s query builder is used, which automatically prepares the SQL statement, protecting your application from SQL Injection.
Validate and Sanitise User Input
Another best practice to secure PHP applications is to validate and sanitise user input. Laravel provides several ways to achieve this.
User input is a common source of security vulnerabilities. Whether it’s a search box or a contact form, user input fields are potential gateways for attackers to inject malicious code into your application. Therefore, it’s essential to validate and sanitise user input. Validation checks whether the input meets specific criteria, while sanitisation cleanses the input of any potential harmful data.
public function store(Request $request)
$name = $request->input('name');
// Rest of your code...
In the bad example, the ‘name’ input is taken directly from the request without any validation. If this value is displayed somewhere in your application, an attacker could input something like
<script>alert('XSS');</script> as their name, which results in a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attack when the name is displayed.
public function store(Request $request)
$validated = $request->validate([
'name' => 'required|max:255',
// The rest of your controller code...
In the good example, the ‘name’ is required and does not exceed 255 characters. This way, even if an attacker attempts an XSS attack, the validation rules will not allow such input.
Use HTTPS for Data Transmission
When deploying your Laravel application, ensure that your server uses HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) for all traffic. This is a critical step in securing PHP applications as it guarantees that all communication between your users and your application is encrypted.
In an HTTPS connection, all communication between your browser and the website is encrypted. This is achieved through SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or its successor, TLS (Transport Layer Security), which secures data transfer by encrypting it and providing authentication.
Here are the benefits of using HTTPS:
- Data integrity: HTTPS protects against man-in-the-middle attacks, ensuring that the data sent between your users and your application hasn’t been tampered with.
- Encryption: With HTTPS, the information sent between the client and server is encrypted, which protects sensitive data like credit card numbers and login credentials.
- Authentication: HTTPS verifies that the server your users are communicating with is the one it claims to be, which builds user trust and protects against man-in-the-middle attacks.
Consider the following example: If you’re running an e-commerce website, customers will be entering their credit card information to make purchases. If the data transmission is not secure (i.e., not using HTTPS), attackers can potentially intercept this sensitive information. This interception can lead to credit card fraud, identity theft, and a significant loss of trust in your website.
This can typically be done in your web server’s configuration. For instance, in Nginx, you might have a configuration like this:
return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
This Nginx configuration redirects all HTTP traffic to HTTPS, ensuring data transmitted between your users and your application is encrypted. It’s a best practice to enforce HTTPS for all connections to protect user data and maintain their trust in your application.
Regularly Update Your PHP Version and Dependencies
Laravel applications can be updated using Composer. Regularly running
composer update in your Laravel project’s root directory will ensure your application uses the latest dependencies, including Laravel itself:
Security is a journey, not a destination. At Fuse Web, we’re committed to continually learning and sharing our knowledge to help you build secure PHP applications.
Fuse web can help
Fuse Web has extensive experience in PHP development and architecture. Our team of experts has a deep understanding of the key strategies for building fast, stable, and scalable applications.
We can help companies with all these things by providing them with custom solutions to improve the performance and scalability of their PHP applications. Our team of experts can work closely with companies to understand their specific needs and develop a strategy that will help them achieve their goals. Whether you need help with database optimisation, caching, or load balancing, Fuse Web has the experience and expertise to help you succeed. Don’t hesitate, contact us now to see how we can help.
PHP Unit Testing: A Comprehensive Guide to Ensuring Code Quality and Reliability with Codeception
Introduction Unit testing is an essential practice for ensuring the quality and reliability of your code. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how our PHP development team at Fuse Web…
Excelling in Client Satisfaction: How Our PHP Development Company Harnesses Active Listening to Deliver Outstanding Results
In the world of software development, the success of a company hinges heavily upon its ability to understand and meet the needs of its clients. As the tech industry continues…
The Triumphs and Challenges of 20 Years in PHP Development: Building Scalable Websites and Lessons Learned
Over the past 20 years, we have been at the forefront of PHP development, creating high-performance and scalable websites for clients across various industries. As we celebrate this milestone, we…
Mastering PHP Performance Optimisation: A Dive into Profiling Techniques and Tools
In this blog post, we’ll cover various techniques for optimising the performance of PHP applications, including benchmarking, profiling, opcode caching, and database optimisation. What is Benchmarking? Benchmarking is the process…
Scaling PHP Applications: Strategies for Handling High Traffic and Large Data Sets
As your PHP application grows in popularity and usage, it’s important to make sure it can handle the increased traffic and data volume. Scaling is the process of making your…
Top PHP Frameworks to Watch in 2023: A Comparison of Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter and More
Sometimes it might feel like there are too many PHP Frameworks to help you build your next big project in. This guide aims to help you understand the similarities and,…