[thelist] A simple cms

Hugh Miller hmiller at cfpress.co.uk
Thu Dec 4 17:10:39 CST 2008

Dunno, what does the CMS actually do? One issue might be that it sounds as
though the web based user is executing scripts with full owner permissions. I
personally don't allow write access on files within 'public_html' to anyone
other than the owner. If your files are able to be written to by a user with a
cookie, then they are available to be written to by anyone who works out the
querystring you use. If you have no database I am guessing that the system is
allowing content to be read / written to php or inc scripts?

And there are automated processes which look for random querystrings and may be
able to circumvent what security you may have.

A big lesson for me was several years ago when I was very wet behind the ears
and a script I used which pretty much pulled an include file (?section=news got
news.php) was hacked by someone calling an external file. No harm done other
than my server was used to send thousands and thousands of spam emails!

My own advice would be to use a database securely all of the time even if the
site is a 10 pager. If that's not possible, then I would tend towards having a
totally separate CMS with as secure as the server will allow username / password

The single biggest security lesson I've learned in 10 years of web development
is this:

Treat every visitor to your site as a potential hacker.


> I have built a simple cms into a website and to access the controls I 
> have provided a link to a url (with query string) which downloads a 
> cookie to the user's machine. Then when the user accesses the website a 
> link to the cms is provided but only the macine with the cookie can see it.
> There is no sensitive data there, no sql database and the cookie expires 
> after about a month.
> As far as I can see the cookie is no different to a user saving their 
> user name and password on their computer. If I am to use it where more 
> than 1 person will have access I will add another stage where they have 
> to add their usr & pw.
> Its written in php.
> What would be the security issues around this approach?
> -- 
> Kind Regards
>   Chris Price
>   Choctaw
> chris.price at choctaw.co.uk <mailto:chris.price at choctaw.co.uk>
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Hugh Miller
Web Developer
Clyde & Forth Press Ltd

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