PHP: File Manipulation Attack

Some sites currently running on the web today have URLs that look like this:


The "index.php" file then simply includes the "contactus.html" file, and the site appears to work. However, the user can very easily change the "contactus.html" bit to anything they like. For example, if you are using Apache's mod_auth to protect files and have saved your password in a file named ".htpasswd" (the conventional name), then if a user were to visit the following address, the script would output your username and password:


By changing the URL, on some systems, to reference a file on another server, they could even run PHP that they have written on your site. Scared? You should be. Fortunately, again, this is reasonably easy to protect against. First, make sure you have correctly set "open_basedir" in your php.ini file, and have set "allow_url_fopen" to "off". That will prevent most of these kinds of attacks by preventing the inclusion of remote files and system files. Next, if you can, check the file requested against a list of valid files. If you limit the files that can be accessed using this script, you will save yourself a lot of aggravation later.