[Pmwiki-users] Easily Hackable?
Patrick R. Michaud
Sat Apr 3 08:45:54 CST 2004
Another set of thoughts that occurred after I sent my previous message...
When evaluating the security of a system, one often has to
evaluate the system's security in relation to the alternatives.
Thus, KC's original post was:
I had a non-profit client reject my proposal for implementing a wiki
because they heard wikis are "hackable" and are concerned because an
affiliate had porn and other stuff put onto their site.
If the non-profit client doesn't choose wiki, what will they choose
as an alternative? One very common alternative is hosting a web site
on a commercial web-hosting provider, where the HTML pages are edited/
authored locally and then uploaded to the server.
> 1. If the admin decides to change the password to a group or page, he
> has to distribute that password to everyone who needs it.
This is true in traditional web publishing also--the web hosting
account password usually has to be shared among the people responsible
for maintaining the site.
> 2. Passwords are sent to the server in plaintext.
If the client is going to use FTP to upload files and content to the server,
then the passwords are also being sent in plaintext. Yes, it's often possible
to use a secure file transfer protocol (e.g., scp over ssh) to effect
this transfer, my point is simply that the issue of plaintext passwords
over the net has not generally been considered a significant security
concern in traditional web publishing contexts, so it shouldn't be
counted specifically against PmWiki in this instance.
> 3. There's no relation between the password used and the Author of a
> given page. (i.e. It would be pretty easy to make a change to a
> page and for the Author put in your name of Pm's. [...])
Again, this is true of traditional web publishing approaches where
the web account's username/password has to be shared among the authors.
So, unless the client is truly considering going with a sophisticated
web content management system as an alternative (along with the
associated overhead/costs), the above security concerns aren't
specific to PmWiki as compared to the common approaches to web
site maintenance. Indeed, PmWiki offers many security advantages, such as:
- many people can be notified by email when a page is changed
- finer authorization control over page authorship, esp. the ability
to separate access and administration of the web account from
the authorship/editing of pages
- page history, making it easy to restore/recover lost content
- the ability to enforce/change site designs at an administrative
level, without having to coordinate such changes among multiple
More information about the pmwiki-users