Tag Archives: drupal tips

ByAlexia Pamelov

How To Protect Your Drupal Site ?

Today in this post I will share some tips to protect your drupal site. Nowadays one of the most renowned free and open-source platforms for web content and user communities is Drupal . Though fame is a pretty nice thing, sometimes it brings not only success, but also troubles. And Drupal can prove it, as due to this fact all Drupal powered websites have become victims of hackers trying to break them. For this reason I find it rather important to inform you how to protect Drupal sites. In this article I have gathered all possible tips which can prevent from hackers’ attacks, or at least their atrocious consequences.

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1. Start with Hosting

The first thing I would probably pinpoint your attention upon is hosting. While you are looking for a web host, remember that Drupal has got a nice compatibility and it can operate well on web servers which support PHP and MySQL database. However it doesn’t mean that all of them have got the same security level. Therefore before choosing a hosting company you can really count on, carry your own little investigation. You can consult with the representatives of Drupal Support, for instance, and find out what companies use progressive technologies like firewalls, SSL and SSH, and can guarantee you an adequate protection.

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2. Keep Up to Date

Why do people buy new things? The answer is simple enough – they are better. Their quality, form and functions are up-to-date and all this stuff can’t but make you become their owner. Imagine that Drupal is a car and from time to time you need to change its tires in order to steer clear of any kind of an accident. The same is with Drupal itself – it needs an upgrade for a high-quality work. That is why if there is an upgraded version of the system (both Drupal core and Drupal modules), don’t delay to get it – maybe it will save you from an odious cracker planning to authorize your site. The point is that when the new version is out, the hacking patch of the old one becomes automatically public. Consequently, there is a green light for virtual trespassers.

3. Make Your Upgrading Effective

Nevertheless, while upgrading, keep in mind that there is a set of rules to follow in order to achieve the best result. The first thing to do is to make a copy of your data base every time you are going to upgrade. The next step includes the change of your mode into off-line. Then download Drupal’s brand-new version and upload it to the root of a necessary website. In case you’ve got some changes in such files as .htaccess, supplicate them with the new files you’ve just downloaded. The other way to run upgrade is to use Drush Site Upgrade, which helps you to get the upgraded Drupal install and its modules.

However, if you are likely to forget about upgrading, the best way to prevent attacks is to remove the CHANGELOG.txt file that comes with the installation. In this case no one will know the exact version of your Drupal core and modules.

4. Check Your Status

It is also important to check whether everything goes well getting a look at the Status Report page. This section will inform you about all the slightest changes which happen in the work of your system and it will also warn you about the hacking attempts. Besides, The Status Report will remind you when it’s time to get the newest upgrade to give your website a maximum protection. Just don’t forget to do it regularly.

5. Say “No” to Unused Modules

What do you do with the things you do not use and need anymore? Right! You throw them away. Do the same with the unused modules, because they turn into the risk factor which attracts crackers. Besides, this will help you to decrease maintenance time and avoid such unpleasant processes like the slow down of the Drupal system and its installation. That is why during the upgrading process, delete those modules, which are not active.

6. Set Limits

There is no doubt that administrator permission plays one of the key roles in the protection strategy. Choose only those people whom you trust, especially if it concerns an editor and users who’ve got an access to your Drupal install, host’s control panel and other files. In case you can’t trust this person 100% – use some limits of his/her actions. One more piece of advice presupposes a careful email procedure, in which you do not send any passwords. Moreover, if you are not eager to let somebody write or run scripts on your blog, choose “CHMOD” in the FTP program (if your server allows this, of course) in order to see the current permissions and restrict the access to the important files.

7. Take Care of Safe Login

Another issue to take care of is a login operation. One of the ways to make this process secure is to limit the number of invalid login attempts. So if you have noticed any hackers trying to break your site, you’d better ban their IP addresses either permanently or temporarily. This option is available while using one of the Drupal modules, namely Login Security. In fact, it is a scrumptious tool which is worth of special mentioning. Login Security restricts access attempts and it informs the users, who became crackers’ targets that there’s something wrong with their logins, like password brute forcing and account information guessing.

8. Make Your Password Reliable

For further security do not disregard the importance of the strong passwords, whatever trite and repetitive it may sound. No phone numbers, birthday dates or simple words which are easy to decode. Strange as it may seem, but the best way is to be illogical, because then it’s rather difficult to predict and guess what combination of letters and numbers you’ve chosen. You can also use Password Policy to make sure your password is really safe.

9. Use CAPTCHA

In order to get protection against the bad submissions from spambots use Completely Automated Public Turing test, i.e. CAPTCHA, which tells computers and humans apart. The principle of its work presupposes a composing of random letters and numbers which have to be entered by people.

10. Play Safe – Work out Plan B

Whatever protection you’ve got, there is always a chance to be cracked. That is why to be on the safe side, you need to get ready for any kind of emergency before it will happen. Fortunately, Drupal has got several modules which together create a good Plan B. The first module is Security Review which probes for weak spots and helps to remove them. Backup and Migrate is your second must-have. This module makes it possible to schedule backups and make an import of the saved database.

ByAlexia Pamelov

Cheap Windows Tutorial – How To Improved Drupal Security ?

CheapWindowsHosting.com | Today we will learn about how to improved drupal security. As we know Drupal is one of the most popular free and open source web application frameworks. Drupal is almost infinitely extensible through not only various theme possibilities but also the vast library of modules or add-ons. However, this great extensibility is also a point of weakness should insecure or vulnerable code be used in either themes or community contributed modules that can result in compromise. The following guide on best practices for Drupal covers main areas of attention in regards to security for any Drupal web administrator.

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How To Improved Drupal Security ?

1. Upgrade to Drupal 8

Even though Drupal 7 is still supported, upgrading to Drupal 8 is recommended for the many security enhancements as well as usability enhancements.

Because of core coding changes in Drupal 8, existing modules have to be re-written to support Drupal 8. This has unfortunately caused a delay in adoption of Drupal 8 as many sites rely on various contributed modules which in some cases have no Drupal 8 counterpart or only experimental versions still testing in Drupal 8.

Drupal 8 finally includes the ability to update modules from the web interface. Drupal 7 security has been perceived as poor in large part because of many sites not updating Drupal core or any associated modules. With Drupal 7, applying updates for general maintenance was somewhat problematic and inconvenient. This is perhaps what led to many sites putting off updates leading to many Drupal installations being compromised. Updating is improved in Drupal 8, and is somewhat similar to the web-based updates that WordPress users have been enjoying.

Other Drupal 8 security benefits include:

  • Stronger security for stored user passwords
    Passwords in Drupal 8 are hashed with phpass, combining multiple rounds and salted hashes. Drupal 7 and prior stored user passwords in MD5 in the database which is now considered weak and easily crackable.
  • Update notifications
    Drupal 8 incorporates automated email notifications of any pending module or core security updates. This is also available in Drupal 7 via a module, but is now built in as functionality in Drupal 8.
  • Login Rate-Limiting
    Drupal 8 now incorporates brute force login protection. Defaults are rate limiting for five failed attempts in a six hour window as well as rate limiting 50 failed attempts from one IP address per hour. This is configurable in modules/user/user.module.

2. Keep Drupal up-to-date

Keeping Drupal up-to-date is the fundamentally most important security consideration.
Drupal security consists of three areas to maintain security updates:

  • Drupal Core updates
  • Contributed Module security updates
  • Theme security updates

Drupal Core update announcements are available from http://drupal.org/security.
As of Drupal 8, every window in the Administration interface notifies of a pending Drupal Core update.

  • Modules
    Drupal module update announcements are available from http://drupal.org/security/contrib. Drupal 8 has built-in email notification for any outstanding module security updates as well to notify admins of pending updates. Resist the temptation to develop or write custom email forms or other elements for Drupal, but rather look for existing well-established modules that are written to serve various purposes. Existing modules have been tested for the most part in a wide install base and have had more eyeballs on the code to check for security flaws.
    Completely remove any disabled modules from the server so as not to have any older vulnerable code live and present in web directories.
  • Check your sources
    In choosing a Drupal theme, consider building upon or using a tested well used theme that has continued updates from the developer. Often users will pick a theme that is ‘pretty’ or meets other cosmetic requirements. However it is critical to inspect if the theme is currently being maintained for security updates. Do not install themes found randomly on the internet; only choose themes from Drupal’s Download & Extend which have been recently maintained. Even then, closely inspect the source to be vetted before launching the code live in a Drupal installation.

Drupal XSS exploits through themes are not uncommon. For example the following theme is susceptible to XSS as one illustration: http://drupal.org/node/1608780

If creating a custom theme, thoroughly test the theme in an installation with various web application scanners, either open source or commercial, that test for XSS or SQLi prior to deployment.

  • Drush
    Drush is the ultimate command line utility to manage Drupal. With drush, it is possible to do such tasks as clearing all Drupal caches, upgrade Drupal core and modules, apply database upgrades (similar to running update.php), enable/disable modules, and much more.
    If not already using drush, this is a valuable tool to be on top of and easily patch any outstanding Drupal security updates. More information is at the following URL http://drupal.org/project/drush/.

3. Enable SSH for Update Manager

The built-in Update Manager for updating through the web interface or installing modules in Drupal 7 has the ability to use SSH to connect to the host. This is of course the preferred way to transfer files instead of FTP. If SSH does not show up as an option in Drupal 8′s Update Manager, install the following PHP library:
Debian / Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install libssh2-php

Red Hat / CentOS:
Red Hat and CentOS do not include ssh libraries for PHP. The required package php-pecl-ssh2 can however be installed from the EPEL repository (http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/EPEL).

4. HTTPS and Drupal

Drupal by default operates only over HTTP, including sending any login credentials in plain text. One solution is to have the entire site operate over HTTPS. But while perhaps having an entire site over HTTPS is not ideal as of date, steps can be taken to at least have credentials and other form submissions in Drupal to occur over HTTPS.
Drupal 7 by default uses the secure flag for HTTPS cookies to prevent session hijacking. The module Secure Login (http://drupal.org/project/securelogin) is a required module to help further take advantage of this feature. The Secure Login module allows not only logins but also form submissions in Drupal to occur over HTTPS and have a unique HTTPS session cookie that cannot be hijacked.

Along with the secure cookie flag, the httponly cookie flag can be set in php.ini on the server for another layer of security. In Debian or Ubuntu, edit the following file:

/etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

Red Hat or CentOS, edit the following file:

/etc/php.ini

Use the following values to enforce the httponly flag for PHP session cookies:

session.cookie_httponly = 1
session.use_only_cookies = 1

Without these above changes, one could potentially intercept and steal the authenticated cookie to then gain authenticated access to the Drupal installation.

5. Web server permissions

Permissions of the directories and files in Drupal are critical for security. Files or directories should never be 777, nor are 777 permissions required for Drupal to operate. Directories should be 750 or 755 and files should be 644 or 640.

The Drupal directory and files should be owned by a regular user, and the group of the apache user. This can cause problems for automated updates. Temporarily changing permissions to have the apache user own the Drupal directory so to install updates may be required. Once updates are complete, change the Drupal directory back to be owned by a regular user.

This example command changes the owner to jsmith (example username) and group of the Apache user on Debian and Ubuntu for all files in the Drupal installation:

$ sudochown -R jsmith:www-data /var/www/drupal

To temporarily switch permissions to allow updates, change the owner to the apache user:

$ sudochown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/drupal

Next perform updates, then set permissions back:

$ sudochown -R jsmith:www-data /var/www/drupal

6. Recommended Modules

In the security area, two recommended modules should be part of a Drupal installation.

The Security Review module (http://drupal.org/project/security_review) inspects various aspects of a Drupal installation including file system permissions, user auditing, database and other errors, as well as things such as input formats allowed. This module is also useful in that the interactive results detail how to fix or remedy various issues that apply to the Drupal installation.

Secure Login (http://drupal.org/project/securelogin) as mentioned above is a critical plugin to keep the security of authenticated sessions and form submissions free from session hijacking.

If still on Drupal 6, making use of a phpass module addon (http://drupal.org/project/phpass) will strengthen password hashes for users that are stored in the database.

7. Backups

Regular backups are a part of any system administration and that includes running and administering a Drupal web application. Two backups are required for Drupal: regular full database dumps and also regular snapshot backups of the entire Drupal directory. Should compromise occur, having the ability to roll back to a previous snapshot or compare files to a previous snapshot is invaluable. Creating either automated cron jobs to make backups or using a module such as Backup and Migrate (http://drupal.org/project/backup_migrate) is critical and should be part of the security administration for a Drupal installation.

8. Scanning and Auditing

Regular scanning of the Drupal site with web application scanners or vulnerability scanners is required today to be on top of security. At least monthly scanning at a minimum is a good interval if not more frequently. Many open source as well as commercial web application scanners are able to test sites for XSS and SQL injection which is very relevant to web applications such as Drupal.

9. Operating System Updates and Logs

Drupal security extends to operating system security, which is the host running the web server Apache as well as PHP. If Drupal is installed in a self-managed VPS or other similar installation, staying on top of OS security updates and patches are critical to ensure that the entire host is secure and free from compromise. Subscribe to various Linux distribution security update mailing lists or Twitter feeds to keep on top of any pending updates or security issues for the operating system that is hosting the Drupal installation.

Reviewing Apache or other operating system server logs daily is part of general security no matter what application or software is in use. Make use of logwatch or other automated log alert software to be on top of any trending patterns in logs from would-be attackers.

Conclusions

Drupal security is achievable by keeping on top of security updates for Drupal core and contributed modules as well as taking advantage of SSH and HTTPS options that are available. Most default Drupal installs provided by scripts in hosting companies do not have many of the above mentioned security notes installed or available, which leaves most Drupal users unknowingly connecting and managing their site via insecure protocols. Upgrading to Drupal 8 as soon as possible is strongly encouraged by this author for the many security benefits outlined. The problematic maintenance and upgrading of Drupal 7 is much improved in Drupal 8 which will help users to keep sites and code more up-to-date against today’s seemingly growing threat of attack against web applications. For a deeper look into Drupal and other web application security, check out the web application penetration testing course offered by the InfoSec Institute.