One of the most basic measures for keeping websites secure is to keep software running the website up to date, this is something that web hosts know and tell their customers. Unfortunately, many web host don’t seem to feel that they need to heed their own advice and run out of date software on their servers. This put their clients at risk of being hacked though exploitation of a known vulnerability in that software. Their use of outdated software also a warning sign that they may not be handling the rest of the security properly as well.
When we do work on a client’s website we do a check of what version of some common software (PHP, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, etc.) is running of the server. This is partly so that we can see how well web hosts are doing at keeping that software up date and also so that we can alert the clients when severely out of date software is in use. We continue to see that in many cases web hosts’ servers are running out of date versions of that common software, with known security vulnerabilities. The good news is that for most part we are seeing that the software is less out of date then it has been in the past. That made something we saw while checking a FatCow server in the past few days stick out. The server was using phpMyAdmin 126.96.36.199. That version was released on March 8 of 2006 and the next version, 188.8.131.52, was released eight days later. If over six years out of date hasn’t been the most out of date we have ever come across, it at least the most out of date we have seen in a long time.
phpMyAdmin provides a page that provides a listing of all security announcements for the software (something that other software developers should also be providing). Based on just the announcements for 2006 and 2007, the version of phpMyAdmin FatCow is using probably contains 16 serious severity security issues and 1 considered “quite dangerous”.