PHP 5’s End of Life and Your Website’s Security

On December 31, 2018, PHP is dropping support for the popular version 5.6. This means they will no longer be releasing security patches to fix new problems and exploits that emerge. This will affect an estimated 60-75% of all websites on the internet, according to reports by zdnet and w3techs.

Support for 7.0 also ends in December, but this will have much less of an impact, as updating 7.0 to 7.2 is very simple and shouldn’t require a rebuild.

What is PHP 5?

PHP 5 is a programming language like Javascript, C++, Python, and more (with some differences for those of you readers who are coding-literate).

It was released nearly 15 years ago, and in that time it has grown to become incredibly popular online. Many of the most popular web platforms use PHP, and a lot of them were either created or matured during that period. WordPress, Joomla, and Magento are just a few of the major systems online dependent on PHP.

With the introduction of PHP 7, previous versions will be considered obsolete. This programming language exists in the back-back-end, and communicates with your website’s database directly.

PHP End of Life

Why is PHP 5 Ending Support?

Consider this image. In 2004, when PHP 5 was created, this is what your computer likely looked like, this was your MP3 player, and YouTube wasn’t even invented yet.

How many of these things do you still have? When was the last time you upgraded your phone? Technology has changed drastically since 2004, and PHP’s newest versions have introduced innovations not supported by its older versions.

This end-of-life was just a matter of time, but it won’t be without its consequences.

What Does This Mean to Me?

If you’re a regular consumer of web content, it probably won’t affect you too much—the websites using PHP 5.6 aren’t going to suddenly stop working. However, it may change the way you think about shopping online or entering personal information into a website.

Hugely popular software platforms that end support are prime targets for attack. There are likely many exploits that will be, or have already been identified by hackers. After all, an open bank vault is easier to rob than a locked one, right?

Website: If you’re a website owner, reach out to your provider. If you’ve been considering an upgrade, now is the optimal time to do it, especially if your website handles the personal information of users.

Search Engine Optimization: At the end of the day, Google wants to show their visitors only the most trustworthy websites. If they see that your website has been infected, or even that it’s vulnerable, their algorithms are more likely to bury your listing deep in their search.

Though there aren’t many action items a non-developer can take from this, you can feel free to reach out to us here at Yas. Whether or not we host your website, we can let you know if your website is using PHP 5 and provide you with some options for protecting your assets. Give us a call at 306-249-9609, email us at info@yastech.ca, or go to our contact page.

Extra Sources:

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/wordpress-php/277067/

http://php.net/supported-versions.php

https://www.zdnet.com/article/around-62-of-all-internet-sites-will-run-an-unsupported-php-version-in-10-weeks/

https://w3techs.com/technologies/details/pl-php/all/all

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