Security Checklist/Getting Started

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Before You Begin

The number one cause of compromised Joomla installs is users failing to keep up to date with security patches. Are YOU running the latest secure version?
  • The number two reason is insecure hosting setups. Is your hosting secure?

Once you have passed the two tests above, you are ready to begin.

Read Me First! (OK, Second!)

About this document

Security is a vast and fast-moving subject. No one document can cover it all. This checklist is designed to help you with only two things.
  1. Alert you to important issues
  2. Point you in the right direction to learn more
Not all security techniques are appropriate for both versions of Joomla. Where a technique only applies to one version, an image is added. For example:
Joomla! 1.0.x Example
Compat 10.png Set Joomla! Register Globals Emulation OFF.
Joomla! 1.5.x Example
Compat 15.png To take full advantage of new security features, ensure that all third party extensions are Joomla! 1.5 native.
Download extensions from trusted sites, and compare the file's MD5 hash to detect download errors. This suggestions applies to both versions, so no compatibility image is used.

There's no free lunch!

Don't be fooled by Joomla's award winning ease-of-use. Maintaining a secure, dynamic Web site on the open Internet is not easy. Adequate security requires skill, knowledge, constant watchfulness, good backups, and continual effort.

There's no one right way!

Due to the variety and complexity of modern web systems, security issues can't be resolved with simple, one-size-fits-all solutions. You, or someone you trust, must learn enough about your server infrastructure to make valid security decisions.

There's no substitute for experience!

To secure your web site, you must gain real experience (some of which will be bitter), or get experienced help from others.

Rise above the herd

The Security Forums are filled with "Help! I've been hacked" posts by people who did NOT follow standard security practices (this author included). If you decided to study documents such as this before your site is attacked, congratulation, you're already above the herd.

It's not as hard as it looks

The following checklist may seem intimidating, but you don't have to deal with all of it at once. As you become familiar with tools of modern Open Source Web development, such as GNU/Linux, Apache, MySQL, SQL, PHP, HTTP, CSS, XML, RSS, TCP/IP, FTP, Subversion, JavaScript, Joomla!, you'll add refinements to your set of security tactics.
All complex, dynamic, and open systems require powerful error checking and recovery methods. Web sites are no different. Strong security is a moving target. Today's expert might be tomorrow's victim. Welcome to the game...

Getting Started

Are you ready?

  1. Can you administer a dynamic, 24x7, world-accessible, database-driven, interactive, user-authenticated web server?
  2. Do you have the time and resources to respond to the flow of emerging Internet security issues? The Top 10 Stupidest Administrator Tricks is a comic/tragic look at what can go wrong. Don't learn these tricks the hard way! Depending on your recent experience, reading the Stupidest Tricks will either make you laugh or cry.

Stay informed of security issues

Given the complexity of web servers, new vulnerabilities and conflicts are discovered all the time. To stay in the loop, subscribe to Joomla Security Announcements.

Check the FAQs.

The most helpful posts in the Joomla! Security Forum are converted into Security and Performance FAQs. Many of the items on this list are explained in much greater detail in the FAQs.

Learn from the pros

Hunt down the many nuggets of wisdom found in the Joomla! Forums.