Researcher launches Month of PHP Bugs

Initiative focuses on the widely used scripting language with the aim to improve security.

A security researcher has kicked off a project to put the spotlight on flaws in the widely used PHP scripting language.

The initiative, dubbed "Month of PHP Bugs," started on Thursday. Five vulnerabilities have so far been disclosed, several of which could allow a system running PHP to be compromised, according to the project Web site.

"This initiative is an effort to improve the security of PHP," Stefan Esser, a noted PHP security expert, wrote on the project Web site. The bug releases will focus on vulnerabilities in the PHP core, not on problems in the PHP language that might result in insecure PHP applications, he wrote.

PHP, which originally stood for Personal Home Page, is a popular scripting language used to create dynamic Web pages. Applications written in PHP accounted for 43 percent of the total vulnerabilities reported in 2006, according to a tally by Security Focus, a security news Web site.

The Month of PHP Bugs is backed by the Hardened-PHP Project, which was launched by three German security researchers in 2004. "You should consider the Month of PHP Bugs a result report for just another audit we did on PHP," Esser wrote.

Contrary to other "month of" bug projects that have been launched over the past months, the PHP effort will not only feature new bugs. Some may have already been patched, according to the project Web site. Also, many of the bugs will already have been reported to the PHP security team, the site notes.

The Month of PHP Bugs follows similar projects that highlighted bugs in software for Macs, kernel-level software and Web browsers. In all cases, the researchers behind the efforts said they wanted to improve security. Flaws that are publicly disclosed will get fixed quickly, they assert.

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