Is your website running on one of the most popular PHP versions? If your site is one of the 62% running on PHP 5.6, the New Year will also bring new security concerns. December 30th marks the end of security updates for PHP 5.6, this lack of support could leave your site and its users vulnerable to attacks from hackers.
PHP, which stands for Hypertext Preprocessor, is a widely-used open source scripting language for web servers. Most web developers need to know how to use this language in order to write code that is executed on the server side for the web pages that they create. It powers most websites and many of the most popular web platforms, including Facebook, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
The most common version of PHP in use on servers today is version 5.6, which was initially released in August 2014. Each release of PHP has a three-year lifespan for support from the PHP team. During the first two years, each version is fully supported for security updates. For the third year after initial release, versions are only supported for critical security issues. After this three year cycle, each version is said to have reached its “end of life,” abbreviated EOL, which means it is no longer supported by any type of security updates.
Since PHP version 5.6 has been more popular than the latest one, version 7.2, the active support period was extended four months, and the critical fix period was doubled from one year to two. However, the deadline for all security support is coming up in less than two months. With the popular 5.x branch of PHP coming to its EOL phase, users and web developers need to take steps to ensure the security of their data and the customers who use their websites.
What can be done to avert a possible crisis? CMS platforms like WordPress need to alert users about the impending security risk and help them upgrade to the 7.x branch. Also, web developers and site owners need to contact their hosts to make sure they have plans to update their PHP versions or urge them to do so before the deadline.
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