[MediaWiki-l] Any security problems involved in letting administrators edit LocalSettings.php via a wiki page?

Jean Valjean jeanvaljean2718 at gmail.com
Sun Jul 2 00:57:13 UTC 2017


Well it does have a certain coolness factor to do everything through the
wiki. It's kind of like how Mark Zuckerberg wanted Facebookers to be able
to do everything they needed to do on the web without leaving Facebook.
Facebook would have email, messaging, games, video, search, and even
Wikipedia articles!
https://thenextweb.com/opinion/2015/03/25/facebook-has-officially-declared-it-wants-to-own-every-single-thing-you-do-on-the-internet

But why should Zuck be the only one to have such grand, sweeping ambitions?
Once MediaWiki becomes powerful enough, it can kill all other apps and rule
the world! http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/04/13/
474011009/facebooks-new-master-plan-kill-other-apps We can create MediaWiki
extensions for artificial intelligence, virtual reality, drones, you name
it. Why shouldn't there be artificially intelligent robotic aircraft that
anyone can edit?
https://www.fastcompany.com/3052885/mark-zuckerberg-facebook

Facebook walls people off from each other through the proprietary nature of
its technology and the cliquish tendencies of its circles of friends.
MediaWiki brings everyone together through openness and its natural
tendency to foster online collectivist utopias. Therefore the time is
coming for a steel cage match between the two platforms, in which they
battle for dominance, with room for only one survivor. Once technology
advances to the point where the software becomes self-aware, this
deathmatch can move from being a theoretical possibility to a practical
reality.

One might ask, "Why is it even necessary to revise LocalSettings.php so
often?" Ideally, there would be a configuration database, so that it
wouldn't be necessary to make so many changes to LocalSettings.php, but I
think the reason that never caught on is that there just aren't enough
MediaWiki installations out there for it to seem like a worthwhile idea.
It's not like WordPress, which probably has millions of installations. Or
hundreds of thousands, anyway. Thus, it seems like we're doomed to continue
manually editing PHP files for the foreseeable future.

Sucks that they got rid of php_check_syntax(). That seems superior to php
-l. http://php.net/manual/en/function.php-check-syntax.php

On Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 7:32 PM, Brian Wolff <bawolff at gmail.com> wrote:

> Most people just use a git repo for version controlling their
> LocalSettings.php
>
> If you really really want to do this onwiki approach, try verifying the
> file with `php -l` before saving.
>
> --
> brian
>
> On Saturday, July 1, 2017, Jean Valjean <jeanvaljean2718 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Yeah, that's already happened a few times (typo taking the site down).
> What
> > I did on another wiki farm was have one wiki in charge of the other
> wiki's
> > config files, so that if you messed up LocalSettings.php, it wouldn't
> take
> > down the wiki that was modifying it.
> >
> > My goal was to have some sort of version control system in place so that
> as
> > different people are changing the files, we know who did what when, and
> can
> > revert easily to a previous version.
> >
> > On Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 7:04 PM, Brian Wolff <bawolff at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >> Even ignoring the security issues, if one of your users makes a typo,
> they
> >> take down the site and they cannot revert because the site is then down.
> >>
> >> From a security prespective, this is equivalent to giving your users
> shell
> >> access to your server. They can run any arbitrary program, do anything,
> >> insert backdoors, etc. Additionally this setup requires the web user to
> >> have write access to php enabled web directories which is also bad
> >> practise.
> >>
> >> --
> >> bawolff
> >>
> >> On Saturday, July 1, 2017, Legoktm <legoktm.wikipedia at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> > On 07/01/2017 03:16 PM, Jean Valjean wrote:
> >> >> I want to let some of my administrators (in the wizards group) edit
> >> >> LocalSettings.php, so I used this snippet, which allows them to make
> >> >> changes by editing the Project:Shared_config.php page. Then I
> protected
> >> the
> >> >> page so that only wizards can edit it. Do you think this presents any
> >> >> security issues?
> >> >
> >> > Yes, it presents a huge security issue. Anyone who can modify your
> >> > LocalSettings.php can execute arbitrary PHP code. They could see any
> >> > private data in your database, easily get passwords, or even
> potentially
> >> > give themselves server access.
> >> >
> >> > I would highly recommend NOT doing this.
> >> >
> >> > -- Legoktm
> >> >
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