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Web Dev + WordPress + Security

Protect Against Humans.txt Query-String Scans

I woke up this morning to the sound of thousands of 404 requests hitting the server. It’s sad that there are kiddies out there who have nothing better to do than buy some pathetic $50 script and then sit there like an imbecile harassing people for hours on end. But alas, that is the world we live in — fortunately it’s less than trivial to block the entire scan with just a few lines of good old .htaccess. Continue reading »

Testing HTTP Requests

[ WP Plugin: Core Control ]

Just a quick post with some tips for troubleshooting and testing HTTP requests. For example, if you have a plugin that sends requests behind the scenes via Ajax or cURL or whatever, it’s nice to have a way to view request details such as headers, the response, and everything in between. This article is aimed primarily at WordPress users, but contains more general tips and tricks as well. Continue reading »

(Please) Stop Using Unsafe Characters in URLs

Just as there are specifications for designing with CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, there are specifications for working with URIs/URLs. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) clearly defines these specifications in RFC 3986: Uniform Resource Identifier (URI): Generic Syntax. Within that document, there are guidelines regarding which characters may be used safely within URIs. This post summarizes the information, and encourages developers to understand and implement accordingly. Continue reading »

expose_php, Easter Eggs, and .htaccess

[ Screenshot: PHP Logo ]

A reader recently brought to my attention a reported vulnerability on servers running PHP. It’s been known about for eons, but it’s new to me and it involves easter eggs in PHP so I thought it would be fun to share a quick post about what it is and how to prevent leakage of sensitive information about your server. It only takes a moment to disable the easter-egg information, should you decide to do so. Continue reading »

Category Functions for WordPress

[ Downtown Seattle WA 2012 ]

My previous theme sports the now-infamous colorized categories, which aim to help visitors navigate featured content. In addition to the colors, featured categories display contextually relevant navigation, popular posts, and related tags. It’s a great way to improve organization and get more of your content in front of the visitor. To make it happen, a variety of tasty WordPress code snippets are used, including versatile theme functions that enable getting the first category link, displaying sub-categories of the current category, […] Continue reading »

PayPal Phishing Spam

[ PayPal Phishing Spam Email ]

Just a heads up to anyone else getting the occasional PayPal phishing spam.. Usually it’s pretty easy to spot one of those crafty phishing emails, just hover over any links before clicking to view the real URL in the status bar. You know, the link says something like, “click here to restore your PayPal account,” but you know that’s garbage and could easily prove it by checking the actual link URL, which is usually something completely bonkers, like: Continue reading »

Optimizing WordPress Permalinks with htaccess

[ Optimizing WordPress Permalinks with htaccess ]

Okay, so Summer’s over, kids are back in school, and I’m finding all sorts of free time to continue writing and posting. One of my Summer projects involved updating & optimizing one of my old project sites, DeadLetterArt.com. It was basically a huge clean-up session that included lots of content consolidation and permalink restructuring. So that’s the topic of this post, how to use htaccess to optimize WordPress permalinks. I’ll go through some htaccess techniques and explain how they can […] Continue reading »

Huge Collection of Code Snippets: HTAccess, PHP, WordPress, jQuery, HTML, CSS

[ WP Cron HTTP Auth ]

Please excuse this self-serving, miscellaneous post, but I’ve just got to purge all of these code snippets and scraps collected over the years. Whenever I update this site, I place any removed/unused code snippets into a giant note file for future reference, just in case. There’s all sorts of different types of code and snippets that just keep growing and growing and.. and finally it gets to a point where I just need to dump everything and start fresh. Welcome […] Continue reading »

Notes on Switching Servers

Switching servers & migrating sites can be a HUGE deal (or not), depending on things like: Number of sites to transfer Size and complexity of sites Who is hosting your sites Experience I recently did this, switching from a 3-year run at ASO to my new home at Media Temple. Total of 24 properties, with WordPress running on around 10 sites. Past experience with VPS servers really had me paranoid about running out of memory. A few years ago, Perishable […] Continue reading »

Is it Secret? Is it Safe?

[ Enjoying the Evening ]

Whenever I find myself working with PHP or messing around with server settings, I nearly always create a phpinfo.php file and place it in the root directory of whatever domain I happen to be working on. These types of informational files employ PHP’s handy phpinfo() function to display a concise summary of all of your server’s variables, which may then be referenced for debugging purposes, bragging rights, and so on. While this sort of thing is normally okay, I frequently […] Continue reading »

Stupid WordPress Tricks

[ WordPress ]

One of the most popular articles here at Perishable Press is my January 2005 post, Stupid htaccess Tricks. In that article, I bring together an extensive collection of awesome copy-&-paste HTAccess code snippets. Four years later, people continue to tell me how much they enjoy and use the content as a bookmarked reference for many of their HTAccess needs. The article was even published in a book on Joomla! Security. This is very inspiring to me, so I have decided […] Continue reading »

Stupid Twitter Tricks

[ Twitter ]

Might as well face it, Twitter is here to stay. Not that it’s all that bad, just used to be a lot more laid-back and enjoyable. These days it seems to have been taken over by the lowest common-denominator, mostly high-school twits or useless commercial propaganda. Even so, I still enjoy tweeting the occasional profound thought once in awhile, and even like to play around with various types of “advanced” Twitter functionality. You know, cool stuff like including “Tweet This!” links […] Continue reading »

How to Protect Your Site Against Content Thieves (and Other Scumbags)

[ Content Thieves and Other Scumbags ]

Stolen content is the bane of every blogger who provides a publicly available RSS feed. By delivering your content via feed, you make it easy for scrapers to assimilate and re-purpose your material on their crap Adsense sites. It’s bad enough that someone would re-post your entire feed without credit, but to use it for cheap money-making schemes is about as pathetic as it gets. If you’re lucky, the bastards may leave all the links intact, so at least you […] Continue reading »

Disable Trace and Track for Better Security

The shared server on which I host Perishable Press was recently scanned by security software that revealed a significant security risk. Namely, the HTTP request methods TRACE and TRACK were found to be enabled on my webserver. The TRACE and TRACK protocols are HTTP methods used in the debugging of webserver connections. Although these methods are useful for legitimate purposes, they may compromise the security of your server by enabling cross-site scripting attacks (XST). By exploiting certain browser vulnerabilities, an […] Continue reading »

Display Random Posts from Specific Tags or Categories in WordPress

When developing the colorful Quintessential Theme (opens in new tab), I initially planned on displaying five random posts from each of my most popular tags and categories in the super-slick sliding-panel sidebar. Because I am running an older version of WordPress, however, this task proved to be quite the educational experience. In newer versions (from 2.5 I think) of WordPress, the query_posts() function enables users to display posts in random order using the orderby=rand parameter. This would have made my […] Continue reading »

HTAccess Password-Protection Tricks

Recently a reader asked about how to password-protect a directory for every specified IP while allowing open access to everyone else. In my article, Stupid htaccess Tricks, I show how to password-protect a directory for every IP except the one specified, but not for the reverse case. In this article, I will demonstrate this technique along with a wide variety of other useful password-protection tricks, including a few from my Stupid htaccess Tricks article. Before getting into the juicy stuff, […] Continue reading »

Welcome
Perishable Press is operated by Jeff Starr, a professional web developer and book author with two decades of experience. Here you will find posts about web development, WordPress, security, and more »
BBQ Pro: The fastest firewall to protect your WordPress.
Thoughts
Working on a new book :)
LinkedIn decided to replace my highly rated video course on WP security. For a limited time the course is still available to *logged-in* users via direct URL.
I enjoy listening to original Star Trek and NG episodes while working online. After a while it feels like I’m working on the ship as part of the crew, going on adventures.
New version (2.6) of my shapeSpace starter theme now available! Always free & open source for everyone :)
Finished updating all of my books! As always, book owners can download the latest versions for FREE :)
W3C.org has a very thorough list of accessibility tools.
The more you wake up, the more you realize you are still asleep.
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