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What is a taint analysis & how to protect Php with it?

  • Post published:April 5, 2023

Bringing innovations to your PHP coding practices makes you a master of all, a pro in software development, and the most proficient programmer.

From development to deployment to protection, it is imperative for the PHP developer to think out of the box. 

For instance, here, we have elaborated on how to protect PHP code with a taint analysis by Qodana. 

Related Suggestion: Hire a team of professionals to incorporate web development services

To grasp full knowledge, keep reading the article:

What is a taint analysis?

Taint analysis is a process used to identify the user input flow through an information security platform system to understand its design’s security implications. This analysis aims to make PHP secure by alleviating risks like SQL injection which occurs when the program’s other parts utilize user input without proper clearance. 

Excitingly, JetBrains released a taint analysis feature so that PHP gets the foundation. What is JetBrains? JetBrains is a developers’ tools selling company. 

According to JetBrains: A taint is a value that is prone to security risk especially when changed by an external user. Besides that, when you allow external data or unverified outside data to be a part of the game, it ends up leaving code vulnerable to arithmetic overflow, path traversal, cross-site scripting, and SQL injection.

Why should you detect taints residing in the PHP code?

It is imperative to detect taints in order to identify all the main points where external data or information is used in the system. The correct code can bring more authenticity to the data by sanitizing it. 

For instance, incorporating the PHP function htmlentities () that converts special characters to HTML entities and a validation (ensuring that the email input field actually contains an email address), is important too. 

Henceforth, JetBrains shared a statement when asked why only the PHP example is given? 

We released “Qodana for PHP” as a first-ever linter. So, we agreed upon letting PHP developers test and analyze our new security feature. And Yes, we have the plan to add more languages in the future. 

taint analysis

What further has been offered by Qodana so that PHP gets foundation, is mentioned below. 

How does taint analysis work in Qodana?

Qodana: A code quality platform whose operations are merely dependent on static analysis. It makes code analysis and scanning literally a cup of tea for developers; that too within IDE and ID/CD systems. 

Additionally, it supports 6 programming languages environments Python, Android, PHP, Javascript, .Net, Go, and Java Virtual Machine (JVM). 

Notably, as soon as it integrates well with CI/CD system, different checks are configured to pass before a programming code is merged into a repository. 

Continuing the discussion, the tool is either delivered through a cloud service or as a Docker Image (to inspect and run code for a coding platform.)

Not to miss that Qodana being a new of its kind in the market can have some constraints. Therefore, its initial scan is casually treated as a baseline, and once scanned, the detected issues are brought into a section called technical debt. 

According to Docs:

Bringing the number of bugs in your code down to 0 is quite feasible. First, it fixes all the existing problems, and second, it ensures no new errors would appear over time. No doubt, the second one can be easier than the first one. Hence, by utilizing the baseline, initially set the current project state and track only those problems that appear. 

A little more explanation…

According to JetBrains, a taint analysis is done by Qodana for making PHP secure from malicious errors or bugs when a developer executes the functionality by running a security audit on the Programmer’s attack surface.

Kateryna Shlyakhovetska, team and product lead for Qodana  – Remarks

“Taint analysis helps eliminate exploitable attack surfaces, so it’s an effective method to reduce risk to the software. We at JetBrains are always committed to improving our products and delivering the best solutions possible — adding taint analysis functionality to Qodana reflects our desire to cover the rising needs of our customers to improve their security posture.”

Concluding Thoughts!

So, questions like what is a taint analysis, and how taint analysis protects PHP codes by Qodana are answered now. So, with Qodana, what features and level of protection for PHP you can achieve:

  • Resolve the taints right in PHPStorm flexibly.
  • Follow the taint flow with detailed graphs. 
  • Figure out modifiable code fragments.
  • Prevent SQL injection and other attacks. 

Irrefutably, Qodana is not the only method to analyze PHP code sets. There can be many other options too, like PHPStan or PHPDoc.