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Hiding PHP

In general, security by obscurity is one of the weakest forms of security. But in some cases, every little bit of extra security is desirable.

A few simple techniques can help to hide PHP, possibly slowing down an attacker who is attempting to discover weaknesses in your system. By setting expose_php to off in your php.ini file, you reduce the amount of information available to them.

Another tactic is to configure web servers such as apache to parse different filetypes through PHP, either with an .htaccess directive, or in the apache configuration file itself. You can then use misleading file extensions:

Example #3 Hiding PHP as another language

# Make PHP code look like other code types
AddType application/x-httpd-php .asp .py .pl
Or obscure it completely:

Example #4 Using unknown types for PHP extensions

# Make PHP code look like unknown types
AddType application/x-httpd-php .bop .foo .133t
Or hide it as HTML code, which has a slight performance hit because all HTML will be parsed through the PHP engine:

Example #5 Using HTML types for PHP extensions

# Make all PHP code look like HTML
AddType application/x-httpd-php .htm .php
For this to work effectively, you must rename your PHP files with the above extensions. While it is a form of security through obscurity, it's a minor preventative measure with few drawbacks.

User Contributed Notes
Hiding PHP
altan at javam dot org
18-Nov-2009 05:42
You can use this trick for non-direct used PHP files, eg. setting, class, ajax-related ones.

For abcde.php:

if ('abcde.php' == basename($_SERVER['SCRIPT_FILENAME'])) die ('What?');
sandaimespaceman at gmail dot com
27-Oct-2008 12:51
Set INI directive "expose_php" to "off" will also help.
You can spoof your PHP to ASP.NET by using:
header("X-Powered-By: ASP.NET");
11-Oct-2008 12:57
The idea of hiding the X-Powered-By in PHP is a flawed attempt at establishing security. As the manual indicates, obscurity is not security. If I were exploiting a site, I wouldn't check what scripting language the site runs on, because all that would matter to me is exploiting it. Hiding the fact that you use [x] language isn't going to prevent me from bypassing poor security.
21-Mar-2008 02:30
In response to Raz:

Modify your .htaccess to include this

RewriteRule securename yourfile.php [QSA,T=application/x-httpd-php]

This appends the query string to your redirect and will keep $_GET working.
24-Sep-2007 10:07
May some servers not allow you to put this line (i.e this not work)

AddType application/x-httpd-php .asp .py .pl
DefaultType application/x-httpd-php

so, the alternative method that really a good one is:

1- In your .htaccess file write:

RewriteEngine  on
RewriteBase  /dire/ or just /
RewriteRule  securename   yourfile\.php  [T=application/x-httpd-php]

example: all url like
www.example.com/securename  parsed as

2- but here the $_GET not work, but $_POST work, so for dynamic pages like
www.example.com/yourfile.php?page=1 you use

now: instead of using $_GET use
$page        = strstr($uri, '=');
$page        = substr($page, 1);
$valid_pages = array('1', '2','...');
$page        = in_array($page, $valid_pages) ? $page : '1';

and for bad URL you can add this code to .htaccess file
of coarse below the first code in .htaccess
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule ^.*$ http://www.example.com/securename [L]
prrogers at gmail dot com
13-Sep-2007 03:50
The default session identifier-name PHPSESSID is publicly visible in an HTTP cookie and or URL if sessions are used. It can be changed in the php.ini to something more generic to further obscure PHP.
raven-3 [at] o2 [dot] pl
07-Mar-2007 07:23
I've found that your script ahmad does not work to me. So I've modified it, maybe someone will find it useful:

//default page
//checking query
//we have to find out if main page is in Query string
//if not, then use default
if (!$QS[0]) $MODULE=$config['main'];
else $MODULE=strtolower($QS[0]);
//here everything take place
//below query is converted into table.
//use it like following: $_QUERY['theme']
for ($i=1;$i<count($QS);$i+=2) $_QUERY[$QS[$i]]=$QS[$i+1];

so eg link:





PS. I'm using PHP 4.4.2
rustamabd at google mail
26-Jan-2007 08:05
So far I haven't seen a working rewriter of /foo/bar into /foo/bar.php, so I created my own. It does work in top-level directory AND subdirectories and it doesn't need hardcoding the RewriteBase.


RewriteEngine on

# Rewrite /foo/bar to /foo/bar.php
RewriteRule ^([^.?]+)$ %{REQUEST_URI}.php [L]

# Return 404 if original request is /foo/bar.php
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} "^[^ ]* .*?\.php[? ].*$"
RewriteRule .* - [L,R=404]

# NOTE! FOR APACHE ON WINDOWS: Add [NC] to RewriteCond like this:
# RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} "^[^ ]* .*?\.php[? ].*$" [NC]
simon at carbontwelevedesign dot co dot uk
10-Aug-2006 12:31
I use the following in the .htaccess document

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

then the following simple code


= explode("/",$_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']);

$varone = $permalinks[1];
$vartwo = $permalinks[2];


marpetr at NOSPAM dot gmail dot com
11-Apr-2006 12:18
I think the best way to hide PHP on Apache and Apache itself is this:

# ...
# Minimize 'Server' header information
ServerTokens Prod
# Disable server signature on server generated pages
ServerSignature Off
# ...
# Set default file type to PHP
DefaultType application/x-httpd-php
# ...

; ...
expose_php = Off
; ...

Now the URLs will look like this:

Now hacker knows only that you are using Apache.
ahmad at unikomcenter dot com
06-Mar-2006 06:05
I am use this script to hidding PHP:



// IF Modul is Undefined set it to index
if (!$QS[0]) $MODUL='index';

// WE can make a Variable $_QUERY
// for alternative _GET
for ($i=1;$i<count($QS);$i+=2)

// Check the Modul is exists?
if (!file_exists("modul_directory/{$MODUL}.php"))

// Load The Template
// Load The Module
// Load The Footer


we can access the modul in URL like this:

- it mean load the modul forum.php, and set the _QUERY['topic']=20

- it mean load the modul voting.php, and set the _QUERY['id']=54 and _QUERY['type']='piechart' and set _GET['choice']=2
eric at ericwing dot net
20-Jan-2006 05:20
Something that has not been mentioned here is also the PHPSESSION id that will be displayed in the URL when passing it from page to page using GET.  If users have cookies set to off, this will be visible. This can be reset before any session_start() call with ini_set(). Be aware however that this can't be changed in this way if you use autho session start.
dyer85 at gmail dot com
31-Dec-2005 08:55
Although it's probably obvious to most people, Yavuz Darendelioglu's post below utilizes a method that will only work on a *nix OS, not Windows, and probably not Mac.

Also, his regex uses some superfluous matching, instead, write the redirect like so: (you don't really need to use absolute path when redirecting to a resource on the same server, either):

RedirectMatch (?:awstats|xmlrpc) /deny.php
28-Dec-2005 03:29
Even you hide your PHP, requests for bugy scripts still come.
No matter whether you have the script on your server or not.

You can make an additional step for those requests. Since the host now trying that buggy script  then, in the future when a new bug arises it will be tried  by that host again with a high possibility. So banning that host completey at its first attempt may be a good idea. For  this,

1- Add Permanent links for those requests in your httpd.conf:
RedirectMatch permanent (.*)awstats(.*)$ http://your_server/your_script.html

RedirectMatch permanent (.*)xmlrpc(.*)$ http://your_server/your_script.html
and add whatever you want to ban.

2- Write following code in your_script.html
$dropit = "iptables -A INPUT -i eth0 -p tcp -s $host -m multiport --destination-ports 80,25,22 -j DROP";

Yavuz Darendelioglu
user at pampelhuber dot invalid
18-Dec-2005 12:32
It is unnecessary, to let every Pampelhuber inspect your 'php.ini' files.
Put the following into the .htaccess of your htdocuments' root:

#Obscure 'php.ini' files (where they exist)
RedirectMatch 404 .*php\.ini$
30-Jun-2005 08:19
In order to get the PATH_INFO to work in order to pass parameters using a hidden program/trailing slash/"pretty url" in more recent versions of PHP you MUST add "AcceptPathInfo On" to your httpd.conf.

AddType application/x-httpd-php .php .html
AcceptPathInfo On

Try it out with your phpinfo page and you'll be able to search for PATH_INFO.


If you want to drop the .php use one or both of these:
DefaultType application/x-httpd-php
ForceType application/x-httpd-php
25-May-2005 08:06
You could also do this in .htaccess when you use Apache and your configuration allows you to override :

<Files test>
    ForceType application/x-httpd-php

That way, you can use the URL test?pop=true without having to fake it by using test/index.php.

See the Apache manual for more info: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/mod/mod_mime#forcetype
benjamin at sonntag dot fr
24-May-2005 04:14
In response to the previous messages, for apache, there is a easier way to set files without "." to be executed by PHP, just put this in a ".htaccess" file :

DefaultType  application/x-httpd-php
dimitar at bastun dot net
17-Jan-2005 05:13
In case there are an Internal Server error(error 500) using the old code below in an .htaccess file, you can replace it with the code modification that must solve the problem.

Old code

<Files ~ "^[^\.]+$">
       ForceType application/x-httpd-php

Replacement of the code above(code modification)

AddHandler server-parsed .php
<Files ~ "^[^\.]+$">
SetHandler application/x-httpd-php

Dimitar Tanev
22-Sep-2004 07:22
Assign files w/o extension to php interpreter
without using ReWrite module

[clip httpd.conf]

<Files ~ "^[^\.]+$">
        ForceType application/x-httpd-php

php at vfmedia dot de
15-Jun-2004 01:21
I_ve found an easy way to hide php code and the uri is searchable by google and others...(only for unix or linux)

At first I have some rules in my hide.conf (i made an extra .conf for it (apache 2.0))

For example when I want to mask the index.php

<Files index>
 ForceType application/x-httpd-php

My problem is, that my code should be readable...

so I made an extra folder for example srv/www/htdocs/static_output

My phpcode is in the includefolder....(for ex. mnt/source/index.php)

Then I made a link in the shell  > ln mnt/source/index.php srv/www/htdocs/static_output/index

So the code is readable (with .php extension) in my includefolder and there is only the link in the srv folder without extension(which is called by the browser...).
12-May-2004 03:20
Keep in mind, if your really freaked out over hiding PHP, GD will expose you.

Go ahead - make an image with GD and open with a text editor.. Somewhere in there you'll see a comment with gd & php all over it.
php at user dot net
11-Apr-2004 01:36
What about this in a .htaccess file :

RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule    ^$    /index.php    [L]
RewriteRule    ^([a-zA-Z0-9\-\_/]*)/$    /$1/index.php    [L]
RewriteRule    ^([a-zA-Z0-9\-\_/]*)\.(html|htm)$    /$1.php    [L]
RewriteRule    ^([a-zA-Z0-9\-\_/]*)$    /$1.php    [L]

Typing "sub.domain.foo/anything" loads "/anything/index.php" if 'anything' is a directory, else it loads "/anything.php".

I'm sure you can find mutch better, but it works great on my site :)
14-Mar-2004 01:58
You can see if somebody's using PHP just by adding the following to the end of the URL:
If the page is using PHP, this will show the PHP credits.

Setting expose_php to Off in php.ini prevents this.
Elora at alexandria dot cc
13-Feb-2004 11:30
<bminton at efn dot org>'s suggestion won't work. All someone has to do is look at "foo.com/dir/" and try "foo.com/dir/index.html", "foo.com/dir/index.php", "foo.com/dir/index.cgi", until no 403/404 is returned.
ldemailly at qualysNOSPAM dot com
28-Oct-2003 04:17
adding MultiViews to your apache Options config
lets you hide/omit .php in the url without any rewriting, etc...
l0rdphi1 at liquefyr dot com
21-Jul-2003 11:02
More fun includes files without file extensions.

Simply add that ForceType application/x-httpd-php bit to an Apache .htaccess and you're set.

Oh yea, it gets even better when you play with stuff like the following:


e.g. www.yoursite.com/somepage/55


foreach ( explode('/',$_SERVER['PATH_INFO']) as $pair ) {
    list($key,$value) = split('=',$pair,2);
    $param[$key] = stripslashes($value);

e.g. www.yoursite.com/somepage/param1=value1/param2=value2/etc=etc

Enjoy =)
Bryce Nesbitt at Obviously.COM
27-Mar-2003 04:24
Using the .php extension for all your scripts is not necessary, and in fact can be harmful (by exposing too much information about your server, and by limiting what you can do in the future without breaking links). There are several ways to hide your .php script extension:

(1) Don't hard code file types at all.  Don't specify any dots, and most web servers will automatically find your .php, .html, .pdf, .gif or other matching file. This is called canonical URL format:
This gives you great flexibility to change your mind in the future, and prevents Windows browsers from making improper assumptions about the file type.

(2) In an Apache .htaccess file use:
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteRule page.html page.php

(3) Force the webserver to interpret ALL .html files as .php:
    AddType application/x-httpd-php .php3 .php .html
bminton at efn dot org
27-Feb-2003 08:05
Another technique is to have every file be named index.php and be in it's own directory.  Then instead of using for instance http://my.site/foo.php you could use http://my.site/foo/ where foo is a directory with a file called index.php in it.
29-Jan-2003 06:53
PS. If you want to use pretty URLs (i.e. hide your .php extensions) AND you have safe-mode=on, the previous example (ForceType) won't work for you.  The problem is that safe-mode forces Apache to honor trailing characters in a requested URL.  This means that:


would still be processed by the home script in our doc root, but for:


apache would actually look for the /home/contact_us.html file in our doc root.

The best solution I've found is to set up a virtual host (which I do for everything, even the default doc root) and override the trailing characters handling within the virtual host.  So, for a virtual host listening on port 8080, the apache directives would look like this:

<VirtualHost *:8080>
    DocumentRoot /web/doc_root
    Alias /home "/web/doc_root/home.php"
    AcceptPathInfo On

Some people might question why we are overriding the trailing characters handling (with the AcceptPathInfo directive) instead of just turning safe-mode=off.  The reason is that safe mode sets global limitations on the entire server, which can then be turned on or left off for each specific virtual host.  This is the equivilent of blocking all connections on a firewall, and then opening up only the ones you want, which is a lot safer than leaving everything open globally, and assuming your programmers will never overlook a possible security hole.
28-Jan-2003 12:34
Another way to hide your .php extensions is to use the Apache ForceType directive (which is often referred to as pretty URLs.)  Basically you force Apache to parse a file as PHP that matches the trailing directory name in your URL.

For example, place this directive in your Apache httpd.conf file:
<Location /home>
     ForceType application/x-httpd-php

and create a php file name "home" in your doc root.  This file should not have a .php extension, and can be a php template file.  Combined with a function to strip out URL parameters, this can create a new templating system, which can effectively hide your file extensions.

In this example,

would actually use the home script we created, and then the "bar.html" could be used to specify content to include.
Kevin Vincent
23-Jan-2003 01:43
Just a thought but if you have changed the extensions that php interprets I would assume you've also changed header.php and footer.php files to the new extension.


index.php, somefile.php, header.php, footer.php...

Change the Apache directive so PHP interprets .kev files and rename your files:

index.kev, somefile.kev, header.kev, footer.kev

If you leave header and footer as PHP files then it won't understand how to interpret them.
sth at panix dot com
04-Aug-2002 07:45
The flipside to this is, if you're running a version of
PHP/Apache which is not known to have exploitable bugs (usually the latest stable version at the time), and an attacker sees this, they may give up before even trying. If they don't, they may continue to attempt their exploit(s).

It really depends on the type of attacker. The educated, security advisory reading attacker vs. script kiddie on the street.

If you're keeping up on patches, version exposition should not be a problem for you.
m1tk4 at hotmail dot com
23-Jul-2002 12:53
I usually do:

RewriteEngine on<br>
RewriteOptions inherit<br>
RewriteRule (.*)\.htm[l]?(.*) $1.php$2 [nocase]<br>

in .htaccess. You'll need mod_rewrite installed for this .
yasuo_ohgaki at yahoo dot com
26-Jan-2002 11:59
To hide PHP, you need following php.ini settings


and in httpd.conf

ServerSignature Off
(min works, but I prefer off)
istvan dot takacsNOSPAM at hungax dot com
30-Dec-2001 05:42
And use the
ServerTokens min
directive in your httpd.conf to hide installed PHP modules in apache.

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