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content and .htaccess files should belong to. On most servers, that s done for you. However, in order to better secure your WordPress site, I recommend that you allow only wp-content to be group writable, and make sure you re the only user who can write to .htaccess.
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There are a number of ways hackers could use your .htaccess file maliciously. They could use rewrite rules to redirect your visitors to a site other than yours, but that s the sort of thing you d notice immediately, and it doesn t happen very often. A subtle attack is more likely. One particularly nasty hack involves writing a file full of spam links to a writeable subdirectory deep in the WordPress package, then using PHP s auto_prepend_file or auto_append_file directives to include that file in your theme s index.php file. At first, it looks like someone has mauled your theme, but in fact the theme files haven t changed at all. This is the sort of attack that can leave you chasing your tail for hours, unless you realize that .htaccess is a big point of vulnerability in your installation. WordPress needs write access to your .htaccess file only to make changes to your permalink structure. If you are using WP Super Cache, the plugin also requires write access to add the cache rewrite rules to the file. However, in both cases, if WordPress cannot write to the file, it will print the necessary rules on the screen and ask you to update the file manually. Therefore, I recommend that you adjust permissions on .htaccess so that your user account is the only one allowed to write to it. On UNIXbased operating systems, you can use the chmod 744 command to make sure you can write to it while everyone else can read only. You can also modify the .htaccess file itself to secure your wp-config.php file. Normally, any visitor requesting your configuration file will just see a blank page, since the file doesn t echo anything to the screen. However, this addition to .htaccess prevents unwanted users from viewing your config file at all. While .htaccess is not generally accessible through a browser, either, you can apply the same technique to give it a little extra protection, as shown in Listing 11-3. It looks a little recursive, but it works! Listing 11-3. Securing wp-config.php and .htaccess using .htaccess <Files wp-config.php> order allow,deny deny from all </Files> <Files .htaccess> order allow,deny deny from all </Files> For more security-related modifications to .htaccess, visit www.josiahcole.com/2007/07/11/almostperfect-htaccess-file-for-wordpress-blogs/.
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It s possible to move wp-config.php and the wp-content folder. You can even put the WordPress files other than index.php in a separate subdirectory. All of these things will help minimize attacks that exploit writeable directories in predictable locations.
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Your configuration file contains your database username and password, so it s important to keep this file secure. If you are installing WordPress in your web root directory (such as public_html), you can move your wp-config.php file to the parent directory one that isn t readable from a browser without changing any settings, as shown in Figure 11-11. WordPress will automatically recognize the file s new location.
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Figure 11-11. Placing wp-config.php outside the public web directory
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Giving WordPress Its Own Subdirectory
If you would prefer not to have WordPress s files cluttering up your site s root directory, or you would prefer a nonstandard location for your admin files as a security precaution, you can install WordPress in a subdirectory while keeping your site visible at the original location. For example, you can install WordPress at mydomain.com/blog but have the site appear at mydomain.com. First, install WordPress in the subdirectory as you normally would. Then move the main index.php file and your .htaccess file from that subdirectory into the parent directory. In your example, you would install WordPress in the blog directory, then move index.php and .htaccess into the web root directory. Open index.php in a text editor and edit the path to wp-blog-header.php. Add your subdirectory to the file path. In this example, you re installing WordPress in the blog subdirectory, so your line would read require('./blog/wp-blog-header.php'); Of course, you can replace blog with anything you wish. Now log in to the site at its new address: mydomain.com/blog/wp-admin. Go to Settings General and change your WordPress address to the new one: mydomain.com/blog. Leave the Blog address alone, and save your changes. See Figure 11-12 for an example.
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