Joomla! Ensures Website Security with Acunetix

“The issues detected were of major impact, if users/hackers would have found the security holes, they could have hacked an entire Joomla! site.”
Robin Muilwijk, member of the Quality and Testing Team, Joomla!.

The need for an automated security auditing tool

The Joomla! Core Team Quality & Testing Working Group’s mission is to help improve the quality, stability and security of the Joomla! Core Code, through continuous rigorous testing and quality reporting. The extensive PHP-based Joomla! Core Code was, until recently, tested manually. “Performing a manual security audit each time we released a new version would take up too many hours and resources. Manual auditing is highly complex and it means that you have to keep track of considerable volumes of code as well as the latest techniques being used by hackers. Finding an automated solution was, therefore, essential,” said Mr. Muilwijk, member of the Quality and Testing Team.

“While evaluating several tools that could help automate some of our test processes, two really stood out, Automated QA TestComplete and Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner. Both companies were willing to support the Joomla! project and provided us with licenses,” said Mr.Muiwijk

Testing environment

The tests were performed on a local PC (Dell, Pentium 4 3.2 Ghz, 1Gb RAM) running a localhost webserver based on WAMP (Apache 2.x, MySQL 5.x and PHP 5.x). “Acunetix WVS was very easy to use and intuitive and ran full webscans on the localhost website,” stated Mr.Muilwijk.

Vulnerabilities discovered

Using Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner, the developers at Joomla! found high-risk SQL Injection vulnerabilities within a very short period of time. “The issues detected were of a major impact, if users/hackers would have found the security holes, they could have hacked an entire Joomla! site,” said Mr. Muilwijk. Besides SQL Injection vulnerabilities, the software detected some low-level vulnerabilities related to the web server setup.

Fixing the bugs

“With Acunetix WVS, our developers were able to spot the vulnerabilities immediately and the issues were fixed quite easily,” said Mr. Muilwijk “It was just a matter of using correct PHP standards and other practices such as input filtering. We ran the scans a few times on every new release, to ensure we did not miss any new issues after changing the core code.”

“With Acunetix WVS we were able to perform our tasks better, thus improving the quality, stability and security of Joomla! We would like to thank Acunetix for supporting the Joomla! project and giving us the opportunity to use its tool,” said Mr. Muilwijk.

About Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner

Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner ensures website security by automatically checking for SQL injection, Cross site scripting and other vulnerabilities. Furthermore, Acunetix protects against the embedding of Javascript malware in a web-page through its JavaScript Analyzer. Such protection secures all AJAX applications. Acunetix WVS also checks password strength on authentication pages and automatically audits shopping carts, forms, dynamic content and other web applications. As the scan is being completed, the software produces detailed reports that pinpoint where vulnerabilities exist.

About Joomla!

Joomla! is a free, award-winning content management system written in PHP which allows users to easily publish their content on the world wide web and intranets. Joomla! is created as an open-source project where individuals and teams contribute their skills to its development as well as its supporting systems.

What sets Joomla! apart is the team’s dedication to keeping things as simple as possible while providing the most features possible. Finally, non-technical people can have complete control over their websites without paying exorbitant amounts for closed, proprietary software.

The name Joomla! is a phonetic spelling for the Swahili word “Jumla”, which means “all together” or “as a whole”. More information at:

Acunetix was founded to combat the alarming rise in web attacks. Its flagship product, Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner, is the result of several years of development by a team of highly experienced security developers. Acunetix is a privately held company with headquarters based in Europe (Malta) and an office in London, UK.

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

October 2006