Re: write with cURL

Jerry Stuckle wrote:

Tim Greer wrote:
Tim Greer wrote:

Tim Greer wrote:

Jerry Stuckle wrote:


an account on my server. Plus, in order to do it,
I'd have to set up an entire website for you, etc. I'm not about
to do it.

Now if you were a paying client, I would do so.
You can email me - my (munged) address is in my sig.
As I said - you've got my email address. Now show me how to do
My (munged) email address is in the sig of every post. The fact
you are making excuses and didn't send me an email shows you can't
do it.
Become a paying client and I'll set it up for you.
Become a paying client and I'll give you an account on my system.
Email sent Fri, 27 Feb 2009 14:26:43 -0500 (11:26 PST).

Dear Jerry Stuckle,

Regarding the usenet thread where you've agreed to allow me to
prove that your PHP setup is potentially not secure from user's
reading each other's files using PHP, you've stated that I would
have to pay for an account.

This is fine. Please let me know the price for your lowest priced
shared hosting account and I will promptly remit payment. Please
also let me know the methods of payment available (such as paypal,
or a merchant interface).

By accepting this, you agree that I am allowed to test the security
of your PHP install, and not cause any damages or access any data
that would be against state or federal laws, and that this is
simply to illustrate that your PHP setup would allow one user on
one account to use PHP to access a file readable by the web
server's user/group on another, separate account.

Therefore, if you can ensure that you have some test setup with a
temporary user or your own, and not for one of your normal shared
hosting users, that would be best. I remind you that I'm not
interested in accessing any other data or doing anything malicious
on your server, but to example how your PHP setup is not as secure
as you believe it to be.

Thank you,
Tim Greer

Be assured that I will not post any of the account information or
information regarding the server name, login, or IP publicly. This
is just a copy of what I have emailed to you.
Also, please don't avoid this by setting some unreasonably high
price for your lowest hosting plan, acting like you have to charge
some high premium because your services are "so specialized", when
this is just a
very basic shared hosting account. I'm willing to do my part and
actually pay to show you, so don't try and avoid this because I
your bluff. There's no reason why you can't have me show you, even
if you've actually said you needed to charge me to host the account,
just to prove what I'm saying to you.

I pretty much called this one 100%, word for word. With no replies
at all, I searched google for his site and didn't find one, but found
Jerry's phone number and called and talked to him for a little bit
(obviously caught him off guard. We had a civil conversation,
on usenet). No reply to my email at any point, by the way.

Basically, he said he doesn't do hosting, and that he only does
development and would have to charge me for site development and
hosting, because that's how he makes his money. I explained he's not
selling me the service, and how much would he charge me to just set
up an account (nothing more, just need him to run adduser in shell
and then add me to log in over FTP), since he said I'd have to pay
for his time.

He explained he only does full site development, wouldn't budge on
the matter and after asking a few times specifically about his lowest
site development costs, he finally gave me am amount ($200
(two-hundred dollars)), stating that he doesn't have an automated
system to set up the accounts and that this is how he makes his

Apparently the difference of setting me up with an account and to
him an example for 5 minutes, is going to cost at least $200. I
personally am sure he doesn't feel comfortable giving an account on
his server to someone he's argued with on usenet, and I can
understand that, but he says his system is secure, that wasn't his
concern (okay,
then). I gave a very rough example about how this can be done,
though I didn't go into detail (I explained it's difficult to
outline, which
is why I wanted to show him). He said he didn't think it would work,
but he didn't try it either. So, we're at a stand still.

I am unwilling to spend $200 just to show him what I mean, which will
work (I know people that use the same type of setups, thinking they
get around the security issues. He can insist he can and I can
insist he cannot, but without a reasonable means to prove it, it once
falls back to an argument on usenet, which is pointless. I've made
every effort to show proof, but I guess it's easier to argue with
people on usenet when one can't be proven wrong. So be it. I
welcome anyone curious that uses a similar setup to allow me to show
them, if they want, simply because it's important for people to know
what is truly completely secure or not, and I don't think any user
with an SSI or PHP script (or other) being able to read another
user's script as being secure (and that is what it comes down to).

I didn't deny Jerry's method is better than world write, and I didn't
suggest world write was a good idea (I only told the OP that this is
one of the only ways they can write to a file on the host they are
using, but suggested it's a bad idea and to use another method).
It's as simple as that, and I'm not able to prove it, because in the
end, Jerry wasn't willing to allow me to on his system, even after
saying so (he avoided it by demanding an unreasonable $200 fee so I
could show
him something that takes a whole 5 minutes from setup to example).
It is for the benefit of everyone to know what is going to actually
or not, but oh well. I think I've proven my point here, and the
likely follow ups claiming otherwise or that the Apache group method
is actually secure and continue to argue about it (and not allow me
prove otherwise) will unlikely convince anyone. My offer remains
(for a reasonable price).

I can appreciate the method Jerry uses is better than not, and I only
posted to defend myself from accusations accusing me of somehow
saying world write was a good idea, or that hi method is just as
secure as the
one I suggested would be best (because it's not). It comes down to
some pretty basic things about how Apache works (and needs to work)
that can be exploited (and this is completely separate of any PHP
settings one can try). While explaining just one very simple aspect
and method (there are many) to Jerry, it became clear he didn't
understand what I meant or how this security threat existed. It's
not that I didn't realize it was a waste of time, since arguing on
usenet is as well, when someone refuses to listen, but I knew in the
end that he'd avoid facing being exposed, thereby removing all
credibility to his arrogant claims about how he knows what he's doing
and no one else does.

Instead of simply discussing this, he went on the attack, so I
and invited a way to prove it on both systems. It's too bad when
people are that concerned about being wrong, that they are unwilling
to learn something, especially when that knowledge helps better
protect their own clients (and dare to suggest I was being reckless
for simply suggesting to the OP about he'll need world write
permissions on HIS current host, even after warning the OP it's not a
good thing/risky
using such permissions). Why go on the attack, if you are going to
to extremes to avoid facing the issue? In the future, a different
and civil attitude asking how it would work/what someone means (even
if you don't believe it), is far better than accepting or offering
your own challenge for them to prove it, and then say "well, I'll
need at least
$200 to set up an account for you, because I do development". So?
This isn't a development issue, it's about how much to get you to
2 minutes to set up the account. I'd have more respect for someone
that just said they're not going to allow some usenet poster they
don't like to have a physical account on their server or say they
don't feel
comfortable about it. There's worse things in the world than being
wrong, but there's no reason to be so aggressive about your arguing
methods that you force someone to put you in a situation where you're
worried about embarrassing yourself. I don't even know what more I
can say, but I do appreciate that we could speak on the phone in a
civil manner (perhaps if we did originally, this would never have
escalated). Oh well, I tried.

Sorry, I'm not on usenet or email 24/7. I do do work, you know, and
don't always respond immediately. As a matter of fact, I was working
on a response when you called.

That's fine, I just explained why I looked for the site and ended up

Yes, I do site development. And as I explained to you, I do custom
development - including custom web server setup. It means I do
everything manually - I have no automated process (it's not worth the
time and effort to automate for the few I do).

It doesn't take over a few seconds to set up a normal account. Asking
$200 is unreasonable to just set up an account with the very basics to
show a 1 minute example to show you what I was talking about.

And no, my time is the only thing I have to sell, and I'm not going to
spend the time manually setting up a site without getting paid, and
it's not a $3.95 bargain basement account.

Who said it had to be only $3.95? What about $20 for 5 minutes of your
time? That's cheaper than the bottom site development price of $200
when you equate the hours spent. The fact is, the development costs
have nothing to do with it. I repeatedly said I'd understand if you
just didn't feel comfortable. You insisted it was because you needed
to use your pricing structure for full site development and hosting
(all just to create a basic account for something that would take a
couple of minutes).

And yes, I do control who has access to my servers.


With my customers
I have a contract, and if they do anything to harm the servers, I have
legal redress.

That's fine, so why didn't you say that before? Why not say that
originally? I could totally understand it. You said that you'd set up
an account only if I paid you. I said I would. Then it was $200, and
now it's to protect your clients.

Not that any of them would - I pick my customers
carefully, also, and don't let just anyone on the servers.

That's all fine.

And yes, I understand what you explained to me on the phone. But the
first step requires access the users don't have - so the rest of it is

If you think it requires some special access or absolutely anything a
user couldn't do in any type of hosting or shared system environment,
then you didn't understand what I had explained.

That's okay, I'm not being paid by you to secure your servers, and I'm
certainly not interested in paying you $200 to help you secure your own
servers. In fact, I've never said your servers were horribly secured,
and just said that if a user of yours was malicious or had their
account taken over by a malicious user, then the Apache group idea
would open the potential for that malicious user to exploit that setup
to read and write to other people's files.

Now, if you know and trust your users, it's unlikely that will be a
risk, provided no malicious users gain access to their account or to
the server in another way. Really, in the end, just saying you're not
comfortable doing it, don't have a server free of non paying clients
you'd feel okay about using, or want to protect yourself in a legal
aspect, then that's fine.

What is not immaterial is all of your previous claims and accusations,
going as far to say I said things I never said, meant things I never
meant, and so say I'm not a competent server admin regarding security
issues, all because you didn't agree with me (all before we even
discussed what I was talking about). Your method is better than the
need for world write, I said that myself, and I didn't reply to attack
or embarrass you.

In fact, my replies only come from the need to defend myself from untrue
accusations (all based on the fact you didn't agree, and you attacked
me for it). So, coming to this final conclusion by calling your bluff,
is hardly immaterial, and your clients could do these things. However,
this is certainly and obviously not going to go anywhere and it won't
progress, so I have left the offer open to you if you ever want me to
show you (even for a price -- but not for $200, you have to be
realistic and reasonable, else it smacks of an excuse), as well as the
offer for others using the same type of setup as you. Beyond that, I
suppose we can drop the subject. I'm willing to, if you are (that is,
at this point, I'm just replying to the posts).
Tim Greer, CEO/Founder/CTO,, Inc.
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