This package is abandoned and no longer maintained. The author suggests using the mediawiki/phan-taint-check-plugin package instead.

A Phan plugin to do security checking

1.0.0 2017-12-06 16:06 UTC


This is a plugin to Phan to try and detect security issues (such as XSS). It keeps track of any time a user can modify a variable, and checks to see that such variables are escaped before being output as html or used as an sql query, etc.

It is primarily intended for scanning MediaWiki extensions, however it supports a generic mode which should work with any PHP project.

This plugin should be considered beta quality. Generic mode isn't well tested yet.


System requirements

  • php = 7.0 (7.1 is not supported)
  • Phan 0.8.0 [This has not been tested on any other version of phan]
  • Lots of memory. Scanning MediaWiki seems to take about 3 minutes and use about 2 GB of memory. Running out of memory may be a real issue if you try and scan something from within a VM that has limited memory.


$ composer require --dev mediawiki/phan-security-plugin

  • For MediaWiki core, add the following to composer.json:

    "scripts": { "seccheck": "seccheck-mw" }

  • For a MediaWiki extension, add the following to composer.json:

    "scripts": { "seccheck": "seccheck-mwext" "seccheck-fast": "seccheck-fast-mwext" }

  • For a generic php project, add the following to composer.json:

    "scripts": { "seccheck": "seccheck-generic" }

You can then run:

$ composer seccheck

to run the security check. Note that false positives are disabled by default. For MediaWiki extensions, this assumes the extension is installed in the normal extension directory, and thus MediaWiki is in ../../. If this is not the case, then you need to specify the MW_INSTALL_PATH environment variable.

This plugin also provides variants seccheck-fast-mwext (Doesn't analyze MediaWiki core. May miss some stuff related to hooks) and seccheck-slow-mwext (Also analyzes vendor). seccheck-mwext will generally take about 3 minutes, where seccheck-fast-mwext takes only about half a minute.

Additionally, if you want to do a really quick check, you can run the seccheck-generic script from a mediawiki extension which will ignore all MediaWiki stuff, making the check much faster (but misses many issues).

If you want to do custom configuration (to say exclude some directories), follow the instructions below unser Manually.


For MediaWiki mode, add MediaWikiSecurityCheckPlugin.php to the list of plugins in your Phan config.php file.

For generic mode, add GenericSecurityCheckPlugin.php to the list of plugins in your phan config.php file.

Then run phan as you normally would:

$ php7 /path/to/phan/phan -p

Plugin output

The plugin will output various issue types depending on what it detects. The issue types it outputs are:

  • SecurityCheckMulti - For when there are multiple types of security issues involved
  • SecurityCheck-XSS
  • SecurityCheck-SQLInjection
  • SecurityCheck-ShellInjection
  • SecurityCheck-PHPSerializeInjection - For when someone does unserialize( $_GET['d'] ); This issue type seems to have a high false positive rate currently.
  • SecurityCheck-CUSTOM1 - To allow people to have custom taint types
  • SecurityCheck-CUSTOM2 - ditto
  • SecurityCheck-OTHER - At the moment, this corresponds to things that don't have an escaping function to make input safe. e.g. eval( $_GET['foo'] ); require $_GET['bar'];
  • SecurityCheck-LikelyFalsePositive - A potential issue, but probably not. Mostly happens when the plugin gets confused.

The severity field is usually marked as Issue::SEVERITY_NORMAL (5). False positives get Issue::SEVERITY_LOW (0). Issues that may result in server compromise (as opposed to just end user compromise) such as shell or sql injection are marked as Issue::SEVERITY_CRITICAL (10). SerializationInjection would normally be "critical" but its currently denoted as a severity of NORMAL because the check seems to have a high false positive rate at the moment.

You can use the -y command line option of Phan to filter by severity.


There's much more than listed here, but some notable limitations/bugs:

  • When an issue is output, the plugin tries to include details about what line originally caused the issue. Usually it works, but sometimes it gives misleading/wrong information ** In particular, with pass by reference parameters to MediaWiki hooks, sometimes the line number is the hook call in MediaWiki core, instead of the hook subscriber in the extension that caused the issue.
  • Command line scripts cause XSS false positives
  • The plugin won't recognize things that do custom escaping. If you have custom escaping methods, you may have to write a subclass of SecurityCheckPlugin in order for the plugin to recognize it.
  • The plugin can only validate the fifth ($options) and sixth ($join_cond) of MediaWiki's IDatabase::select() if its provided directly as an array literal, or directly returned as an array literal from a getQueryInfo() method.


The plugin supports being customized, by subclassing the SecurityCheckPlugin class. For a complex example of doing so, see MediaWikiSecurityCheckPlugin.

You can add pretty much arbitrary behavior here, but the primary thing you would usually want to customize is adding information about how different functions affect the taint of a variable.

To do this, you override the getCustomFuncTaints() method. This method returns an associative array of fully qualified method names to an array describing how the taint of the return value of the function in terms of its arguments. The numeric keys correspond to the number of an argument, and an 'overall' key adds taint that is not present in any of the arguments. Basically for each argument, the plugin takes the taint of the argument, bitwise AND's it to its entry in the array, and then bitwise OR's the overall key. If any of the keys in the array have an EXEC flags, then an issue is immediately raised if the corresponding taint is fed the function (For example, an output function).

For example, htmlspecialchars which removes html taint but leaves other taint would look like

'htmlspecialchars' => [ self::YES_TAINT & ~self::HTML_TAINT, 'overall' => self::NO_TAINT, ];

Environment variables

The following environment variables affect the plugin. Normally you would not have to adjust these.

  • SECURITY_CHECK_EXT_PATH - Path to extension.json when in MediaWiki mode. If not set assumes the project root directory.
  • SECCHECK_DEBUG - File to output extra debug information (If running from shell, /dev/stderr is convenient)


GNU General Public License, version 2 or later