What to shove up your .htaccess

Simon Bragg of website and design agency Sibra gave a talk on Monday about the .htaccess file. This file is found in the root directory of websites running on Apache web servers (so check what server software you are using if the htaccess is missing). It controls access to pages on the site, handles redirects and can be used for security and optimisations.

You can see Simon’s slides here:

What to shove up your htaccess presentation by Simon Bragg of Sibra
What to shove up your htaccess presentation by Simon Bragg of Sibra (click to open)

Here’s a written version of the presentation:

What to shove up your .htaccess

Simon Bragg

http://sibra.co.uk

Cambridge WordPress Meetup August 2018

The .htaccess file

.htaccess files enable:

  • Configuration changes to directory and sub-directory;
  • Without accessing httpd.conf,
  • Usually allowed;
  • Short commands:
  • key value pair.

If you screw it up syntax, you get:

Error 500 internal server error

What you can do

  • Browser caching
  • gzip compression for file transfer
  • Keep alive
  • Regex for redirects
  • Security enhancements

Browser caching

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

<IfModule mod_expires.c>

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/x-javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/json "access 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/vnd.ms-fontobject "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType application/x-font-ttf "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType application/x-font-opentype "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType application/x-font-woff "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/svg+xml "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access plus 2 days"

</IfModule>

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

This can make a dramatic difference:

Speed check caching before
Speed check caching before
Speed check caching after
Speed check caching after htaccess changes

Compress transfer: gzip

Place this code AFTER WordPress stuff:

<IfModule mod_filter.c>

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE "application/atom+xml" \
"application/javascript" \
"application/json" \
"application/ld+json" \
"application/manifest+json" \
"application/rdf+xml" \
"application/rss+xml" \
"application/schema+json" \
"application/vnd.geo+json" \
"application/vnd.ms-fontobject" \
"application/x-font-ttf" \
"application/x-javascript" \
"application/x-web-app-manifest+json" \
"application/xhtml+xml" \
"application/xml" \
"font/eot" \
"font/opentype" \
"image/bmp" \
"image/svg+xml" \
"image/vnd.microsoft.icon" \
"image/x-icon" \
"text/cache-manifest" \
"text/css" \
"text/html" \
"text/javascript" \
"text/plain" \
"text/vcard" \
"text/vnd.rim.location.xloc" \
"text/vtt" \
"text/x-component" \
"text/x-cros
Speed check gzip compression after
Speed check gzip compression after

Keep alive, if allowed by host

At end of .htaccess file

## KEEP ALIVE ##

<ifModule mod_headers.c>

Header set Connection keep-alive

</ifModule>

## END ENABLE KEEP ALIVE ##

But cheapo host doesn’t allow this.

RedirectMatch for Regex redirects

Have mod_rewrite.c enabled for #Begin WordPress stuff.

So can use Regex to redirect multiple pages in one line. Some Examples:

Perhaps for tweaking URL structure:

.* means anything, (.*) means whatever, and repeat in $1

RedirectMatch 301 .*/employment/employee-shares/(.*)
http://www.website.co.uk/employee-shares/$1

^ means start of string, (/D) means 1 non digit character.

RedirectMatch 301 ^/share(\D)options$
http://www.website.co.uk/employee-shares/

Use of OR for multiple redirects to one page:

RedirectMatch 301 ((/introducing-thepod/)
|(/products/pod/)
|(/about-us/the-vision/)
|(/cambridgepod/)) https://website.co.uk/pod/

http to https

When have http site and converting to https, add in bold

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

# BEGIN WordPress
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>

Bits of code

1. Protect important files, deny access to them:

<FilesMatch "^.*(error_log|wp
config\.php|php.ini|\.[hH][tT][aApP].*)$">
Order deny,allow
Deny from all
</FilesMatch>

Check php.ini, is php.ini

2. Prevent directory browsing /wp-content/uploads/

Options All –Indexes

3. Block unauthorized execution of PHP files.

Most hackers upload backdoors to /uploads folder

<Directory "/var/www/wp-content/uploads/">
<Files "*.php">
Order Deny,Allow
Deny from All
</Files>
</Directory>

4. Protect against Script injections

Hackers change WordPress GLOBALS & REQUEST variables, so:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} (<|%3C).*script.*(>|%3E) [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} GLOBALS(=|[|%[0-9A-Z]{0,2}) [OR]
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} _REQUEST(=|[|%[0-9A-Z]{0,2})
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php [F,L]

5. Secure wp-includes directory

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^wp-admin/includes/ - [F,L]
RewriteRule !^wp-includes/ - [S=3]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/[^/]+\.php$ - [F,L]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/js/tinymce/langs/.+\.php - [F,L]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/theme-compat/ - [F,L]
</IfModule>

6. Prevent username enumeration

Visitor who enters your-site.com/?author=1 finds username. One less thing to guess. Just needs the password. So:

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} author=d
RewriteRule ^ /? [L,R=301]

7. Prevent hot linking

Most hackers upload backdoors to /uploads folder

RewriteEngine On RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$ RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER}
!^http://(www\.)?your-site.com/.*$ [NC] RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$
http://www.your-site.com/hotlink.gif [R,L]Directory "/var/www/wpcontent/uploads/">

And replace http://www.your-site.com/hotlink.gif with image url you want to protect

xmlrpc.php blocking?

Xmlrpc : remote procedure call using XML to encode, and http for transport

Enables you to:

Post using weblog clients e.g. Windows Live Writer, IFTTT

Was a security concern, although not any more.

If want to block:

# Block WordPress xmlrpc.php requests
<Files xmlrpc.php>
order deny,allow
deny from all
allow from 123.123.123.123
</Files>

Thanks to Simon for his excellent talk!

Varying Vagrant Vagrants – What the heck? By Adam Maltpress

Adam Maltpress gave a presentation last night about Varying Vagrant Vagrants. This is an open source local development tool for developing with WordPress. You can see the presentation here:

Varying Vagrant Vagrants presentation by Adam Maltpress (click to view)
Varying Vagrant Vagrants presentation by Adam Maltpress (click to view)

A summary of the slides above follows:

Varying Vagrant Vagrants

VVV – what the heck?

  • “An open source Vagrant configuration for developing with WordPress”
  • Where Vagrant is “…a tool for building and managing virtual machine
  • environments in a single workflow”
  • Eh?
  • Run a virtual server on your computer to do WP development
  • Manage settings with a simple config file
  • Get a load of tools specific to, or helpful for, WordPress
  • https://varyingvagrantvagrants.org/

What do you get?

  • Ubuntu 14.04, nginx, PHP fpm 7.0.x, memcached, all the PHP extensions you need to run WP – hosting gubbins
  • MariaDB, PHPMyAdmin – database thingies
  • PHPUnit, ack-grep, Git, subversion, grunt, node, Composer, – and other workflow and development do-dahs
  • WordPress current version and WordPress development version as well as WP-CLI – WordPressy whatsits.
  • Everything you need to run WP on a local machine

Awesome. How do I get it?

Done all that. Now what?

Woohoo! Bring me the WordPress

  • Go to http://local.wordpress.test for current production WordPress
  • Go to http://src.wordpress-develop.test for the development branch of
  • WordPress (not yet Gutenbergy)
  • Add your own sites by editing the file vvv-custom.yml in the main VVV folder:
  • See https://varyingvagrantvagrants.org/docs/en-US/adding-a-new-site/
  • Be careful with tabs and spaces in yml files – tabs bad, spaces good
  • Edit the files the normal way on your local machine
  • Use PHPMyAdmin as normal
  • When you change things, run
vagrant reload --provision

on the command line

So what’s it good for?

  • Contributing to WP core
  • Building a theme you’re going to release
  • Building a plugin you’re going to release
  • Quickly getting a new, fresh WP installation running
  • Learning WP-CLI
  • Quickly changing PHP version to test things

What’s it bad for?

  • Working with existing sites you’ve pulled down from a server
  • Any sites with weird/custom folder structures
  • Anything you’re moving from an existing development setup
  • Beginners
  • Speed of provisioning

What are the alternatives?

  • Wamp
  • Xampp
  • Mamp
  • Docker
  • Plain virtual box
  • Actual server

Do you recommend it then?

  • Not really.

Questions?

Local Development and Child Themes

Ben Attenborough and Zuzana Kunckova gave a presentation last night on Local Development and Child Themes. Here are the slides (click to open):

Local Development and Child Themes presentation, click to open
Click to open

Local Development

Here are some resources to help you with local development:

Good blog post from wpmudev: https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-to-use-local-by-flywheel-for-quick-wordpress-development/

Local development software:

Feel free to suggest alternatives!

Child themes

First checkout the official WordPress Codex documentation on child themes.

Also checkout:

The plugin we used to do create child themes automatically was Child Theme Configurator bLilaea Media

Starter themes

Here’s a list of well-known starter themes:

Wrapping up

If anyone has any questions or suggestions feel free to say!

Writing for the Web with Simon Bragg

Simon Bragg from Sibra gave a presentation last night on Writing for the Web.

Once again the presentation was very insightful and prompted lots of debate. Thanks Simon!

You can see the presentation by clicking on the image below:

Writing for the Web presentation by Simon Bragg

How to Drive Traffic to your Website with Penni Stanton

Penni Stanton (@kabocreative) from Kabo Creative gave a presentation on “How to drive traffic to your website”.

With an estimated 140,000 new websites launched every day, you need a long term plan to drive consistent website traffic. Penni gave her top tips for driving consistent traffic, including:

  • Contact forms & conversion measurement
  • On-site SEO
  • Being helpful on social media
  • Blogging for your customers’ pain points

It was a very interesting talk which prompted lots of conversations both during and afterwards. Thanks Penni!

You can see the presentation by clicking on the image below:

Practical WordPress Security with Tim Nash

Tim Nash (@tnash) from 34SP joined us on Monday 14 May to share his knowledge of WordPress security.

Tim Nash

You can see slides from Tim’s recent talks on security here

Tim’s said:

Thanks folks who came to my Practical Security talk at WP Cambridge last night.

Today it’s time to take action we covered a lot of stuff so where to start?

Here are 3 things to do right now.

1. DONT PANIC
2. Remove all admin roles and replace with editors
3. test your backups

 

The Gutenberg Block What I Wrote

Lightening talk given by me (Ben Attenborough) at the WordPress Cambridge meeting on 14 May 2018. Slides below:

Click on image to open pdf

Links:

Code on github:

https://github.com/BenAttenborough/rba-codeblock

Zac Gordon’s Gutenberg course:

https://gutenberg.courses/development/

Code Mirror

http://codemirror.net/2/

See also:

https://codemirror.net/

Gutenberg Code Editor component

https://github.com/WordPress/gutenberg/tree/master/components/code-editor

October 2017 Meetup: Managing WordPress & WP Transients

Managing WordPress

Steven Watts of Newt Labs talked about WordPress management, which also included a quick introduction to Slack – an instant messaging/support system.

See the slides below:

Click on the image above to see the slide (pdf format)

This is a cut down version of the presentation, for more see https://www.slideshare.net/StevenWatts8/managing-wordpress

Takeaways: where to get help, how to setup a staging site, a backup strategy, quick security wins, eyes on your site, and a better understanding of quality hosting.

Slack – We at WordPress Cambridge have two channels. There are a bunch of UK channels, and also a bunch of international channels. You can stay in contact with the Cambridge group, and get help/support from the UK and internationally.

Newt Labs is a sponsor of our Meetup group. They provide site care for WordPress websites by providing unlimited small fixes, implementing best practices and taking care of ongoing technical tasks. Keeping WordPress sites secure and effective, from £49 a month.

WordPress Transients API

Adam Maltpress of http://maltpress.co.uk/ talked about the WordPress Transients API.

Transients help speed up your site by reducing the number of database queries needed to create a page. We discussed the code needed to start using transients in your theme or plugin as well as looking at a couple of ways of measuring your code’s performance while developing and testing. We also discussed some of the issues around caching content and the compromises involved.

See the slides below:

Transients API presentation cover
Click on the image above to see the slides (PDF format)