PHP 5.6: Why you should upgrade

In the fast-paced world of web development, keeping up with the latest security standards is paramount. Unfortunately, many websites and applications still rely on outdated PHP versions, such as PHP 5.6, which reached its end of life in December 2018. In this article, we’ll explore the security implications of staying on an outdated version and why you need a PHP 5.6 upgrade now.

Unpatched vulnerabilities: As new vulnerabilities are discovered in PHP and its associated libraries, they are patched in the latest supported versions. However, these fixes are not backported to unsupported versions like PHP 5.6. This leaves your application exposed to known vulnerabilities that malicious actors can exploit.

Incompatibility with Modern Security Tools: Security tools and solutions evolve to combat the latest threats. Staying on PHP 5.6 may lead to compatibility issues with modern security solutions, leaving you with limited options for protecting your application.

Regulatory Compliance: Many industries and organisations must adhere to strict regulatory compliance requirements, such as GDPR or HIPAA. Running unsupported software can put you at odds with these regulations, potentially resulting in legal issues and hefty fines.

The Consequences of a Security Breach

A security breach can have severe consequences for your organisation, including:

Data Breach: Loss of sensitive customer data can lead to legal liabilities, financial losses, and damage to your reputation.

Downtime: A successful attack can disrupt your website or application, leading to downtime and lost revenue.

Financial costs: Remedying a security breach is expensive. You may need to hire cybersecurity experts, invest in forensic analysis, and allocate resources to recover your compromised systems.

Reputation damage: A security breach can erode the trust of your customers and clients, leading to long-term damage to your brand’s reputation.

The Urgency of Upgrading

Given these security implications, the urgency of upgrading to a supported PHP version is clear. Here are the steps to take:

Application assessment: Understand the dependencies and libraries used in your application. Determine if any of them require an upgrade to be compatible with the latest PHP version.

Prepare your migration: Create a migration plan that outlines the steps, timeline, and potential challenges of upgrading your PHP version. Ensure that your team is trained to work with the new PHP version.

Backup and testing: Before making any changes, backup your entire system and thoroughly test your application on a development server to identify and resolve any compatibility issues.

Begin the upgrade: Once you’re confident that your application will work with the new PHP version, execute the upgrade on your production server.

Monitoring: Regularly monitor for security updates and apply them promptly. Maintain a proactive approach to security to reduce risks.

Staying on PHP 5.6 is no longer an option for organisations due to the security issues. The risks associated with running unsupported software are substantial and can have severe consequences. To protect your data, your reputation, and your bottom line, prioritise the upgrade to a supported PHP version. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your website or application remains resilient in the face of evolving cybersecurity threats.