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WordPress itself, in the wp-content folder, includes an empty PHP file which looks like this.

<?php
// Silence is golden.
?>

Should plugins include an empty file like this as well to stop folks view viewing the contents of a directory? What about additional folders in themes -- like an includes directory?

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1  
yes, it's probably a good idea. Never understood why WP doesn't have Options –Indexes in the bundled htaccess, so these files wouldn't be necessary... –  onetrickpony Mar 13 '12 at 1:45

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I am going to say YES. Security through obscurity works if your more obscure then your neighbors :) (joking but there is some truth to that).

The reality is that the bots/scanners now compile the plugin lists right off wordpress.org and crawl the plugin url's directly, fingerprinting versions for know exploits and keeping the info in a database for reference.

So which would you rather, a bot not being able to gather info on your install, or leaving it up to the plugin author to make sure your secure. How about both.

ps. On a side note there were 186 reported exploits from wordpress.org plugins last year .(*reported..).

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Exploit scanners do not test if the plugin exists. They try to run the exploit during the first request. An empty index.php would not protect anything, you would just get a false sense of security. –  toscho Mar 13 '12 at 2:16
    
But they do, wp-scan (one of many) fingerprints over 2200 plugins for example, and uses some decent fingerprinting to detect versions (file size, file additions, etc). –  Wyck Mar 13 '12 at 2:20
    
I’ve cleaned up dozens of hacked WordPress sites. Almost always the first request was a real attack. That’s just reasonable: Why wasting time with a detailed scan if you can test the vulnerability in the first request? Track your 404s to see it. :) –  toscho Mar 13 '12 at 2:25
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I agree, this should be up to the end user and not the author. But I don't think it hurts either. I just wanted to add a counter-point since you said "no". –  Wyck Mar 13 '12 at 2:36
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marked this one as accepted because of the comment debate! –  chrisguitarguy Mar 22 '12 at 2:49

No, they should not. If a plugin has vulnerabilities just because someone might see its directory structure it is broken. These bugs should be fixed.
Security through obscurity is a bug for itself.

Its up to the site owner to allow or forbid directory browsing.

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"Its up to the site owner to allow or forbid directory browsing." That's probably the key point. –  chrisguitarguy Mar 13 '12 at 1:49

Since WordPress core does this is makes sense for plugins to follow suit. While all of this can be protected with various server side settings it doesn't hurt to have a default (probably why WordPress core does it).

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