Optimisation and utility
This section contains directives which are of utilitarian value and bound to save you some time:
Some servers attempt to serve index.html before index.php.
This has the implication that trying to access your site's root,
http://www.example.com, will attempt to serve an
index.html first. If this file doesn't exist, it will try to
serve index.php. However, all of our Joomla! sites only have the
index.php, so this checking slows them down unnecessarily on
each page request. This rule works around this problem. Do note
that some servers do not allow this and will result in a blank
page or Internal Server Error page.
Enabling this option will cause all files and pages served from the site to have a longer expiration time, depending on the setting, which means that the browser will not try to load them over the network before one hour elapses. This is a very desirable feature, as it speeds up your site.
Most web servers are designed to treat www and non-www
URLs in the same way. For example, if your site is
http://www.example.com then most servers will also
display it if called as
http://example.com. This has
many adverse effects. For starters, if a user accesses the www
site, logs in and then visits the non-www site he's no longer
logged in, causing a functional issue with your site's users.
Moreover, the duplicate content rules also apply in this case.
That's why we suggest that you enable on of the redirection
settings of this option. The different settings are:
Do not redirect. It does no redirection (turns this feature off)
Redirect non-www to www. Requests to the non-www site
will be redirected to the www site, e.g.
http://example.com will be redirected to
Redirect www to non-www. Requests to the www site will
be redirected to the non-www site, e.g.
http://www.example.com will be redirected to
Sometimes you have to migrate your site to a new domain, as we did migrating from joomlapack.net to akeebabackup.com. Usually this is done transparently, having both domains attached to the same site on the hosting level. However, while a visitor can access the old domain name, the address bar on his browser will still show the old domain name and search engines will believe that you have set up a duplicate content site, sending to the darkest hole of search engine results. Not good! So, you'd better redirect the old domain to the new domain with a 301 redirection to alert both users and search engines about the name change. This is what this option does. You can include several old domains separated by commas. For example:
will redirect all access attempts to joomlapack.net and www.joomlapack.net to the new domain.
Assuming that you have a site which is only supposed to be accessed over HTTPS, your visitor's web browser has no idea that the site should not be ever accessed over HTTP. Joomla! offers a Global Configuration setting to force SSL throughout the entire site, but this is merely a workaround: if it sees a request coming through HTTP it will forward it to HTTPS. There are two privacy implications for your users:
If you have not enabled the SSL option in Global Configuration a man-in-the-middle attack known as "SSL Stripping" is possible. In this case the user will access your site over plain HTTP without having any idea that they should be using HTTPS instead.
Even if Joomla! forwards your user to HTTPS the unencrypted (HTTP) request can still be logged by an attacker. With a moderate amount of sophistication on the part of the attacker (basically, some $200 hardware an widely available information) they can efficiently eavesdrop at the very least the URLs visited by your user –undetected but to the most vigilant geeks among your users– and probably infer information about them.
The HSTS header can fix SSL Stripping attacks by instructing the browser to always use HTTPS for this website, even if the protocol used in a URL is HTTP. The browser, having seen this header, will always use HTTPS for your site. An SSL Stripping and other man-in-the-middle attacks are possible only if your user visits your site for the first time in a hostile environment. This is usually not the case, therefore the HSTS header can provide real benefits to the privacy of your users.
For more information on what the HSTS header is and how it can protect your site visitors' privacy you can read the Wikipedia entry on HSTS.
There are three possible settings:
None. No action is taken. The .htaccess Maker will not set the Strict-Transport-Security (HSTS) header, nor it will be redirecting from HTTPS to HTTPS.
Basic. The .htaccess Maker enables HSTS by sending a basic Strict-Transport-Security (HSTS) header which tells the browser that for the next year it should assume the site runs on HTTPS only.
For HSTS Preload. As
above, but also includes the
preload flags in the
Strict-Transport-Security (HSTS) header which are required
to submit your site on https://hstspreload.org/
to have web browsers only
ever connect to your domain using HTTPS. Please note
that this header does have a major
implication: all subdomains
of the site MUST be accessed over HTTPS only. DO NOT use
this setting if you do not have control over all subdomains
on the server, e.g. an organization where you are only
responsible for and in control of a single subdomain but not
the entire list of subdomains. DO NOT use this setting if
you have subdomains which MUST be accessed over plain HTTP,
even if they are hosted on external
services, e.g. a CDN provider such as Amazon CloudFront, or
CloudFlare. Remember that if you mess up, you mess up
for an entire year. There is no way to
fix your mess for any browser which has already seen the
HSTS header. Think very hard before
you act, and be extremely responsible with your
Enabling this option will prevent remote clients from using the HTTP methods TRACE and TRACK to connect to your site. These can be used by hackers to perform privilege escalation attacks known as Cross Site Tracing (XST). To the best of our knowledge there are no side-effects to enabling this feature.
There are three settings for this option. Explicitly disallowed will tell browsers that you do not with your site's resources to be accessible from any other domain name whatsoever. Let the browser decide (default) will not set any headers and let the browser decide whether to allow access to your site from a different domain name; this may work a bit differently in older browsers which MIGHT allow subdomains of your site to have access. Use this option if you plan on setting up CORS headers yourself, either in custom .htaccess code or through server-side scripting e.g. as part of the response of a component. Finally, Explicitly allowed will tell browsers that you want your site's resources to be accessible for any other domain.
When you use any of the explicit options the appropriate Access-Control-Allow-Origin and Timing-Allow-Origin HTTP headers will be set for all requests. For more information on CORS please consult the Enable CORS site.
Internet Explorer 9 and later, as well as Google Chrome, will try by default to guess the content type of downloaded documents regardless of what the MIME header sent by the server. Let's say a malicious user to upload an executable file, e.g. a .EXE file or a Chrome Extension, under an innocent file extension as .jpg (image file). When a victim tries downloading this file, IE and Chrome will try to guess the file type, identify it as an executable file and under certain circumstances it executing it. This means that your site could be unwittingly used to serve malware. Such an event could result in your site being added to a list of known bad sites by browser makers and cause their browsers to display a warning to users when visiting your site. By enabling this feature you instruct IE and Chrome to respect the file type sent by your server, eliminating this issue. See the relevant MSDN article for more information.
Enabling this option in .htaccess Maker will instruct the browser to try preventing this issue. Please note that this only works on compatible browsers (IE8; Chrome; Safari and other WebKit browsers) and only applies to reflected XSS attacks. Stored XSS attacks, where the malicious Javscript is stored in the database, is NOT prevented. You should consider this protection a safety belt. Not wearing a safety belt in the event of an accident pretty much guarantees serious injury or death. Wearing a safety belt minimises the possibility of injury or death but does not always prevent it. This option is your safety belt against the most common type of XSS attacks. You should use it but don't expect it to stop everything thrown your way. Always keep your software up-to-date, especially when a security release is published!
For more information please consult the relevant MSDN article.
Send a custom Content Security Policy HTTP header for SVG files which prevents scripts inside them from executing. Doing so will also disable most SVG animations and remove all interactive features from all SVG files.
This option only needs to be enabled if your site is configured in such a way that it allows untrusted users to upload unsanitized SVG files to your site. By default, Joomla does NOT permit this. You'd have to configure it to do so yourself, using the Media Manager's options page and / or a third party extension.
Note that unlike the Site Protection features, this will apply to all SVG files regardless of their location.
Because of the way NginX works, enabling this option removes all other custom HTTP headers for SVG files. This includes the HSTS header and the prevent content transformation header. This can cause unexpected security issues. For this reason we very strongly recommend AGAINST using this option on NginX servers.
For more information please consult the formal web standard document RFC 2616, section 14.9.5
Your web server sends an ETag header with each static file it serves. Browsers will ask the server in subsequent requests whether the file has a different ETag. If not, they will serve the same file therefore reducing the amount of data they need to transfer from the server (and making the site load faster). By default ETags are calculated based on the file size, last modified date and the inode number. The latter depends on the location of the file inside the filesystem of the server.
When you have a site hosted on a single server this is great. If your static files are, however, hosted on a server farm this may not be a good idea. The reason is that every static file is stored on different server and while the file size and last modified date might be the same the inode number will differ, therefore causing the browser to perform unnecessary file transfers. This is where this option comes in handy.
Do NOT change this option if your site is hosted on just one server. If you are not sure or have no idea what that means then your site is hosted on just one server and you MUST NOT change this option. Please bear in mind that site speed analysers like YSlow are designed for gigantic sites running off hundreds or thousands of servers. Their site speed checklists DO NOT work well with the vast majority of sites you are working on, i.e. very small sites running off a single server. Treat these checklists as suggestions: you need to exercise common sense, not blindly follow them. If you disable ETags on a small site you are more likely to do harm than good!
The available options are:
Server default. Use whatever setting the server administrator has chosen. If you are not perfectly sure you know what you're doing choose this option.
Full. Send ETags based on file size, last modification date/time and inode number.
None (no ETag sent). Disable ETags completely. Do keep in mind that if you do not also enable the Set default expiration option you will be hurting your site's performance!
The lack of other options is intentional and has to do with an NginX limitation. NginX, unlike Apache, only offers a binary switch for ETags: you either send them or you don't.
While surfing, your browser will send out some information about the previous you were visiting (the Referrer that brought you to the new page). This is useful for analytics, for example you can easily track down how many visitors came from Twitter or any other page.
However, there are security implications about the Referrer header. What if on the private area of your website there are sensible information? Think about a private support area, where there is a ticket with the link www.example.com/private-support/help-my-site-www-foobar-com-is-hacked ; you post a reply with a link to a Stack Overflow reply, the user clicks on it and... whops! Now Stack Overflow knows that the site www.foobar.com was hacked.
The Referrer Policy header will instruct your browser when to send the Referrer header and how many information you want to share.
Do not set any policy You're not setting any instruction to the browser
(Empty) You do not
want to set the Referrer Policy here (as header) and the
browser should fallback to other mechanisms, for example
<meta> element or the
referrerpolicy attribute on
no-referrer Never send the referer header
no-referrer-when-downgrade The browser will not send the referrer header when navigating from HTTPS to HTTP, but will always send the full URL in the referrer header when navigating from HTTP to any origin. It doesn't matter whether the source and destination are the same site or not, only the scheme.
same-origin The browser will only set the referrer header on requests to the same origin. If the destination is another origin then no referrer information will be sent.
origin The browser will always set the referrer header to the origin from which the request was made. This will strip any path information from the referrer information.
Navigating from HTTPS to HTTP will disclose the secure origin in the HTTP request.
value is similar to
origin above but will not
allow the secure origin to be sent on a HTTP request, only
origin-when-cross-origin The browser will send the full URL to requests to the same origin but only send the origin when requests are cross-origin.
Navigating from HTTPS to HTTP will disclose the secure URL or origin in the HTTP request.
origin-when-cross-origin above but
will not allow any information to be sent when a scheme
downgrade happens (the user is navigating from HTTPS to
unsafe-url The browser will always send the full URL with any request to any origin.