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I work at a company where I noticed that most of our Magento 2 file system is owned by www-data and in the www-data group on our Ubuntu server.
Furthermore, the docroot directory /var/www/<websitename> has the same ownership, and an exceeding amount of directories in the Magento file system have both www-data ownership and 777 permissions, e.g. app, bin, pub and var amongst others.
The main user that is used for CLI work is not in the www-data group.

Is this an acceptable practice in some situations? Or is it always bad practice? Should I tell the webmaster to consider changing this? I consider this to be unnecessary and a dangerous security vulnerability, but I want to know whether it's permissible in some cases.

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It is bad practice in a production environment for the Magento file owner / command-line user and the web server user to use the same account (i.e. www-data) and may cause security issues and problems when running cron jobs.

Some web servers run as www-data. Web content should not be owned by this user, or a compromised web server would be able to rewrite a web site. Data written out by web servers will be owned by www-data.

Follow the recommendations in the development documentation and configure separate users and permissions for the Magento 2 file owner and web server.

  • The file owner / command-line user user should always be a member of the web server user group.
  • Ensure that you run Magento 2 cron jobs as the file owner user.
  • Always run Magento system commands such as setup:upgrade as the file owner / command-line user.

More info here: https://devdocs.magento.com/guides/v2.4/install-gde/prereq/file-sys-perms-over.html

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  • Thank you for your answer! Would you mind adding some info about how using www-data ownership can compromise the server? Dec 15 '20 at 11:58
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    Thank you, I found your quote in /usr/share/doc/base-passwd/users-and-groups.html! Dec 15 '20 at 16:34

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