We recently got the following frightening sounding spam email, with the subject “PHP Version Upgrade”, claiming that features of websites will stop working on November 28 if PHP isn’t upgraded to version 8:
I hope everything is going perfect at your end. I am writing this email on the behalf of my IT company having specialization in different technologies and platforms. This email is in the context of outdated PHP version of our website. Your website is running on PHP version below 8.0 which is going to be totally outdated on 28th November 2022. You need to get the website updated immediately else some features will stop working after that.
We can assist you with this easily. Please let me know if you want to upgrade the website to PHP version 8.0 or higher and we will be sharing our quotation for the same accordingly.
That isn’t true.
What this relates to that is real is that the last version of PHP below 8, 7.4, will lose official security support from the developers on that day. Earlier versions, though, will continue to work after that, as has always been the case. So nothing will stop working on websites still using an earlier version of PHP.
Running a version of PHP that doesn’t have security support from the developers doesn’t mean that your website is at risk of being hacked, either. For that to be the case, there would need to be a serious vulnerability found and no unofficial update for it made available or that update isn’t applied to PHP on the server. There hasn’t been a vulnerability in PHP that has led to widespread hacking of websites in many years. It also isn’t uncommon for websites running a supported version of PHP to not be running the latest version of it.
What Changing to PHP 8 Involves
If you do want to change to PHP 8, it possibly involves two separate sets of actions. One of which can actually cause features of the website or the entire website to not work. The action that could cause that is changing the version of PHP in use to version 8. The reason for that is that not all older software is designed to be compatible with PHP 8.
How you change the PHP version in use to 8 depends on your hosting set up. In some cases, it is as simple as changing a setting in the hosting control panel associated with the website. In other cases, it could involve the website’s web host needing to move the website to a new server.
The other action that might need to be done is to change the software on the website to be compatible with PHP 8, so that features of the website or the whole website doesn’t stop working. That might be handled by updating software on the website. Or it might involve rewriting code if custom code is used or if third-party code used hasn’t already been updated for PHP 8.
Should You Be Making This Change?
While it is a good idea to keep your website up to date and running supported software for security purposes, it is important to understand that running outdated software doesn’t automatically put your website at risk. It is even possible that a new version of software introduces a vulnerability that didn’t exist before.
Your best option is to have a relationship with a company or individual that can give you honest advice on how you can best keep your software up to date within your budget and what might be the pitfalls of changing between major PHP versions, like a switch from PHP 7 to 8, with the software on your website, so those can be dealt with in a way that lessens possible problems.
We handle upgrades of a variety of popular web software and have many years of experience dealing with changes that need to be made to avoid incompatibilities with new versions of PHP.