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SJ77

Dear Developers

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You guys make awesome stuff and I buy lots of it!!! So believe me when I say I am grateful for all you do.

However, I have had several developers ask me for ACP access lately.

I know you're all great people just trying to help but seriously some of us don't feel comfortable with this. I have all of my customers private information in there and the responsible thing to do is to not allow this. It's safety due diligence nothing personal. Surely there are other ways to fix a little widget. Maybe come up with an error capture plugin that I can run and show you the results.

I have recently removed several plugins because the ONLY fix seems to be allowing developers ACP access. I always briefly panic. "What should I do" I think to myself. Then I end up just removing the hook from my board.

What I think we desperately need is some way to offer LIMITED ACP access designed specifically for developers who need to look at things for trouble shooting.

That would be so helpful!!!!  IS there already a way to set this up?

 

Edited by superj707

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You could create a member with specified access to the admin control panel to look up the logs as example and just add a member.

 

Nevertheless, I can understand you, but a developer is responsible for handling the situation and I assume that I will speak for nearly all of them that we are not interested into your data or personal information of customers. Of course this will not change the case.

Lets try to be honest, we are testing all our applications multiply times (at least i do), if we do not run into any issue on that, we expect all is working fine. When someone now reports an issue it is on our end to clarify the situation, mostly only limited data is provided and it is a ping pong until we have collected up all our information we need. A quick access on the ACP is mostly easier.
Additionally, as longer as you programm, as less you trust anyone and anything. How many of the people purchasing apps and stuff like that you think have knowledge that is required to provide us detailed information? Guess why IPS also want full access, even to the server, to provide support...

 

Greetings

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Personally I understand your reluctance to share that sensitive info. However you must understand that there are some situations when a developer must have full access to fix something. And I do not mean only to the forum admin panel, but ftp access as well as phpmyadmin access.

For example, someone is saying that they have run into an issue with one of my plugins. Now, I test the plugin at my test forum and I can not reproduce the problem. The only way for me to fix it, is to look into the code at the client 's forum and try to figure out what is causing the issue and deal with it. Otherwise, other than consulting a crystal ball, there is not much that I can do.

 

 

Edited by Petja

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5 minutes ago, Petja said:

Personally I understand your reluctance to share that sensitive info. However you must understand that there are some situations when a developer must have full access to fix something. And I do not mean only to the forum admin panel, but ftp access as well as phpmyadmin access.

For example, someone is saying that they have run into an issue with one of my plugins. Now, I test the plugin at my test forum and I can not reproduce the problem. The only way for me to fix it, is to look into the code at the client 's forum and try to figure out what is causing the issue and deal with it. Otherwise, other than consulting a crystal ball, there is not much that I can do.

 

 

I get it.. I really do. I am just not sure where the balance should be between security and useful access.

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Just to toss something out there...  if you trust them enough to install their plugin/mod to your site, you basically already trust them enough with ACP access.  

What is stopping them from having a small little extra query to add a new member account or to grant a separate back door when you install their app? 

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8 minutes ago, Randy Calvert said:

Just to toss something out there...  if you trust them enough to install their plugin/mod to your site, you basically already trust them enough with ACP access.  

What is stopping them from having a small little extra query to add a new member account or to grant a separate back door when you install their app? 

Being banned and having license suspended is a pretty good counter measure against malicious attempts. Files are also "analysed" before they're approved but I'm unaware of the scope when it comes to what they look for and how. Perhaps they just download it and make sure it's not a compilation of cat memes instead of an actual plugin. @AndyF

Edited by iDeath

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You can create an Administrator account with limited access to only the sections they need.  For example, you can cut off access to Members, Community, Commerce, Customization and only give them access to System.  Navigate to ACP > Members > Staff - Administrators.  Click on the button +Add Administrator and set up a single admin with limited access.  

Furthermore, I think there's a balance to trust 'respected' third-party developers.  There are quite a few third-party developers who - through their activity, length of time, ongoing support, and both public and private interaction - I implicitly trust to allow onto my live website. I've even been happy to help some of them test their plugins and apps on my live website and I try to report bugs to them -- development in the third-party community is a two-way street.  

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Speaking strictly as a client:

@superj707I do see what you're saying. :) However this is something to consider when electing to use any third party file, be it a theme, plugin, application or other, in that if you do need assistance from the author for it then occasionally depending on what the issue is they may need to request access.

Obviously you are completely and utterly within your rights to not give them any access at all and I can fully, completely understand that although I also understand in such cases their support may be limited in what they can offer "working blind" as such.

Sometimes they might be able to give you some debug code or additional steps to throw out some information that may assist but I do as I put above very clearly see both sides to this as you may have confidential information to protect or such information may be covered by various NDA's or suchlike. This is before even considering any legal requirements of data access or things such as 'data protection rules / acts' into account either.

I guess it boils down to partly a matter of trust and partly to what requirements (both legal and say conscience) are present. :) or to put it another way "If I install this third party file and I am unlucky enough to have issues we (we being the author and the site admin etc) are unable to solve 'as is' can I allow a third party access or not?"

As you know not all issues are going to *need* third party access, it may be as simple as awaiting an update from the author for perhaps a "known but rare issue that only happens if you also have third party file x present too" or they may have a suggestion on what the likely cause is such as say another way of configuring the applications settings to rectify it, the later is only really likely with complex, large apps however I suspect.

One idea I have seen suggested in the past is to install a test board and install all the apps you have on the "live" board on that, so in effect you have a copy of your live board but minus the members and their data and if the issue happens there too, perhaps allow the author some kind of limited ACP access to that. You would also be able to setup for instance restricted FTP if they required filesystem access but again it boils down to trust. I realise this is not exactly ideal either for various reasons.

I do not immediately see an "easy idea or solution" to this although I shall follow this topic with much interest as this subject has come up before in the past. The 'remote viewing' is a good thought although if it was strictly viewing only then it may not be ideal however it is I feel in some cases possibly better than static screenshots.

 

Speaking as a Marketplace Mod:

Talking of files containing things they should not: I do look at new files for anything that should not be there, and they are tested in a decently "sandboxed" environment. If someone did upload a file **purposely** containing malicious code then I would not hesitate to have their upload permissions revoked.

Speaking generally about files: If there are any 'concerns' (for want of a better word) about a submission in our Marketplace then I'm happy to be contacted about said file and I'll download and examine it if required.

Regarding actual testing of files, apart from the obvious such as making sure "it does what it says on the tin" as such, there are other smaller tasks too, for example to check that it is not causing unwanted issues with other addons (files are tested with all official apps present and active) as well as reading any documentation provided in both the file description, any "readme" type files in the submission itself and more minor items such as checking the screenshots match the file.

 

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Sometimes you've just got that suborn bug that you can't reproduce and the acp and often ftp is needed to troubleshoot further.

2 hours ago, superj707 said:

I have recently removed several plugins because the ONLY fix seems to be allowing developers ACP access. I always briefly panic. "What should I do" I think to myself. Then I end up just removing the hook from my board.

I'm a little security conscious myself and I think most developers understand that not all customers are open to providing access. So don't feel bad saying your not comfortable providing login details. As your as you understand troubleshooting will take longer, the developer can provide steps to track down the issue yourself.

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If someone put malicious code in a file, it would get found out eventually, by someone such as Andy or a user.

As for acp access, it depends on the issue. Sometimes you may only need to give limited acp access. In most cases, there's just no way around either ftp access or close to full acp access, though, for debugging where things are going wrong. There's just not much else that can be done other than direct db access, acp access to the sql area, or at least ftp access (with logging to files, probably).

edit: in some cases, the developer could tell you what to do and then you tell them results, but the problem is it slows the process down a lot and takes more of their time.

Edited by Midnight Modding

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5 minutes ago, Mike John said:

As your as you understand troubleshooting will take longer, the developer can provide steps to track down the issue yourself.

This part is not spoken about enough. Either customers don't understand this or selectively leave it out when it comes to commenting on how long a dev is taking or how bad it is that ACP access is asked for.

Just because it is asked for does not mean that it should be given and just because it is asked for does not mean that the developer is not good at maintaining their software.

Overall I'd say this whole issue is part of an unfortunate gap between customers wanting things done ASAP and not having enough understanding of what that means; to begin with, I'd be surprised if the majority of customers didn't even realise that it is not sustainable to earn a full living from the Marketplace, therefore unreasonable to be on top of maintenance even half of the time.

I'm not confident that there is a "dev mode" type solution to this, largely because of the sheer number of different self-hosted versions of IPS installs. Instead, I think a better way to start is somehow making it easier for customers to understand the whole situation... could IPS help with this? Maybe. Probably. It's certainly complex but I wouldn't say it's impossible.

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I have giving access a few times using an account that I made for that purpose. After every use I change the password for that account. Myself personally, I have not had any issues giving access to developers but I don't give access to just anyone. As Joel R had mentioned it is about length of time, how they conduct themselves, if they respond to others in support topics etc. 

I am not a developer but understand the time involved making plugins or apps, keeping them updated, and dealing with customers. The more apps and plugins someone has, the harder it is. 

I don't think developers are out to get anyone. They have a reputation to keep so they can continue to sell apps and plugins. 

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9 hours ago, iDeath said:

Being banned and having license suspended is a pretty good counter measure against malicious attempts. Files are also "analysed" before they're approved but I'm unaware of the scope when it comes to what they look for and how. Perhaps they just download it and make sure it's not a compilation of cat memes instead of an actual plugin. @AndyF

 

9 hours ago, Adriano Faria said:

Maybe profissionalism? ???

What I'm saying here is if you trust the developer enough to install it into your board, you should trust them enough to give them access to the Admin CP when needed to debug/troubleshoot.  You're basically already doing it in a way.  If it really was a malicious developer, there are ways to hide/trick/fool intentions.  Even companies like Apple occasionally have things slip through the cracks in their App Store review process.  (And I'm assuming Apple is putting MUCH more work into the review process than IPS does given the amount of revenue it generates for each company.)

Give the developers of the plugins/addons, etc what they need to help you.  Help them help you!

And before anyone suggests otherwise, I'm not suggesting developers always need full-time Admin CP access.  But if they're trying to troubleshoot something and ask for it... be like Nike.  JUST DO IT!  When the issue is resolved, delete the account.  Very similar to giving IPS access to troubleshoot issues as well.  There should not need to be a limited access or read only account.  Either you trust them to do what they're supposed to be doing, or you don't in which case you should not be using their code in the first place.  

Just my two cents anyway. :)

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1 hour ago, Randy Calvert said:

 

What I'm saying here is if you trust the developer enough to install it into your board, you should trust them enough to give them access to the Admin CP when needed to debug/troubleshoot.  You're basically already doing it in a way.  If it really was a malicious developer, there are ways to hide/trick/fool intentions.  Even companies like Apple occasionally have things slip through the cracks in their App Store review process.  (And I'm assuming Apple is putting MUCH more work into the review process than IPS does given the amount of revenue it generates for each company.)

Give the developers of the plugins/addons, etc what they need to help you.  Help them help you!

And before anyone suggests otherwise, I'm not suggesting developers always need full-time Admin CP access.  But if they're trying to troubleshoot something and ask for it... be like Nike.  JUST DO IT!  When the issue is resolved, delete the account.  Very similar to giving IPS access to troubleshoot issues as well.  There should not need to be a limited access or read only account.  Either you trust them to do what they're supposed to be doing, or you don't in which case you should not be using their code in the first place.  

Just my two cents anyway. :)

NO. Don't just do it, This is very wrong, Not everyone is trustworthy, You should at least check their profile, read some of their posts, Search his name to look what people mention him about, Check his marketplace reviews...etc this is realy important, You cant just simply be like Nike. JUST DO IT! Because its not all about malicious stuff or whatever, NO, Bad person could do anything

For example, last time if i recall correctly, Lindy banned someone here and he had about +11 or something resources in marketplace, He got banned for sharing marketplace items from other developers, He was precisely perching items and then sharing on warez sites, Now i wonder how many times he requested and had access to his customers website and downloaded all of their Plugins, Apps, themes...etc ) and shared on warez sites.

I suggest you and everyone else to do some background check in forum before given your website access. or simply give him Teamviewer access instead of your login info.

 

 

Edited by TAMAN

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10 hours ago, AndyF said:

Speaking strictly as a client:

One idea I have seen suggested in the past is to install a test board and install all the apps you have on the "live" board on that, so in effect you have a copy of your live board but minus the members and their data and if the issue happens there too, perhaps allow the author some kind of limited ACP access to that. You would also be able to setup for instance restricted FTP if they required filesystem access but again it boils down to trust. I realise this is not exactly ideal either for various reasons.

Working with staging-installs gives a much better control about occurence of bugs before go live. It's the gold way and I always recommened that to all of my customers. Unfortunately, IPS does not give any support to staging/dev installs. I've performed an Upgrade from IPS 3 to 4 and was confronted with a bug resulting in forum being down on staging. IPS refused to help and said, only live installs are supported. Gladly I've found a solution by myself, but IPS recommendation was exactly to accept a downtime of several hours or days on live forum to get any support in that case.

I know the security reasons for not giving a developer full access and these reasons are absolutely valid, but please note that this will slow down support dramatically.

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3 hours ago, TAMAN said:

NO. Don't just do it, This is very wrong, Not everyone is trustworthy, You should at least check their profile, read some of their posts, Search his name to look what people mention him about, Check his marketplace reviews...etc this is realy important, You cant just simply be like Nike. JUST DO IT! Because its not all about malicious stuff or whatever, NO, Bad person could do anything

For example, last time if i recall correctly, Lindy banned someone here and he had about +11 or something resources in marketplace, He got banned for sharing marketplace items from other developers, He was precisely perching items and then sharing on warez sites, Now i wonder how many times he requested and had access to his customers website and downloaded all of their Plugins, Apps, themes...etc ) and shared on warez sites.

I suggest you and everyone else to do some background check in forum before given your website access. or simply give him Teamviewer access instead of your login info.

 

 

You should be doing your checks and any precautionary measures BEFORE you install anything from any person. ;)

If you don't trust them enough to be in your ACP you should not be installing their stuff.  If you're ever in a situation where you need support, you should not be just then making a decision to evaluate the mod author's reputation. That's like hiring a random person to work in a bank vault. But then deciding to do a background check only after something is not working right. 

If they really are a bad person you don't want their code in your ACP anymore than you want them logging into ACP directly. :)

Edited by Randy Calvert

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4 hours ago, Randy Calvert said:

You should be doing your checks and any precautionary measures BEFORE you install anything from any person. ;)

If you don't trust them enough to be in your ACP you should not be installing their stuff.  If you're ever in a situation where you need support, you should not be just then making a decision to evaluate the mod author's reputation. That's like hiring a random person to work in a bank vault. But then deciding to do a background check only after something is not working right. 

If they really are a bad person you don't want their code in your ACP anymore than you want them logging into ACP directly. :)

Hi Randy,

While I appreciate your thoughts I will have to respectfully disagree. I don't subscribe to the all or nothing philosophy in this case. I think it's perfectly reasonable to trust mod authors enough to feel comfortable installing their stuff AND not feel okay with them poking around the ACP.  Like I said in the OP. I do believe folks here are great people who intend well.

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This is still a big issue for me.

I have several things I have bought recently that do not work and developers only solution is "Give me the keys to your ACP" 😞

 

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4 minutes ago, SJ77 said:

This is still a big issue for me.

I have several things I have bought recently that do not work and developers only solution is "Give me the keys to your ACP" 😞

 

Why don't you create an admin account that doesn't have ACP Commerce access (or whatever access you don't want to share).  

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1 minute ago, Joel R said:

Why don't you create an admin account that doesn't have ACP Commerce access (or whatever access you don't want to share).  

to be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure how to do that.

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Just now, SJ77 said:

to be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure how to do that.

Really?? I'm gonna blow your mind.  

Go to ACP > Members > Administrators.  Then add a user (you prob need to create a dummy account in advance).  And in the users settings, just disable the modules or apps you don't want him to access.  

For example, my root admin account has access to everything.  But I have a test admin account which doesn't have access to commerce.  

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