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I was under the impression that MediaWiki, due to its nature as "open for all Wiki platform", is not tailored towards managing sensitive information.

I found some warnings about this on the MediaWiki FAQ and some user account extensions as:

If you need per-page or partial page access restrictions, you are advised to install an appropriate content management package. MediaWiki was not written to provide per-page access restrictions, and almost all hacks or patches promising to add them will likely have flaws somewhere, which could lead to exposure of confidential data. We are not responsible for anything being leaked, leading to loss of funds or one's job.

Now a consultant of my boss tells him there is no problem with sensitive information at all. I would like to hear if he is right, and I worry too much.

I suppose all problems would go away if we would use separate instances of MediaWiki for every user group with the same rights. Or are there known vulnerabilities?

Edit (some more information on the data):

The data contains information about financial investments (so it is very important for the customer) which should be made available only to key personnel. And this key personnel may well change so the rights have to be revocable. I can't estimate the scope of the data yet, but if the system works well it may be used a lot.

(Remark: This question was asked at Stack Overflow, but since it was considered off-topic there, I ask it again here.)

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How sensitive is the information? How big is the information? How many pieces of sensitive information are there? Who do you want to access the information? Who do you want to deny access to? – this.josh Jul 18 '11 at 18:18
Hi @Amenti, welcome to ITsec! As @this.josh noted, we need some more context, please see the FAQ. – AviD Jul 18 '11 at 21:58
I edited the question and tried to be more specific. – Amenti Jul 19 '11 at 6:53
up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is the Access Control extension.
But, you should also read the Security issues with authorization extensions linked from there.

MediaWiki is not designed to be a CMS, or to protect sensitive data. To the contrary, it was designed to be as open as possible. Thus it does not inherently support full featured, air-tight protection of private content. But with the massive increase of MediaWiki use in corporate intranets and the many CMS-like features emerging, demand for tighter security is emerging.

To help authors of security extensions, this list of the security flaws found in the field is being maintained, so that they can test their extension against each. There are several extensions that claim to give selective read/write access to pages in Category:Page specific user rights extensions, and currently most of these do exhibit several of the listed flaws.

Hopefully, that will help you make your decisions.

Update: Summary from comments, MediaWiki is not a good mechanism for publishing limited-access information.

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@Amenti I do not personally recommend using MediaWiki for sensitive information, unless you keep it internal to a network (i.e. not exposed to the internet), and you allow users to VPN in to the net in order to use the resources inside the network). Otherwise, MediaWiki is not designed to be closed and secure, it is designed to be as open as is possible, as outlined in @nik's answer. – Thomas Ward Jul 18 '11 at 17:28
I thought that the idea was an internal wiki but with user access-control to limit some information within specific groups -- from Amenti's other comments, I guess that is the case. – nik Jul 19 '11 at 13:29
Might be, but even then, MediaWiki is horridly open. Even with user access control, it'll still be horridly open. Any environment in which you need to secure information, even from an internal perspective, MediaWiki isn't a good solution. Its openness is its greatest flaw for environments such as the one the OP is referencing. – Thomas Ward Jul 19 '11 at 13:31
@nik Sorry if it sounded that way (I'm no native english speaker). The intent is to make sensitive information available over the internet using MediaWiki to "offsite" key personnel. But nonetheless your answer and Phoenix' comments are right on the mark. It seems not to be viable for such a task. – Amenti Jul 20 '11 at 13:19

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