I'm doing a redesign for a client who's understandably concerned about security after having been hacked in the past. I had initially suggested using a simple PHP include for header and footer templates and a contact form they wanted. They are reluctant because they were advised by their hosting company that using PHP is a security concern which might allow someone to break into cPanel and gain control of the site.
This, to me, sounds about like telling someone to never drive so they won't be in a car accident. My gut instinct is that the host is trying to shift blame onto the client for security flaws in their own system. Also, the server still has PHP installed, whether or not we use it, so I'm questioning how much this actually reduces the attack surface... But since I'm not a security expert, I don't want to stick my foot in my mouth.
I told my client that to process the contact form they're going to need some form of dynamic scripting. (False?) They asked if I could just use PHP on that one page. Would this be measurably safer, or is it the equivalent of locking your car doors and leaving the window rolled down?
How much truth is there to the claim that using any PHP script, no matter how simple, is an inherent security problem? We're on shared hosting with no SSL. Is it reasonable to assume we got hacked due to using PHP? Will we be any safer if we don't use it, but can't uninstall it? Because if not, we have other problems.
(Would the answer be different for any other language?)