We host around 20 different expressionengine run sites for a variety of clients. In those sites we have an admin account with the same username on each site. When one of our employees leaves the company we have to go and manually change the passwords on each site which is manual and time consuming.

I am thinking of writing a script to do this automatically. My plan would be to create an object or array of all the sites db connections and loop through them and run a sql query to change to password where exp_members.username equals our admin username.

Before I go through this process I am wondering how others manage this as maybe there is a better way.


2 Answers 2


How would you intend on changing the password through database updates? From installation to installation, the actual cryptography used for password hashing can vary depending on what's available on the server. EE2 uses sha512, sha256, sha1, and md5 depending on the server/environment. I'm not sure about EE3. To appropriately handle this situation I would suggest writing a custom add-on that can function as a micro-service API; basically you hit it's ACTion id, validate somehow, pass it a new password, and then use EE to programatically change a user's password. But for true security reasons this would only be smart if every site you need to hit is behind an SSL certificate, and even then you'd have to write a script to hit these services instead of manually copy/pasting 20 urls to hit in your browser.

Are all of these application in one data center? If all of your MySQL servers and application servers are cordoned safely, you wouldn't have to worry about MiTM attacks and not need SSL on every site, but you'd have to be connected to that network to safely transmit data (be at work, VPNed in, etc).

I don't know if EE invalidates sessions when a password is changed programatically, so the safe thing to do would be delete all sessions for that user in the databases as well.

DELETE FROM `schema`.`exp_sessions`
    WHERE member_id = XXX;

It would log some people out; but that's not the end of the world.

You could just dump dummy data (through MySQL/SSH) in so the offending ex-employee loses access, but everyone else does as well until you hit each sites forgot password functionality.

Honestly, I would not recommend the current route you are in; sharing credentials and one admin user anonimizes the work being done and makes it harder to attribute events to employees (think: who edited my entry!?). I suppose you could have a deployment system and repository for your installations to take care of tracing file editors, but content edits are lost to your one user.

I also have no idea what your employee head count is and how much user credential provisioning you'd need to do. It's possible to use the multi-site manager for serving multiple sites in one EE install; then users are shared across the system and would solve your problem. I would be interested to hear the reasoning behind this workflow for your company.

The sophisticated answer would be a custom add-on that validates specific users against a separate, secure entity such a separate EE install. Then, you just modify that one EE member in your master install and then no other EE install can validate against it if it doesn't provide the updated password. There are extension hooks for taking over member credential validation, which you would only do selectively for your "master" members, and leave each install to use native members auth for everyone else.

One last time though; remember, if you are passing un-encrypted passwords in any form, get behind SSL.

  • Thanks for the input. Workflow is setup the way it is because we just build the sites and client adds content. We just create an admin account so we can get into control panel if client reports an issue. About 10 devs give or take but seems like there is decent amount of turnover so it seems like we are doing this quarterly. As for running the script I would plan to be on the network as all databases are in same center and I would run the script from a local version so the script would not be on any of the actual websites.
    – Chris
    Jun 28, 2016 at 20:26
  • Hmm. Well, if you keep all EE version about the same and run all the applications on duplicate or very similar images, you can probably get away with hashing a new password locally and then use a bash script (or python, or whatever) to distribute it. My only concern is if any of your servers are missing cryptographic packages (like, 0.001% chance of that honestly). But take a peak at the source code (I believe /system/expressionengine/libraries/Auth.php) to see how EE hashes passwords.
    – jrothafer
    Jun 28, 2016 at 22:18

I would either 1) just delete their account. 2) move them to a user group that does not have access to anything. So even if they are able to change their password, they will not be able to get to anything.

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