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User Authentication With Apache And PHP
Want to protect parts of your site from unauthorized visitors? It's easier than it sounds.

| Revisiting The Past |

A long, long time ago, during my early days with Web application development, I was asked to write an administration module for a Web site. This module was to be available only to site administrators, and so required user authentication, or login, at the entry point itself. I didn't know much about Web development at the time, but I did my best and handed the code over to the QA people for testing.

As it turned out, my user authentication module had enough security holes in it to drive a few hundred dump trucks through. I spent the next week plugging those holes, and along the way learnt a number of valuable things about access control - most notably, that it's not as easy or as obvious as you might think.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to add user authentication to your Web site. You might want to restrict access to certain pages only to a specific group of privileged users. You might want to customize the content on your site as per user preferences. Or you might just want to track user movement between the pages of your site. Regardless of why you want to add it, you should know how to go about doing it reliably and efficiently.

That's where this article comes in. Over the next few pages, I'll be showing you how to authenticate users, maintain session information and handle login/logout operations, using both built-in Apache authentication and custom PHP code. So keep reading.

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