Authentication: Groups

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Basic Authentication

Authentication Groups

For small organisations maintainability becomes time consuming and can quickly get out of control. An ideal solution is to use a groups file the following page introduces the general concept.

Preparation

You have a number of directories where certain individuals can have access to all these for example administrators. Certain directories are restricted to directors and managers while critical material is accessible only by the managing.

The above is a little contrived but gives four grounps ceo, directors, managers and admins. For this example I will use the password list from the introduction page:

root:root
John:john123
Dave Smith:dave123
Mike:mike123
Jane:jane123
Dawn:dawn123
Ruth Smith:ruth123

Single member groups are useful because it avoids hard coding specific names in the htaccess file.

ceo directors managers admins
John:john123 Dave Smith:dave123 Mike:mike123 root:root
  Ruth Smith:ruth123 Jane:jane123  
    Dawn:dawn123  

Note 1: Delete the first entry root:root (everyone knows this) I use it only for testing

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Groups File

A groups file consists of separate lines for each group. Each line starts with a group name followed by a colon and a space-separated list of users in that group. If the list of users is large start a new line, use the same group name followed by a colon and continue with the list of names for that group.

The groups file is named .htgroup (if you wish use a different name)

Create the following file UniServer\udrive\htpasswd\www\.htgroup

Add the following groups:

ceo:John
directors:"Dave Smith" "Ruth Smith"
managers:Mike Jane Dawn
admin:root

Note 1: Enclose names with spaces in quotes.

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Update .htacces files

Apache needs to find the group file hence add the path as shown:

AuthGroupFile /htpasswd/www/.htgroup

The require line changes to Require group:

Require group "group name 1" "group name 2

Modified .htaccess files are shown below:

John

  • Edit file as shown UniServer\udrive\www\john\.htaccess
SSLOptions +StrictRequire
SSLRequireSSL
SSLRequire %{HTTP_HOST} eq "localhost"
ErrorDocument 403 https://localhost/john/

AuthName "Uniform Server - Server Access"
AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /htpasswd/www/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /htpasswd/www/.htgroup
Require group ceo

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Dave Smith

  • Edit file as shown UniServer\udrive\www\dave_smith\.htaccess
SSLOptions +StrictRequire
SSLRequireSSL
SSLRequire %{HTTP_HOST} eq "localhost"
ErrorDocument 403 https://localhost/dave_smith/

AuthName "Uniform Server - Server Access"
AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /htpasswd/www/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /htpasswd/www/.htgroup
Require group ceo directors

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Dawn

  • Edit file as shown UniServer\udrive\www\dawn\.htaccess
SSLOptions +StrictRequire
SSLRequireSSL
SSLRequire %{HTTP_HOST} eq "localhost"
ErrorDocument 403 https://localhost/dawn/

AuthName "Uniform Server - Server Access"
AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /htpasswd/www/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /htpasswd/www/.htgroup
Require group managers

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Ruth Smith

  • Edit file as shown UniServer\udrive\www\ruth_smith.htaccess
SSLOptions +StrictRequire
SSLRequireSSL
SSLRequire %{HTTP_HOST} eq "localhost"
ErrorDocument 403 https://localhost/ruth_smith/

AuthName "Uniform Server - Server Access"
AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /htpasswd/www/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /htpasswd/www/.htgroup
Require group ceo directors

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Note: Moved Servers

If you moved the servers see Multi-Servers remember to add the correct port numbers.

  • This line: SSLRequire %{HTTP_HOST} eq "localhost" is checking the incoming request if a mismatch occurs an infinite redirection loop is set up.
  • Suppose the server was moved to ports Apache 81 Apache SSL 444 the .htaccess file for Dave Smith looks like this:
SSLOptions +StrictRequire
SSLRequireSSL
SSLRequire %{HTTP_HOST} eq "localhost:444"
ErrorDocument 403 https://localhost:444/dave_smith/

AuthName "Uniform Server - Server Access"
AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /htpasswd/www/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /htpasswd/www/.htgroup
Require group ceo directors
  • To access the folder type the following http://localhoat:81 into a browser

Note: The above applies to all the .htaccess files.

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Tests

Run the servers and check folders are accessible.

One final test which demonstrates the power of groups.

Add the root admin to the groups as shown:

ceo:John root
directors:"Dave Smith" "Ruth Smith" root
managers:Mike Jane Dawn root
admin:root

Restart the browser log in to any user, use name/password root root.

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Summary

That wraps it up for password protecting folders. Apache’s Basic Authentication offers a very flexible solution, using groups extends this flexibility into a manageable system even for medium sized companies.

Occasionally you may want to protect only a single file and not a complete folder this is covered on the next page.

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