Tag Archives: authentication

CakePHP Auth error message

Today is just going to be a quick post. It is Labor Day here in the States and that means a whole heap of people are not going to be working, including me. So I am just messing around with some stuff in CakePHP as I am doing a side project for a local church to put up a calendar. Most of it is complete, but there was one thing that I wanted to change.

I am using the Auth component in my User model. I have allowed register, resetpass, and index. So when I go to view a user’s detailed profile, there is that message: “You are not authorized to access that location.” Which is a fine message and all, but I want it to be site specific, and also controller specific. So the Users controller will have a separate Auth error message than the Calendars controller. So here is what I did.

In the Users controller, I built a beforeFilter function. I set my authorized actions, set redirect to false. I also set a session level variable with the Auth, then I set the error message. There are a couple of messages you can set for the Users controller. You can set the loginError and the authError. The loginError will be the error when the user logs in and is unable to for whatever reason. The authError is what the user will see when they try to perform an action that is not allowed by them, whether it is because they are not logged in (as in my case) or you are using Auth to “authorize” an action.

So here is what it would look like:

function beforeFilter() {

	$this->Auth->allow('register', 'index', 'resetpass');
	$this->Auth->autoRedirect = false;
	$this->Auth->authorize = 'controller';
	$this->set('my_id', $this->Auth->user('user_id'));	
	$this->Auth->authError = "Please log in first in order to preform that action.";

So when you want to change the standard Auth error message, just remember to set the “authError” to whatever message you would like. Happy Labor Day!

Access Control Lists (ACLs)

Access Control Lists, or ACLs, provide a good level of access control on any site. Code bases and platforms may use a different method of instituting ACLs and I am going to go through how CakePHP 1.2.x is handling them.

First is to understand what an ACL really is. The Cookbook has a good page explaining this type of concept. I highly recommend reading through this page. The whole concept behind this ACL can be divided in three parts:

  • ACO – Access Control Object, object that is being requested
  • ARO – Access Request Object, object that is putting in the request
  • ACL – Access Control List, determines if an ARO can access an ACO.

In the Cookbook, they have a very good call out about the ACL, it is not authentication. No matter what code base, or platform you are on, never mistake this. The ACL verification only happens after the person logs in. They can be very powerful together, but authentication must happen first.

The next thing to understand is the way an ACL would look in a matrix. Again, the Cookbook provides a great example of this. The one thing that I would rather prefer, but understand why they do this, is the use of the example. Sure, we all like movies, and the Lord of the Rings is a great way to really explain different things, but it may be hard to switch that over to the real world of coding. So for this entry, I am going to use as an example, and Event Calendar.

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CakePHP Authentication

After last weeks Auth component, it is now time to go into the full Authentication of a user. In order to use the full power of the Auth component, the table should be named “users”. In the table I created, there were a few different things put in, but for the sake of this, I will limit those.

	`user_id` int(11) NOT NULL auto_increment,
	`username` varchar(25) NOT NULL,
	`password` varchar(250) NOT NULL,
	`full_name` varchar(250) NOT NULL,
	`email` varchar(250) NOT NULL,
	`remote_address` varchar(16) NOT NULL,
	`last_login` datetime default NULL,
	`last_login_ip` varchar(16) default NULL,
	`created` datetime NOT NULL,
	`modified` datetime default NULL,
	PRIMARY KEY  (`user_id`),
	UNIQUE KEY `username` (`username`)

In this table, there is a lot you really do not need, but here is the breakdown: ‘user_id’ is needed for my purposes, ‘username’ and ‘password’ are named as such to be able to use the Auth component methods. The other fields are for personalization (full_name and email). The next three are just for simplistic CYA that should always be good practice, grap the registered IP address, date the user last logged in and the IP they logged in from. Is this a foolproof way of CYA? No. But it starts you out on the right track. The last two I always put in all of my tables, as CakePHP updates those automatically, so this also helps to track when created and when changed.

Now that the table is done, we need to provide some quick validation for registration and such. In the model, the code should look similar to this:

var $name = 'User';
var $primaryKey = 'user_id';
var $validate = array(
	'username' => array(
		'alphaNumeric' => array(
			'rule'		=> 'alphaNumeric',
			'required'	=> true,
			'on'		=> 'create',
			'message'	=> 'Username must be only letters and numbers, no special characters'
		'between' => array(
			'rule' 		=> array('between', 5, 20),
			'on'		=> 'create',
			'message'	=> 'Username must be between 5 and 20 characters',
		'isUnique' => array(
			'rule'		=> 'isUnique',
			'on'		=> 'create',
			'message'	=> 'This username is already taken. Please choose a different one.'
	'email' => array(
		'rule'		=> array('email', true),
		'required'	=> true,
		'message'	=> 'Please provide a valid email address'

Continue reading CakePHP Authentication