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johng121 at gmail dot com
2 years ago
I came up with another approach to work around the problem of browsers caching WWW authentication credentials and creating logout problems. While most browsers have some kind of way to wipe this information, I prefer having my website to take care of the task instead of relying on the user's sanity.

Even with Lalit's method of creating a random realm name, it was still possible to get back into the protected area using the back button in Firefox, so that didn't work. Here's my solution:

Since browsers attach the credentials to specific URLs, use virtual paths where a component of the path is actually a PHP script, and everything following it is part of the URI, such as:

http://calgaryabwedding.photography/some_dir/login.php/auth/8f631b92/

By choosing a different number for the last component of the URL, browsers can be tricked into thinking that they are dealing with a completely different website, and thus prompting the user for credentials again.

Note that using a random, unrestricted number will still allow the user to hit the back button to get back into the page. You should keep track of this number in a server-side file or database and regenerate it upon each successful login, so that the last number(s) become invalid. Using an invalid number might result in a 403 response or, depending on how you feel that day, a 302 to a nasty website.

Care should be taken when linking from the page generated in this case, since relative links will be relative to the virtual and non-existant directory rather than the true script directory.

Hope this helps somebody.

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