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Manual Reference Pages  -  CGI::EX::AUTH (3)

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CGI::Ex::Auth - Handle logins nicely.



    use CGI::Ex::Auth;

    ### authorize the user
    my $auth = CGI::Ex::Auth->get_valid_auth({
        get_pass_by_user => \&get_pass_by_user,

    sub get_pass_by_user {
        my $auth = shift;
        my $user = shift;
        my $pass = some_way_of_getting_password($user);
        return $pass;

    ### OR - if you are using a OO based CGI or Application

    sub require_authentication {
        my $self = shift;

        return $self->{auth} = CGI::Ex::Auth->get_valid_auth({
            get_pass_by_user => sub {
                my ($auth, $user) = @_;
                return $self->get_pass($user);

    sub get_pass {
        my ($self, $user) = @_;
        return $self->loopup_and_cache_pass($user);


CGI::Ex::Auth allows for auto-expiring, safe and easy web based logins. Auth uses javascript modules that perform MD5 hashing to cram the password on the client side before passing them through the internet.

For the stored cookie you can choose to use simple cram mechanisms, secure hash cram tokens, auto expiring logins (not cookie based), and Crypt::Blowfish protection. You can also choose to keep passwords plaintext and to use perl’s crypt for testing passwords. Or you can completely replace the cookie parsing/generating and let Auth handle requesting, setting, and storing the cookie.

A theoretical downside to this module is that it does not use a session to preserve state so get_pass_by_user has to happen on every request (any authenticated area has to verify authentication each time - unless the verify_token method is completely overridden). In theory you should be checking the password everytime a user makes a request to make sure the password is still valid. A definite plus is that you don’t need to use a session if you don’t want to. It is up to the interested reader to add caching to the get_pass_by_user method.

In the end, the only truly secure login method is across an https connection. Any connection across non-https (non-secure) is susceptible to cookie hijacking or tcp hijacking - though the possibility of this is normally small and typically requires access to a machine somewhere in your TCP chain. If in doubt - you should try to use https - but even then you need to guard the logged in area against cross-site javascript exploits. A discussion of all security issues is far beyond the scope of this documentation.


new Constructor. Takes a hashref of properties as arguments.

Many of the methods which may be overridden in a subclass, or may be passed as properties to the new constuctor such as in the following:

        get_pass_by_user => \&my_pass_sub,
        key_user         => my_user,
        key_pass         => my_pass,
        login_header     => \"<h1>My Login</h1>",

The following methods will look for properties of the same name. Each of these will be described separately.


generate_token Takes either an auth_data object from a auth_data returned by verify_token, or a hashref of arguments.

Possible arguments are:

    user           - the username we are generating the token for
    real_pass      - the password of the user (if use_plaintext is false
                     and use_crypt is false, the password can be an md5sum
                     of the users password)
    use_blowfish   - indicates that we should use Crypt::Blowfish to protect
                     the generated token.  The value of this argument is used
                     as the key.  Default is false.
    use_base64     - indicates that we should use Base64 encoding to protect
                     the generated token.  Default is true.  Will not be
                     used if use_blowfish is true.
    use_plaintext  - indicates that we should keep the password in plaintext
    use_crypt      - also indicates that we should keep the password in plaintext
    expires_min    - says how many minutes until the generated token expires.
                     Values <= 0 indicate to not ever expire.  Used only on cram
    payload        - a payload that will be passed to generate_payload and then
                     will be added to cram type tokens.  It cannot contain a /.
                   - If the secure_hash_keys method returns keys, and it is a non-plaintext
                     token, generate_token will create a secure_hash_cram.  Set
                     this value to true to tell it to use a simple_cram.  This
                     is generally only useful in testing.

The following are types of tokens that can be generated by generate_token. Each type includes pseudocode and a sample of a generated that token.

        user         := "paul"
        real_pass    := "123qwe"
        token        := join("/", user, real_pass);

        use_base64   := 0
        token        == "paul/123qwe"

        use_base64   := 1
        token        == "cGF1bC8xMjNxd2U="

        use_blowfish := "foobarbaz"
        token        == "6da702975190f0fe98a746f0d6514683"

        Notes: This token will be used if either use_plaintext or use_crypt is set.
        The real_pass can also be the md5_sum of the password.  If real_pass is an md5_sum
        of the password but the get_pass_by_user hook returns the crypted password, the
        token will not be able to be verified.

        user        := "paul"
        real_pass   := "123qwe"
        server_time := 1148512991         # a time in seconds since epoch
        expires_min := 6 * 60
        payload     := "something"

        md5_pass    := md5_sum(real_pass) # if it isnt already a 32 digit md5 sum
        str         := join("/", user, server_time, expires_min, payload, md5_pass)
        md5_str     := md5(sum_str)
        token       := join("/", user, server_time, expires_min, payload, md5_str)

        use_base64  := 0
        token       == "paul/1148512991/360/something/16d0ba369a4c9781b5981eb89224ce30"

        use_base64  := 1
        token       == "cGF1bC8xMTQ4NTEyOTkxLzM2MC9zb21ldGhpbmcvMTZkMGJhMzY5YTRjOTc4MWI1OTgxZWI4OTIyNGNlMzA="

        Notes: use_blowfish is available as well

        user        := "paul"
        real_pass   := "123qwe"
        server_time := 1148514034         # a time in seconds since epoch
        expires_min := 6 * 60
        payload     := "something"
        secure_hash := ["aaaa", "bbbb", "cccc", "dddd"]
        rand1       := 3                  # int(rand(length(secure_hash)))
        rand2       := 39163              # int(rand(100000))

        md5_pass    := md5_sum(real_pass) # if it isnt already a 32 digit md5 sum

        sh_str1     := join(".", "sh", secure_hash[rand1], rand2)
        sh_str2     := join(".", "sh", rand1, rand2)
        str         := join("/", user, server_time, expires_min, payload, md5_pass, sh_str1)
        md5_str     := md5(sum_str)
        token       := join("/", user, server_time, expires_min, payload, md5_str, sh_str2)

        use_base64  := 0
        token       == "paul/1148514034/360/something/06db2914c9fd4e11499e0652bcf67dae/sh.3.39163"

        Notes: use_blowfish is available as well.  The secure_hash keys need to be set in the
        "secure_hash_keys" property of the CGI::Ex::Auth object.

get_valid_auth Performs the core logic. Returns an auth object on successful login. Returns false on errored login (with the details of the error stored in $@). If a false value is returned, execution of the CGI should be halted. get_valid_auth WILL NOT automatically stop execution.

  $auth->get_valid_auth || exit;

Optionally, the class and a list of arguments may be passed. This will create a new object using the passed arguments, and then run get_valid_auth.

  CGI::Ex::Auth->get_valid_auth({key_user => my_user}) || exit;

check_valid_auth Runs get_valid_auth with login_print and location_bounce set to do nothing. This allows for obtaining login data without forcing an html login page to appear.
login_print Called if login errored. Defaults to printing a very basic (but adequate) page loaded from login_template..

You will want to override it with a template from your own system. The hook that is called will be passed the step to print (currently only get_login_info and no_cookies), and a hash containing the form variables as well as the following:

login_hash_common Passed to the template swapped during login_print.

    %$form,            # any keys passed to the login script
    error              # The text "Login Failed" if a login occurred
    login_data         # A login data object if they failed authentication.
    key_user           # $self->key_user,        # the username fieldname
    key_pass           # $self->key_pass,        # the password fieldname
    key_time           # $self->key_time,        # the server time field name
    key_save           # $self->key_save,        # the save password checkbox field name
    key_redirect       # $self->key_redirect,    # the redirect fieldname
    form_name          # $self->form_name,       # the name of the form
    script_name        # $self->script_name,     # where the server will post back to
    path_info          # $self->path_info,       # $ENV{PATH_INFO} if any
    md5_js_path        # $self->js_uri_path ."/CGI/Ex/md5.js", # script for cramming
    $self->key_user    # $data->{user},        # the username (if any)
    $self->key_pass    # ,                     # intentional blankout
    $self->key_time    # $self->server_time,     # the servers time
    $self->key_expires_min # $self->expires_min  # how many minutes crams are valid
    text_user          # $self->text_user        # template text Username:
    text_pass          # $self->text_pass        # template text Password:
    text_save          # $self->text_save        # template text Save Password ?
    text_submit        # $self->text_submit      # template text Login
    hide_save          # $self->hide_save        # 0

bounce_on_logout Default 0. If true, will location bounce to script returned by logout_redirect passing the key key_logout. If false, will simply show the login screen.
key_loggedout Key to bounce with in the form during a logout should bounce_on_logout return true. Default is loggedout.
key_logout If the form hash contains a true value in this field name, the current user will be logged out. Default is cea_logout.
key_cookie The name of the auth cookie. Default is cea_user.
key_verify A field name used during a bounce to see if cookies exist. Default is cea_verify.
key_user The form field name used to pass the username. Default is cea_user.
key_pass The form field name used to pass the password. Default is cea_pass.
key_save Works in conjunction with key_expires_min. If key_save is true, then the cookie will be set to be saved for longer than the current session (If it is a plaintext variety it will be given a 20 year life rather than being a session cookie. If it is a cram variety, the expires_min portion of the cram will be set to -1). If it is set to false, the cookie will be available only for the session (If it is a plaintext variety, the cookie will be session based and will be removed on the next loggout. If it is a cram variety then the cookie will only be good for expires_min minutes.

Default is cea_save.

key_expires_min The name of the form field that contains how long cram type cookies will be valid if key_save contains a false value.

Default key name is cea_expires_min. Default field value is 6 * 60 (six hours).

This value will have no effect when use_plaintext or use_crypt is set.

A value of -1 means no expiration.

failed_sleep Number of seconds to sleep if the passed tokens are invalid. Does not apply if validation failed because of expired tokens. Default value is 0. Setting to 0 disables any sleeping.
form_name The name of the html login form to attach the javascript to. Default is cea_form.
verify_token This method verifies the token that was passed either via the form or via cookies. It will accept plaintext or crammed tokens (A listing of the available algorithms for creating tokes is listed below). It also allows for armoring the token with base64 encoding, or using blowfish encryption. A listing of creating these tokens can be found under generate_token.
parse_token Used by verify_token to remove armor from the passed tokens and split the token into its parts. Returns true if it was able to parse the passed token.
cleanup_user Called by verify_token. Default is to do no modification. Allows for usernames to be lowercased, or canonized in some other way. Should return the cleaned username.
verify_user Called by verify_token. Single argument is the username. May or may not be an initial check to see if the username is ok. The username will already be cleaned at this point. Default return is true.
get_pass_by_user Called by verify_token. Given the cleaned, verified username, should return a valid password for the user. It can always return plaintext. If use_crypt is enabled, it should return the crypted password. If use_plaintext and use_crypt are not enabled, it may return the md5 sum of the password.

   get_pass_by_user => sub {
       my ($auth_obj, $user) = @_;
       my $pass = $some_obj->get_pass({user => $user});
       return $pass;

Alternately, get_pass_by_user may return a hashref of data items that will be added to the data object if the token is valid. The hashref must also contain a key named real_pass or password that contains the password. Note that keys passed back in the hashref that are already in the data object will override those in the data object.

   get_pass_by_user => sub {
       my ($auth_obj, $user) = @_;
       my ($pass, $user_id) = $some_obj->get_pass({user => $user});
       return {
           password => $pass,
           user_id  => $user_id,

verify_password Called by verify_token. Passed the password to check as well as the auth data object. Should return true if the password matches. Default method can handle md5, crypt, cram, secure_hash_cram, and plaintext (all of the default types supported by generate_token). If a property named verify_password exists, it will be used and called as a coderef rather than using the default method.
verify_payload Called by verify_token. Passed the password to check as well as the auth data object. Should return true if the payload is valid. Default method returns true without performing any checks on the payload. If a property named verify_password exists, it will be used and called as a coderef rather than using the default method.
cgix Returns a CGI::Ex object.
form A hash of passed form info. Defaults to CGI::Ex::get_form.
cookies The current cookies. Defaults to CGI::Ex::get_cookies.
login_template Should return either a template filename to use for the login template, or it should return a reference to a string that contains the template. The contents will be used in login_print and passed to the template engine.

Default login_template is the values of login_header, login_form, login_script, and login_script concatenated together.

Values from login_hash_common will be passed to the template engine, and will also be used to fill in the form.

The basic values are capable of handling most needs so long as appropriate headers and css styles are used.

login_header Should return a header to use in the default login_template. The default value will try to PROCESS a file called that should be located in directory specified by the template_include_path method.

It should ideally supply css styles that format the login_form as desired.

login_footer Same as login_header - but for the footer. Will look for by default.
login_form An html chunk that contains the necessary form fields to login the user. The basic chunk has a username text entry, password text entry, save password checkbox, and submit button, and any hidden fields necessary for logging in the user.
login_script Contains javascript that will attach to the form from login_form. This script is capable of taking the login_fields and creating an md5 cram which prevents the password from being passed plaintext.
text_user, text_pass, text_save The text items shown in the default login template. The default values are:

    text_user  "Username:"
    text_pass  "Password:"
    text_save  "Save Password ?"

disable_simple_cram Disables simple cram type from being an available type. Default is false. If set, then one of use_plaintext, use_crypt, or secure_hash_keys should be set. Setting this option allows for payloads to be generated by the server only - otherwise a user who understands the algorithm could generate a valid simple_cram cookie with a custom payload.

Another option would be to only accept payloads from tokens if use_blowfish is set and armor was equal to blowfish.


This module may be distributed under the same terms as Perl itself.


Paul Seamons <perl at seamons dot com>
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perl v5.20.3 CGI::EX::AUTH (3) 2015-10-07

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