Difference: TWikiAccessControl (29 vs. 30)

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  Restricting read and write access to topics and webs, by Users and groups
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TWikiAccessControl allows you restrict access to single topics and entire webs, by individual user and by user Groups, in three areas: view; edit & attach; and rename/move/delete. Access control, combined with TWikiUserAuthentication, lets you easily create and manage an extremely flexible, fine-grained privilege system.
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TWiki Access Control allows you restrict access to single topics and entire webs, by individual user and by user Groups. Access control, combined with TWikiUserAuthentication, lets you easily create and manage an extremely flexible, fine-grained privilege system.
 
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An Important Control Consideration

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TIP Tip: TWiki:TWiki.TWikiAccessControlSupplement on TWiki.org has additional documentation on access control.
 
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Open, freeform editing is the essence of WikiCulture - what makes TWiki different and often more effective than other collaboration tools. For that reason, it is strongly recommended that decisions to restrict read or write access to a web or a topic are made with care - the more restrictions, the less Wiki in the mix. Experience shows that unrestricted write access works very well because:
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An Important Control Consideration

 
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Open, freeform editing is the essence of WikiCulture - what makes TWiki different and often more effective than other collaboration tools. For that reason, it is strongly recommended that decisions to restrict read or write access to a web or a topic are made with great care - the more restrictions, the less Wiki in the mix. Experience shows that unrestricted write access works very well because:
 
  • Peer influence is enough to ensure that only relevant content is posted.
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  • Peer editing - the ability for anyone to rearrange all content on a page - keeps topics focussed.
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  • Peer editing - the ability for anyone to rearrange all content on a page - keeps topics focused.
 
  • In TWiki, content is transparently preserved under revision control:
    • Edits can be undone by the TWikiAdminGroup (the default administrators group; see #ManagingGroups).
    • Users are encouraged to edit and refactor (condense a long topic), since there's a safety net.
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  • Create broad-based Groups (for more and varied input), and...
  • Avoid creating view-only Users (if you can read it, you should be able to contribute to it).
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Permissions settings of the webs on this TWiki site

Web Sitemap VIEW CHANGE RENAME
  Listed DENY ALLOW DENY ALLOW DENY ALLOW
Preferences Home Main on     TWikiGuest TWikiRegistrationAgent, AuthorizedUsersGroup TWikiGuest AuthorizedUsersGroup
Preferences Home TWiki on       TWikiAdminGroup   TWikiAdminGroup

Please Note:

  • A blank in the the above table may mean either the corresponding control is absent or commented out or that it has been set to a null value. The two conditions have dramatically different and possibly opposed semantics.
  • TWikiGuest is the guest account - used by unauthenticated users.
  • The TWiki web must not deny view to TWikiGuest; otherwise, people will not be able to register.

Note: Above table comes from SitePermissions

 

Authentication vs. Access Control

Authentication: Identifies who a user is based on a login procedure. See TWikiUserAuthentication.

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Managing Users

A user can create an account in TWikiRegistration. The following actions are performed:

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  • WikiName and encrypted password are recorded in .htpasswd if authentication is enabled.
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  • WikiName and encrypted password are recorded using the password manager if authentication is enabled.
 
  • A confirmation e-mail is sent to the user.
  • A user home page with the WikiName of the user is created in the Main web.
  • The user is added to the TWikiUsers topic.
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Users can be authenticated using Basic Authentication (htaccess) or SSL (secure server). In either case, TWikiUserAuthentication is required in order to track user identities, and use User and Group access control.
 The default visitor name is TWikiGuest. This is the non-authenticated user.

Managing Groups

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Groups are defined by group topics created in the Main web, like the TWikiAdminGroup. To create a new group:
  1. Edit TWikiGroups by entering a new topic with a name that ends in Group. Example:
    • SomeGroup
  2. Set Preferences for two Variables in the new group topic:
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Groups are defined by group topics located in the Main web, such as the TWikiAdminGroup. To create a new group, visit TWikiGroups and enter the name of the new group ending in Group into the "new group" form field. This will create a new group topic with two important settings:
 
    • Set GROUP = < list of Users and/or Groups >
    • Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = < list of Users and/or Groups >
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    • The GROUP variable is a comma-separated list of Users and/or other Groups. Example:
      • Set GROUP = Main.SomeUser, Main.OtherUser, Main.SomeGroup
    • ALLOWTOPICCHANGE defines who is allowed to change the group topic; it is a comma delimited list of Users and Groups. You typically want to restrict that to the members of the group itself, so it should contain the name of the topic. (This prevents Users not in the Group from editing the topic to give themselves or others access. For example, for the TWikiAdminGroup topic write:
    • Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = Main.TWikiAdminGroup

Restricting Write Access

You can define who is allowed to make changes to a web or a topic.

Deny Editing by Topic

Denying editing of a topic also restricts file attachment; both privileges are assigned together.

  • Define one or both of these variables in a topic, preferably at the end of the page:
    • Set DENYTOPICCHANGE = < list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = < list of Users and Groups >

  • DENYTOPICCHANGE defines Users or Groups that are not allowed to make changes to the topic, with a comma-delimited list. Example:
    • Set DENYTOPICCHANGE = Main.SomeBadBoy, Main.SomeBadGirl, Main.SomeHackerGroup

  • ALLOWTOPICCHANGE defines Users or Groups that are allowed to make changes to the topic. It is a comma delimited list of Users and Groups. Example:
    • Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = Main.SomeGoodGuy, Main.SomeGoodGirl, Main.TWikiAdminGroup

  • DENYTOPICCHANGE is evaluated before ALLOWTOPICCHANGE. Access is denied if the authenticated person is in the DENYTOPICCHANGE list, or not in the ALLOWTOPICCHANGE list. Access is granted in case DENYTOPICCHANGE and ALLOWTOPICCHANGE is not defined.

Deny Editing by Web

 
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Restricting web-level editing blocks creating new topics, changing topics or attaching files.
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The GROUP setting is a comma-separated list of users and/or other groups. Example:
  • Set GROUP = Main.SomeUser, Main.OtherUser, Main.SomeGroup
 
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  • Define one or both of these variable in the WebPreferences topic:
    • Set DENYWEBCHANGE = < list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWWEBCHANGE = < list of Users and Groups >
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The ALLOWTOPICCHANGE setting defines who is allowed to change the group topic; it is a comma delimited list of users and groups. You typically want to restrict that to the members of the group itself, so it should contain the name of the topic. This prevents users not in the group from editing the topic to give themselves or others access. For example, for the TWikiAdminGroup topic write:
  • Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = Main.TWikiAdminGroup
 
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The same rules apply as for restricting topics, with these additions:
  • DENYTOPICCHANGE (in topic) overrides DENYWEBCHANGE (in WebPreferences)
  • ALLOWTOPICCHANGE (in topic) overrides ALLOWWEBCHANGE (in WebPreferences)
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ALERT! Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules. Make sure you have three spaces, an asterisk, and an extra space in front of any access control rule.
 
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Restricting Rename Access

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The Super Admin Group

 
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You can define who is allowed to rename, move or delete a topic, or rename a web.
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By mistyping a user or group name in the settings, it's possible to lock a topic so that no-one can edit it from a browser. To avoid this, add the WikiNames of registered administrators to the super admin group topic called TWikiAdminGroup. The name of this topic is defined by the {SuperAdminGroup} configure setting. Example group setting:
  • Set GROUP= Main.ElizabethWindsor, Main.TonyBlair
 
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Deny Renaming by Topic

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Restricting Access

 
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To allow a user to rename, move or delete a topic, they also need write (editing) permission. They also need write access to change references in referring topics.
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You can define who is allowed to read or write to a web or a topic. Note that some plugins may not respect access permissions.
 
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  • Define one or both of these variables in a topic, preferably at the end of the topic:
    • Set DENYTOPICRENAME = < list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWTOPICRENAME = < list of Users and Groups >
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  • Restricting VIEW blocks viewing and searching of content.
  • Restricting CHANGE blocks creating new topics, changing topics or attaching files.
  • Restricting RENAME controls who is allowed to rename, move or delete a topic.
    • To rename, move or delete a topic, the user also also needs VIEW and CHANGE permission. They also need CHANGE access to change references in any referring topics (though the rename can proceed without this access), and CHANGE access to the target topic.
  • Restricting MANAGE controls access to certain management functions, such as 'create web'. It must be set in the TWiki web.
 
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  • DENYTOPICCRENAME defines Users or Groups that are not allowed to rename the topic. It is a comma delimited list of Users and Groups. Example:
    • Set DENYTOPICRENAME = Main.SomeBadBoy, Main.SomeBadGirl, Main.SomeHackerGroup
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Controlling access to a Web

 
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  • ALLOWTOPICRENAME defines Users or Groups that are allowed to rename the topic. It is a comma delimited list of Users and Groups. Example:
    • Set ALLOWTOPICRENAME = Main.SomeGoodGuy, Main.SomeGoodGirl, Main.TWikiAdminGroup
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You can define restrictions of who is allowed to view a TWiki web. You can restrict access to certain webs to selected Users and Groups, by:
 
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  • DENYTOPICRENAME is evaluated before ALLOWTOPICRENAME. Access is denied if the authenticated person is in the DENYTOPICRENAME list, or not in the ALLOWTOPICRENAME list. Access is granted in case DENYTOPICRENAME and ALLOWTOPICRENAME is not defined.
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  • authenticating all webs and restricting selected webs: Topic access in all webs is authenticated, and selected webs have restricted access.
  • authenticating and restricting selected webs only: Provide unrestricted viewing access to open webs, with authentication and restriction only on selected webs.
 
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Deny Renaming by Web

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  • You can define these settings in the WebPreferences topic, preferable towards the end of the topic:
    • Set DENYWEBVIEW = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWWEBVIEW = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set DENYWEBCHANGE = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWWEBCHANGE = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set DENYWEBRENAME = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWWEBRENAME = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >

Be careful with empty values for any of these. In older versions of TWiki,

  • Set ALLOWWEBVIEW =
meant the same as not setting it at all. However since TWiki Dakar release, it means allow noone access i.e. prevent anyone from viewing the web. Similarly
  • Set DENYWEBVIEW =
now means do not deny anyone the right to view this web. See "How TWiki evaluates ALLOW/DENY settings" below for more on this.

Controlling access to a Topic

  • You can define these settings in the WebPreferences topic, preferable towards the end of the topic:
    • Set DENYTOPICVIEW = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWTOPICVIEW = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set DENYTOPICCHANGE = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWTOPICCHANGE = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set DENYTOPICRENAME = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWTOPICRENAME = < comma-delimited list of Users and Groups >

Remember when opening up access to specific topics within a restricted web that other topics in the web - for example, the WebLeftBar - may also be accessed when viewing the topics. The message you get when you are denied access should tell you what topic you were not permitted to access.

Be careful with empty values for any of these. In older versions of TWiki,

  • Set ALLOWTOPICVIEW =
meant the same as not setting it at all. However since TWiki Dakar release, it means allow no-one access i.e. prevent anyone from viewing the topic. Similarly
  • Set DENYTOPICVIEW =
now means do not deny anyone the right to view this topic. See "How TWiki evaluates ALLOW/DENY settings" below for more on this.
 
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You can define restrictions of who is allowed to rename a TWiki web.
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Controlling access to Attachments

 
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  • Define one or both of these variable in the WebPreferences topic:
    • Set DENYWEBRENAME = < list of Users and Groups >
    • Set ALLOWWEBRENAME = < list of Users and Groups >
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Attachments are referred to directly, and are not normally indirected via TWiki scripts. This means that the above instructions for access control will not apply to attachments. It is possible that someone may inadvertently publicise a URL that they expected to be access-controlled.
 
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The same rules apply as for topics, with these additions:
  • DENYTOPICRENAME (in topic) overrides DENYWEBRENAME (in WebPreferences)
  • ALLOWTOPICRENAME (in topic) overrides ALLOWWEBRENAME (in WebPreferences)
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The easiest way to apply the same access control rules for attachments as apply to topics is to use the Apache mod_rewrite module, and configure your webserver to redirect accesses to attachments to the TWiki viewfile script. For example,
 
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Restricting Read Access

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  ScriptAlias /twiki/bin/ /filesystem/path/to/twiki/bin/
  Alias /twiki/pub/       /filesystem/path/to/twiki/pub/
 
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You can define who is allowed to see a web.
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RewriteEngine on RewriteRule ^/twiki/pub/TWiki/(.*)$ /twiki/pub/TWiki/$1 [L,PT] RewriteRule ^/twiki/pub/([^\/]+)/([^\/]+)/([^\/]+)$ /twiki/bin/viewfile/$1/$2?filename=$3 [L,PT]
 
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Deny Viewing by Topic

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That way all the controls that apply to the topic also apply to attachments to the topic. Other types of webserver have similar support.
 
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ALERT! Technically it is possible to restrict read access to an individual topic based on DENYTOPICVIEW / ALLOWTOPICVIEW preferences variables, provided that the view script is authenticated. However this setup is not recommended since all content is searchable within a web - a search will turn up view restricted topics.
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Note: Images embedded in topics will load much slower since each image will be delivered by the viewfile script.
 
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Deny Viewing by Web

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How TWiki evaluates ALLOW/DENY settings

 
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You can define restrictions of who is allowed to view a TWiki web. You can restrict access to certain webs to selected Users and Groups, by:
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When deciding whether to grant access, TWiki evaluates the following rules in order (read from the top of the list; if the logic arrives at PERMITTED or DENIED that applies immediately and no more rules are applied). You need to read the rules bearing in mind that VIEW, CHANGE and RENAME access may be granted/denied separately.
  1. If the user is a super-user
    • access is PERMITTED.
  2. If DENYTOPIC is set to a list of wikinames
    • people in the list will be DENIED.
  3. If DENYTOPIC is set to empty ( i.e. Set DENYTOPIC = )
    • access is PERMITTED i.e no-one is denied access to this topic
  4. If ALLOWTOPIC is set
    1. people in the list are PERMITTED
    2. everyone else is DENIED
      • Note that this means that setting ALLOWTOPIC to empty denies access to everyone except admins (unless DENYTOPIC is also set to empty, as described above)
  5. If DENYWEB is set to a list of wikiname
    • people in the list are DENIED access
  6. If ALLOWWEB is set to a list of wikinames
    • people in the list will be PERMITTED
    • everyone else will be DENIED
      • Note that setting ALLOWWEB to empty denies access to everyone except admins
  7. If you got this far, access is PERMITTED
 
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  • obfuscating webs: Insecure but handy method to hide new webs until content is ready for deployment.
  • authenticating all webs and restricting selected webs: Topic access in all webs is authenticated, and selected webs have restricted access.
  • authenticating and restricting selected webs only: Provide unrestricted viewing access to open webs, with authentication and restriction only on selected webs.
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Access Control quick recipes

 
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Obfuscate Webs

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Obfuscating Webs

 
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The idea is to keep a web hidden by not publishing its URL and by preventing the all webs search option from accessing obfuscated webs. Do so by enabling the NOSEARCHALL variable in WebPreferences:
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Another way of hiding webs is to keep them hidden by not publishing the URL and by preventing the all webs search option from accessing obfuscated webs. Do so by enabling the NOSEARCHALL variable in WebPreferences:
 
  • Set NOSEARCHALL = on
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This setup can be useful to hide a new web until content its ready for deployment.
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This setup can be useful to hide a new web until content its ready for deployment, or to hide view access restricted webs.
 
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ALERT! Obfuscating webs is insecure, as anyone who knows the URL can access the web.
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ALERT! Note: Obfuscating a web without view access control is very insecure, as anyone who knows the URL can access the web.
 
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Authenticate all Webs and Restrict Selected Webs

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Authenticate all Webs and Restrict Selected Webs

 
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Use the following setup to authenticate users for topic viewing in all webs and to restrict access to selected webs:
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Use the following setup to authenticate users for topic viewing in all webs and to restrict access to selected webs. Requires TWikiUserAuthentication to be enabled.
 
  1. Restrict view access to selected Users and Groups. Set one or both of these variables in its WebPreferences topic:
    • Set DENYWEBVIEW = < list of Users and Groups >
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    • Note: DENYWEBVIEW is evaluated before ALLOWWEBVIEW. Access is denied if the authenticated person is in the DENYWEBVIEW list, or not in the ALLOWWEBVIEW list. Access is granted in case DENYWEBVIEW and ALLOWWEBVIEW is not defined.
  1. Hide the web from an "all webs" search. Enable this restriction with the NOSEARCHALL variable in its WebPreferences topic:
    • Set NOSEARCHALL = on
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  1. Add view to the list of authenticated scripts in the .htaccess file.

HELP This method only works if the view script is authenticated, which means that all Users have to login, even for read-only access. (An open guest account, like TWikiGuest, can get around this, allowing anyone to login to a common account with, for example, view-only access for public webs.) TWikiInstallationGuide has more on Basic Authentication, using the .htaccess file.

 
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Authenticate and Restricting Selected Webs Only

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Authenticate and Restrict Selected Webs Only

 
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Use the following setup to provide unrestricted viewing access to open webs, with authentication only on selected webs:
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Use the following setup to provide unrestricted viewing access to open webs, with authentication only on selected webs. Requires TWikiUserAuthentication to be enabled.
 
  1. Restrict view access to selected Users and Groups. Set one or both of these variables in its WebPreferences topic:
    • Set DENYWEBVIEW = < list of Users and Groups >
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    • Note: DENYWEBVIEW is evaluated before ALLOWWEBVIEW. Access is denied if the authenticated person is in the DENYWEBVIEW list, or not in the ALLOWWEBVIEW list. Access is granted in case DENYWEBVIEW and ALLOWWEBVIEW is not defined.
  1. Hide the web from an "all webs" search. Enable this restriction with the NOSEARCHALL variable in its WebPreferences topic:
    • Set NOSEARCHALL = on
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  1. Enable the $doRememberRemoteUser flag in lib/TWiki.cfg as described in TWikiUserAuthentication. TWiki will now remember the IP address of an authenticated user.
  2. Copy the view script to viewauth (or better, create a symbolic link)
  3. Add viewauth to the list of authenticated scripts in the .htaccess file. The view script should not be listed in the .htaccess file.
 
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When a user accesses a web where you enabled view restriction, TWiki will redirect from the view script to the viewauth script once (this happens only if the user has never edited a topic). Doing so will ask for authentication. The viewauth script shows the requested topic if the user could log on and if the user is authorized to see that web.
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Hide Control Settings

 
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ALERT! Authenticating webs is not very secure, as there is a way to circumvent the read access restriction. It can be useful in certain situations - for example, to simplify site organization and clutter, by hiding low traffic webs - but is not recommended for securing sensitive content.
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TIP Tip: To hide access control settings from normal browser viewing, place them in HTML comment markers.
 
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Hiding Control Settings

TIP To hide access control settings from normal browser viewing, place them in comment markers.

<style="background-color:#f5f5f5"> <!--
   * Set DENYTOPICCHANGE = Main.SomeGroup
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The SuperAdminGroup

By mistyping a user or group name in the ALLOWTOPICCHANGE setting, it's possible to lock a topic so that no-one can edit it from a browser. To avoid this, you can create Web-based superusers:

  • Set the $superAdminGroup variable in lib/TWiki.cfg to the name of a group of Users who are always allowed to edit/view topics.
$superAdminGroup = "TWikiAdminGroup";
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<!--
   * Set DENYTOPICCHANGE = Main.SomeGroup
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  • The default setting is not to have superusers.

-- TWiki:Main.PeterThoeny - 04 May 2002
-- TWiki:Main.MikeMannix - 12 May 2002

 
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Related Topics: AdminDocumentationCategory, TWikiUserAuthentication, TWiki:TWiki.TWikiAccessControlSupplement

-- Contributors: TWiki:Main.PeterThoeny, TWiki:Main.MikeMannix, TWiki:Main.CrawfordCurrie

 
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