Simple HTTP Basic Auth on Apache2

Say you want to create a simple password protected folder in order to share some sensitive documents or what have you. Using apache2 and HTTP Basic Auth, this can be accomplished in only a few commands.

An Example of simple HTTP Basic Auth Login

First, create a folder in your web directory.

sudo mkdir /var/www/html/protected

Then, you will want to setup the username/password you want to use for the login.

sudo htpasswd -c /var/www/basic_auth_passwords myusername

The above command creates a file called basic_auth_passwords in /var/www, and will prompt you for the password for “myusername”, like below:

New password: 
Re-type new password: 
Adding password for user myusername

Make sure this file is not located in your webserver’s html directory, accessible to the outside world, but is in a location apache can read.

Next, we will be adding the directives to an .htaccess file located in the protected directory.

Remember to add the correct “AllowOverride” directive in your sites-enabled .conf file if you are running your own web server, such as:

<Directory /var/www/html/protected/>
    AllowOverride All

Here’s a quick example of editing your default .conf file that will be present after a fresh install:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf

And have something like this inside that file:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
    DocumentRoot /var/www/html
    <Directory /var/www/html/protected/>
        AllowOverride All
    ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
    CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

So, now that we are certain the .htaccess file will work as intended, we can create it in the protected folder:

sudo nano /var/www/html/protected/.htaccess

And have the following inside the file:

AuthType Basic
AuthName "Restricted Files"
AuthBasicProvider file
AuthUserFile "/var/www/basic_auth_passwords"
Require valid-user

Next, we will want to restart apache to make sure the changes take effect:

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Now, we can put all the files we want in our protected folder, and the browser will prompt for the login we created before allowing access:

Basic Auth Login Screen

After logging in we will be able to access our protected files:

Example Protected Folder

For more information consult the apache docs.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your HTTP Basic Auth protected files and folders!

By Matt

Just a normal run-of-the-mill linux hacker type.