Security

Caution: You are browsing the documentation for Symfony version 2.0 which is not maintained anymore. If some of your projects are still using this version, consider upgrading to Symfony 2.5.

Security

Security is a two-step process whose goal is to prevent a user from accessing a resource that he/she should not have access to.

In the first step of the process, the security system identifies who the user is by requiring the user to submit some sort of identification. This is called authentication, and it means that the system is trying to find out who you are.

Once the system knows who you are, the next step is to determine if you should have access to a given resource. This part of the process is called authorization, and it means that the system is checking to see if you have privileges to perform a certain action.

../_images/security_authentication_authorization.png

Since the best way to learn is to see an example, start by securing your application with HTTP Basic authentication.

Note

Symfony's security component is available as a standalone PHP library for use inside any PHP project.

Basic Example: HTTP Authentication

The security component can be configured via your application configuration. In fact, most standard security setups are just a matter of using the right configuration. The following configuration tells Symfony to secure any URL matching /admin/* and to ask the user for credentials using basic HTTP authentication (i.e. the old-school username/password box):

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            secured_area:
                pattern:    ^/
                anonymous: ~
                http_basic:
                    realm: "Secured Demo Area"
    
        access_control:
            - { path: ^/admin, roles: ROLE_ADMIN }
    
        providers:
            in_memory:
                users:
                    ryan:  { password: ryanpass, roles: 'ROLE_USER' }
                    admin: { password: kitten, roles: 'ROLE_ADMIN' }
    
        encoders:
            Symfony\Component\Security\Core\User\User: plaintext
    
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    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    
    <srv:container xmlns="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/security"
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
        xmlns:srv="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services"
        xsi:schemaLocation="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services/services-1.0.xsd">
    
        <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    
        <config>
            <firewall name="secured_area" pattern="^/">
                <anonymous />
                <http-basic realm="Secured Demo Area" />
            </firewall>
    
            <access-control>
                <rule path="^/admin" role="ROLE_ADMIN" />
            </access-control>
    
            <provider name="in_memory">
                <user name="ryan" password="ryanpass" roles="ROLE_USER" />
                <user name="admin" password="kitten" roles="ROLE_ADMIN" />
            </provider>
    
            <encoder class="Symfony\Component\Security\Core\User\User" algorithm="plaintext" />
        </config>
    </srv:container>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'secured_area' => array(
                'pattern'    => '^/',
                'anonymous'  => array(),
                'http_basic' => array(
                    'realm'  => 'Secured Demo Area',
                ),
            ),
        ),
        'access_control' => array(
            array('path' => '^/admin', 'role' => 'ROLE_ADMIN'),
        ),
        'providers' => array(
            'in_memory' => array(
                'users' => array(
                    'ryan'  => array('password' => 'ryanpass', 'roles' => 'ROLE_USER'),
                    'admin' => array('password' => 'kitten', 'roles'   => 'ROLE_ADMIN'),
                ),
            ),
        ),
        'encoders' => array(
            'Symfony\Component\Security\Core\User\User' => 'plaintext',
        ),
    ));
    

Tip

A standard Symfony distribution separates the security configuration into a separate file (e.g. app/config/security.yml). If you don't have a separate security file, you can put the configuration directly into your main config file (e.g. app/config/config.yml).

The end result of this configuration is a fully-functional security system that looks like the following:

  • There are two users in the system (ryan and admin);
  • Users authenticate themselves via the basic HTTP authentication prompt;
  • Any URL matching /admin/* is secured, and only the admin user can access it;
  • All URLs not matching /admin/* are accessible by all users (and the user is never prompted to login).

Let's look briefly at how security works and how each part of the configuration comes into play.

How Security Works: Authentication and Authorization

Symfony's security system works by determining who a user is (i.e. authentication) and then checking to see if that user should have access to a specific resource or URL.

Firewalls (Authentication)

When a user makes a request to a URL that's protected by a firewall, the security system is activated. The job of the firewall is to determine whether or not the user needs to be authenticated, and if he does, to send a response back to the user initiating the authentication process.

A firewall is activated when the URL of an incoming request matches the configured firewall's regular expression pattern config value. In this example, the pattern (^/) will match every incoming request. The fact that the firewall is activated does not mean, however, that the HTTP authentication username and password box is displayed for every URL. For example, any user can access /foo without being prompted to authenticate.

../_images/security_anonymous_user_access.png

This works first because the firewall allows anonymous users via the anonymous configuration parameter. In other words, the firewall doesn't require the user to fully authenticate immediately. And because no special role is needed to access /foo (under the access_control section), the request can be fulfilled without ever asking the user to authenticate.

If you remove the anonymous key, the firewall will always make a user fully authenticate immediately.

Access Controls (Authorization)

If a user requests /admin/foo, however, the process behaves differently. This is because of the access_control configuration section that says that any URL matching the regular expression pattern ^/admin (i.e. /admin or anything matching /admin/*) requires the ROLE_ADMIN role. Roles are the basis for most authorization: a user can access /admin/foo only if it has the ROLE_ADMIN role.

../_images/security_anonymous_user_denied_authorization.png

Like before, when the user originally makes the request, the firewall doesn't ask for any identification. However, as soon as the access control layer denies the user access (because the anonymous user doesn't have the ROLE_ADMIN role), the firewall jumps into action and initiates the authentication process. The authentication process depends on the authentication mechanism you're using. For example, if you're using the form login authentication method, the user will be redirected to the login page. If you're using HTTP authentication, the user will be sent an HTTP 401 response so that the user sees the username and password box.

The user now has the opportunity to submit its credentials back to the application. If the credentials are valid, the original request can be re-tried.

../_images/security_ryan_no_role_admin_access.png

In this example, the user ryan successfully authenticates with the firewall. But since ryan doesn't have the ROLE_ADMIN role, he's still denied access to /admin/foo. Ultimately, this means that the user will see some sort of message indicating that access has been denied.

Tip

When Symfony denies the user access, the user sees an error screen and receives a 403 HTTP status code (Forbidden). You can customize the access denied error screen by following the directions in the Error Pages cookbook entry to customize the 403 error page.

Finally, if the admin user requests /admin/foo, a similar process takes place, except now, after being authenticated, the access control layer will let the request pass through:

../_images/security_admin_role_access.png

The request flow when a user requests a protected resource is straightforward, but incredibly flexible. As you'll see later, authentication can be handled in any number of ways, including via a form login, X.509 certificate, or by authenticating the user via Twitter. Regardless of the authentication method, the request flow is always the same:

  1. A user accesses a protected resource;
  2. The application redirects the user to the login form;
  3. The user submits its credentials (e.g. username/password);
  4. The firewall authenticates the user;
  5. The authenticated user re-tries the original request.

Note

The exact process actually depends a little bit on which authentication mechanism you're using. For example, when using form login, the user submits its credentials to one URL that processes the form (e.g. /login_check) and then is redirected back to the originally requested URL (e.g. /admin/foo). But with HTTP authentication, the user submits its credentials directly to the original URL (e.g. /admin/foo) and then the page is returned to the user in that same request (i.e. no redirect).

These types of idiosyncrasies shouldn't cause you any problems, but they're good to keep in mind.

Tip

You'll also learn later how anything can be secured in Symfony2, including specific controllers, objects, or even PHP methods.

Using a Traditional Login Form

Tip

In this section, you'll learn how to create a basic login form that continues to use the hard-coded users that are defined in the security.yml file.

To load users from the database, please read How to load Security Users from the Database (the Entity Provider). By reading that article and this section, you can create a full login form system that loads users from the database.

So far, you've seen how to blanket your application beneath a firewall and then protect access to certain areas with roles. By using HTTP Authentication, you can effortlessly tap into the native username/password box offered by all browsers. However, Symfony supports many authentication mechanisms out of the box. For details on all of them, see the Security Configuration Reference.

In this section, you'll enhance this process by allowing the user to authenticate via a traditional HTML login form.

First, enable form login under your firewall:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            secured_area:
                pattern:    ^/
                anonymous: ~
                form_login:
                    login_path:  /login
                    check_path:  /login_check
    
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    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    
    <srv:container xmlns="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/security"
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
        xmlns:srv="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services"
        xsi:schemaLocation="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services/services-1.0.xsd">
    
        <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    
        <config>
            <firewall name="secured_area" pattern="^/">
                <anonymous />
                <form-login login_path="/login" check_path="/login_check" />
            </firewall>
        </config>
    </srv:container>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'secured_area' => array(
                'pattern'    => '^/',
                'anonymous'  => array(),
                'form_login' => array(
                    'login_path' => '/login',
                    'check_path' => '/login_check',
                ),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

Tip

If you don't need to customize your login_path or check_path values (the values used here are the default values), you can shorten your configuration:

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    form_login: ~
    
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    <form-login />
    
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    'form_login' => array(),
    

Now, when the security system initiates the authentication process, it will redirect the user to the login form (/login by default). Implementing this login form visually is your job. First, create two routes: one that will display the login form (i.e. /login) and one that will handle the login form submission (i.e. /login_check):

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    # app/config/routing.yml
    login:
        pattern:   /login
        defaults:  { _controller: AcmeSecurityBundle:Security:login }
    login_check:
        pattern:   /login_check
    
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    <!-- app/config/routing.xml -->
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
    
    <routes xmlns="http://symfony.com/schema/routing"
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
        xsi:schemaLocation="http://symfony.com/schema/routing http://symfony.com/schema/routing/routing-1.0.xsd">
    
        <route id="login" pattern="/login">
            <default key="_controller">AcmeSecurityBundle:Security:login</default>
        </route>
        <route id="login_check" pattern="/login_check" />
    
    </routes>
    
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    // app/config/routing.php
    use Symfony\Component\Routing\RouteCollection;
    use Symfony\Component\Routing\Route;
    
    $collection = new RouteCollection();
    $collection->add('login', new Route('/login', array(
        '_controller' => 'AcmeDemoBundle:Security:login',
    )));
    $collection->add('login_check', new Route('/login_check', array()));
    
    return $collection;
    

Note

You will not need to implement a controller for the /login_check URL as the firewall will automatically catch and process any form submitted to this URL. It's optional, but helpful, to create a route so that you can use it to generate the form submission URL in the login template below.

Notice that the name of the login route isn't important. What's important is that the URL of the route (/login) matches the login_path config value, as that's where the security system will redirect users that need to login.

Next, create the controller that will display the login form:

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// src/Acme/SecurityBundle/Controller/SecurityController.php;
namespace Acme\SecurityBundle\Controller;

use Symfony\Bundle\FrameworkBundle\Controller\Controller;
use Symfony\Component\Security\Core\SecurityContext;

class SecurityController extends Controller
{
    public function loginAction()
    {
        $request = $this->getRequest();
        $session = $request->getSession();

        // get the login error if there is one
        if ($request->attributes->has(SecurityContext::AUTHENTICATION_ERROR)) {
            $error = $request->attributes->get(
                SecurityContext::AUTHENTICATION_ERROR
            );
        } else {
            $error = $session->get(SecurityContext::AUTHENTICATION_ERROR);
            $session->remove(SecurityContext::AUTHENTICATION_ERROR);
        }

        return $this->render(
            'AcmeSecurityBundle:Security:login.html.twig',
            array(
                // last username entered by the user
                'last_username' => $session->get(SecurityContext::LAST_USERNAME),
                'error'         => $error,
            )
        );
    }
}

Don't let this controller confuse you. As you'll see in a moment, when the user submits the form, the security system automatically handles the form submission for you. If the user had submitted an invalid username or password, this controller reads the form submission error from the security system so that it can be displayed back to the user.

In other words, your job is to display the login form and any login errors that may have occurred, but the security system itself takes care of checking the submitted username and password and authenticating the user.

Finally, create the corresponding template:

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    {# src/Acme/SecurityBundle/Resources/views/Security/login.html.twig #}
    {% if error %}
        <div>{{ error.message }}</div>
    {% endif %}
    
    <form action="{{ path('login_check') }}" method="post">
        <label for="username">Username:</label>
        <input type="text" id="username" name="_username" value="{{ last_username }}" />
    
        <label for="password">Password:</label>
        <input type="password" id="password" name="_password" />
    
        {#
            If you want to control the URL the user is redirected to on success (more details below)
            <input type="hidden" name="_target_path" value="/account" />
        #}
    
        <button type="submit">login</button>
    </form>
    
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    <!-- src/Acme/SecurityBundle/Resources/views/Security/login.html.php -->
    <?php if ($error): ?>
        <div><?php echo $error->getMessage() ?></div>
    <?php endif; ?>
    
    <form action="<?php echo $view['router']->generate('login_check') ?>" method="post">
        <label for="username">Username:</label>
        <input type="text" id="username" name="_username" value="<?php echo $last_username ?>" />
    
        <label for="password">Password:</label>
        <input type="password" id="password" name="_password" />
    
        <!--
            If you want to control the URL the user is redirected to on success (more details below)
            <input type="hidden" name="_target_path" value="/account" />
        -->
    
        <button type="submit">login</button>
    </form>
    

Tip

The error variable passed into the template is an instance of AuthenticationException. It may contain more information - or even sensitive information - about the authentication failure, so use it wisely!

The form has very few requirements. First, by submitting the form to /login_check (via the login_check route), the security system will intercept the form submission and process the form for you automatically. Second, the security system expects the submitted fields to be called _username and _password (these field names can be configured).

And that's it! When you submit the form, the security system will automatically check the user's credentials and either authenticate the user or send the user back to the login form where the error can be displayed.

Let's review the whole process:

  1. The user tries to access a resource that is protected;
  2. The firewall initiates the authentication process by redirecting the user to the login form (/login);
  3. The /login page renders login form via the route and controller created in this example;
  4. The user submits the login form to /login_check;
  5. The security system intercepts the request, checks the user's submitted credentials, authenticates the user if they are correct, and sends the user back to the login form if they are not.

By default, if the submitted credentials are correct, the user will be redirected to the original page that was requested (e.g. /admin/foo). If the user originally went straight to the login page, he'll be redirected to the homepage. This can be highly customized, allowing you to, for example, redirect the user to a specific URL.

For more details on this and how to customize the form login process in general, see How to customize your Form Login.

When setting up your login form, watch out for a few common pitfalls.

1. Create the correct routes

First, be sure that you've defined the /login and /login_check routes correctly and that they correspond to the login_path and check_path config values. A misconfiguration here can mean that you're redirected to a 404 page instead of the login page, or that submitting the login form does nothing (you just see the login form over and over again).

2. Be sure the login page isn't secure

Also, be sure that the login page does not require any roles to be viewed. For example, the following configuration - which requires the ROLE_ADMIN role for all URLs (including the /login URL), will cause a redirect loop:

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    access_control:
        - { path: ^/, roles: ROLE_ADMIN }
    
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    <access-control>
        <rule path="^/" role="ROLE_ADMIN" />
    </access-control>
    
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    'access_control' => array(
        array('path' => '^/', 'role' => 'ROLE_ADMIN'),
    ),
    

Removing the access control on the /login URL fixes the problem:

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    access_control:
        - { path: ^/login, roles: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
        - { path: ^/, roles: ROLE_ADMIN }
    
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    <access-control>
        <rule path="^/login" role="IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY" />
        <rule path="^/" role="ROLE_ADMIN" />
    </access-control>
    
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    'access_control' => array(
        array('path' => '^/login', 'role' => 'IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY'),
        array('path' => '^/', 'role' => 'ROLE_ADMIN'),
    ),
    

Also, if your firewall does not allow for anonymous users, you'll need to create a special firewall that allows anonymous users for the login page:

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    firewalls:
        login_firewall:
            pattern:    ^/login$
            anonymous:  ~
        secured_area:
            pattern:    ^/
            form_login: ~
    
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    <firewall name="login_firewall" pattern="^/login$">
        <anonymous />
    </firewall>
    <firewall name="secured_area" pattern="^/">
        <form_login />
    </firewall>
    
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    'firewalls' => array(
        'login_firewall' => array(
            'pattern'   => '^/login$',
            'anonymous' => array(),
        ),
        'secured_area' => array(
            'pattern'    => '^/',
            'form_login' => array(),
        ),
    ),
    

3. Be sure ``/login_check`` is behind a firewall

Next, make sure that your check_path URL (e.g. /login_check) is behind the firewall you're using for your form login (in this example, the single firewall matches all URLs, including /login_check). If /login_check doesn't match any firewall, you'll receive a Unable to find the controller for path "/login_check" exception.

4. Multiple firewalls don't share security context

If you're using multiple firewalls and you authenticate against one firewall, you will not be authenticated against any other firewalls automatically. Different firewalls are like different security systems. To do this you have to explicitly specify the same Firewall Context for different firewalls. But usually for most applications, having one main firewall is enough.

Authorization

The first step in security is always authentication: the process of verifying who the user is. With Symfony, authentication can be done in any way - via a form login, basic HTTP Authentication, or even via Facebook.

Once the user has been authenticated, authorization begins. Authorization provides a standard and powerful way to decide if a user can access any resource (a URL, a model object, a method call, ...). This works by assigning specific roles to each user, and then requiring different roles for different resources.

The process of authorization has two different sides:

  1. The user has a specific set of roles;
  2. A resource requires a specific role in order to be accessed.

In this section, you'll focus on how to secure different resources (e.g. URLs, method calls, etc) with different roles. Later, you'll learn more about how roles are created and assigned to users.

Securing Specific URL Patterns

The most basic way to secure part of your application is to secure an entire URL pattern. You've seen this already in the first example of this chapter, where anything matching the regular expression pattern ^/admin requires the ROLE_ADMIN role.

Caution

Understanding exactly how access_control works is very important to make sure your application is properly secured. See Understanding how access_control works below for detailed information.

You can define as many URL patterns as you need - each is a regular expression.

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        # ...
        access_control:
            - { path: ^/admin/users, roles: ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN }
            - { path: ^/admin, roles: ROLE_ADMIN }
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <!-- ... -->
        <rule path="^/admin/users" role="ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN" />
        <rule path="^/admin" role="ROLE_ADMIN" />
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        // ...
        'access_control' => array(
            array('path' => '^/admin/users', 'role' => 'ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN'),
            array('path' => '^/admin', 'role' => 'ROLE_ADMIN'),
        ),
    ));
    

Tip

Prepending the path with ^ ensures that only URLs beginning with the pattern are matched. For example, a path of simply /admin (without the ^) would correctly match /admin/foo but would also match URLs like /foo/admin.

Understanding how access_control works

For each incoming request, Symfony2 checks each access_control entry to find one that matches the current request. As soon as it finds a matching access_control entry, it stops - only the first matching access_control is used to enforce access.

Each access_control has several options that configure two different things: (a) should the incoming request match this access control entry and (b) once it matches, should some sort of access restriction be enforced:

(a) Matching Options

Symfony2 creates an instance of RequestMatcher for each access_control entry, which determines whether or not a given access control should be used on this request. The following access_control options are used for matching:

  • path
  • ip
  • host
  • methods

Take the following access_control entries as an example:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        # ...
        access_control:
            - { path: ^/admin, roles: ROLE_USER_IP, ip: 127.0.0.1 }
            - { path: ^/admin, roles: ROLE_USER_HOST, host: symfony.com }
            - { path: ^/admin, roles: ROLE_USER_METHOD, methods: [POST, PUT] }
            - { path: ^/admin, roles: ROLE_USER }
    
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    <access-control>
        <rule path="^/admin" role="ROLE_USER_IP" ip="127.0.0.1" />
        <rule path="^/admin" role="ROLE_USER_HOST" host="symfony.com" />
        <rule path="^/admin" role="ROLE_USER_METHOD" method="POST, PUT" />
        <rule path="^/admin" role="ROLE_USER" />
    </access-control>
    
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    'access_control' => array(
        array('path' => '^/admin', 'role' => 'ROLE_USER_IP', 'ip' => '127.0.0.1'),
        array('path' => '^/admin', 'role' => 'ROLE_USER_HOST', 'host' => 'symfony.com'),
        array('path' => '^/admin', 'role' => 'ROLE_USER_METHOD', 'method' => 'POST, PUT'),
        array('path' => '^/admin', 'role' => 'ROLE_USER'),
    ),
    

For each incoming request, Symfony will decide which access_control to use based on the URI, the client's IP address, the incoming host name, and the request method. Remember, the first rule that matches is used, and if ip, host or method are not specified for an entry, that access_control will match any ip, host or method:

URI IP HOST METHOD access_control Why?
/admin/user 127.0.0.1 example.com GET rule #1 (ROLE_USER_IP) The URI matches path and the IP matches ip.
/admin/user 127.0.0.1 symfony.com GET rule #1 (ROLE_USER_IP) The path and ip still match. This would also match the ROLE_USER_HOST entry, but only the first access_control match is used.
/admin/user 168.0.0.1 symfony.com GET rule #2 (ROLE_USER_HOST) The ip doesn't match the first rule, so the second rule (which matches) is used.
/admin/user 168.0.0.1 symfony.com POST rule #2 (ROLE_USER_HOST) The second rule still matches. This would also match the third rule (ROLE_USER_METHOD), but only the first matched access_control is used.
/admin/user 168.0.0.1 example.com POST rule #3 (ROLE_USER_METHOD) The ip and host don't match the first two entries, but the third - ROLE_USER_METHOD - matches and is used.
/admin/user 168.0.0.1 example.com GET rule #4 (ROLE_USER) The ip, host and method prevent the first three entries from matching. But since the URI matches the path pattern of the ROLE_USER entry, it is used.
/foo 127.0.0.1 symfony.com POST matches no entries This doesn't match any access_control rules, since its URI doesn't match any of the path values.

(b) Access Enforcement

Once Symfony2 has decided which access_control entry matches (if any), it then enforces access restrictions based on the roles and requires_channel options:

  • role If the user does not have the given role(s), then access is denied (internally, an AccessDeniedException is thrown);
  • requires_channel If the incoming request's channel (e.g. http) does not match this value (e.g. https), the user will be redirected (e.g. redirected from http to https, or vice versa).

Tip

If access is denied, the system will try to authenticate the user if not already (e.g. redirect the user to the login page). If the user is already logged in, the 403 "access denied" error page will be shown. See How to customize Error Pages for more information.

Securing by IP

Certain situations may arise when you may need to restrict access to a given path based on IP. This is particularly relevant in the case of Edge Side Includes (ESI), for example. When ESI is enabled, it's recommended to secure access to ESI URLs. Indeed, some ESI may contain some private content like the current logged in user's information. To prevent any direct access to these resources from a web browser (by guessing the ESI URL pattern), the ESI route must be secured to be only visible from the trusted reverse proxy cache.

Here is an example of how you might secure all ESI routes that start with a given prefix, /esi, from outside access:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        # ...
        access_control:
            - { path: ^/esi, roles: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY, ip: 127.0.0.1 }
            - { path: ^/esi, roles: ROLE_NO_ACCESS }
    
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    <access-control>
        <rule path="^/esi" role="IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY" ip="127.0.0.1" />
        <rule path="^/esi" role="ROLE_NO_ACCESS" />
    </access-control>
    
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    'access_control' => array(
        array('path' => '^/esi', 'role' => 'IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY', 'ip' => '127.0.0.1'),
        array('path' => '^/esi', 'role' => 'ROLE_NO_ACCESS'),
    ),
    

Here is how it works when the path is /esi/something coming from the 10.0.0.1 IP:

  • The first access control rule is ignored as the path matches but the ip does not;
  • The second access control rule is enabled (the only restriction being the path and it matches): as the user cannot have the ROLE_NO_ACCESS role as it's not defined, access is denied (the ROLE_NO_ACCESS role can be anything that does not match an existing role, it just serves as a trick to always deny access).

Now, if the same request comes from 127.0.0.1:

  • Now, the first access control rule is enabled as both the path and the ip match: access is allowed as the user always has the IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY role.
  • The second access rule is not examined as the first rule matched.

Note

Since Symfony 2.0.20/2.1.5, the Twig render tag now takes an absolute url instead of a controller logical path. This fixes an important security issue (CVE-2012-6431) reported on the official blog. If your application uses an older version of Symfony or still uses the previous render tag syntax, you should upgrade as soon as possible.

Securing by Channel

You can also require a user to access a URL via SSL; just use the requires_channel argument in any access_control entries:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        # ...
        access_control:
            - { path: ^/cart/checkout, roles: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY, requires_channel: https }
    
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    <access-control>
        <rule path="^/cart/checkout" role="IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY" requires_channel="https" />
    </access-control>
    
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    'access_control' => array(
        array('path' => '^/cart/checkout', 'role' => 'IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY', 'requires_channel' => 'https'),
    ),
    

Securing a Controller

Protecting your application based on URL patterns is easy, but may not be fine-grained enough in certain cases. When necessary, you can easily force authorization from inside a controller:

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// ...
use Symfony\Component\Security\Core\Exception\AccessDeniedException;

public function helloAction($name)
{
    if (false === $this->get('security.context')->isGranted('ROLE_ADMIN')) {
        throw new AccessDeniedException();
    }

    // ...
}

You can also choose to install and use the optional JMSSecurityExtraBundle, which can secure your controller using annotations:

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// ...
use JMS\SecurityExtraBundle\Annotation\Secure;

/**
 * @Secure(roles="ROLE_ADMIN")
 */
public function helloAction($name)
{
    // ...
}

For more information, see the JMSSecurityExtraBundle documentation. If you're using Symfony's Standard Distribution, this bundle is available by default. If not, you can easily download and install it.

Securing other Services

In fact, anything in Symfony can be protected using a strategy similar to the one seen in the previous section. For example, suppose you have a service (i.e. a PHP class) whose job is to send emails from one user to another. You can restrict use of this class - no matter where it's being used from - to users that have a specific role.

For more information on how you can use the security component to secure different services and methods in your application, see How to secure any Service or Method in your Application.

Access Control Lists (ACLs): Securing Individual Database Objects

Imagine you are designing a blog system where your users can comment on your posts. Now, you want a user to be able to edit his own comments, but not those of other users. Also, as the admin user, you yourself want to be able to edit all comments.

The security component comes with an optional access control list (ACL) system that you can use when you need to control access to individual instances of an object in your system. Without ACL, you can secure your system so that only certain users can edit blog comments in general. But with ACL, you can restrict or allow access on a comment-by-comment basis.

For more information, see the cookbook article: How to use Access Control Lists (ACLs).

Users

In the previous sections, you learned how you can protect different resources by requiring a set of roles for a resource. This section explores the other side of authorization: users.

Where do Users come from? (User Providers)

During authentication, the user submits a set of credentials (usually a username and password). The job of the authentication system is to match those credentials against some pool of users. So where does this list of users come from?

In Symfony2, users can come from anywhere - a configuration file, a database table, a web service, or anything else you can dream up. Anything that provides one or more users to the authentication system is known as a "user provider". Symfony2 comes standard with the two most common user providers: one that loads users from a configuration file and one that loads users from a database table.

Specifying Users in a Configuration File

The easiest way to specify your users is directly in a configuration file. In fact, you've seen this already in the example in this chapter.

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        # ...
        providers:
            default_provider:
                users:
                    ryan:  { password: ryanpass, roles: 'ROLE_USER' }
                    admin: { password: kitten, roles: 'ROLE_ADMIN' }
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <!-- ... -->
        <provider name="default_provider">
            <user name="ryan" password="ryanpass" roles="ROLE_USER" />
            <user name="admin" password="kitten" roles="ROLE_ADMIN" />
        </provider>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        // ...
        'providers' => array(
            'default_provider' => array(
                'users' => array(
                    'ryan'  => array('password' => 'ryanpass', 'roles' => 'ROLE_USER'),
                    'admin' => array('password' => 'kitten', 'roles'   => 'ROLE_ADMIN'),
                ),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

This user provider is called the "in-memory" user provider, since the users aren't stored anywhere in a database. The actual user object is provided by Symfony (User).

Tip

Any user provider can load users directly from configuration by specifying the users configuration parameter and listing the users beneath it.

Caution

If your username is completely numeric (e.g. 77) or contains a dash (e.g. user-name), you should use that alternative syntax when specifying users in YAML:

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users:
    - { name: 77, password: pass, roles: 'ROLE_USER' }
    - { name: user-name, password: pass, roles: 'ROLE_USER' }

For smaller sites, this method is quick and easy to setup. For more complex systems, you'll want to load your users from the database.

Loading Users from the Database

If you'd like to load your users via the Doctrine ORM, you can easily do this by creating a User class and configuring the entity provider.

Tip

A high-quality open source bundle is available that allows your users to be stored via the Doctrine ORM or ODM. Read more about the FOSUserBundle on GitHub.

With this approach, you'll first create your own User class, which will be stored in the database.

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// src/Acme/UserBundle/Entity/User.php
namespace Acme\UserBundle\Entity;

use Symfony\Component\Security\Core\User\UserInterface;
use Doctrine\ORM\Mapping as ORM;

/**
 * @ORM\Entity
 */
class User implements UserInterface
{
    /**
     * @ORM\Column(type="string", length=255)
     */
    protected $username;

    // ...
}

As far as the security system is concerned, the only requirement for your custom user class is that it implements the UserInterface interface. This means that your concept of a "user" can be anything, as long as it implements this interface.

Note

The user object will be serialized and saved in the session during requests, therefore it is recommended that you implement the Serializable interface in your user object. This is especially important if your User class has a parent class with private properties.

Next, configure an entity user provider, and point it to your User class:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        providers:
            main:
                entity: { class: Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User, property: username }
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <provider name="main">
            <entity class="Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User" property="username" />
        </provider>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'providers' => array(
            'main' => array(
                'entity' => array('class' => 'Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User', 'property' => 'username'),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

With the introduction of this new provider, the authentication system will attempt to load a User object from the database by using the username field of that class.

Note

This example is just meant to show you the basic idea behind the entity provider. For a full working example, see How to load Security Users from the Database (the Entity Provider).

For more information on creating your own custom provider (e.g. if you needed to load users via a web service), see How to create a custom User Provider.

Encoding the User's Password

So far, for simplicity, all the examples have stored the users' passwords in plain text (whether those users are stored in a configuration file or in a database somewhere). Of course, in a real application, you'll want to encode your users' passwords for security reasons. This is easily accomplished by mapping your User class to one of several built-in "encoders". For example, to store your users in memory, but obscure their passwords via sha1, do the following:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        # ...
        providers:
            in_memory:
                users:
                    ryan:  { password: bb87a29949f3a1ee0559f8a57357487151281386, roles: 'ROLE_USER' }
                    admin: { password: 74913f5cd5f61ec0bcfdb775414c2fb3d161b620, roles: 'ROLE_ADMIN' }
    
        encoders:
            Symfony\Component\Security\Core\User\User:
                algorithm:   sha1
                iterations: 1
                encode_as_base64: false
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <!-- ... -->
        <provider name="in_memory">
            <user name="ryan" password="bb87a29949f3a1ee0559f8a57357487151281386" roles="ROLE_USER" />
            <user name="admin" password="74913f5cd5f61ec0bcfdb775414c2fb3d161b620" roles="ROLE_ADMIN" />
        </provider>
    
        <encoder class="Symfony\Component\Security\Core\User\User" algorithm="sha1" iterations="1" encode_as_base64="false" />
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        // ...
        'providers' => array(
            'in_memory' => array(
                'users' => array(
                    'ryan'  => array('password' => 'bb87a29949f3a1ee0559f8a57357487151281386', 'roles' => 'ROLE_USER'),
                    'admin' => array('password' => '74913f5cd5f61ec0bcfdb775414c2fb3d161b620', 'roles' => 'ROLE_ADMIN'),
                ),
            ),
        ),
        'encoders' => array(
            'Symfony\Component\Security\Core\User\User' => array(
                'algorithm'         => 'sha1',
                'iterations'        => 1,
                'encode_as_base64'  => false,
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

By setting the iterations to 1 and the encode_as_base64 to false, the password is simply run through the sha1 algorithm one time and without any extra encoding. You can now calculate the hashed password either programmatically (e.g. hash('sha1', 'ryanpass')) or via some online tool like functions-online.com

If you're creating your users dynamically (and storing them in a database), you can use even tougher hashing algorithms and then rely on an actual password encoder object to help you encode passwords. For example, suppose your User object is Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User (like in the above example). First, configure the encoder for that user:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        # ...
    
        encoders:
            Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User: sha512
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <!-- ... -->
    
        <encoder class="Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User" algorithm="sha512" />
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        // ...
        'encoders' => array(
            'Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User' => 'sha512',
        ),
    ));
    

In this case, you're using the stronger sha512 algorithm. Also, since you've simply specified the algorithm (sha512) as a string, the system will default to hashing your password 5000 times in a row and then encoding it as base64. In other words, the password has been greatly obfuscated so that the hashed password can't be decoded (i.e. you can't determine the password from the hashed password).

If you have some sort of registration form for users, you'll need to be able to determine the hashed password so that you can set it on your user. No matter what algorithm you configure for your user object, the hashed password can always be determined in the following way from a controller:

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$factory = $this->get('security.encoder_factory');
$user = new Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User();

$encoder = $factory->getEncoder($user);
$password = $encoder->encodePassword('ryanpass', $user->getSalt());
$user->setPassword($password);

Retrieving the User Object

After authentication, the User object of the current user can be accessed via the security.context service. From inside a controller, this will look like:

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public function indexAction()
{
    $user = $this->get('security.context')->getToken()->getUser();
}

Note

Anonymous users are technically authenticated, meaning that the isAuthenticated() method of an anonymous user object will return true. To check if your user is actually authenticated, check for the IS_AUTHENTICATED_FULLY role.

In a Twig Template this object can be accessed via the app.user key, which calls the GlobalVariables::getUser() method:

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    <p>Username: {{ app.user.username }}</p>
    
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    <p>Username: <?php echo $app->getUser()->getUsername() ?></p>
    

Using Multiple User Providers

Each authentication mechanism (e.g. HTTP Authentication, form login, etc) uses exactly one user provider, and will use the first declared user provider by default. But what if you want to specify a few users via configuration and the rest of your users in the database? This is possible by creating a new provider that chains the two together:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        providers:
            chain_provider:
                providers: [in_memory, user_db]
            in_memory:
                users:
                    foo: { password: test }
            user_db:
                entity: { class: Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User, property: username }
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <provider name="chain_provider">
            <provider>in_memory</provider>
            <provider>user_db</provider>
        </provider>
        <provider name="in_memory">
            <user name="foo" password="test" />
        </provider>
        <provider name="user_db">
            <entity class="Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User" property="username" />
        </provider>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'providers' => array(
            'chain_provider' => array(
                'providers' => array('in_memory', 'user_db'),
            ),
            'in_memory' => array(
                'users' => array(
                    'foo' => array('password' => 'test'),
                ),
            ),
            'user_db' => array(
                'entity' => array('class' => 'Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User', 'property' => 'username'),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

Now, all authentication mechanisms will use the chain_provider, since it's the first specified. The chain_provider will, in turn, try to load the user from both the in_memory and user_db providers.

Tip

If you have no reasons to separate your in_memory users from your user_db users, you can accomplish this even more easily by combining the two sources into a single provider:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        providers:
            main_provider:
                users:
                    foo: { password: test }
                entity: { class: Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User, property: username }
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <provider name=="main_provider">
            <user name="foo" password="test" />
            <entity class="Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User" property="username" />
        </provider>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'providers' => array(
            'main_provider' => array(
                'users' => array(
                    'foo' => array('password' => 'test'),
                ),
                'entity' => array('class' => 'Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User', 'property' => 'username'),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

You can also configure the firewall or individual authentication mechanisms to use a specific provider. Again, unless a provider is specified explicitly, the first provider is always used:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            secured_area:
                # ...
                provider: user_db
                http_basic:
                    realm: "Secured Demo Area"
                    provider: in_memory
                form_login: ~
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <firewall name="secured_area" pattern="^/" provider="user_db">
            <!-- ... -->
            <http-basic realm="Secured Demo Area" provider="in_memory" />
            <form-login />
        </firewall>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'secured_area' => array(
                // ...
                'provider' => 'user_db',
                'http_basic' => array(
                    // ...
                    'provider' => 'in_memory',
                ),
                'form_login' => array(),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

In this example, if a user tries to login via HTTP authentication, the authentication system will use the in_memory user provider. But if the user tries to login via the form login, the user_db provider will be used (since it's the default for the firewall as a whole).

For more information about user provider and firewall configuration, see the Security Configuration Reference.

Roles

The idea of a "role" is key to the authorization process. Each user is assigned a set of roles and then each resource requires one or more roles. If the user has the required roles, access is granted. Otherwise access is denied.

Roles are pretty simple, and are basically strings that you can invent and use as needed (though roles are objects internally). For example, if you need to start limiting access to the blog admin section of your website, you could protect that section using a ROLE_BLOG_ADMIN role. This role doesn't need to be defined anywhere - you can just start using it.

Note

All roles must begin with the ROLE_ prefix to be managed by Symfony2. If you define your own roles with a dedicated Role class (more advanced), don't use the ROLE_ prefix.

Hierarchical Roles

Instead of associating many roles to users, you can define role inheritance rules by creating a role hierarchy:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        role_hierarchy:
            ROLE_ADMIN:       ROLE_USER
            ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN: [ROLE_ADMIN, ROLE_ALLOWED_TO_SWITCH]
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <role id="ROLE_ADMIN">ROLE_USER</role>
        <role id="ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN">ROLE_ADMIN, ROLE_ALLOWED_TO_SWITCH</role>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'role_hierarchy' => array(
            'ROLE_ADMIN'       => 'ROLE_USER',
            'ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN' => array('ROLE_ADMIN', 'ROLE_ALLOWED_TO_SWITCH'),
        ),
    ));
    

In the above configuration, users with ROLE_ADMIN role will also have the ROLE_USER role. The ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN role has ROLE_ADMIN, ROLE_ALLOWED_TO_SWITCH and ROLE_USER (inherited from ROLE_ADMIN).

Logging Out

Usually, you'll also want your users to be able to log out. Fortunately, the firewall can handle this automatically for you when you activate the logout config parameter:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            secured_area:
                # ...
                logout:
                    path:   /logout
                    target: /
        # ...
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <firewall name="secured_area" pattern="^/">
            <!-- ... -->
            <logout path="/logout" target="/" />
        </firewall>
        <!-- ... -->
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'secured_area' => array(
                // ...
                'logout' => array('path' => 'logout', 'target' => '/'),
            ),
        ),
        // ...
    ));
    

Once this is configured under your firewall, sending a user to /logout (or whatever you configure the path to be), will un-authenticate the current user. The user will then be sent to the homepage (the value defined by the target parameter). Both the path and target config parameters default to what's specified here. In other words, unless you need to customize them, you can omit them entirely and shorten your configuration:

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    logout: ~
    
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    <logout />
    
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    'logout' => array(),
    

Note that you will not need to implement a controller for the /logout URL as the firewall takes care of everything. You may, however, want to create a route so that you can use it to generate the URL:

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    # app/config/routing.yml
    logout:
        pattern:   /logout
    
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    <!-- app/config/routing.xml -->
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
    
    <routes xmlns="http://symfony.com/schema/routing"
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
        xsi:schemaLocation="http://symfony.com/schema/routing http://symfony.com/schema/routing/routing-1.0.xsd">
    
        <route id="logout" pattern="/logout" />
    
    </routes>
    
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    // app/config/routing.php
    use Symfony\Component\Routing\RouteCollection;
    use Symfony\Component\Routing\Route;
    
    $collection = new RouteCollection();
    $collection->add('logout', new Route('/logout', array()));
    
    return $collection;
    

Once the user has been logged out, he will be redirected to whatever path is defined by the target parameter above (e.g. the homepage). For more information on configuring the logout, see the Security Configuration Reference.

Access Control in Templates

If you want to check if the current user has a role inside a template, use the built-in helper function:

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    {% if is_granted('ROLE_ADMIN') %}
        <a href="...">Delete</a>
    {% endif %}
    
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    <?php if ($view['security']->isGranted('ROLE_ADMIN')): ?>
        <a href="...">Delete</a>
    <?php endif; ?>
    

Note

If you use this function and are not at a URL where there is a firewall active, an exception will be thrown. Again, it's almost always a good idea to have a main firewall that covers all URLs (as has been shown in this chapter).

Access Control in Controllers

If you want to check if the current user has a role in your controller, use the isGranted() method of the security context:

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public function indexAction()
{
    // show different content to admin users
    if ($this->get('security.context')->isGranted('ROLE_ADMIN')) {
        // ... load admin content here
    }

    // ... load other regular content here
}

Note

A firewall must be active or an exception will be thrown when the isGranted method is called. See the note above about templates for more details.

Impersonating a User

Sometimes, it's useful to be able to switch from one user to another without having to logout and login again (for instance when you are debugging or trying to understand a bug a user sees that you can't reproduce). This can be easily done by activating the switch_user firewall listener:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            main:
                # ...
                switch_user: true
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <firewall>
            <!-- ... -->
            <switch-user />
        </firewall>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'main'=> array(
                // ...
                'switch_user' => true
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

To switch to another user, just add a query string with the _switch_user parameter and the username as the value to the current URL:

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http://example.com/somewhere?_switch_user=thomas

To switch back to the original user, use the special _exit username:

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http://example.com/somewhere?_switch_user=_exit

During impersonation, the user is provided with a special role called ROLE_PREVIOUS_ADMIN. In a template, for instance, this role can be used to show a link to exit impersonation:

  • Twig
    {% if is_granted('ROLE_PREVIOUS_ADMIN') %}
        <a href="{{ path('homepage', {_switch_user: '_exit'}) }}">Exit impersonation</a>
    {% endif %}
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    <?php if ($view['security']->isGranted('ROLE_PREVIOUS_ADMIN')): ?>
        <a
            href="<?php echo $view['router']->generate('homepage', array('_switch_user' => '_exit') ?>"
        >
            Exit impersonation
        </a>
    <?php endif; ?>
    

Of course, this feature needs to be made available to a small group of users. By default, access is restricted to users having the ROLE_ALLOWED_TO_SWITCH role. The name of this role can be modified via the role setting. For extra security, you can also change the query parameter name via the parameter setting:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            main:
                # ...
                switch_user: { role: ROLE_ADMIN, parameter: _want_to_be_this_user }
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <firewall>
            <!-- ... -->
            <switch-user role="ROLE_ADMIN" parameter="_want_to_be_this_user" />
        </firewall>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'main'=> array(
                // ...
                'switch_user' => array('role' => 'ROLE_ADMIN', 'parameter' => '_want_to_be_this_user'),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

Stateless Authentication

By default, Symfony2 relies on a cookie (the Session) to persist the security context of the user. But if you use certificates or HTTP authentication for instance, persistence is not needed as credentials are available for each request. In that case, and if you don't need to store anything else between requests, you can activate the stateless authentication (which means that no cookie will be ever created by Symfony2):

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            main:
                http_basic: ~
                stateless:  true
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <config>
        <firewall stateless="true">
            <http-basic />
        </firewall>
    </config>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'main' => array('http_basic' => array(), 'stateless' => true),
        ),
    ));
    

Note

If you use a form login, Symfony2 will create a cookie even if you set stateless to true.

Final Words

Security can be a deep and complex issue to solve correctly in your application. Fortunately, Symfony's security component follows a well-proven security model based around authentication and authorization. Authentication, which always happens first, is handled by a firewall whose job is to determine the identity of the user through several different methods (e.g. HTTP authentication, login form, etc). In the cookbook, you'll find examples of other methods for handling authentication, including how to implement a "remember me" cookie functionality.

Once a user is authenticated, the authorization layer can determine whether or not the user should have access to a specific resource. Most commonly, roles are applied to URLs, classes or methods and if the current user doesn't have that role, access is denied. The authorization layer, however, is much deeper, and follows a system of "voting" so that multiple parties can determine if the current user should have access to a given resource. Find out more about this and other topics in the cookbook.

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