lighttpd 1.4.x
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Secure and Fast Downloading
Module: mod_secdownload
:Author: Jan Kneschke
:Date: $Date: 2004/08/01 07:01:29 $
:Revision: $Revision: 1.1 $
authenticated file requests and a counter measurement against
deep-linking can be achieved easily by using mod_secdownload
.. meta::
:keywords: lighttpd, secure, fast, downloads
.. contents:: Table of Contents
secdownload.secret = <string>
secdownload.document-root = <string>
secdownload.uri-prefix = <string> (default: /)
secdownload.timeout = <short> (default: 60 seconds)
there are multiple way to handle secured download mechanisms:
1. use the webserver and the internal HTTP-authentication
2. use the application to authenticate and send the file
through the application
Both way have limitations:
- ``+`` fast download
- ``+`` no additional system load
- ``-`` unflexible authentication handling
- ``+`` integrated into the overall layout
- ``+`` very flexible permission management
- ``-`` the download occupies a application thread/process
A simple way to combine the two way could be:
1. app authenticates user and checks permissions to
download the file.
2. app redirectes user the file accessable by the webserver
for further downloading
3. the webserver transfers the file to the user
As the webserver doesn't know anything about the permissions
used in the app the resulting URL would be available to every
user who knows the URL.
mod_secdownload removes this problem by introducing a way to
authenticate a URL for a specified time. The application has
to generate a token and a timestamp which are checked by the
webserver before it allows the file to be downloaded by the
The generated URL has to have the format:
<token> is a MD5 of
1. a secret string (user supplied)
2. <rel-path> (startes with /)
3. <timestamp-in-hex>
As you can see the token is not bound to the user at all. The
only limiting factor is the timestamp which is used to
invalidate the URL after a given timeout (secdownload.timeout).
.. Note::
Be sure to choose a another secret then used in the examples
as this is the only part of the token that is not known to
the user.
If the user tries to fake the URL by choosing a random token
status 403 'Forbidden' will be sent out.
If the timeout is reached status 408 'Request Timeout' will be
sent (this not really standard conforming but should do the
If token and timeout are valid the <rel-path> is taken and
appended at the configured (secdownload.document-root) and
passed to the normal internal file transfer functionality.
This might lead to status 200 or 404.
Your application has to generate the correct URLs. The following sample
code for PHP should be easily adaptable to any other language: ::
$secret = "verysecret";
$uri_prefix = "/dl/";
# filename
$f = "/secret-file.txt";
# current timestamp
$t = time();
$t_hex = sprintf("%08x", $t);
$m = md5($secret.$f.$t_hex);
# generate link
printf('<a href="%s%s/%s%s">%s</a>',
$uri_prefix, $m, $t_hex, $f, $f);
The server has to configured in the same way. The uri-prefix and secret have
to match: ::
server.modules = ( ..., "mod_secdownload", ... )
secdownload.secret = "verysecret"
secdownload.document-root = "/home/www/servers/download-area/"
secdownload.uri-prefix = "/dl/"
secdownload.timeout = 120