Forms Authentication in by azamsharp


Security is one of the most important component of any application. Security is even more important when you are making a web application which is exposed to million of users. provides classes and methods that ensure that the application is secure from outside attacks. In this article we will investigate the Forms authentication in which provides a powerful way of securing applications.

Setting the forums authentication

First you need to set up the forms authentication in the web.config file. If you see in the web.config file there will be a tag like this:
By default it is set to the Windows authentication mode in order to change this to forms authentication you will just need to change the windows to forms as I have shown below:
Okay so now you have set your application to use the features of the forms authentication instead of the windows authentication.

Storing username and password in the Web.config file:

If you have very few users that needs to use the application than you can set the username and passwords in the web.config file.

</authentication> </forms> </credentials> <username="Joe"password="Smith"/> <credentials> <formsloginUrl="Login.aspx">

You will see some new tags and attributes above lets explain all of them:

The tag forms has an attribute loginUrl which is the url of the page the users will be redirected if they try to access an authorized page. In this case we have given the url as Login.aspx which  means that if some user is trying to access some page and he is not signed in he will be redirected to the Login.aspx page.

Later we have the credentials tag which has attributes username and password. The username and password is simply the username and password for a particular user. All the usernames and passwords that are present in the web.config files <credentials> tag will be authorized to user the pages.

You can have multiple user name and password stored in a single web.config file. As you can see in the code below I have stored 2 username and their passwords:

</authentication> </forms> <username="azam"password="hello"/></credentials> <username="Joe"password="Smith"/> <credentials> 


Okay so now you got the username and passwords stored in the web.config file and now you want to authenticate the user depending on the credentials present in the web.config file. Let’s set one more thing up which is the authorization tags in the web.config file.


The deny users = “?” means that all the other users whose name is not present in the web.config file must not be able to access the pages.

Lets make a simple login screen that lets the user enter his credentials:

Suppose you are too lazy to change your page name from WebForm1 to Login.aspx. Now if you run the page you will see an error that there is no Login.aspx page. You will be surprised that what is looking for Login.aspx page. The reason is that because you told the that the login page will be named Login.aspx remember:


Now if you change the name of your page to Login.aspx it will work fine. You can also change the loginUrl = WebForm1.aspx to make it work but making a Login.aspx page sounds much better.

Now we need to implement the button click code:

private void Button1_Click(object sender, System.EventArgs e)
		Label3.Text = "you are not authorized to view the page";

We simply used the FormsAuthentication.Authenticate() method and supplied it with the username and password. These username and password will be checked against the web.config file. If the username and password are present inside the web.config file than the user will be authorized and will be taken to the originally requested Url. If the person is not authorized than a message will be printed that “You are not authorized to view the page”.

Cookie Expiration:

You can also expire the cookies that you make in your application. Setting the time for the cookie expiration is not difficult at all. Lets see the following code and see what it does:

Lets first make a simple cookie that will hold the user’s username and than set its expiration time in days:

HttpCookie myCookie = new HttpCookie("UserName");
myCookie.Value("UserName") = txtName.Text;
myCookie.Expires = DateTime.Now.AddDays(1);


As we can see in the code sample above that making and setting the expiration time for the cookie is not difficult at all. You can also use FormsAuthentication Ticket to assign the expiration time of the cookie.

This method is good if you dont want the user to be logged on all the times. Its also safe from the security point of view cause it will expire in 1 day.

Database Authentication:

If you have a larger system you will be better off using the Database to keep the UserNames and passwords. You can use a simple SQL Stored procedure which returns 1 or 0 for success and failure depending on the username and password supplied. A simple database validation method can be written as follows:

private bool IsUserAuthenticated(string username,string password)
{// Make database connection

* /*// set up the Sql Server Stored procedure
* @PersonID int OUTPUT,
* @UserName nvarchar(50),
* @Password nvarchar(50)
* AS

* SELECT @PersonID = PersonID WHERE UserName = @UserName AND Password = @Password;
*/// exeucte the command
// return false;
// else 
// return true; 
// if(personID > 0 ) 
// Attach the parameters, should also have output parameters to return a value

Signing out a user Securely:

You have seen the sign out button on the Internet on various websites. Our site also have the feature to signout users when they are done browsing. Let’s see how we can implement a simple signout method. The logic behing the sign out is to expire the user cookie.

Response.Cookies["UserName"].Value = null;

// The date can be anything which has already passed
Response.Cookies["UserName"].Expires = new System.DateTime(1999,10,12);

As you can see the code above is pretty simple and straight forward. The FormsAuthentication class provides a signout method which can be used to signout users.

Later we assign null to the cookie and expired the cookies date by assigning it a date which has already passed. After signout the user I simply redirected the user to another page.

Client side Validation

Don’t leave all the things for your business logic and then for the database to decide. Do all the validation before you send the data to the business layers and the database layers. For this you can always use RequiredFieldValidators to check that if the required fields are not left blank.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.

Happy Coding !