How to Fix Web Server Uses Plain Text Form Based Authentication?


Heather Bennett

In this tutorial, we will learn how to fix the issue of a web server using plain text form-based authentication. This is an important security concern as plain text transmission can lead to unauthorized access and compromise sensitive user information.

Step 1: Understanding the Issue

When a web server uses plain text form-based authentication, it means that the user’s login credentials (such as username and password) are transmitted over the network in plain text format. This can be easily intercepted by malicious actors, compromising the security of the user’s account.

Step 2: Implementing Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

To address this issue, one of the most effective solutions is to implement Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) on your web server. SSL/TLS protocols encrypt the data transmitted between the client and server, making it difficult for attackers to intercept and decipher.

To enable SSL/TLS on your web server:

  • Obtain an SSL/TLS Certificate: You need to obtain an SSL/TLS certificate from a trusted certificate authority. This certificate will validate your website’s identity and establish a secure connection.
  • Configure your Web Server: Install and configure the SSL/TLS certificate on your web server.

    The process may vary depending on the specific web server software you are using.

  • Update your Website’s URLs: Update all URLs on your website to use HTTPS instead of HTTP. This ensures that all connections to your website are encrypted using SSL/TLS.

Step 3: Implementing Hashed Passwords

In addition to implementing SSL/TLS, it is crucial to store user passwords securely on the server. Storing passwords in plain text format is highly insecure as they can be easily exploited if the server is compromised.

Instead, you should store hashed passwords on the server. Hashing is a one-way process that converts the password into a fixed-length string of characters. Even if an attacker gains access to the hashed passwords, it is computationally infeasible to reverse-engineer the original password from the hash.

To implement hashed passwords:

  • Choose a Strong Hashing Algorithm: Select a strong and secure hashing algorithm such as bcrypt or SHA-256.
  • Hash Passwords: Hash user passwords before storing them in your database. Use a unique salt for each password to enhance security.
  • Verify Hashed Passwords: When authenticating users, hash their input and compare it with the stored hashed password. If they match, the password is correct.

Step 4: Implementing Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

An additional layer of security can be added by implementing Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) on your web server. 2FA requires users to provide two forms of identification: something they know (password) and something they possess (e.g., a verification code sent to their mobile device).

To implement 2FA:

  • Select a 2FA Method: Choose a suitable method for generating verification codes, such as using time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) or SMS-based verification.
  • Integrate with an Authentication Provider: Integrate your web server with an authentication provider that supports 2FA, such as Google Authenticator or Authy.
  • Implement 2FA Verification: Modify your login process to prompt users for their verification code after entering their password. Verify the code before granting access.

Step 5: Regularly Update and Patch Your Server

Keeping your web server up to date with the latest security patches is crucial for maintaining a secure environment. Regularly check for updates from your web server software provider and apply them promptly.


In conclusion, fixing the issue of a web server using plain text form-based authentication requires implementing SSL/TLS, hashing passwords, implementing two-factor authentication, and regularly updating and patching your server. By following these steps, you can significantly enhance the security of your web server and protect user data from unauthorized access.

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