Naming Form Elements Dynamically - CodeProject

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Introduction

In this tip, I am going to add one more security layer to a web form submission.

Normally, when naming form elements, we choose static/fixed name for each element.

In my technique, I am going to hash the names of the form elements using dynamic salted values, so that a name of an element varies from a user to another!

Namely, I choose a concatenation of the “IP address, the user agent, beside a fixed string” as a salt to hash the name of a form element.

This way, we greatly reduce the risk of playing with our form!

Using the Code

Here is a PHP function that hashes a name of a form element using SHA1 and a dynamically salted string:

function HashedFieldName($field){
$salt='hawom169';
$fullSalt=$_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'].getRealIpAddr().$salt.$field.$salt;
return 'A'. substr(sha1($fullSalt),0,20);
}

The function getRealIpAddr() is used to get the user IP address, I  took it from https://gist.github.com/owcall/2928583.

Then, the function HashedFieldName($field) is used to name a form element like this:

<?php $namefield='username';?>
<input type="text" id="txtname" name="<?php echo(HashedFieldName($namefield)) ?>">

Looking carefully to the code, we will see that I used a fixed value for the ID property of the text element; this way, we can easily access that element via JavaScript at the client side:

var obj=document.getElementById('txtname');
   if(obj.value==''){
       window.alert('You must enter your name');
	   obj.focus();
	   return false;
    }

To expose the form submitted data at the server side, we may use a code like this:

echo("Thank you " . $_POST[HashedFieldName($namefield)].",Your registration is completed successfully!");

What is Next?

In my next article, I am going to provide a complete solution that uses my technique: Preventing Resending by Refresh and Reducing the Need of Captcha.

Points of Interest

  • The example is provided in PHP, it is obvious that it can be used by any other technology such as .NET or Java.
  • The same technique can also be used for dynamically naming cookies (session cookies), which reduces the risk of cookie theft.