Sending an HTTP request with basic authentication

Sending an HTTP request with basic authentication

How to:

Here’s the simple way to send an HTTP request with basic authentication using cURL in PHP:

$url = '';
$username = 'your_username';
$password = 'your_password';

$ch = curl_init($url);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERPWD, "$username:$password");
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);

$response = curl_exec($ch);

echo $response;

Sample output:

  "authenticated": true,
  "data": "Some secure data"

Deep Dive

HTTP Basic Authentication has been in use since the early days of the web. It’s not the most secure option around (as credentials are sent in base64 encoding, which is easily decoded), but it’s straightforward to implement for quick-and-dirty access control.

Suppose security is a concern (and it should be), you’d turn to more robust methods like OAuth, JWT or API keys. Yet, basic auth persists partly due to legacy systems and partly for internal systems where you control access tightly.

In PHP, cURL is widely used for making HTTP requests, but alternatives like file_get_contents or Guzzle (a PHP HTTP client) exist. When using file_get_contents, a context with the appropriate header must be created:

$context = stream_context_create([
    'http' => [
        'header' => "Authorization: Basic " . base64_encode("$username:$password")

$response = file_get_contents($url, false, $context);

echo $response;

Picking the right tool comes down to your project’s needs and the level of control and functionality you desire.

See Also

To dive deeper and expand your knowledge, check these out: