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Referer information lost on re-direct

Posted on 2004-08-22
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Last Modified: 2008-03-03
I am doing this
header('location:'.$newurl);

to make a php page do a re-direct to a new url, but when the new page is displayed it dosnt have any referer.

Any ideas on how to make sure referer is always set? Is there a header function to set the referer?

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Question by:wildzero
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7 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Diablo84
ID: 11865912
the referer is unreliable anyway so as a general rule avoid using it, in these situations i usually advise using the sessions work around.

first page:

session_start();
$_SESSION['ref'] = $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'];


checking page:

session_start();
if (!isset($_SESSION['ref'])) {
 //referer is not set
}

you can alternatively check the value stored in the session too if you are checking multiple pages, eg.

session_start();
if (isset($_SESSION['ref']) && $_SESSION['ref'] == "/yourreferingpage.php") {
 //referer is set and is valid
}

make sure session_start(); is always at the top of your page
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Author Comment

by:wildzero
ID: 11866113
The page that it is getting sent to is on another server so i can't do sessions. Referers is the best way and it works perfect, but when you re-direct with header('location......... it loses the data

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Accepted Solution

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Diablo84 earned 125 total points
ID: 11866404
As far as im aware the information should be retained none the less, even so i still would not advise trusting the referer as it is set client side and can be blocked from being sent so there will be cases where it will not be set, quote from the manual:

"The address of the page (if any) which referred the user agent to the current page. This is set by the user agent. Not all user agents will set this, and some provide the ability to modify HTTP_REFERER as a feature. In short, it cannot really be trusted."

That said you could use a modification of the above code using cookies instead of sessions, example:

first page:

$ref = $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'];
setcookie("ref", $ref, time()+3600, "/", ".domain.com");

checking page:

if (isset($_COOKIE['ref']) && $_COOKIE['ref'] == "http://www.yourdomain.com/yourreferingpage.php") {
 //referer is set and is valid
}
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Author Comment

by:wildzero
ID: 11866433
Still dosn't quite solve it, as some of the pages it redirects to I can't alter the page. Simple testing shows that header:location removed the referer.....

I thought there could have been a header:referer that could be set..... or somthing.
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:Diablo84
ID: 11866444
I just done a test here

a.php

<?php
header("location: b.php");
?>

b.php

<?php
echo $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'];
?>

and b.php produces http://localhost/ - the referer so the header does not remove it
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:Diablo84
ID: 11866469
heres my last idea for this one, and is probably even less practical then the previous suggestions

include the file on the second server in a file on the first server with restrictions, example:

server a file (called inc.php for example):

include('http://serverB.com/page.php');

top of page.php on server b

if ($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] != "http://serverA.com" || $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'] != "/inc.php") {
 die ("you cannot access this file directly");
}
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Expert Comment

by:nsstone
ID: 11899449
Can you pass the referrer along in another variable (like a hidden input variable) and use it even if it isn't any longer strictly $_REFERRER?
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