Simple CodeIgniter Security Best Practices to Secure Your Website

With the increasing demand for web applications and software development, CodeIgniter, one of PHP's widely used frameworks gained popularity. In this article, you will learn everything about CodeIgniter and the practices and tips that help you secure your website when using CodeIgniter.

Blog Author
Ganeswar Swain

Aug 22, 2023

With the increased use of mobile phones and the digitalization of business across the world, the demand for websites and web applications has increased. PHP is the most preferred programming language to develop applications and software, that offers multiple frameworks.

While the availability of multiple frameworks has made software development or web application seamless and easy, CodeIgniter is the most preferred one due to its various in-built features and functionalities.

Let us see now, what is CodeIgniter and how can you secure your website using the best security practices built-in by CodeIgniter.

Digital Marketing Team

Understanding CodeIgniter Framework

CodeIgniter is one of the widely used open-source PHP web application frameworks. This framework allows developers to build dynamic web applications easily. CodeIgniter follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern, that separates the application's logic and presentation layer, allowing it to be more procedural and non-hassle.

Why CodeIgniter for developing web applications?

CodeIgniter is the most preferred framework by developers due to its various in-built tools and features that aid developers in building robust and dynamic applications. Here are a few reasons why CodeIgniter is the most favored PHP framework:

  1. It is easy to learn and easy-to-use framework that has clear documentation that makes it accessible to developers of all skill levels.
  2. It is a lightweight framework where it utilizes minimal resources from the server and performs quickly. Hence, proven best for a small application with limited server capacities.
  3. CodeIgniter offers flexibility while programming where you can adapt various coding styles and preferences based on your business needs.
  4. CodeIgniter has gained popularity due to its built-in security features. Offers maximum approaches for safeguarding the applications against common susceptibilities.
  5. Easily include JavaScript or CSS Libraries or frameworks to help you develop the rich user interface of applications.
  6. CodeIgniter has a constant development cycle and has continuously been updated and improved regularly.

CodeIgniter best security practices for websites

Securing web applications or websites built with CodeIgniter involves implementing the best methods to protect against common security issues. Here are some essential security best practices for CodeIgniter web applications:

XSS Prevention

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a type of security vulnerability where attackers inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users. CodeIgniter has its built-in feature, XSS filtering security. Any data running will be filtered using the code xss_clean() method.

SQL Injection Prevention

SQL Injection is a type of security vulnerability where attackers can manipulate SQL queries to perform unauthorized database operations. To prevent SQL injection in your CodeIgniter web application, you can follow these methods :

  1. Query binding
  2. Escaping User Input
  3. Active Record and Query Builder

Query binding:

In query binding, instead of using user input directly into the query, use query binding placeholders like ‘?’ or named placeholders like ‘: name’ and then pass the user input as an array or an object.

Example with named placeholders:

$sql = "SELECT * FROM users WHERE username = :username AND password = :password";
$this->db->query($sql, array('username' => $username, 'password' => $password));

Escaping User Input

To escape the user input in raw SQL queries you can use the escape() method from the Database Utility Class-

$username = $this->db->escape($username); $password =
$this->db->escape($password); $sql = "SELECT * FROM users WHERE username =
$username AND password = $password"; $this->db->query($sql);

Active Record and Query Builder:

Use this active record and query builder feature to construct database queries. These classes automatically escape user input, reducing the risk of SQL injection.

Hiding Errors

As the errors displayed in the programming environment contain information about the code, it is suggested not to display it to a user for security reasons. it is always better if it is enabled in the development environment for debugging process. To prevent this from happening, CodeIgniter has 3 error-handling features at every reporting level.

PHP Error Reporting Level

error_reporting() function is used to hide all the errors from index.php, just by passing zero as an argument.

Database Error level

To stop any error displaying from the database level is to turn this off in application/config/database.php. Enable the db_debug option in the $db array to FALSE as shown below.

$db['default']['db_debug'] = FALSE;

Error log

With CodeIgniter, you can implement proper error handling and logging mechanisms to identify and mitigate SQL injection attempts.

Enable the log_threshold value in the $config array to 1 in the application/cofig/config.php file as shown below.

$config['log_threshold'] = 1;

Prevent CSRF

Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) is a type of attack where an attacker deceives a user's browser into making authenticated requests to a web application. To prevent CSRF attacks in your CodeIgniter web application these ways;

  1. CodeIgniter provides built-in CSRF protection that you can enable in the config.php file. Specify the csrf_protection option to TRUE.
  2. With CSRF protection enabled, CodeIgniter automatically generates CSRF tokens for each form submission. You can include these codes in your HTML code.
  3. CSRF attacks often exploit GET requests as they can be triggered by image tags or other external sources. Therefore, use the POST method for sensitive actions in your application.
  4. Make sure to log out after using every session. This protects against CSRF attacks that rely on an active user session.

Handle Passwords

Passwords act as a key to log in to every application. What if your passwords are fallen into the wrong hands? Your application can be used in an immoral way. Therefore handling your passwords becomes much more important to keep your ethical practices in a good way.

  1. Make sure to store your passwords in complex format and not in plain text.
  2. Always make use of hash in your passwords.
  3. Use strong hashing algorithms like BCrypt, which is used in PHP’s Password Hashing functions.
  4. Do not share your passwords or display passwords in plain-text format.
  5. Provide lengthy passwords combined with numbers and special characters.

Best practices and tips of CodeIgniter for web development

CodeIgniter is a flexible and lightweight PHP framework that offers several best practices for web development to ensure security and maintainability. By following the below-mentioned procedures CodeIgniter can be best suited for web development opined website development company - Webomindapps .

Use its basic architecture:

Adhere to the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern to keep your code organized and maintainable.

Make use of CodeIgniter libraries:

CodeIgniter provides a range of built-in libraries and helpers that can simplify tasks such as form validation, database handling, session management, and more. This inbuilt feature makes web developers use CodeIgniter for its functionalities.

Provides security:

As discussed in the above section, CodeIgniter provides a wide range of security features for securing your website. Just enabling built-in security features like CSRF protection, XSS filtering, and form validation to safeguard your application against common security threats.

Organization of files & documentation:

You can keep your CodeIgniter application files logically for easy access. Keep controllers, models, and views in separate directories for easier management and better code readability.


A PHP framework that has various built-in features and functionalities that can be used while developing an application or website. With the features as mentioned above, you will know how Codeigniter can be utilized for the safe and secure development of websites. For better safety purposes always make sure to use the latest updates and create custom web applications effortlessly.