Security in YOURLS forms

YOURLS forms and internal links make extensive use of nonces (a number used only once) to avoid being tricked into doing something you didn't want to.

If you can access the admin area, you have authorization. Nonce are here to make sure you also have intention.

What are nonces

Nonces are the crytpic strings you'll find for instance on internal links, such as the one to activate a plugin in your admin interface:


This nonce is here to verify that a user’s action is intentional and originates from within the YOURLS admin. Nonces are unique to the YOURLS install, to the YOURLS user, to the requested action, and to the time of the action (12 hour window by default, see below for customization). If any of these things changes, the nonce is invalid.

For example, thanks to nonces, no one can trick you into deactivating a plugin (or deleting a short URL, or anything done in the admin interface) because the following link misses a valid nonce:


If you’re performing actions based on the clicking of links, you can add a nonce to your links using yourls_nonce_url() which takes two parameters: the action name, and the URL.


$url = yourls_admin_url('plugins.php?page=joe-plugin');
// "http://sho.rt/admin/plugins.php?page=joe-plugin"

var_dump(yourls_nonce_url('joe-plugin-some-action', $url));
// "http://sho.rt/admin/plugins.php?page=joe-plugin&nonce=845aa035e4"

On said page, you will now be able to check that the nonce is valid, see below.

Protect forms with nonces

To protect your <form> with a nonce, simply use the yourls_nonce_field() function within the <form>:

<form action="...">
<?php yourls_nonce_field('joe-plugin-some-action'); ?>

Verify nonces

Before performing the action protected by the nonce, use yourls_verify_nonce() with the name of the requested action. Example:

// Process form to delete all URLs as requested
function joe-plugin-delete-everything() {
    // make sure there's a valid nonce -- if not the script will abort
    yourls_verify_nonce( 'joe-plugin-some-action' );

    // Now delete everything

Define custom nonce lifetime

By default, nonces are valid 12 hours. From the sourceopen in new window:

// life span of a nonce in seconds
if (!defined( 'YOURLS_NONCE_LIFE' ))
    define( 'YOURLS_NONCE_LIFE', 43200 ); // 3600 * 12

If you want to enforce a different time span, for instance an hour (3600 seconds) you can add the following to your config.php:

define( 'YOURLS_NONCE_LIFE', 3600 );