The most common method of authorizing someone is called "Basic Authorization. The Basic authentication method transmits user names and passwords across the network in plaintext or unencrypted form. A computer vandal could use a network monitoring tool to intercept this information. You can use your Web server's encryption features, in combination with Basic authentication, to secure user account information transmitted across the network.
.htaccess is how you can easily secure files in Apache. It allows you to use Apache's configuration directives without editing the default configuration file (httpd.conf). This makes it useful for communities on shared or virtual hosting or dedicated hosting.
There are a lot of things you can do with .htaccess but we are concerned with denying access to specific files and directories.
Windows comes with a permissions system often referred to as NTAUTH. It is part of the NTFS file system and integrated into IIS and other server technologies in Windows. For instructions on how to use this to protect your server please see Microsoft's IIS Documentation:
Alternatives to NTAUTH
IISPassword is a free utility that can be installed on your IIS server. IISPassword uses Basic HTTP Authentication for password protecting web sites on IIS, just like htaccess works on Apache. That makes your password protected Apache web site compatible with IIS, and vice versa.
CHMOD, or File Permissions on your Unix/Linux System
You can control who has access to files on your servers beyond whether a web browser can call them up and have the server execute them. This is based on file permissions and can help to protect your files if someone gains unauthorized access to another portion of the machine. File permissions will help protect your site more on a shared server which has many people accessing it than they will on a server that only you have access to. However it is a good practice to only give the minimum permissions that you need to give and allow your site to work properly.
In our case, the web server application needs to be able to read your vBulletin files as long as PHP is installed as an Apache or ISAPI Module. If you are using the CGI executable, then they will probably need Execute permissions as well. In Linux and Unix, you change permissions using a tool called CHMOD which lets you set the permissions.
CHMOD can use either bitkeys, a series of numbers to designate permissions, or letters to represent the permissions. Both of these can be confusing to the uninitiated. Using the numbers results in more concise commands with the same number of control. You will see these commonly referred to in technical documents.
To set the permissions for your vBulletin files, with PHP as a Apache or ISAPI module, you would type the following in your command prompt on the server:
This tells the server that the owner of the file (you) has permission to read and write to the files but everyone else only has permission to read them.
chmod 644 *
If your hosting provider tells you that you need Read and Write permissions on your files then you would use this command:
A more indepth tutorial on CHMOD can be found here: http://catcode.com/teachmod/index.html
chmod 755 *
Most modern SFTP clients can handle this automatically though a properties dialog on the context menu. Refer to your client software for documentation on how to do this.
Please Note: If an attacker gets root access to your machine, there is no way to protect your files with permissions. They will be able to access everything. If this happens you will need a recent backup so you can recover your site.