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PHP cURL 403 forbidden – How to solve it

by | Feb 7, 2021

Are you looking for a solution to the PHP curl 403 forbidden error? We can help you in fixing it.

Many of our customers approach us with this curl error. this error occurs due to syntax errors in code and mod-security.

Here at Bobcares, we have seen several such PHP-related errors as part of our Server Management Services for web hosts and online service providers.

Today we’ll see the different reasons for this error to occur and their respective fixes.


How to fix PHP curl 403 forbidden errors

Now let’s take a look at how our Support Engineers resolve this error for our customers


1. Syntax errors lead to 403 forbidden error

Recently, one of our customers approached us with this error. He tried to execute the following code to download the file using a PHP curl script.

/* gets the data from a URL */
function get_data($url) {
$ch = curl_init();
$timeout = 5;
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $url);
return $data;

So, our Support Engineers rewrote the code section “function get_data($url) {” as likewise:

$returned_content = get_data('https://(website url name)');

Also, we add this User-Agent with the code.

$userAgent = 'Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)';
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERAGENT, $userAgent);

This resolved the PHP curl error for him.


2. mod_security issues causing PHP cURL 403 error

In another case, we had a customer who approached us with the same error after he submitting forms that contain PHP curl.

On investigating, we found that mod_security was enabled.

The mod_security feature scans all POST requests to the web site for forbidden words that might indicate that someone is trying to hack the system.

If this feature conflicts then the Apache will end up throwing an error message.

In order to disable ‘mod_security’ for the website, we go to ‘document root’ of the website. Then we open the .htaccess file.

After that, we add the below code in it.

<IfModule mod_security.c>
SecFilterEngine Off
SecFilterScanPOST Off

Finally, we save the file.


3. Incorrect coding issue

Coding errors can also cause curl errors.

Here is an example, where our customer was trying to access the site with authentication.

He used the below incorrect code and received 403 forbidden error.

HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
content Type; Text/plain
date: wed 27 jan 2021 14:40:19 GMT

The credentials he was using were correct but still was unable to access the site with authentication.

However, Our Bobcares Support Engineers found a solution to this error:

It requires a csrt token (on a page with a form that wants to protect, the server would generate a random string) to log in. Here, the customer didn’t provide a code to retrieve/post one.

So, we added the below syntax with the code,

curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERPWD, $username . ":" . $password);

Finally, this fixed the problem.

[Need any assistance with curl errors? – We are here to help you]



In short, this PHP curl error can occur due to syntax errors, mod_security issues, and also due to incorrect coding issues. Today, we saw how our Support Engineers fix this error effectively.


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