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JSON Web Token (JWT) is a commonly used user authentication and authorization standard, used to exchange data in a secure manner. Made up of three components, a header, a payload, and a signature, it’s becoming more and more commonly used. Read on to discover the best use cases for JWT authorization, learn how it works, and access best practices that can help you implement it effectively in your organization.
JWT stands for JSON Web Token. It is a compact, URL-safe means of representing claims to be transferred between two parties. It is used to securely transmit information between parties in a JSON format. JWTs can be used to authorize access to resources and services.
JWT authorization is a stateless mechanism for authentication and authorization that eliminates the need for sessions and cookies. It provides a secure means of transmitting information, because a JWT is digitally signed using a secret key known only to the server. This ensures that the information contained in the JWT is not tampered with or altered during transmission.
For more background, see our article on JWT authentication.
In this article:
JWT authorization works by encoding information into a JSON web token (JWT), which is then passed between the client and server. The steps involved in a typical JWT authorization flow are as follows:
JWT authorization enables secure and efficient communication between the client and server, as the server does not need to store any session information to keep track of the user’s authentication status. This makes it ideal for use in microservice architectures and other decentralized systems, where multiple independent components need to communicate with each other in a secure manner.
API keys and JWT authorization are two different mechanisms for authenticating and authorizing access to an API.
API keys usually consist of a long string of characters, which are sent along with the API request as a parameter or in headers. An API key is typically generated by an API provider and is shared with a client, who needs to include it with every API request. API keys can be used to identify the client and limit the usage of the API.
JWT authorization uses a JWT to represent the user’s identity and access rights. The JWT is usually generated by the authentication server after the user logs in and contains the user’s identity and access rights. The JWT is then sent with every API request as a bearer token in the authorization header.
Here is a comparison table between API keys and JWT authorization:
In summary, while API Keys are simpler to use, they are less secure and less flexible than JWT authorization. JWT Authorization provides a more secure and flexible mechanism for authenticating and authorizing access to an API.
Here are the main steps you will need to implement JWT authorization:
With these steps, you can implement JWT authorization in your application and secure the communication between the client and server.
The industry standard today is to use Authentication providers to “build the door”, but what about Authorization (the door knob)? Most authentication vendors don’t go the extra mile, forcing SaaS vendors to invest in expensive in-house development. This often delays core technology development and impacts developer productivity, something that negatively impacts innovation and time-to-market (TTM) metrics.
Frontegg’s end-to-end user management platform allows you to authenticate and authorize users with just a few clicks. Integration takes just a few minutes, thanks to its plug-and-play nature. It’s also multi-tenant by design.
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