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1.1.2 • Public • Published


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A security guard to protect your APIs from undesirable JWTs. Services, such as CDS Hook services, should whitelist the iss and jku properties within the JWT to only clients, such tenants using an EHR, they trust.

JsonWebTokens help secure communication between two systems, such as browser to server, or server to server. Signing a token allows the service to trust the client/sender or "issuer". You can sign a token with several different algorithms. This process provides a stateless approach to authentication.

jwt-bouncer is used to create ExpressJS middlewares to help determine whether a JWT is present within a whitelist and valid. jwt-bouncer isn't concerned with storing, managing, retrieving, or the shape of the whitelist contents.

While we use jwt-bouncer in an attempt to Trust CDS Clients as part of the SMART on FHIR CDS Hooks specification, you could use jwt-bouncer in other situations where JWTs require validation or simply use it to generate more generic middleware.

Although not required, jwt-bouncer can be used in conjunction with the jwt-bouncer-sample-validators module which provides sample whitelist and jwt validator functions. See Usage.

It's up to you to provide the whitelist on the request object using your own ExpressJS middleware prior to using the jwt-bouncer-sample-validators.

Pass an async validator function to jwt-bouncer which will generate a middleware function that utilizes the validator to check the JWT. The bulk of the complexity lies within each validator function. Review our jwt-bouncer-sample-validators samples for a jump start on creating your own validators. See jwt-bouncer-sample-validators. We encourage you to contribute to the jwt-bouncer-sample-validators by forking the repo and submitting a pull request.


npm install jwt-bouncer
npm install jwt-bouncer-sample-validators


jwt-bouncer isn't concerned with storing or managing the whitelist. It just prevents undesirable JWTs. You'll have to write your own middleware to retrieve the whitelist from your own persisted storage and put the whitelist as a whitelist property on the request object.

This sample uses the sample jwt validators from jwt-bouncer-sample-validators and passes them to jwtbouncer to create jwt validation middlewares.

const express = require("express");
const app = express();
// You'll have to write your own middleware to retrieve the whitelist from
// your own persisted storage and put the whitelist as a `whitelist` property on the request object.
const getWhitelistFromDBMiddleware = async (req, res, next) => {
  // get the whitelist from your persisted data store. That is up to you.
  const whitelist = await getWhitelist();
  req.whitelist = whitelist;
const jwtBouncer = require("jwt-bouncer");
//  We've supplied a sample validators in the `jwt-bouncer-sample-validators` npm module, but
//    you are free to write your own.
//  Feel free to contribute your own validator samples.
const {
= require("jwt-bouncer-sample-validators");
// create your bouncer middlewares by providing
//  - the request property name (whitelistValidatorResult) for the results of the validator
//  - the validator function
//  - An object containing data that you wish to send to the validator function
//  Downstream middlewares can inspect the results using the provided property name.
const whitelistValidationMiddleWare = jwtBouncer(
    apiErrorDocsURL: ``
const jwtValidationMiddleWare = jwtBouncer("jwtValidatorResult", jwtValidator, {
  apiErrorDocsURL: ``
  async (req, res, next) => {
    const targetCDSServiceResult = await getCDSServicesFromTarget();
app.use(function(err, req, res, next) {
  res.status(err.status || 500).send(err);
app.listen(process.env.PORT || 9000, function() {
  console.log("Listening on port %d", server.address().port);

Sample Whitelist

You must manage your own whitelist and supply it to the request object early in the flow of middleware calls. See Usage. Here is a sample whitelist array that we use to maintain a list of valid clients. You don't have to use our whitelist structure. Your whitelist and validators can be tailored to your needs.

    "iss": "",
    "tenant": "48163c5e-88b5-4cb3-92d3-23b800caa927",
    "jku": "",
    "uriPathTenant": "labs",
    "enabled": true
    "iss": "",
    "tenant": "48163c5e-88b5-4cb3-92d3-23b800caa927",
    "jku": "",
    "uriPathTenant": "foo",
    "enabled": false

How it works

jwt-bouncer is higher order function that takes 3 arguments:

  • validationResultsProp - A validation results property name - we use this to pass the results of the validator to the req object before calling next.
  • validator - A validator function - this is where the work occurs. This function should accept an options object, perform validation, and return a results object.
  • options - an options object - Pass an object with whatever values you wish. These options will be passed to the validator function when the middleware is invoked.

The function returns an ExpressJS "bouncer" middleware function. The bouncer calls the validator function, passing an options object.

Each validator function allows you to provide your own validation rules. We've provided sample whitelisting and jwt verification validators within jwt-bouncer-sample-validators.

Each validator function returns an validation results object. See jwt-bouncer-sample-validators. If validation is ok then it creates a property on the request object containing the validation results object. If there's a problem, the bouncer calls next passing the error.

module.exports = (validationResultsProp, validator, options) => async (
) => {
  try {
    const validationResults = await validator({ req, ...options });
    if (validationResults.ok) {
      req[validationResultsProp] = validationResults;
    } else {
  } catch (err) {
    console.log("JWT Bouncer caught unexpected error");


Whitelist Validator

The Whitelist validator sample function takes an options object as its argument. The options object will contain a property named req which represents the ExpressJS request object and a url to the error documentation. The validator determines if a JWT is present on the incoming request as an Authorization header containing a Bearer token. If so, it decodes and checks the JWT against a whitelist.

This validator assumes that a whitelist array has already been retrieved by prior middleware and is available as a whitelist property on the request object.

If everything is ok, the validator returns an object containing these properties:

  • ok - a value of true denotes success
  • whiteListItem - the found item in the whitelist
  • decodedToken - the decoded token
  • token - the token (not decoded)
  ok: true,
  whiteListItem: foundWhiteListItem,
  decodedToken: decoded,

If the jwt did not pass whitelist validation then the object returned from the validator will look like:

  ok: false, err;

JWT Validator

The jwt validator sample function takes an options object as its argument. The options object will contain a property named req which represents the ExpressJS request object and a url to the error documentation.

The CDS Client (EHR Vendor) MAY make its JWK (JSON Web Key/Public Key) set available via a URL identified by the jku header field, as defined by rfc7515 4.1.2. If the jku (JSON Web Key URL) property does not exist on incoming JWT header from the client then attempt to obtain jku property from whitelist.

If the jku DOES exists then we fetch the JWK Set using the jku url. The required kid value from the JWT header allows a CDS Service to identify the correct JWK in the JWK Set.

If a jku DOES NOT exist, the CDS Client MUST communicate the JWK to the CDS Service provider (that's us) out-of-band. In this case, we should have already communicated with the EHR vendor and stored a single key from the EHR vendor as a string in PEM format using the jwkPublicKeyPEM property on the whitelist item.

Either way, once we have a JWK, we make sure its in PEM format and attempt to verify the jwt.

Validator Error Handling

If there's a problem, a validator function should return an error to the jwt-bouncer and let the bouncer call the error handling middleware. If this occurs, the client receives the appropriate HTTP error message. Otherwise, the jwt-bouncer calls the next function and the next middleware in line continues to processes the request.




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