1.1.29 • Public • Published

X2 Framework for Node.js | Web Services JWT Authenticator

JSON Web Token (JWT) authenticator implementation for X2 Framework's x2node-ws module. For the JWT specification, see RFC 7519.

See module's API Reference Documentation.

Table of Contents


To create an authenticator the application needs to provide:

  • An actors registry (implementation of ActorsRegistry interface defined in x2node-ws module). Normally, the JWT's subject (the "sub" claim) is used as the actor handle to lookup actors in the registry. A different claim can be used too (see authenticator constructor arguments).

  • A secret or public key (depending on the algorithm), used to verify the token JWS signature.

Then, an authenticator can be added to a web service like the following:

const ws = require('x2node-ws');
const JWTAuthenticator = require('x2node-ws-auth-jwt');
const MY_CLIENT_ID = '...';
const MY_SECRET_KEY = '...';
    .addAuthenticator('/.*', new JWTAuthenticator(
        new MyActorsRegistry(), // custom application component
        new Buffer(MY_SECRET_KEY, 'base64'), {
            aud: MY_CLIENT_ID

The above installs the authenticator on all the web service endpoints.

The authenticator constructor takes the following arguments:

  • actorsRegistry - Implementation of the ActorsRegistry interface (see x2node-ws module). The authenticator extracts an actor handle (whatever the application uses to identify sign users in, which may be the user id, login name, email, etc.) and uses it to lookup the actor record in the actors registry.

  • secretOrKey - Depending on the digital signature algorithm used by the provider that issues the JWTs, this is the public or the private key used to verify the signature. The key can be provided in one of the following forms:

    • A Node.js Buffer with the key data. Normally, it's a secret key used with HMAC algorithms.
    • A string with the public key or certificate. Normally used with RSA and ECDSA algorithms.
    • A function, which takes the decoded JWT object, normally includes header, payload and signature elements, and returns the key string, Buffer or a Promise of either. Rejection of the promise leads to an application error, resolving it with a "falsy" value (false, null, undefined, etc.) leaves the call unauthenticated.
  • claimsTest - An optional object with additional tests for the claims in the decoded token payload. The authenticator always automatically verifies "nbf" and "exp" claims, but the application can register additional tests. For example, it is almost always a good idea to include an "iss" and an "aud" claim test.

    The object provided as claimsTest has properties for each additional claim test. The name of the property is the claim name ("iss", "aud", etc.). The value can be one of the following:

    • A function, in which case it is passed the claim value as the first argument and the whole token payload object (aka claims set) as the second argument and returns either true if the claim is valid or false to deny authentication.
    • A RegExp, in which case the claim value is tested against it.
    • Anything else, in which case a simple equivalency test is used.

    If the claim test is for "aud" claim and the claim value in the JWT is an array, the test will succeed if any value in the array passes the test.

  • actorHandleClaim - Optional name of the claim to use as the actor handle for the actors registry. If not specified, "sub" claim is used.

The authenticator uses X2_APP_AUTH section for debug logging. Add it to NODE_DEBUG environment variable to see the authenticator's debug messages (see Node.js API docs for details).

Provider Examples

The authenticator is written in a generic way to support JWT verification on the server side. Diffrerent authentication providers, however, use JWT in slightly different ways. Below are usage examples for some such providers.


When an Auth0 account is created for an application, it is issued a Client ID, which is used as the "aud" claim, and a Client Secret, which is the secret key for verification of JWT HMAC signatures. The "sub" claim can be normally used as the actor handle (note, that if Auth0's user database is used, the user id in the "sub" claim is prefixed with "auth0|"). Therefore, the JWT authenticator can be used as the following:

const MY_CLIENT_ID = '...';
const MY_CLIENT_SECRET = '...';
    .addAuthenticator('/.*', new JWTAuthenticator(
        new MyActorsRegistry(),
        new Buffer(MY_CLIENT_SECRET, 'base64'),
            iss: 'https://myproject.auth0.com/',
            aud: MY_CLIENT_ID

The example above verifies "iss" and "aud" claims as well.

The above will work only with HMAC signatures. If you implement a Custom API and your clients authenticate with your API as the "audience", the tokens will be signed using RSA. In the case of RSA, the key is the certificate normally available in JWKS advertised via the "jwks_uri" property in the OpenID Connect discovery document. The JWTAuthenticator provides a special static factory function used to create the key provider that loads the keys from the JWKS. In the case of Auth0 it can be implemented like the this:

const MY_API_AUD = 'https://backend.myproject.com/api/';
    .addAuthenticator('/.*', new JWTAuthenticator(
        new MyActorsRegistry(),
            iss: 'https://myproject.auth0.com/',
            aud: MY_API_AUD

In the example above the domain is "myproject.auth0.com" and the Custom API representing the server-side application is given the ID of "https://backend.myproject.com/api/". No keys are involved on the server side, they are loaded from the well-known URL for the JWKS.

Google Sign-In

To use Google Sign-In, a project is created in Google API Console and then assigned a Client ID, which is used as the "aud" claim. Instead of a secret key, however, Google Sign-In uses Google public keys to verify JWT RSA signatures.

Unfortunately, the JWKs provided by Google currently do not include "x5c" property required to verify the signature. Instead, Google provides current public keys at https://www.googleapis.com/oauth2/v1/certs.

Here is an example of how it can be used:

const request = require('request');
const MY_CLIENT_ID = 'XXX.apps.googleusercontent.com';
let keysExpireAt = 0;
let keys;
function getGooglePublicKeys(token) {
    // check if the keys are still fresh
    const now = Date.now();
    if (now < keysExpireAt)
        return keys;
    // give the get keys call 30 seconds to complete
    keysExpireAt = now + 30000;
    // do the call
    return keys = new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
                url: 'https://www.googleapis.com/oauth2/v1/certs',
                json: true
            (err, res, data) => {
                // reset expiration
                keysExpireAt = 0;
                // check if errors
                if (err)
                    return reject(err);
                if (res.statusCode !== 200)
                    return reject(`got ${res.statusCode} response`);
                // update expiration from the response
                keysExpireAt = (new Date(res.headers['expires'])).getTime();
                // fulfill promise with the keys
    .addAuthenticator('/.*', new JWTAuthenticator(
        new MyActorsRegistry(),
        token => getGooglePublicKeys().then(
            keys => keys[token.header && token.header.kid],
            err => Promise.reject(err)
            iss: 'accounts.google.com',
            aud: MY_CLIENT_ID,
            hd: 'mydomain.com' // can be used to restrict G Suite logins
        'email' // use "email" claim as the user handle

The example above uses request module to fetch the public certificates from Google. It also shows very crude response caching logic.

Also, "email" claim is used as the user handle instead of the standard "sub".

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