JWT Auth Provider


When using ASP.NET Core Identity Auth refer to JWT Identity Auth instead

The JwtAuthProvider is our integrated Auth solution for the popular JSON Web Tokens (JWT) industry standard which is easily enabled by registering the JwtAuthProvider with the AuthFeature plugin:

Plugins.Add(new AuthFeature(...,
    new IAuthProvider[] {
        new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) { AuthKey = AesUtils.CreateKey() },
        new CredentialsAuthProvider(AppSettings),

At a minimum you'll need to specify the AuthKey that will be used to Sign and Verify JWT tokens. Whilst creating a new one in memory as above will work, a new Auth Key will be created every time the AppDomain recycles which will invalidate all existing JWT Tokens created with the previous key.

Generate new Auth Key

You can create a new Base64 Auth Key by running the code snippet below locally:

var base64Key = System.Convert.ToBase64String(ServiceStack.AesUtils.CreateKey());

You'll typically want to generate the AuthKey out-of-band and configure it with the JwtAuthProvider at registration which you can do in code using any of the AppSettings providers:

new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) { 
    AuthKeyBase64 = AppSettings.GetString("AuthKeyBase64") 

Or alternatively you can configure most JwtAuthProvider properties in your appsettings.json or Web.config <appSettings/> following the jwt.{PropertyName} format:


    "jwt.AuthKeyBase64": "{Base64AuthKey}"


<add key="jwt.AuthKeyBase64" value="{Base64AuthKey}" />

As with all crypto keys you'll want to keep them confidential as if anyone gets a hold of your AuthKey they'll be able to forge and sign their own JWT tokens letting them be able to impersonate any user, roles or permissions!

Upgrade to v5.9.2

If you're using JWT Auth please upgrade to v5.9.2 when possible to resolve a JWT signature verification issue comparing different lengthed signatures.

If you're not able to upgrade, older versions should ensure a minimum length signature with a custom ValidateToken, e.g:

new JwtAuthProvider(...) {
    ValidateToken = (js,req) => req.GetJwtToken().LastRightPart('.').FromBase64UrlSafe().Length >= 32,

JWT Token Cookies

From v6+ the default configuration of the JWT Auth Provider uses HTTP Token Cookies by default which is both recommended for Web Apps that's also better able to support effortless JWT Token management features.

It allows for a more interoperable and seamless solution as it already works with the normal client logic for authenticating using normal Server Session Cookies, e.g:

let api = client.api(new Authenticate({ provider:'credentials', userName, password, rememberMe }))

Which also works transparently after a configuring to use JWT on the server to switch to using stateless JWT Tokens, as in both cases the HTTP Clients utilize Cookies to enable authenticated requests.

Transparent Server Auto Refresh of JWT Tokens

JWTs enable stateless authentication of clients without servers needing to maintain any Auth state in server infrastructure or perform any I/O to validate a token. As such, JWTs are a popular choice for Microservices as they only need to configured with confidential keys to validate access.

But to be able to terminate a users access, they need to revalidate their eligibility to verify they're still allowed access (e.g. deny Locked out users). This JWT revalidation pattern is implemented using Refresh Tokens which are used to request revalidation of their access with a new JWT Access Token which they'll be able to use to make authenticated requests until it expires.

Previously the management of auto refreshing expired JWT Access Tokens was done with logic built into each of our smart generic Service Clients. But switching to use Token Cookies allows us to implement the revalidation logic on the server where it's now able to do this transparently for all HTTP Clients, i.e. it's no longer just limited to our typed Service Clients.

Revert to Bearer Token Responses

If you prefer not to use HTTP Token Cookies and want to manually handle JWT Auth Tokens, you can revert to returning JWT Tokens in AuthenticateResponse API responses with:

new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) {
    UseTokenCookie = false

JWT Token Cookies are supported for most built-in Auth Providers including Authenticate Requests as well as OAuth Web Flow Sign Ins.

The alternative to configuring on the server is for clients to request it with UseTokenCookie on the Authenticate Request or in a hidden FORM Input.


The JWT Auth Provider defaults to RequireSecureConnection=true which mandates for Authentication via either Provider to happen over a secure (HTTPS) connection as both bearer tokens should be kept highly confidential. You can specify RequireSecureConnection=false to disable this requirement for testing or within controlled internal environments.

Sending JWT with Service Clients

JWT Tokens can be sent using the Bearer Token support in all HTTP and Service Clients:

var client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl) {
    BearerToken = jwtToken

var response = await "https://example.org/secured".GetJsonFromUrlAsync(
    requestFilter: req => req.AddBearerToken(jwtToken));

The Service Clients offer additional high-level functionality where it's able to transparently request a new JWT Token after it expires by handling when the configured JWT Token becomes invalidated in the OnAuthenticationRequired callback. Here we can retrieve a new JWT Token that we can fetch using a different Service Client accessing a centralized and independent Auth Microservice that's configured with both API Key and JWT Token Auth Providers. We can fetch a new JWT Token by calling ServiceStack's built-in Authenticate Service with our secret API Key (that by default never invalidates unless revoked).

If authenticated, sending an empty Authenticate() DTO will return the currently Authenticated User Info that also generates a new JWT Token from the User's Authenticated Session and returns it in the BearerToken Response DTO property which we can use to update our invalidated JWT Token.

All together we can configure our Service Client to transparently refresh expired JWT Tokens with just:

var authClient = JsonServiceClient(centralAuthBaseUrl) {
    Credentials = new NetworkCredential(apiKey, "")

var client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl);
client.OnAuthenticationRequired = () => {
    client.BearerToken = authClient.Send(new Authenticate()).BearerToken;

Sending JWT using Cookies

To improve accessibility with Ajax clients JWT Tokens can also be sent using the ss-tok Cookie, e.g:

var client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl);
client.SetCookie("ss-tok", jwtToken);

//Equivalent to: 

We'll walk through an example of how you can access JWT Tokens as well as how you can convert Authenticated Sessions into JWT Tokens and assign it to use a Secure and HttpOnly Cookie later on.

Sending JWT in Request DTOs

Similar to the IHasSessionId interface Request DTOs can also implement IHasBearerToken to send Bearer Tokens as an alternative for sending them in HTTP Headers or Cookies, e.g:

public class Secure : IHasBearerToken
    public string BearerToken { get; set; }
    public string Name { get; set; }

var response = client.Get(new Secure { BearerToken = jwtToken, Name = "World" });

Alternatively you can set the BearerToken property on the Service Client once where it will automatically populate all Request DTOs that implement IHasBearerToken, e.g:

client.BearerToken = jwtToken;

var response = client.Get(new Secure { Name = "World" });

JWT Overview

A nice property of JWT tokens is that they allow for truly stateless authentication where API Keys and user credentials can be maintained in a decentralized Auth Service that's kept isolated from the rest of your System, making them optimal for use in Microservice architectures.

Being self-contained lends JWT tokens to more scalable, performant and flexible architectures as they don't require any I/O or any state to be accessed from App Servers to validate the JWT Tokens, this is unlike all other Auth Providers which requires at least a DB, Cache or Network hit to authenticate the user.

A good introduction into JWT is available from the JWT website: jwt.io/introduction/ whilst JWT vs Sessions is a good article on advantages of using JWT instead of Sessions.

JWT Format

Essentially JWT's consist of 3 parts separated by . with each part encoded in Base64url Encoding making it safe to encode both text and binary using only URL-safe (i.e. non-escaping required) chars in the following format:


Where just like the API Key, JWT's can be sent as a Bearer Token in the Authorization HTTP Request Header.

JWT Header

The header typically consists of two parts: the type of the token and the hashing algorithm being used which is typically just:

  "alg": "HS256",
  "typ": "JWT"

We also send the "kid" Key Id used to identify which key should be used to validate the signature to help with seamless key rotations in future. If not specified the KeyId defaults to the first 3 chars of the Base64 HMAC or RSA Public Key Modulus.

JWT Payload

The Payload contains the essential information of a JWT Token which is made up of "claims", i.e. statements and metadata about a user which are categorized into 3 groups:

We use the Payload to store essential information about the user which we use to validate the token and populate the session. Which typically contains:

  • iss (Issuer) - the principal that issued the JWT. Can be set with JwtAuthProvider.Issuer, defaults to ssjwt
  • sub (Subject) - identifies the subject of the JWT, used to store the User's UserAuthId
  • iat (Issued At) - when JWT Token was issued. Can use InvalidateTokensIssuedBefore to invalidate tokens issued before a specific date
  • exp (Expiration Time) - when the JWT expires. Initialized with JwtAuthProvider.ExpireTokensIn from date of issue (default 14 days)
  • aud (Audience) - identifies the recipient of the JWT. Can be set with JwtAuthProvider.Audience, defaults to null (Optional)

The remaining information in the JWT Payload is used to populate the Users Session, to maximize interoperability we've used the most appropriate Public Claim Names where possible:

  • email <- session.Email
  • given_name <- session.FirstName
  • family_name <- session.LastName
  • name <- session.DisplayName
  • preferred_username <- session.UserName
  • picture <- session.ProfileUrl

We also need to capture Users Roles and Permissions but as there's no Public Claim Name for this yet we're using Azure's Active Directory Conventions where User Roles are stored in roles as a JSON Array and similarly, Permissions are stored in perms.

To keep the JWT Token small we're only storing the essential User Info above in the Token, which means when the Token is restored it will only be partially populated. You can detect when a Session was partially populated from a JWT Token with the new FromToken boolean property.

Limit to Essential Info

Only the above partial information is included in JWT payloads as JWTs are typically resent with every request that adds overhead to each HTTP Request so special consideration should be given to limit its payload to only include essential information identifying the User, any authorization info or other info that needs to accessed by most requests, e.g. TenantId for usage in partitioned queries or Display Info shown on each server generated page, etc.

Any other info is recommended to not be included in JWT's, instead they should be sourced from the App's data sources using the identifying user info stored in JWTs when needed.

You can add any additional properties you want included in JWTs and authenticated User Infos by using the CreatePayloadFilter and PopulateSessionFilter filters below, be mindful to include only minimal essential info and keep the properties names small to reduce the size (and request overhead) of JWTs.

Modifying the Payload

Whilst only limited info is embedded in the payload by default, all matching AuthUserSession properties embedded in the token will also be populated on the Session, which you can add to the payload using the CreatePayloadFilter delegate. So if you also want to have access to when the user was registered you can add it to the payload with:

new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) 
    CreatePayloadFilter = (payload,session) => 
        payload["CreatedAt"] = session.CreatedAt.ToUnixTime().ToString()

You can also use the filter to modify any existing property which you can use to change the behavior of the JWT Token, e.g. we can add a special exception extending the JWT Expiration to all Users from Acme Inc with:

new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) 
    CreatePayloadFilter = (payload,session) => {
        if (session.Email.EndsWith("@acme.com")) 
            payload["exp"] = DateTime.UtcNow.AddYears(1).ToUnixTime().ToString();

Likewise you can modify how the Users Session is populated from the custom JWT with the PopulateSessionFilter, e.g:

new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) 
    PopulateSessionFilter = (session,payload,req) => 
        session.CreatedAt = long.Parse(payload["CreatedAt"]).FromUnixTime();

If needed you can also modify JWT Headers with the CreateHeaderFilter delegate.

JWT Signature

JWT Tokens are possible courtesy of the cryptographic signature added to the end of the message that's used to Authenticate and Verify that a Message hasn't been tampered with. As long as the message signature validates with our AuthKey we can be certain the contents of the message haven't changed from when it was created by either ourselves or someone else with access to our AuthKey.

JWT standard allows for a number of different Hashing Algorithms although requires at least the HM256 HMAC SHA-256 to be supported which is the default. The full list of Symmetric HMAC and Asymmetric RSA Algorithms JwtAuthProvider supports include:

  • HS256 - Symmetric HMAC SHA-256 algorithm
  • HS384 - Symmetric HMAC SHA-384 algorithm
  • HS512 - Symmetric HMAC SHA-512 algorithm
  • RS256 - Asymmetric RSA with PKCS#1 padding with SHA-256
  • RS384 - Asymmetric RSA with PKCS#1 padding with SHA-384
  • RS512 - Asymmetric RSA with PKCS#1 padding with SHA-512

HMAC is the simplest to use as it lets you use the same AuthKey to Sign and Verify the message.

But if preferred you can use an RSA Key to sign and verify tokens by changing the HashAlgorithm and specifying a RSA Private Key:

new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) { 
    HashAlgorithm = "RS256",
    PrivateKeyXml = AppSettings.GetString("PrivateKeyXml") 

If you don't have a RSA Private Key, one can be created with:

var privateKey = RsaUtils.CreatePrivateKeyParams(RsaKeyLengths.Bit2048);

And its public key can be extracted using ToPublicRsaParameters() extension method, e.g:

var publicKey = privateKey.ToPublicRsaParameters();

Then to serialize RSA Keys, you can then export them to XML with:

var privateKeyXml = privateKey.ToPrivateKeyXml()
var publicKeyXml = privateKey.ToPublicKeyXml();

The behavior of using RSA to sign the JWT Tokens is mostly transparent but instead of using the AuthKey to both Sign and Verify the JWT Payload, it's signed with the Private Key and verified using the Public Key. New tokens will also have the alg JWT Header set to RS256 to reflect the new HashAlgorithm used.

Encrypted JWE Tokens

Something that's not immediately obvious is that while JWT Tokens are signed to prevent tampering and verify authenticity, they're not encrypted and can easily be read by decoding the URL-safe Base64 string. This is a feature of JWT where it allows Client Apps to inspect the User's claims and hide functionality they don't have access to, it also means that JWT Tokens are debuggable and can be inspected for whenever you need to track down unexpected behavior.

But there may be times when you want to embed sensitive information in your JWT Tokens in which case you'll want to enable Encryption, which can be done with:

new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) { 
    PrivateKeyXml = AppSettings.GetString("PrivateKeyXml"),
    EncryptPayload = true

When turning on encryption, tokens are instead created following the JSON Web Encryption (JWE) standard where they'll be encoded in the 5-part JWE Compact Serialization format:

BASE64URL(UTF8(JWE Protected Header)) || '.' ||
BASE64URL(JWE Encrypted Key)          || '.' ||
BASE64URL(JWE Initialization Vector)  || '.' ||
BASE64URL(JWE Ciphertext)             || '.' ||
BASE64URL(JWE Authentication Tag)

JwtAuthProvider's JWE implementation uses RSAES OAEP for Key Encryption and AES/128/CBC HMAC SHA256 for Content Encryption, closely following JWE's AES_128_CBC_HMAC_SHA_256 Example where a new MAC Auth and AES Crypt Key and IV are created for each Token. The Content Encryption Key (CEK) used to Encrypt and Authenticate the payload is encrypted using the Public Key and decrypted with the Private Key so only Systems with access to the Private Key will be able to Decrypt, Validate and Read the Token's payload.

Stateless Auth Microservices

One of JWT's most appealing features is its ability to decouple the System that provides User Authentication Services and issues tokens from all the other Systems but are still able provide protected Services although no longer needs access to a User database or Session data store to facilitate it, as sessions can now be embedded in Tokens and its state maintained and sent by clients instead of accessed from each App Server. This is ideal for Microservice architectures where Auth Services can be isolated into a single externalized System.

With this use-case in mind we've decoupled JwtAuthProvider in 2 classes:

  • JwtAuthProviderReader - Responsible for validating and creating Authenticated User Sessions from tokens
  • JwtAuthProvider - Inherits JwtAuthProviderReader to also be able to Issue, Encrypt and provide access to tokens

Services only Validating Tokens

This lets us configure our Microservices that we want to enable Authentication via JWT Tokens down to just:

public override void Configure(Container container)
    Plugins.Add(new AuthFeature(() => new AuthUserSession(),
        new IAuthProvider[] {
            new JwtAuthProviderReader(AppSettings) {
                HashAlgorithm = "RS256",
                PublicKeyXml = AppSettings.GetString("PublicKeyXml")

Or if you want to just use a single AuthKey for both Issuing and Validating tokens:

Plugins.Add(new AuthFeature(() => new AuthUserSession(),
    new [] { new JwtAuthProviderReader(AppSettings) }));

Which can be configured in AppSettings:

<add key="jwt.AuthKeyBase64" value="{Base64AuthKey}" />

Which no longer needs access to a IUserAuthRepository or Sessions since they're populated entirely from JWT Tokens. Whilst you can use the default HS256 HashAlgorithm, RSA is ideal for this use-case as you can limit access to the PrivateKey to only the central Auth Service issuing the tokens and then only distribute the PublicKey to each Service which needs to validate them.

Service Issuing Tokens

As we can now contain all our Systems Auth Functionality to a single System we can open it up to support multiple Auth Providers as it only needs to be maintained in a central location but is still able to benefit all our Microservices that are only configured to validate JWT Tokens.

Here's a popular Auth Server configuration example which stores all User Auth information as well as User Sessions in SQL Server and is configured to support many of ServiceStack's Auth and OAuth providers:

public override void Configure(Container container)
    //Store UserAuth in SQL Server
    var dbFactory = new OrmLiteConnectionFactory(
        AppSettings.GetString("LiveDb"), SqlServerDialect.Provider);
    container.Register<IAuthRepository>(c =>
        new OrmLiteAuthRepository(dbFactory) { UseDistinctRoleTables = true });

    //Create UserAuth RDBMS Tables

    //Also store User Sessions in SQL Server
    container.RegisterAs<OrmLiteCacheClient, ICacheClient>();
    //Add Support for 
    Plugins.Add(new AuthFeature(() => new AuthUserSession(),
        new IAuthProvider[] {
            new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) {
                HashAlgorithm = "RS256",
                PrivateKeyXml = AppSettings.GetString("PrivateKeyXml")
            new ApiKeyAuthProvider(AppSettings),        //Sign-in with API Key
            new CredentialsAuthProvider(),              //Sign-in with UserName/Password credentials
            new BasicAuthProvider(),                    //Sign-in with HTTP Basic Auth
            new DigestAuthProvider(AppSettings),        //Sign-in with HTTP Digest Auth
            new TwitterAuthProvider(AppSettings),       //Sign-in with Twitter
            new FacebookAuthProvider(AppSettings),      //Sign-in with Facebook
            new YahooOpenIdOAuthProvider(AppSettings),  //Sign-in with Yahoo OpenId
            new OpenIdOAuthProvider(AppSettings),       //Sign-in with Custom OpenId
            new GoogleOAuth2Provider(AppSettings),      //Sign-in with Google OAuth2 Provider
            new LinkedInOAuth2Provider(AppSettings),    //Sign-in with LinkedIn OAuth2 Provider
            new GithubAuthProvider(AppSettings),        //Sign-in with GitHub OAuth Provider
            new YandexAuthProvider(AppSettings),        //Sign-in with Yandex OAuth Provider        
            new VkAuthProvider(AppSettings),            //Sign-in with VK.com OAuth Provider 

With this setup we can Authenticate using any of the supported Auth Providers with our central Auth Server, retrieve the generated Token and use it to communicate with any our Microservices configured to validate tokens:

Retrieve Token from Central Auth Server using Credentials Auth

var authClient = new JsonServiceClient(centralAuthBaseUrl);

var authResponse = authClient.Post(new Authenticate {
    provider = "credentials",
    UserName = "user",
    Password = "pass",
    RememberMe = true,

var client = new JsonServiceClient(BaseUrl) {
    BearerToken = authResponse.BearerToken //Send JWT in HTTP Authorization Request Header
var response = client.Get(new Secured { ... });

Once the ServiceClient is configured it can also optionally be converted to send the JWT Token using the ss-tok Cookie instead by calling ConvertSessionToToken, e.g:

client.Send(new ConvertSessionToToken());

client.BearerToken = null; // No longer needed as JWT is automatically sent in ss-tok Cookie

var response = client.Get(new Secured { ... });

Retrieve Token from Central Auth Server using API Key

You can also choose to Authenticate with any AuthProvider and the Authenticate Service will return the JWT Token if Authentication was successful.

The example below uses the JWT Token authenticates with the central Auth Server via its configured API Key Auth Provider. If successful the generated JWT can be populated in any of your Service Clients as normal, e.g:

var authClient = new JsonServiceClient(centralAuthBaseUrl) {
    Credentials = new NetworkCredential(apiKey, "")

var jwtToken = authClient.Send(new Authenticate()).BearerToken;

var client = new JsonServiceClient(service1BaseUrl) { BearerToken = jwtToken };
var response = client.Get(new Secured { ... });

Retrieve Token with HTTP Basic Auth

var authClient = new JsonServiceClient(centralAuthBaseUrl) {
    Credentials = new NetworkCredential(username, password)

var jwtToken = authClient.Send(new Authenticate()).BearerToken;

Retrieve Token with Credentials Auth

var authClient = new JsonServiceClient(centralAuthBaseUrl);

var jwtToken = authClient.Send(new Authenticate {
    provider = "credentials",
    UserName = username,
    Password = password

Refresh Tokens

Just like JWT Tokens, Refresh Tokens are populated on the AuthenticateResponse DTO after successfully authenticating via any registered Auth Provider, e.g:

var response = client.Post(new Authenticate {
    provider = "credentials",
    UserName = userName,
    Password = password,

var jwtToken = response.BearerToken;
var refreshToken = response.RefreshToken;

Automatically refreshing Access Tokens

The RefreshToken property in all Service Clients can be used to instruct the client to automatically retrieve a new JWT Token behind-the-scenes when the original JWT token has expired, e.g:

var client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl) {
    BearerToken = jwtToken,
    RefreshToken = refreshToken,

var response = client.Send(new Secured());

You don't even need to configure the client with a JWT Token as it will also fetch a new one on first use:

var client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl) {
    RefreshToken = refreshToken,

var response = client.Send(new Secured());

Using an alternative JWT Server

By default Service Clients will assume they should call the same ServiceStack Instance at the BaseUrl it's configured with to fetch new JWT Tokens. If instead refresh tokens need to be sent to a different server, it can be specified using the RefreshTokenUri property, e.g:

var client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl) {
    RefreshToken = refreshToken,
    RefreshTokenUri = authBaseUrl + "/access-token"

Handling Refresh Tokens Expiring

For the case when Refresh Tokens themselves expire the WebServiceException is wrapped in a typed RefreshTokenException to make it easier to handle initiating the flow to re-authenticate the User, e.g:

    var response = client.Send(new Secured());
catch (RefreshTokenException ex) 
    // re-authenticate to get new RefreshToken

Lifetimes of tokens

The default expiry time of JWT and Refresh Tokens below can be overridden when registering the JwtAuthProvider:

new JwtAuthProvider {
    ExpireTokensIn        = TimeSpan.FromDays(14),  // JWT Token Expiry
    ExpireRefreshTokensIn = TimeSpan.FromDays(365), // Refresh Token Expiry

These expiry times are use-case specific so you'll want to check what values are appropriate for your System. The ExpireTokensIn property controls how long a client is allowed to make Authenticated Requests with the same JWT Token, whilst the ExpireRefreshTokensIn property controls how long the client can keep requesting new JWT Tokens using the same Refresh Token before needing to re-authenticate and generate a new one.

Requires User Auth Repository or IUserSessionSourceAsync

One limitation for Refresh Tokens support is that it must be configured to use a User Auth Repository which is the persisted data source used to rehydrate the User Session that's embedded in the JWT Token.

Users who are not using an IAuthRepository can instead implement the IUserSessionSourceAsync interface:

public interface IUserSessionSourceAsync
    Task<IAuthSession> GetUserSessionAsync(string userAuthId, CancellationToken token=default);

On either their Custom AuthProvider, or if preferred register it as a dependency in the IOC as an alternative source for populating Sessions in new JWT Tokens created using RefreshToken's. The implementation should only return a populated IAuthSession if the User is allowed to sign-in, e.g. if their account is locked or suspended it should throw an Exception:

throw HttpError.Forbidden("User is suspended");

Convert Sessions to Tokens

Another useful Service that JwtAuthProvider provides is being able to Convert your current Authenticated Session into a Token. Authenticating via Credentials Auth establishes an Authenticated Session with the server which is captured in the Session Cookies that gets populated on the HTTP Client. This lets us access protected Services immediately after we've successfully Authenticated, e.g:

var authResponse = client.Send(new Authenticate {
    provider = "credentials",
    UserName = username,
    Password = password

var response = client.Get(new Secured { ... });

However this only establishes an Authenticated Session to a single Server that only lasts until the session stored on the Server is valid. The easiest way to tell ServiceStack to convert the Session into a stateless JWT Cookie instead is to set the UseTokenCookie option when authenticating, e.g:

var authResponse = client.Send(new Authenticate {
    provider = "credentials",
    UserName = username,
    Password = password,
    UseTokenCookie = true

//Uses stateless ss-tok Cookie with our Session encapsulated in JWT Token
var response = client.Get(new Secured { ... }); 
var jwtToken = client.GetTokenCookie(); //From ss-tok Cookie

This also removes the our Session from the App Servers Cache as now the Users Authenticated Session is contained solely in the JWT Cookie and is valid until the JWT Cookies Expiration, instead of determined by Server Session State.

Server Token Cookies

In most cases the easiest way to utilize JWT with your other Auth Providers is to configure JwtAuthProvider to use UseTokenCookie to automatically return a JWT Token Cookie for all Auth Providers authenticating via Authenticate requests or after a successful OAuth Web Flow from an OAuth Provider.

This is what techstacks.io uses to maintain Authentication via a JWT Token after Signing in with Twitter or GitHub:

Plugins.Add(new AuthFeature(() => new CustomUserSession(), 
    new IAuthProvider[] {
        new TwitterAuthProvider(AppSettings),
        new GithubAuthProvider(AppSettings),    
        new JwtAuthProvider(AppSettings) {
            UseTokenCookie = true,

Clients can then detect whether a user is authenticated by sending an empty Authenticate request which either returns a AuthenticateResponse DTO containing basic Session Info for authenticated requests otherwise throws a 401 Unauthorized response.

So clients will be able to detect whether a user is authenticated with something like:

const client = new JsonServiceClient(BaseUrl);

async function getSession() {
    try {
        return await client.get(new Authenticate());
    } catch (e) {
        return null;

const isAuthenticated = async () => await getSession() != null;


if (await isAuthenticated()) {
    // User is authenticated

Converting an existing Authenticated Session into A JWT Token

Another way we can access our Token is to call the ConvertSessionToToken Service which also converts our currently Authenticated Session into a JWT Token which we can use instead to communicate with all our independent Services, e.g:

var tokenResponse = client.Send(new ConvertSessionToToken());
var jwtToken = client.GetTokenCookie(); //From ss-tok Cookie

var client2 = new JsonServiceClient(service2BaseUrl) { BearerToken = jwtToken };
var response = client2.Get(new Secured2 { ... });

var client3 = new JsonServiceClient(service3BaseUrl) { BearerToken = jwtToken };
var response = client3.Get(new Secured3 { ... });

Tokens are returned in the Secure HttpOnly ss-tok Cookie, accessible from the GetTokenCookie() extension method as seen above.

The default behavior of ConvertSessionToToken is to remove the Current Session from the Auth Server which will prevent access to protected Services using our previously Authenticated Session. If you still want to preserve your existing Session you can indicate this with:

var tokenResponse = client.Send(new ConvertSessionToToken { PreserveSession = true });

For cases where you don't have access to HTTP Client Cookies you can use the new opt-in IncludeJwtInConvertSessionToTokenResponse option on JwtAuthProvider to also include the JWT in AccessToken property of ConvertSessionToTokenResponse Responses which are otherwise only available in the ss-tok Cookie.

Ajax Clients

Using Cookies is the recommended way for using JWT Tokens in Web Applications since the HttpOnly Cookie flag will prevent it from being accessible from JavaScript making them immune to XSS attacks whilst the Secure flag will ensure that the JWT Token is only ever transmitted over HTTPS.

You can convert your Session into a Token and set the ss-tok Cookie in your web page by sending an Ajax request to /session-to-token, e.g:


Likewise this API lets you convert Sessions created by any of the OAuth providers into a stateless JWT Token.

Switching existing Sites to JWT

Existing sites that already have an Authenticated Session can convert their current server Session into a JWT Token by sending a ConvertSessionToToken Request DTO or an empty POST request to its /session-to-token user-defined route:

const authResponse = await client.post(new ConvertSessionToToken());

E.g. Single Page App can call this when their Web App is first loaded, which is ignored if the User isn't authenticated but if the Web App is loaded after Signing In via an OAuth Provider it will convert their OAuth Authenticated Session into a stateless client JWT Token Cookie.

This approach is also used by the old Angular TechStacks angular.techstacks.io after signing in via Twitter and Github OAuth to use JWT with a single jQuery Ajax call:


Whilst Gistlyn uses the Fetch API to convert an existing Github OAuth into a JWT Token Cookie:

fetch("/session-to-token", { method:"POST", credentials:"include" });

We've also upgraded servicestack.net which as it uses normal Username/Password Credentials Authentication (i.e. instead of redirects in OAuth), it doesn't need any additional network calls as we can add the UseTokenCookie option as a hidden variable in our FORM request:

<form id="form-login" action="/auth/login">
    <input type="hidden" name="UseTokenCookie" value="true" />

Which just like ConvertSessionToToken returns a populated session in the ss-tok Cookie so now both techstacks.io and servicestack.net can maintain uninterrupted Sessions across multiple redeployments without a persistent Sessions cache.

Fallback Auth and RSA Keys

You can specify multiple fallback AES Auth Keys and RSA Public Keys to allow for smooth key rotations to newer Auth Keys whilst simultaneously being able to verify JWT Tokens signed with a previous key.

The fallback keys can be configured in code when registering the JwtAuthProvider:

new JwtAuthProvider {
    AuthKey = authKey2016,
    FallbackAuthKeys = {
    PrivateKey = privateKey2016,
    FallbackPublicKeys = {

Or in AppSettings:

    <add key="jwt.AuthKeyBase64" value="{AuthKey2016Base64}" />
    <add key="jwt.AuthKeyBase64.1" value="{AuthKey2015Base64}" />
    <add key="jwt.AuthKeyBase64.2" value="{AuthKey2014Base64}" />

    <add key="jwt.PrivateKeyXml" value="{PrivateKey2016Xml}" />
    <add key="jwt.PublicKeyXml.1" value="{PublicKeyXml2015Xml}" />
    <add key="jwt.PublicKeyXml.2" value="{PublicKeyXml2014Xml}" />

Send JWTs in HTTP Params

The JWT Auth Provider can opt-in to accept JWT's via the Query String or HTML POST FormData with:

new JwtAuthProvider {
    AllowInQueryString = true,
    AllowInFormData = true

This is useful for situations where it's not possible to attach the JWT in the HTTP Request Headers or ss-tok Cookie.

For example if you wanted to authenticate via JWT to a real-time Server Events stream from a token retrieved from a remote auth server (i.e. so the JWT Cookie isn't already configured with the SSE server) you can call the /session-to-token API to convert the JWT Bearer Token into a JWT Cookie which will configure it with that domain so the subsequent HTTP Requests to the SSE event stream contains the JWT cookie and establishes an authenticated session:

var client = new JsonServiceClient(BaseUrl);
await client.post(new ConvertSessionToToken());

var sseClient = new ServerEventsClient(BaseUrl, ["*"], {
    handlers: {
        onConnect: e => { 
            console.log(e.isAuthenticated /*true*/, e.userId, e.displayName);

Unfortunately this wont work in node.exe Server Apps (or in integration tests) which doesn't support a central location for configuring domain cookies. One solution that works everywhere is to add the JWT to the ?ss-tok query string that's used to connect to the /event-stream URL, e.g:

var sseClient = new ServerEventsClient(BaseUrl, ["*"], {
    resolveStreamUrl: url => appendQueryString(url, { "ss-tok": JWT }),
    handlers: {
        onConnect: e => { 
            console.log(e.isAuthenticated /*true*/, e.userId, e.displayName);

As the TypeScript ServerEventsClient needs to use the browsers native EventSource class to establish the SSE connection it's not able to customize the HTTP Request Headers in other clients but as the client shares the same cookies with the browser you can use a JWT Token Cookie either by Requesting to use a JWT Token Cookie at Authentication or by setting the Token Cookie on the client, CORS permitting, e.g:

document.cookie = "ss-tok={Token}";


The stateless nature of JWTs makes it highly versatile to be able to use in a number of difference scenarios, e.g. it could be used to make stateless authenticated requests across different domains without JavaScript (HTTP Headers or Cookies), by embedding it in a HTML Form POST:

<form action="https://remote.org/secure" method="post">
    <input type="hidden" name="ss-tok" value="{JWT}" />

Although as this enables cross-domain posts it should be enabled with great care.

Runtime JWT Configuration

To allow for dynamic per request configuration as needed in Multi Tenant applications we've added a new IRuntimeAppSettings API which can be registered in your AppHost to return custom per request configuration.

E.g. this can be used to return a custom AuthKey that should be used to sign JWT Tokens for that request:

container.Register<IRuntimeAppSettings>(c => new RuntimeAppSettings { 
    Settings = {
        { nameof(JwtAuthProvider.AuthKey), req => (byte[]) GetAuthKey(GetTenantId(req)) }

The following JwtAuthProvider properties can be overridden by IRuntimeAppSettings:

  • byte[] AuthKey
  • RSAParameters PrivateKey
  • RSAParameters PublicKey
  • List<byte[]> FallbackAuthKeys
  • List<RSAParameters> FallbackPublicKeys

Multiple Audiences

With the JWT support for issuing and validating JWT's with multiple audiences, you could for example configure the JWT Auth Provider to issue tokens allowing users to access search and analytics system functions by configuring its Audiences property:

new JwtAuthProvider {
    Audiences = { "search", "analytics" }

This will include both audiences in new JWT's as a JSON Array (if only 1 audience was configured it will continue to be embedded as a string).

When validating a JWT with multiple audiences it only needs to match a single Audience configured with the JwtAuthProvider, e.g given the above configuration users that authenticate with a JWT containing:

JWT[aud] = null           //= Valid: No Audience specified
JWT[aud] = admin          //= NOT Valid: Wrong Audience specified
JWT[aud] = [search,admin] //= Valid: Partial Audience match

Adhoc JWT APIs

You can retrieve the JWT Token string from the current IRequest with:

string jwt = req.GetJwtToken();

You can manually convert JWT Tokens into User Sessions with:

var userSession = JwtAuthProviderReader.CreateSessionFromJwt(base.Request);

Which is essentially a shorthand for:

var jwtProvider = AuthenticateService.GetJwtAuthProvider();
var userSession = jwtProvider.ConvertJwtToSession(base.Request, req.GetJwtToken());

Creating JWT Tokens Manually

You can create a custom JWT Token that encapsulates an Authenticated User Session by using JwtAuthProvider's static APIs to create the JWT Header, JWT Payload then sign and authenticate the token using the configured signing keys in order to make authenticated Requests to any remote AppHost configured with the same JwtAuthProvider configuration, e.g:

var jwtProvider = new JwtAuthProvider { ... };

var header = JwtAuthProvider.CreateJwtHeader(jwtProvider.HashAlgorithm);
var body = JwtAuthProvider.CreateJwtPayload(new AuthUserSession
        UserAuthId = "1",
        DisplayName = "Test",
        Email = "as@if.com",
        IsAuthenticated = true,
    issuer: jwtProvider.Issuer,
    expireIn: jwtProvider.ExpireTokensIn,
    audience: new[]{ jwtProvider.Audience },
    roles: new[] {"TheRole"},
    permissions: new[] {"ThePermission"});

var jwtToken = JwtAuthProvider.CreateJwt(header, body, jwtProvider.GetHashAlgorithm());

The generated JWT Token can then be used to make Authenticated Requests to any Server configured with the same JwtAuthProvider configuration that the JWT Token was created with, e.g:

var client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl);

var response = client.Get(new Secured { ... });

Validating JWT Manually

The IsValidJwt() and GetValidJwtPayload() APIs lets you validate and inspect the contents of a JWT stand-alone, i.e. outside the context of a Request. Given an invalid expiredJwt and a validJwt you can test the validity and inspect the contents of each with:

var jwtProvider = AuthenticateService.GetJwtAuthProvider();

jwtProvider.IsValidJwt(expiredJwt);          //= false
jwtProvider.GetValidJwtPayload(expiredJwt);  //= null

jwtProvider.IsValidJwt(validJwt);            //= true
JsonObject payload = jwtProvider.GetValidJwtPayload(validJwt);

var userId = payload["sub"];

Large Profile Image Handling

As high res profile images in Microsoft Graph Auth doesn't return CDN URIs to the users profile image that can be referenced within Apps directly, it pushes the burden of profile image management down to every authenticating App server, which to maintain their statelessness, means converting into a Data URI, except as it typically returns the high-res image JPEG which far exceeds the maximum 4kb limit of cookies, it requires resizing in order to make fit (otherwise the JWT Cookie is ignored and Authentication will fail).

Unfortunately as Image Resizing is unreliable in Linux we've had to adopt an alternative solution that's able to display a users high-res photo whilst still keeping our App server stateless by creating a new ImagesHandler that the JWT AuthProvider calls RewriteImageUri() on to replace any large profile URLs with a link to its /auth-profiles/{MD5}.jpg - a URL it also handles serving the original high-res image back to.

This is the solution AuthFeature uses by default, pre-configured with:

new AuthFeature {
    ProfileImages = new ImagesHandler("/auth-profiles", fallback: Svg.GetStaticContent(Svg.Icons.DefaultProfile))

Where if using a custom SavePhotoSize will be resized using Microsoft Graph APIs, if the resized image size still exceeds the max allowable size in JWT Cookies it's swapped out for a URL reference to the image which ImageHandler stores in memory. The trade-off of this default is when your Docker App is re-deployed, whilst their stateless authentication keeps them authenticated, the original high-res photo saved in ImageHandler's memory will be lost, which will be replaced with the fallback Svg.Icons.DefaultProfile image.

Using an MD5 hash does allow us to maintain URLs that's both predictable in that it will result in the same hash after every sign in, while also preventing information leakage that using a predictable User Id would do. A client-only solution that could retain their avatar across deployments is saving it to localStorage however that pushes the burden down to every client App using your APIs, which could be manageable if you control all of them.

Persistent Large Profile Image Handling

For a persistent solution that retains profile images across deployments you can use PersistentImagesHandler with the VFS Provider and path for profile images to be written to, e.g:

new AuthFeature {
    ProfileImages = new PersistentImagesHandler("/auth-profiles", Svg.GetStaticContent(Svg.Icons.DefaultProfile),
        appHost.VirtualFiles, "/App_Data/auth-profiles")

When using the default FileSystemVirtualFiles VFS provider this would require configuring your Docker App with a persistent /App_Data Volume, otherwise using one of the other Virtual Files Providers like S3VirtualFiles or AzureBlobVirtualFiles may be the more preferable solution to keep your Docker Apps stateless.

Refresh Token Cookies supported in all Service Clients

JWT first-class support for Refresh Token Cookies is implicitly enabled when configuring the JwtAuthProvider which uses JWT Token Cookies by default which upon authentication will return the Refresh Token in a ss-reftok Secure, HttpOnly Cookie alongside the Users stateless Authenticated UserSession in the JWT ss-tok Cookie.

This supports transparently auto refreshing access tokens in HTTP Clients by default as the server will rotate JWT Access Token Cookies which expire before the Refresh Token expiration.

The alternative configuration of using explicit JWT Bearer Tokens is also supported in all smart, generic Service Clients for all Add ServiceStack Reference languages which enable a nicer (i.e. maintenance-free) development experience with all Service Clients automatically supports fetching new JWT Bearer Tokens & transparently Auto Retry Requests on 401 Unauthorized responses:

C#, F# & VB .NET Service Clients

var client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl);
var authRequest = new Authenticate {
    provider = "credentials",
    UserName = userName,
    Password = password,
    RememberMe = true
var authResponse = client.Post(authRequest);

//client.GetTokenCookie();        // JWT Bearer Token
//client.GetRefreshTokenCookie(); // JWT Refresh Token

// When no longer valid, Auto Refreshes JWT Bearer Token using Refresh Token Cookie
var response = client.Post(new SecureRequest { Name = "World" }); 

Inspect.printDump(response); // print API Response into human-readable format (alias: `response.PrintDump()`)

TypeScript & JS Service Client

let client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl);
let authRequest = new Authenticate({provider:"credentials",userName,password,rememberMe});
let authResponse = await client.post(authRequest);

// In Browser can't read "HttpOnly" Token Cookies by design, In Node.js can access client.cookies  

// When no longer valid, Auto Refreshes JWT Bearer Token using Refresh Token Cookie
let response = await client.post(new SecureRequest({ name: "World" }));

Inspect.printDump(response); // print API Response into human-readable format

Python Service Client

client = JsonServiceClient(baseUrl)
authRequest = Authenticate(
    provider="credentials", user_name=user_name, password=password, rememberMe=true)
authResponse = client.post(authRequest)

# When no longer valid, Auto Refreshes JWT Bearer Token using Refresh Token Cookie
response = client.post(SecureRequest(name="World"))

#client.token_cookie         # JWT Bearer Token
#client.refresh_token_cookie # JWT Refresh Token

printdump(response) # print API Response into human-readable format

Dart Service Clients

var client = ClientFactory.create(baseUrl);
var authRequest = Authenticate(provider:"credentials", userName:userName, password:password);
var authResponse = await client.post(authRequest)

//client.getTokenCookie()        // JWT Bearer Token
//client.getRefreshTokenCookie() // JWT Refresh Token

// When no longer valid, Auto Refreshes JWT Bearer Token using Refresh Token Cookie
var response = await client.post(SecureRequest(name:"World"));

Inspect.printDump(response); // print API Response into human-readable format

Java Service Clients

JsonServiceClient client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl);
Authenticate authRequest = new Authenticate()
AuthenticateResponse authResponse = client.post(authRequest);

//client.getTokenCookie();         // JWT Bearer Token
//client.getRefreshTokenCookie();  // JWT Refresh Token

// When no longer valid, Auto Refreshes JWT Bearer Token using Refresh Token Cookie
SecureResponse response = client.post(new SecureRequest().setName("World"));

Inspect.printDump(response); // print API Response into human-readable format

Kotlin Service Clients

val client = new JsonServiceClient(baseUrl)
val authResponse = client.post(Authenticate().apply {
    provider = "credentials"
    userName = userName
    password = password
    rememberMe = true

//client.tokenCookie         // JWT Bearer Token
//client.refreshTokenCookie  // JWT Refresh Token

// When no longer valid, Auto Refreshes JWT Bearer Token using Refresh Token Cookie
val response = client.post(SecureRequest().apply {
    name = "World"    

Inspect.printDump(response) // print API Response into human-readable format

Swift Service Client

let client = JsonServiceClient(baseUrl: baseUrl);
let authRequest = Authenticate()
authRequest.provider = "credentials"
authRequest.userName = userName
authRequest.password = password
authRequest.rememberMe = true
let authResponse = try client.post(authRequest)

//client.getTokenCookie()        // JWT Bearer Token
//client.getRefreshTokenCookie() // JWT Refresh Token

// When no longer valid, Auto Refreshes JWT Bearer Token using Refresh Token Cookie
let request = SecureRequest()
request.name = "World"
let response = try client.post(request)

Inspect.printDump(response) // print API Response into human-readable format

JWT Configuration

The JWT Auth Provider provides the following options to customize its behavior: 

class JwtAuthProviderReader
    // The RSA Bit Key Length to use
    static RsaKeyLengths UseRsaKeyLength = RsaKeyLengths.Bit2048

    // Different HMAC Algorithms supported
    Dictionary<string, Func<byte[], byte[], byte[]>> HmacAlgorithms

    // Different RSA Signing Algorithms supported
    Dictionary<string, Func<RSAParameters, byte[], byte[]>> RsaSignAlgorithms
    Dictionary<string, Func<RSAParameters, byte[], byte[], bool>> RsaVerifyAlgorithms

    // Whether to only allow access via API Key from a secure connection. (default true)
    bool RequireSecureConnection

    // Run custom filter after JWT Header is created
    Action<JsonObject, IAuthSession> CreateHeaderFilter

    // Run custom filter after JWT Payload is created
    Action<JsonObject, IAuthSession> CreatePayloadFilter

    // Run custom filter after session is restored from a JWT Token
    Action<IAuthSession, JsonObject, IRequest> PopulateSessionFilter

    // Whether to encrypt JWE Payload (default false). 
    // Uses RSA-OAEP for Key Encryption and AES/128/CBC HMAC SHA256 for Content Encryption
    bool EncryptPayload

    // Which Hash Algorithm should be used to sign the JWT Token. (default HS256)
    string HashAlgorithm

    // Whether to only allow processing of JWT Tokens using the configured HashAlgorithm.
    bool RequireHashAlgorithm

    // The Issuer to embed in the token. (default ssjwt)
    string Issuer

    // The Audience to embed in the token. (default null)
    string Audience

    // What Id to use to identify the Key used to sign the token. (3 chars of Base64 Key)
    string KeyId

    // The AuthKey used to sign the JWT Token
    byte[] AuthKey
    // Convenient overload to initialize AuthKey with Base64 string
    string AuthKeyBase64

    // The RSA Private Key used to Sign the JWT Token when RSA is used
    RSAParameters? PrivateKey
    // Convenient overload to initialize the Private Key via exported XML
    string PrivateKeyXml

    // The RSA Public Key used to Verify the JWT Token when RSA is used
    RSAParameters? PublicKey

    // Convenient overload to initialize the Public Key via exported XML
    string PublicKeyXml

    // How long should JWT Tokens be valid for. (default 14 days)
    TimeSpan ExpireTokensIn

    // Convenient overload to initialize ExpireTokensIn with an Integer
    int ExpireTokensInDays

    // How long should JWT Refresh Tokens be valid for. (default 365 days)
    TimeSpan ExpireRefreshTokensIn 

    // Allow custom logic to invalidate JWT Tokens
    Func<JsonObject, IRequest, bool> ValidateToken

    // Allow custom logic to invalidate Refresh Tokens
    Func<JsonObject, IRequest, bool> ValidateRefreshToken

    // Whether to invalidate all JWT Tokens issued before a specified date.
    DateTime? InvalidateTokensIssuedBefore

    // Whether to populate the Bearer Token in the AuthenticateResponse
    bool SetBearerTokenOnAuthenticateResponse

    // Modify the registration of ConvertSessionToToken Service
    Dictionary<Type, string[]> ServiceRoutes

## Further Examples

More examples of both the new API Key and JWT Auth Providers are available in 
and [JWT Token Cookie Example](https://github.com/ServiceStack/ServiceStack/blob/master/tests/ServiceStack.WebHost.Endpoints.Tests/UseCases/JwtAuthProviderTests.cs#L235).