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JWT Validation

The JWT validation shields any amount of desired endpoints, forcing requests to the API gateway to provide a token issued by a third party. Verification of the token takes place in every request, including the check of the signature and optionally the assurance that its issuer, roles, and audience are sufficient to access the endpoint.

The JOSE component is responsible for validating the tokens.

A typical request requiring JWT validation includes in the Authorization header a bearer with the token:

GET /resource HTTP/1.1
Host: krakend.example.com
Authorization: Bearer eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIXVCJ9...TJVA95OrM7E20RMHrHDcEfxjoYZgeFONFh7HgQeyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJzdWIiOiIxMjM0NTY3ODkwIiwibmFtZSI6IktyYWtlbkQiLCJpYXQiOjE1MTYyMzkwMjJ9.NVFYj2MhyvJjMESOg4ktIOfzak2ekD7IrCa9-UiO4QA

And cookies? Yes, you can also send the validation token in a cookie.

We consider a JWT token to be valid when is well formed, signed by a recognized issuer, unexpired, with some claims and is not marked as revoked.

A note on JWT generation

When you generate tokens for end-users, make sure to set a low expiration. Tokens are supposed to have short lives and are recommended to expire in minutes or hours.

Basic JWT validation

The JWT validation is per endpoint and must be present inside every endpoint definition needing it. If several endpoints are going to require JWT validation consider using the flexible configuration to avoid repetitive declarations.

Enable the JWT validation by adding the namespace "github.com/devopsfaith/krakend-jose/validator" inside the extra_config of the desired endpoint.

For instance, to protect the endpoint /protected/resource:

    "endpoint": "/protected/resource",
    "extra_config": {
        "github.com/devopsfaith/krakend-jose/validator": {
            "alg": "RS256",
            "audience": ["http://api.example.com"],
            "roles_key": "http://api.example.com/custom/roles",
            "roles": ["user", "admin"],
            "jwk-url": "https://albert-test.auth0.com/.well-known/jwks.json"
    "backend": [
        "url_pattern": "/"

This configuration makes sure that:

  • The token is well-formed and didn’t expire
  • The token has a valid signature
  • The role of the user is either user or admin (taken from a key in the JWT payload named http://api.example.com/custom/roles)
  • The token is not revoked in the bloomfilter (see revoking tokens)

JWT validation settings

The following settings are available for JWT validation. Fields alg and jwk-url are mandatory and the rest of the keys can be added or not at your best convenience.

Add them under the "github.com/devopsfaith/krakend-jose/validator" namespace:

  • alg: recognized string. The hashing algorithm used by the issuer. Usually RS256.
  • jwk-url: string. The URL to the JWK endpoint with the public keys used to verify the authenticity and integrity of the token.
  • cache: boolean. Set this value to true to store the JWK public key in-memory for the next 15 minutes and avoid hammering the key server, recommended for performance. The cache can store up to 100 different public keys simultaneously.
  • audience: list. Set when you want to reject tokens that do not contain an audience of the list.
  • roles_key: When passing roles, the key name inside the JWT payload specifying the role of the user.
  • roles: list. When set, the JWT token not having at least one of the listed roles are rejected.
  • issuer: string. When set, tokens not matching the issuer are rejected.
  • cookie_key: string. Add the key name of the cookie containing the token when is not passed in the headers
  • disable_jwk_security: boolean. When true, disables security of the JWK client and allows insecure connections (plain HTTP) to download the keys.
  • jwk_fingerprints: string list. A list of fingerprints (the unique identifier of the certificate) for certificate pinning and avoid man in the middle attacks. Add fingerprints in base64 format.
  • cipher_suites: integers list. Override the default cipher suites. Unless you have a legacy JWK, you don’t need to add this value.

For the full list of recognized algorithms and cipher suites scroll down to the end of the document.

The following example contains every single option available:

"endpoint": "/foo"
"extra_config": {
    "github.com/devopsfaith/krakend-jose/validator": {
        "alg": "RS256",
        "jwk-url": "https://url/to/jwks.json",
        "cache": true,
        "audience": [
        "roles_key": "department",
        "roles": [
        "issuer": "http://my.api.com",
        "cookie_key": "TOKEN",
        "disable_jwk_security": true,
        "jwk_fingerprints": [
        "cipher_suites": [
            10, 47, 53

A complete running example

The KrakenD Playground demonstrates how to protect endpoints using JWT and includes an example ready to use using a Single Page Application from Auth0. To try it, clone the playground and follow the README.

Supported hashing algorithms and cipher suites

Hashing algorithms

Accepted values for the alg field are:

  • EdDSA: EdDSA
  • HS256: HS256 - HMAC using SHA-256
  • HS384: HS384 - HMAC using SHA-384
  • HS512: HS512 - HMAC using SHA-512
  • RS256: RS256 - RSASSA-PKCS-v1.5 using SHA-256
  • RS384: RS384 - RSASSA-PKCS-v1.5 using SHA-384
  • RS512: RS512 - RSASSA-PKCS-v1.5 using SHA-512
  • ES256: ES256 - ECDSA using P-256 and SHA-256
  • ES384: ES384 - ECDSA using P-384 and SHA-384
  • ES512: ES512 - ECDSA using P-521 and SHA-512
  • PS256: PS256 - RSASSA-PSS using SHA256 and MGF1-SHA256
  • PS384: PS384 - RSASSA-PSS using SHA384 and MGF1-SHA384
  • PS512: PS512 - RSASSA-PSS using SHA512 and MGF1-SHA512

Cipher suites

Accepted values for cipher suites are:

  • 5: TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA
  • 60: TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256
  • 156: TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256
  • 157: TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384
  • 49169: TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA
  • 49191: TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256

Default suites are:

  • 49199: TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256
  • 49200: TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384
Unresolved issues?

The documentation is only a piece of the help you can get! Whether you are looking for Open Source or Enterprise support, see more support channels that can help you.