C# – Token Based Authentication in ASP.NET Core (refreshed)


I'm working with ASP.NET Core application. I'm trying to implement Token Based Authentication but can not figure out how to use new Security System.

My scenario:
A client requests a token. My server should authorize the user and return access_token which will be used by the client in following requests.

Here are two great articles about implementing exactly what I need:

The problem is – it is not obvious for me how to do the same thing in ASP.NET Core.

My question is: how to configure ASP.NET Core Web Api application to work with token based authentication? What direction should I pursue? Have you written any articles about the newest version, or know where I could find ones?

Thank you!

Best Solution

Working from Matt Dekrey's fabulous answer, I've created a fully working example of token-based authentication, working against ASP.NET Core (1.0.1). You can find the full code in this repository on GitHub (alternative branches for 1.0.0-rc1, beta8, beta7), but in brief, the important steps are:

Generate a key for your application

In my example, I generate a random key each time the app starts, you'll need to generate one and store it somewhere and provide it to your application. See this file for how I'm generating a random key and how you might import it from a .json file. As suggested in the comments by @kspearrin, the Data Protection API seems like an ideal candidate for managing the keys "correctly", but I've not worked out if that's possible yet. Please submit a pull request if you work it out!

Startup.cs - ConfigureServices

Here, we need to load a private key for our tokens to be signed with, which we will also use to verify tokens as they are presented. We're storing the key in a class-level variable key which we'll re-use in the Configure method below. TokenAuthOptions is a simple class which holds the signing identity, audience and issuer that we'll need in the TokenController to create our keys.

// Replace this with some sort of loading from config / file.
RSAParameters keyParams = RSAKeyUtils.GetRandomKey();

// Create the key, and a set of token options to record signing credentials 
// using that key, along with the other parameters we will need in the 
// token controlller.
key = new RsaSecurityKey(keyParams);
tokenOptions = new TokenAuthOptions()
    Audience = TokenAudience,
    Issuer = TokenIssuer,
    SigningCredentials = new SigningCredentials(key, SecurityAlgorithms.Sha256Digest)

// Save the token options into an instance so they're accessible to the 
// controller.

// Enable the use of an [Authorize("Bearer")] attribute on methods and
// classes to protect.
services.AddAuthorization(auth =>
    auth.AddPolicy("Bearer", new AuthorizationPolicyBuilder()

We've also set up an authorization policy to allow us to use [Authorize("Bearer")] on the endpoints and classes we wish to protect.

Startup.cs - Configure

Here, we need to configure the JwtBearerAuthentication:

app.UseJwtBearerAuthentication(new JwtBearerOptions {
    TokenValidationParameters = new TokenValidationParameters {
        IssuerSigningKey = key,
        ValidAudience = tokenOptions.Audience,
        ValidIssuer = tokenOptions.Issuer,

        // When receiving a token, check that it is still valid.
        ValidateLifetime = true,

        // This defines the maximum allowable clock skew - i.e.
        // provides a tolerance on the token expiry time 
        // when validating the lifetime. As we're creating the tokens 
        // locally and validating them on the same machines which 
        // should have synchronised time, this can be set to zero. 
        // Where external tokens are used, some leeway here could be 
        // useful.
        ClockSkew = TimeSpan.FromMinutes(0)


In the token controller, you need to have a method to generate signed keys using the key that was loaded in Startup.cs. We've registered a TokenAuthOptions instance in Startup, so we need to inject that in the constructor for TokenController:

public class TokenController : Controller
    private readonly TokenAuthOptions tokenOptions;

    public TokenController(TokenAuthOptions tokenOptions)
        this.tokenOptions = tokenOptions;

Then you'll need to generate the token in your handler for the login endpoint, in my example I'm taking a username and password and validating those using an if statement, but the key thing you need to do is create or load a claims-based identity and generate the token for that:

public class AuthRequest
    public string username { get; set; }
    public string password { get; set; }

/// <summary>
/// Request a new token for a given username/password pair.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="req"></param>
/// <returns></returns>
public dynamic Post([FromBody] AuthRequest req)
    // Obviously, at this point you need to validate the username and password against whatever system you wish.
    if ((req.username == "TEST" && req.password == "TEST") || (req.username == "TEST2" && req.password == "TEST"))
        DateTime? expires = DateTime.UtcNow.AddMinutes(2);
        var token = GetToken(req.username, expires);
        return new { authenticated = true, entityId = 1, token = token, tokenExpires = expires };
    return new { authenticated = false };

private string GetToken(string user, DateTime? expires)
    var handler = new JwtSecurityTokenHandler();

    // Here, you should create or look up an identity for the user which is being authenticated.
    // For now, just creating a simple generic identity.
    ClaimsIdentity identity = new ClaimsIdentity(new GenericIdentity(user, "TokenAuth"), new[] { new Claim("EntityID", "1", ClaimValueTypes.Integer) });

    var securityToken = handler.CreateToken(new Microsoft.IdentityModel.Tokens.SecurityTokenDescriptor() {
        Issuer = tokenOptions.Issuer,
        Audience = tokenOptions.Audience,
        SigningCredentials = tokenOptions.SigningCredentials,
        Subject = identity,
        Expires = expires
    return handler.WriteToken(securityToken);

And that should be it. Just add [Authorize("Bearer")] to any method or class you want to protect, and you should get an error if you attempt to access it without a token present. If you want to return a 401 instead of a 500 error, you'll need to register a custom exception handler as I have in my example here.