http-headers jwt

Best HTTP Authorization header type for JWT


I’m wondering what is the best appropriate Authorization HTTP header type for JWT tokens.

One of the probably most popular type is Basic. For instance:

Authorization: Basic QWxhZGRpbjpvcGVuIHNlc2FtZQ==

It handle two parameters such as a login and a password. So it is not relevant for JWT tokens.

Also, I heard about Bearer type, for instance:

Authorization: Bearer eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJzdWIiOiIxMjM0NTY3ODkwIiwibmFtZSI6IkpvaG4gRG9lIiwiYWRtaW4iOnRydWV9.TJVA95OrM7E2cBab30RMHrHDcEfxjoYZgeFONFh7HgQ

However, I don’t know its meaning. Is it related to bears?

Is there a particular way to use JWT tokens in the HTTP Authorization header? Should we use Bearer, or should we simplify and just use:

Authorization: eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJzdWIiOiIxMjM0NTY3ODkwIiwibmFtZSI6IkpvaG4gRG9lIiwiYWRtaW4iOnRydWV9.TJVA95OrM7E2cBab30RMHrHDcEfxjoYZgeFONFh7HgQ



Or maybe, just a JWT HTTP header:

JWT: eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJzdWIiOiIxMjM0NTY3ODkwIiwibmFtZSI6IkpvaG4gRG9lIiwiYWRtaW4iOnRydWV9.TJVA95OrM7E2cBab30RMHrHDcEfxjoYZgeFONFh7HgQ



    Short answer

    The Bearer authentication scheme is what you are looking for.

    Long answer

    Is it related to bears?

    Errr… No 🙂

    According to the Oxford Dictionaries, here’s the definition of bearer:

    bearer /ˈbɛːrə/

    1. A person or thing that carries or holds something.

    2. A person who presents a cheque or other order to pay money.

    The first definition includes the following synonyms: messenger, agent, conveyor, emissary, carrier, provider.

    And here’s the definition of bearer token according to the RFC 6750:

    1.2. Terminology

    Bearer Token

    A security token with the property that any party in possession of the token (a “bearer”) can use the token in any way that any other party in possession of it can. Using a bearer token does not require a bearer to prove possession of cryptographic key material (proof-of-possession).

    The Bearer authentication scheme is registered in IANA and originally defined in the RFC 6750 for the OAuth 2.0 authorization framework, but nothing stops you from using the Bearer scheme for access tokens in applications that don’t use OAuth 2.0.

    Stick to the standards as much as you can and don’t create your own authentication schemes.

    An access token must be sent in the Authorization request header using the Bearer authentication scheme:

    2.1. Authorization Request Header Field

    When sending the access token in the Authorization request header field defined by HTTP/1.1, the client uses the Bearer authentication scheme to transmit the access token.

    For example:

    GET /resource HTTP/1.1
    Authorization: Bearer mF_9.B5f-4.1JqM


    Clients SHOULD make authenticated requests with a bearer token using the Authorization request header field with the Bearer HTTP authorization scheme. […]

    In case of invalid or missing token, the Bearer scheme should be included in the WWW-Authenticate response header:

    3. The WWW-Authenticate Response Header Field

    If the protected resource request does not include authentication credentials or does not contain an access token that enables access to the protected resource, the resource server MUST include the HTTP WWW-Authenticate response header field […].

    All challenges defined by this specification MUST use the auth-scheme value Bearer. This scheme MUST be followed by one or more auth-param values. […].

    For example, in response to a protected resource request without authentication:

    HTTP/1.1 401 Unauthorized
    WWW-Authenticate: Bearer realm="example"

    And in response to a protected resource request with an authentication attempt using an expired access token:

    HTTP/1.1 401 Unauthorized
    WWW-Authenticate: Bearer realm="example",
                             error_description="The access token expired"


    • 22

      Yes. It is related to bears. In the same way that python is related to snakes. Duh.

      Aug 13, 2019 at 4:39

    • 7

      Bears.. That does it. Thank you for making my day.

      Aug 20, 2019 at 7:54

    • 1

      Is it a vulnerability if : i give the user the token, but when he wants to send me a request he must send the token back in the request body? I will then get it from there and validate? I dont really have other options, as the way they send the request isnt defined by me, but i would be interested if that is any bad or if theres a solution to make it more secure.

      Feb 4, 2020 at 12:14

    • @DanielJeney did you find an answer

      – vikrant

      Jul 29, 2020 at 11:23

    • 10

      Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

      Sep 25, 2020 at 15:48