This post will give a basic discussion on securing authentication tokens that can be used with Flask-Login.

The article Minimal Flask Login Example provided an introduction to token based authentication using the Flask-Login extension for the Flask web framework. The focus of that article was to highlight the crux of authentication logic. One glaring omission was that the token itself was nothing but the username and password passed as clear text. This clearly will not work!

The high level control flow involving token based authentication is as follows:

  • client (browser) makes a request for the web token in exchange for authentication credential
  • the authentication credentials are serialized to create a token, and server responds with this token
  • every time the client needs to request a secured page, the client would provide the authentication token to the server part of the request
  • the server deserializes the token, fetches the authentication credentials and validates the token
  • if the token is valid, then the server responds with an access to the secured page; should the token be invalid, then the access to secured page is denied.

In the Minimal Flask Login Example, we skipped the serialization part for simplicity. A more rigorous way of doing this would be to use JSONWebSignatureSerializer in the itsdangerous package to serialize the authentication credentials.

from itsdangerous import JSONWebSignatureSerializer
s = JSONWebSignatureSerializer('secret-key')
token = s.dumps({'username': JaneDoe, 'password' : 'secret'})

The token in the above code can be used to pass from the server side. Validating a token is simple as well.

from itsdangerous import JSONWebSignatureSerializer
s = JSONWebSignatureSerializer('secret-key')
credential = s.loads(token)

The above code will get the credential corresponding to the user which can then be checked against what is stored in the database.

   Programming   Python   Flask   Authentication  

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