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Overview

LoopBack 4 has an authentication package @loopback/authentication which allows you to secure your application’s API endpoints with custom authentication strategies and an @authenticate decorator.

This tutorial shows you how to add JWT authentication to your LoopBack application using the extension @loopback/authentication-jwt.

For demonstration purpose, we will be using the Todo application as the base application.

At the end of this tutorial, it supports the following scenarios:

  • User needs to log in first to get the token before calling any of the todo endpoints
  • User can sign up if they don’t have any account already
  • If the token is valid, user can call the REST APIs, otherwise an error with 401 status code will occur.

JSON Web Token Approach

Here is a brief summary of the JSON Web Token (JWT) approach.

JSON Web Token Authentication Overview

In the JSON Web Token (JWT) authentication approach, when the user provides the correct credentials to a login endpoint, the server creates a JWT token and returns it in the response. The token is of type string and consists of 3 parts: the header, the payload, and the signature. The header and payload are digitally signed with secret, and the parts are separated by a period.

For example:

// {base64UrlEncode-header}.{base64UrlEncode-payload}.{encrypted-signature}
eyJhbXVCJ9.eyJpZCI6Ij.I3wpRNCH4;
// actual parts have been reduced in size for viewing purposes

After logging in and obtaining this token, whenever the user attempts to access a protected endpoint, the token must be provided in the Authorization header. The server verifies that the token is valid and not expired, and then permits access to the protected endpoint.

Please see JSON Web Token (JWT) for more details.

To understand the details of how JWT authentication can be added to a LoopBack 4 application, read the Adding JWT Authentication to a LoopBack 4 Application section.

Before we begin

Let’s download the Todo example and install the @loopback/authentication-jwt extension.

$ lb4 example todo
$ cd loopback4-example-todo
$ npm i --save @loopback/authentication @loopback/authentication-jwt

Step 1: Bind JWT Component in the Application

In src/application.ts, bind the authentication components to your application class.

src/application.ts

// ---------- ADD IMPORTS -------------
import {AuthenticationComponent} from '@loopback/authentication';
import {
  JWTAuthenticationComponent,
  SECURITY_SCHEME_SPEC,
  UserServiceBindings,
} from '@loopback/authentication-jwt';
import {DbDataSource} from './datasources';
// ------------------------------------

export class TodoListApplication extends BootMixin(
  ServiceMixin(RepositoryMixin(RestApplication)),
) {
  constructor(options: ApplicationConfig = {}) {
    //...
    // ------ ADD SNIPPET AT THE BOTTOM ---------
    // Mount authentication system
    this.component(AuthenticationComponent);
    // Mount jwt component
    this.component(JWTAuthenticationComponent);
    // Bind datasource
    this.dataSource(DbDataSource, UserServiceBindings.DATASOURCE_NAME);
    // ------------- END OF SNIPPET -------------
  }
}

Step 2: Add Authenticate Action

Next, we will add the authenticate action in the Sequence. We’ll also modify the error when authentication fails to return status code 401.

/src/sequence.ts

// ---------- ADD IMPORTS -------------
import {
  AuthenticateFn,
  AuthenticationBindings,
  AUTHENTICATION_STRATEGY_NOT_FOUND,
  USER_PROFILE_NOT_FOUND,
} from '@loopback/authentication';
// ------------------------------------
export class MySequence implements SequenceHandler {
  constructor(
    // ---- ADD THIS LINE ------
    @inject(AuthenticationBindings.AUTH_ACTION)
    protected authenticateRequest: AuthenticateFn,
  ) {}
  async handle(context: RequestContext) {
    try {
      const {request, response} = context;
      const route = this.findRoute(request);
      // - enable jwt auth -
      // call authentication action
      // ---------- ADD THIS LINE -------------
      await this.authenticateRequest(request);
      const args = await this.parseParams(request, route);
      const result = await this.invoke(route, args);
      this.send(response, result);
    } catch (err) {
      // ---------- ADD THIS SNIPPET -------------
      // if error is coming from the JWT authentication extension
      // make the statusCode 401
      if (
        err.code === AUTHENTICATION_STRATEGY_NOT_FOUND ||
        err.code === USER_PROFILE_NOT_FOUND
      ) {
        Object.assign(err, {statusCode: 401 /* Unauthorized */});
      }
      // ---------- END OF SNIPPET -------------
      this.reject(context, err);
    }
  }
}

Step 3: Create the UserController for login

In the UserController, we are going to create three endpoints:

  • /login for users to provide credential to login
  • /whoami for showing who is the current user
  • /signup for users to sign up

3a. Create the UserController

Create the controller using lb4 controller command with the empty controller option.

$ lb4 controller
? Controller class name: User
Controller User will be created in src/controllers/user.controller.ts

? What kind of controller would you like to generate? Empty Controller

create src/controllers/user.controller.ts
   update src/controllers/index.ts

Controller User was created in src/controllers/

3b. Add endpoints in UserController

For UserService which verifies the credentials, we are going to use the default implementation in the @loopback/authentication-jwt extension. Therefore, the constructor injects the MyUserService from this extension.

/src/controllers/user.controller.ts

// ---------- ADD IMPORTS -------------
import {inject} from '@loopback/core';
import {
  TokenServiceBindings,
  MyUserService,
  UserServiceBindings,
  UserRepository,
} from '@loopback/authentication-jwt';
import {TokenService} from '@loopback/authentication';
import {SecurityBindings, UserProfile} from '@loopback/security';
import {repository} from '@loopback/repository';
// ----------------------------------

constructor(
    @inject(TokenServiceBindings.TOKEN_SERVICE)
    public jwtService: TokenService,
    @inject(UserServiceBindings.USER_SERVICE)
    public userService: MyUserService,
    @inject(SecurityBindings.USER, {optional: true})
    public user: UserProfile,
    @repository(UserRepository) protected userRepository: UserRepository,
  ) {}

For the implementation of all the 3 endpoints, you can take a look at this user.controller.ts in the [todo-jwt example].

Step 4: Protect the Todo APIs

Finally, we need to protect other endpoints that we have, i.e. the /todos APIs. Go to src/controllers/todo.controller.ts. Simple add @authenticate('jwt') before the TodoController class. This will protect all the APIs in this controller.

/src/controllers/todo.controller.ts

// ---------- ADD IMPORTS -------------
import {authenticate} from '@loopback/authentication';
// ------------------------------------
@authenticate('jwt') // <---- Apply the @authenticate decorator at the class level
export class TodoController {
  //...
}

If there are particular API that you want to make it available to everyone without authentication, you can add @authenticate.skip() before that function. See https://loopback.io/doc/en/lb4/Decorators_authenticate.html for more details.

Try it out

Start the application by running npm start and go to http://localhost:3000/explorer. You’ll see the 3 new endpoints under UserController together with the other endpoints under TodoController.

  1. Sign up using the /signup API

    Since we don’t have any users created, click on POST /signup. For the requestBody, the minimum you need is email and password. i.e.

    {
      "email": "testuser2@abc.com",
      "password": "testuser2"
    }
    
  2. Log in using the POST /users/login API

    After calling /users/login, the response body will look something like:

    {
      "token": "aaaaaaaaa.aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"
    }
    

    Copy the token. Go to the top of the API Explorer, click the “Authorize” button.

    API Explorer with Authorize Button

    Paste the token that you previously copied to the “Value” field and then click Authorize.

    authorize dialog

    In the future API calls, this token will be added to the Authorization header .

  3. Get all todos using GET /todos API You should be able to call this API successfully.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You have successfully added the JWT authentication to the LoopBack application! We did the following:

  • bind the JWT Component in the Application
  • add Authenticate Action in the sequence
  • create the UserController for login and signup functions
  • protect the APIs by adding the @authenticate decorator

See the todo-jwt example for the working application. You can also run lb4 example todo-jwt to download the example.