Mitchel  Carter

Mitchel Carter


PHP Authorization with JWT (JSON Web Tokens)

Need to authenticate requests to a server? Learn what JWTs are and how to use them instead of sessions to authenticate your users via API calls.

There was a time when the only way to authenticate yourself with an application was by providing your credentials (usually a username or email address and a password) and a session was then used to maintain user state until the user logged out. A little while later, we started using authentication APIs. And in yet more recent times, JWTs, or JSON Web Tokens, have been increasingly used as another way to authenticate requests to a server.

In this article, you’ll learn what JWTs are and how to use them with PHP to make authenticated user requests.

JWTs versus Sessions

But first, why are sessions not such a good thing? Well, there are three key reasons:

  • Data is stored in plain text on the server.
  • Even though the data is usually not stored in a public folder, anyone with sufficient access to the server can read the contents of session files.
  • They involve filesystem read/write requests.
  • Every time a session starts or its data is modified, the server needs to update the session file. The same goes for every time the application sends a session cookie. If you have a large number of users, you can end up with a slow server unless you use alternative session storage options, such as Memcached and Redis.
  • Distributed/Clustered applications.
  • Since session files are, by default, stored on the file system, it’s hard to have a distributed or clustered infrastructure for high availability applications — ones that require the use of technologies such as load balancers and clustered servers. Other storage media and special configurations have to be implemented — and be done so in full awareness of their implications.


Now, let’s start learning about JWTs. The JSON Web Token specification (RFC 7519) was first published on December 28, 2010, and was most recently updated in May 2015.

JWTs have many advantages over API keys, including:

  • API keys are random strings, whereas JWTs contain information and metadata. This information and metadata can describe a wide range of things, such as a user’s identity, authorization data, and the validity of the token within a time frame or in relation to a domain.
  • JWTs don’t require a centralized issuing or revoking authority.
  • JWTs are OAUTH2 compatible.
  • JWT data can be inspected.
  • JWTs have expiration controls.
  • JWTs are intended for space-constrained environments, such as HTTP Authorization headers.
  • Data is transmitted in JavaScript Object Notation format (JSON).
  • JWTs are represented using Base64url encoding

#json #api #javascript #php

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PHP Authorization with JWT (JSON Web Tokens)
Alverta  Crist

Alverta Crist


How JSON Web Tokens Work

JSON Web tokens or JWTs are a very popular way to do user authorization in web apps today. JWT has also become very popular in the context of micro services and some of the other developments …

#json-web-token #jwt-auth #javascript #jwt-token #jwt

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