Authentication

You can gain access to a protected ArangoDB server via HTTP authentication using a username and password, or a JSON Web Tokens (JWT) generated from the user credentials or the JWT secret of the deployment

Client authentication can be achieved by using the Authorization HTTP header in client requests. ArangoDB supports authentication via HTTP Basic or JWT.

Authentication is turned on by default for all internal database APIs but turned off for custom Foxx apps. To toggle authentication for incoming requests to the internal database APIs, use the --server.authentication startup option. This option is turned on by default so authentication is required for the database APIs.

Requests using the HTTP OPTIONS method are answered by ArangoDB in any case, even if no authentication data is sent by the client or if the authentication data is wrong. This is required for handling CORS preflight requests (see Cross Origin Resource Sharing requests). The response to an HTTP OPTIONS request is generic and doesn’t expose any private data.

There is an additional option to control authentication for custom Foxx apps. The --server.authentication-system-only startup option controls whether authentication is required only for requests to the internal database APIs and the admin interface. It is turned on by default, meaning that other APIs (this includes custom Foxx apps) do not require authentication.

The default values allow exposing a public custom Foxx API built with ArangoDB to the outside world without the need for HTTP authentication, but still protecting the usage of the internal database APIs (i.e. /_api/, /_admin/) with HTTP authentication.

If the server is started with the --server.authentication-system-only option set to false, all incoming requests need HTTP authentication if the server is configured to require HTTP authentication (i.e. --server.authentication true). Setting the option to true makes the server require authentication only for requests to the internal database APIs and allows unauthenticated requests to all other URLs.

Here is a short summary:

  • --server.authentication true --server.authentication-system-only true: This requires authentication for all requests to the internal database APIs but not custom Foxx apps. This is the default setting.
  • --server.authentication true --server.authentication-system-only false: This requires authentication for all requests (including custom Foxx apps).
  • --server.authentication false: Authentication is disabled for all requests.

Whenever authentication is required and the client has not yet authenticated, ArangoDB returns HTTP 401 (Unauthorized). It also sends the Www-Authenticate response header, indicating that the client should prompt the user for username and password if supported. If the client is a browser, then sending back this header normally triggers the display of the browser-side HTTP authentication dialog. As showing the browser HTTP authentication dialog is undesired in AJAX requests, ArangoDB can be told to not send the Www-Authenticate header back to the client. Whenever a client sends the X-Omit-Www-Authenticate HTTP header (with an arbitrary value) to the server, ArangoDB only sends status code 401, but no Www-Authenticate header. This allows clients to implement credentials handling and bypassing the browser’s built-in dialog.

HTTP Basic Authentication

ArangoDB supports basic authentication with a user name and password. The name and the password of an ArangoDB user account need to be separated by a colon and the entire string needs to be Base64-encoded. The resulting value can be used in the Authorization header of an HTTP request, indicating that the authorization scheme is Basic.

For example, if the name is user and the password pass, the temporary string that needs to be encoded is user:pass. The Base64-encoded value is dXNlcjpwYXNz (e.g. using the btoa() JavaScript function in a browser). The HTTP request header to authenticate is a follows:

Authorization: Basic dXNlcjpwYXNz

If you use a tool like cURL, you can manually specify this header as follows:

curl -H 'Authorization: Basic dXNlcjpwYXNz' ...

However, cURL can also take care of the authentication for you:

curl -u user:pass ...
Encoding credentials using the Base64 scheme does not encrypt them. Base64-encoded strings can easily be decoded. Be careful not to expose the encoded credentials by accident. It is recommended to secure connections with ArangoDB servers using TLS for encryption in transit.

Bearer Token Authentication

ArangoDB uses a standard JWT-based authentication method. To authenticate via JWT, you must first obtain a JWT token with a signature generated via HMAC with SHA-256. The secret may either be set using --server.jwt-secret or it is randomly generated on server startup.

For more information on JWT please consult RFC7519 and jwt.io .

JWT user tokens

To authenticate with a specific user you need to supply a JWT token containing the preferred_username field with the username. You can either let ArangoDB generate this token for you via an API call or you can generate it yourself (only if you know the JWT secret).

ArangoDB offers a RESTful API to generate user tokens for you if you know the username and password. To do so send a POST request to:

/_open/auth

… containing username and password JSON-encoded like so:

{
  "username": "root",
  "password": "rootPassword"
}

On success, the endpoint returns a 200 OK and an answer containing the JWT in a JSON-encoded object like so:

{ "jwt": "eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiI..x6EfI" }

This JWT should then be used within the Authorization HTTP header in subsequent requests:

Authorization: Bearer eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiI..x6EfI
The JWT token expires after one hour by default and needs to be updated. You can configure the token lifetime via the --server.session-timeout startup option.

You can find the expiration date of the JWT token in the exp field, encoded as Unix timestamp in seconds. Please note that all JWT tokens must contain the iss field with string value arangodb. As an example the decoded JWT body would look like this:

{
  "exp": 1540381557,
  "iat": 1537789.55727901,
  "iss": "arangodb",
  "preferred_username": "root"
}

Create a JWT session token

post /_open/auth

Obtain a JSON Web Token (JWT) from the credentials of an ArangoDB user account. You can use the JWT in the Authorization HTTP header as a Bearer token to authenticate requests.

The lifetime for the token is controlled by the --server.session-timeout startup option.

Request Body application/json
  • The password of the ArangoDB user.

  • The name of an ArangoDB user.

Responses
    • Response Body
    • The encoded JWT session token.

  • An HTTP 400 Bad Request status code is returned if the request misses required attributes or if it is otherwise malformed.

  • An HTTP 401 Unauthorized status code is returned if the user credentials are incorrect.

  • An HTTP 404 Not Found status code is returned if the server has authentication disabled and the endpoint is thus not available.

JWT superuser tokens

To access specific internal APIs as well as Agency and DB-Server instances a token generated via POST /open/auth is not good enough. For these special APIs, you need to generate a special JWT token which grants superuser access. Note that using superuser access for normal database operations is not advised.

It is only possible to generate this JWT token with the knowledge of the JWT secret.

For your convenience it is possible to generate this token via the ArangoDB starter CLI.

Should you wish to generate the JWT token yourself with a tool of your choice, you need to include the correct body. The body must contain the iss field with string value arangodb and the server_id field with an arbitrary string identifier:

{
  "exp": 1537900279,
  "iat": 1537800279,
  "iss": "arangodb",
  "server_id": "myclient"
}

For example to generate a token via the jwtgen tool  (note the lifetime of one hour):

jwtgen -s <my-secret> -e 3600 -v -a "HS256" -c 'iss=arangodb' -c 'server_id=myclient'
curl -v -H "Authorization: bearer $(jwtgen -s <my-secret> -e 3600 -a "HS256" -c 'iss=arangodb' -c 'server_id=myclient')" http://<database-ip>:8529/_api/version

Hot-reload JWT secrets

Introduced in: v3.7.0

ArangoDB Enterprise Edition

To reload the JWT secrets of a local arangod process without a restart, you may use the following RESTful API. A POST request reloads the secret, a GET request may be used to load information about the currently used secrets.

Get information about the loaded JWT secrets

get /_admin/server/jwt

Get information about the currently loaded secrets.

To utilize the API a superuser JWT token is necessary, otherwise the response will be HTTP 403 Forbidden.

Responses
    • Response Body
    • the HTTP status code - 200 in this case

    • boolean flag to indicate whether an error occurred (false in this case)

    • The result object.

      • An object with the SHA-256 hash of the active secret.

      • An array of objects with the SHA-256 hashes of the passive secrets.

        Can be empty.

  • if the request was not authenticated as a user with sufficient rights

Hot-reload the JWT secret(s) from disk

post /_admin/server/jwt

Sending a request without payload to this endpoint reloads the JWT secret(s) from disk. Only the files specified via the arangod startup option --server.jwt-secret-keyfile or --server.jwt-secret-folder are used. It is not possible to change the locations where files are loaded from without restarting the process.

To utilize the API a superuser JWT token is necessary, otherwise the response will be HTTP 403 Forbidden.

Responses
    • Response Body
    • the HTTP status code - 200 in this case

    • boolean flag to indicate whether an error occurred (false in this case)

    • The result object.

      • An object with the SHA-256 hash of the active secret.

      • An array of objects with the SHA-256 hashes of the passive secrets.

        Can be empty.

  • if the request was not authenticated as a user with sufficient rights

Example result:

{
  "error": false,
  "code": 200,
  "result": {
    "active": {
      "sha256": "c6c1021286dfe870b7050f9e704df93c7f1de3c89dbdadc3fb30394bebd81e97"
    },
    "passive": [
      {
        "sha256": "6d2fe32dc4249ef7e7359c6d874fffbbf335e832e49a2681236e1b686af78794"
      },
      {
        "sha256": "448a28491967ea4f7599f454af261a685153c27a7d5748456022565947820fb9"
      },
      {
        "sha256": "6745d49264bdfc2e89d4333fe88f0fce94615fdbdb8990e95b5fda0583336da8"
      }
    ]
  }
}