ASP.NET Web API (OWIN): Authorization

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By Andres Aguiar

Sample Project

Download a sample project specific to this tutorial configured with your Auth0 API Keys.

System Requirements
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 Update 3
  • Microsoft.Owin.Security.Jwt NuGet Package V3.0.1
  • System.IdentityModel.Tokens.Jwt NuGet Package v4.0.2
  • Auth0.OpenIdConnectSigningKeyResolver NuGet Package v1.0.0
Show requirements

OWIN 4 Incompatibility

Please note that the Auth0.OpenIdConnectSigningKeyResolver NuGet package is only compatible with System.IdentityModel.Tokens.Jwt 4.x and the OWIN 3.x packages. Attempting to use Auth0.OpenIdConnectSigningKeyResolver with newer versions of those packages will result in compiler errors.

This tutorial shows you how to use the authorization features in the OAuth 2.0 framework to limit access to your or third-party applications. For more information, read the API authorization documentation.

This Quickstart will guide you through the various tasks related to using Auth0-issued Access Tokens to secure your ASP.NET (OWIN) Web API.

Seed and Samples

If you would like to follow along with this Quickstart you can download the seed project. The seed project is just a basic ASP.NET Web API with a simple controller and some of the NuGet packages which will be needed included. It has also defined some of the required Auth0-related settings in the appSettings key of the Web.config.

The final project after each of the steps is also available in the Sample repository. You can find the final result for each step in the relevant folder inside the repository.

Create a Resource Server (API)

In the APIs section of the Auth0 dashboard, click Create API. Provide a name and an identifier for your API, for example https://quickstarts/api. You will use the identifier as an audience later, when you are configuring the Access Token verification. For Signing Algorithm, select RS256.

Create API

Also update the web.config file in your project with the correct Domain and API Identifier for your API, such as

// web.config

  <add key="Auth0Domain" value="YOUR_AUTH0_DOMAIN" />
  <add key="Auth0ApiIdentifier" value="{YOUR_API_IDENTIFIER}" />

Add API Authorization

To restrict access to the resources served by your API, check the incoming requests for valid authorization information. The authorization information is stored in the Access Token created for the user and needs to be sent in the Authorization header. To see if the token is valid, check it against the JSON Web Key Set (JWKS) for your Auth0 account. To learn more about validating Access Tokens, read the Verify Access Tokens tutorial.

This sample demonstrates how to check for a JWT in the Authorization header of an incoming HTTP request and verify that it is valid using the standard ASP.NET (OWIN) JWT middleware.

Install Dependencies

To use Auth0 Access Tokens with ASP.NET Core you will use the OWIN JWT Middleware which is available in the Microsoft.Owin.Security.Jwt NuGet package. Also install the Auth0.OpenIdConnectSigningKeyResolver NuGet package which will assist you in verifying the token signature.

Install-Package Microsoft.Owin.Security.Jwt
Install-Package Auth0.OpenIdConnectSigningKeyResolver


By default, your API uses RS256 as the algorithm for signing tokens. Since RS256 uses a private/public keypair, it verifies the tokens against the public key for your Auth0 account. You can access this public key here.

We recommend using the default RS256 signing algorithm for your API. If you need to use the HS256 algorithm, see the HS256 integration sample.

The Auth0.OpenIdConnectSigningKeyResolver package which you installed will automatically download the JSON Web Key Set which was used to sign the RS256 tokens by interrogating the OpenID Connect Configuration endpoint (at /.well-known/openid-configuration). You can then use it subsequently to resolve the Issuer Signing Key, as will be demonstrated in the JWT registration code below.

Go to the Configuration method of your Startup class and add a call to UseJwtBearerAuthentication passing in the configured JwtBearerAuthenticationOptions.

The JwtBearerAuthenticationOptions needs to specify your Auth0 API Identifier in the ValidAudience property, and the full path to your Auth0 domain as the ValidIssuer. You will need to configure the IssuerSigningKeyResolver to use the instance of OpenIdConnectSigningKeyResolver to resolve the signing key:

// Startup.cs

public void Configuration(IAppBuilder app)
    var domain = $"https://{ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["Auth0Domain"]}/";
    var apiIdentifier = ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["Auth0ApiIdentifier"];

    var keyResolver = new OpenIdConnectSigningKeyResolver(domain);
        new JwtBearerAuthenticationOptions
            AuthenticationMode = AuthenticationMode.Active,
            TokenValidationParameters = new TokenValidationParameters()
                ValidAudience = apiIdentifier,
                ValidIssuer = domain,
                IssuerSigningKeyResolver = (token, securityToken, identifier, parameters) => keyResolver.GetSigningKey(identifier)

    // Configure Web API

Do not forget the trailing backslash

Please ensure that the URL specified for ValidIssuer contains a trailing backslash as this needs to match exactly with the issuer claim of the JWT. This is a common misconfiguration error which will cause your API calls to not be authenticated correctly.

The JWT middleware integrates with the standard ASP.NET Authentication and Authorization mechanisms, so you only need to decorate your controller action with the [Authorize] attribute to secure an endpoint:

// Controllers/ApiController.cs

public class ApiController : ApiController
    public IHttpActionResult Private()
        return Json(new
            Message = "Hello from a private endpoint! You need to be authenticated to see this."

Configuring Scopes

The JWT middleware above verifies that the access_token included in the request is valid; however, it doesn't yet include any mechanism for checking that the token has the sufficient scope to access the requested resources.

Scopes let you define which resources can be accessed by the user with a given Access Token. For example, you might choose to give the read access to the messages resource if a user has the manager access level, and a write access to that resource if they have the administrator access level.

To configure scopes, in your Auth0 dashboard, in the APIs section, click the Scopes tab. Configure the scopes you need.

Configure Scopes

This example uses the read:messages scope.

Create a class called ScopeAuthorizeAttribute which inherits from System.Web.Http.AuthorizeAttribute. This Authorization Attribute will check that the scope claim issued by your Auth0 tenant is present, and if so it will ensure that the scope claim contains the requested scope.

// Controllers/ScopeAuthorizeAttribute.cs

public class ScopeAuthorizeAttribute : AuthorizeAttribute
    private readonly string scope;

    public ScopeAuthorizeAttribute(string scope)
        this.scope = scope;
    public override void OnAuthorization(HttpActionContext actionContext)

        // Get the Auth0 domain, in order to validate the issuer
        var domain = $"https://{ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["Auth0Domain"]}/";

        // Get the claim principal
        ClaimsPrincipal principal = actionContext.ControllerContext.RequestContext.Principal as ClaimsPrincipal;
        // Get the scope clain. Ensure that the issuer is for the correcr Auth0 domain
        var scopeClaim = principal?.Claims.FirstOrDefault(c => c.Type == "scope" && c.Issuer == domain);
        if (scopeClaim != null)
            // Split scopes
            var scopes = scopeClaim.Value.Split(' ');

            // Succeed if the scope array contains the required scope
            if (scopes.Any(s => s == scope))


To ensure that a scope is present in order to call a particular API endpoint, you simply need to decorate the action with the ScopeAuthorize attribute, and pass the name of the required scope in the scope parameter:

// Controllers/ApiController.cs

public class ApiController : ApiController
    public IHttpActionResult Scoped()
        return Json(new
            Message = "Hello from a private endpoint! You need to be authenticated and have a scope of read:messages to see this."

Further Reading

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