ASP.NET Web API (OWIN) API Authorization

Sample Project

Download this sample project 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

An API can enforce fine-grained control over who can access the various endpoints exposed by the API. These permissions are expressed as scopes.

When a user authorizes a client application, the application can also indicate which permissions it requires. The user is allowed to review and grant these permissions. These permissions are then included in the access_token as part of the scope claim.

Subsequently, when the client passes along the access_token when making requests to the API, the API can query the scope claim to ensure that the required permissions were granted in order to call the particular API endpoint. The scope claim will contain the list of scopes separated by a space, as can be seen in the example JWT payload below:

  "iss": "",
  "sub": "5fJ...",
  "aud": "",
  "exp": 1479957385,
  "iat": 1479870985,
  "scope": "delete:timesheets update:timesheets create:timesheets read:timesheets"

1. Define scopes

You will need to define to list of scopes available in your application. In the APIs section of the Auth0 Dashboard, select your API and then go to the Scopes tab of the API. Configure the list of Scopes available in your API:

Configure Scopes

Once you have created the list of scopes, go to the Non-Interactive Clients tab. For each client which is able to access your API, ensure that you have Authorized the client and selected the Scopes which can be granted to the Client. Be sure to click the Update button once you have configured the Client:

Configure Client

2. Enforcing scopes in your ASP.NET Web API

To ensure that a correct scope is present in order to execute a particular API endpoint, you can create a custom Authorization Attribute.

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.

public class ScopeAuthorizeAttribute : AuthorizeAttribute
    private readonly string scope;

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

        ClaimsPrincipal principal = actionContext.ControllerContext.RequestContext.Principal as ClaimsPrincipal;
        if (principal != null)
            // If user does not have the scope claim, get out of here
            if (principal.HasClaim(c => c.Type == "scope"))

                // Split the scopes string into an array
                var scopes = principal.Claims.FirstOrDefault(c => c.Type == "scope").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:

public class TimesheetsController : ApiController
    public IHttpActionResult GetAll()
        // Return the list of timesheets

    public IHttpActionResult Create(Timesheet timeheet)
        // Create a new timesheet entry

3. Testing the Authorization Postman

You can test the API endpoints by generating a token with the required scopes, and passing the access_token as a Bearer token in the Authorization header.

If the required scope is present, the API call will succeed:

If the required scope is not present, an HTTP Status 403 (Forbidden) will be returned:

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