JWT Authentication With Node, Express, Passport, and MongoDB
A straightforward guide for a basic implementation of JWT authentication for a MERN application.
Disclaimer for this post!
JWTs are not recommended for user sessions because they have many
security issues with their stateless nature. Many excellent blog
posts go in-depth with the problems.
This Blog post should only be used to further your understanding
of JWTs as they have their use cases and are a powerful tool when used
correctly. (Link below for great posts on the issues with JWTs)
I will be making another post in the near future with a walk-through
of a supported solution for user sessions and I will link it here when
Blog post on the dangers of using JWTs for user sessions:
With the warning out of the way, let’s get to this tutorial on wiring up JWTs with Node, Express, Passport, and MongoDB.
- A running MongoDB cluster that you can connect with. We will be using
mongoosefor making the connection and
passport local mongooseis a mongoose plugin that simplifies building username and password login with Passport.
- The latest versions for Node and NPM installed on your machine
- Postman is installed on your machine
Step 1 — Create a project
> mkdir jwt-auth-app
> cd jwt-auth-app
> npm init
> npm install --save body-parser express jwt-simple mongoose passport passport-jwt passport-local passport-local-mongoose
Step 2 — Create a user model
We will need to create a model for user creation. This should go in a
models folder, in a file, called
user.js — We use
passport-local-mongoose to make username and password login with passport a little easier.
Step 3 — Create middleware
Next, we need to create a container for registering the JWT Strategy.
Option params for the strategy:
Step 4 — Add the controller for the account routes:
This will register the route functions used to log in, register, and visit the secured profile. This is under
Step 5 — Set up app.js
You will notice within lines
21-23 the routes are being called, and the account controller module functions are being called as the third parameter to the route function.
That concludes all the necessary code to start registering, logging in, and even a profile route protected by JWT authentication. Let’s test these new routes with Postman and ensure everything is configured correctly.
Step 6 — Test the endpoints.
- the registering endpoint
The created record in MongoDB:
2. The Login Endpoint:
After a successful call to this endpoint, you will receive a token in the payload that can be used for the profile endpoint, for example, below —
3. Protected Profile Endpoint
Successful GET request
Unsuccessful GET request
There you have it! That is the straightforward setup I could muster for getting a JWT authentication going for a NodeJS application. There are many considerations to make when building this out further, but this is enough to get some successful requests and get started on the path to authenticating your application. Remember, JWT should not be used for user session, and I will post a follow-up with a supported route for user session authentication.