OAuth VS JWT Security

Sachith Ariyathilaka
2 min readAug 12, 2023

OAuth, or Open Authorization, is a token-based authentication protocol. It allows third-party services like Google, Facebook, etc. to use the user’s information without exposing the user’s account credential details to the third party. On the other hand, JWT, or Json Web Token, is used to share information between two parties. Mainly, we use the front-end client and back-end server as the data sharing parties. JWT contains a Json object with information that needs sharing. JWT is cryptographically signed. So third parties cannot modify the JSON Content or JSON Claims of the JWT.

Let’s discuss some advantages of OAuth.

01. There are many plug-and-play OAuth solutions available. Such as signing in with Google.

02. OAuth supports the most programming languages in the world. So it is very flexible to use.

03. This is fully independent from the client code. It means OAuth codes do not affect client application codes.

Now let’s consider a few advantages of JWT.

01. JWT can transfer the user’s data. It means we can send whatever information we want with the JWT token. For example, when we use the JWT token while logging in, we can send user profile details, roles, permissions, etc.

02. JWT can verify efficiently. Since it does not need to lookup databases, it takes very little time to verify the token.

03. JWT proved high-security mechanism. Is it digitally signed? Attackers cannot modify or send the content of the JWT.

Let’s discuss some disadvantages of OAuth.

01. This might be complex for some scenarios. For an example of a simple application with a frontend and backend, there is no need to integrate the OAuth protocol.

02. OAuth can create privacy issues for users. Such as while we logged into a web site using Google. Google can track all our data on that website.

Follows are few disadvantages of JWT.

01. Since JWT does not have any database storage, it cannot be used for complex functions.

02. If the signing key is compromised, an attacker can use it to construct a valid JWT. This makes it possible to impersonate the identity of a user.

JWT is suitable for stateless applications, whereas OAuth maintains a session state on the server and grants access to use the user’s resources. But both are very useful protocols. According to our requirements, we can decide which protocol is best.

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