Nowadays, we hear the word "token" a lot, but few people actually know what that is and why some companies and people choose to work with tokens. So, in this article, I would like to quickly explain what it is and how it is related to authentication and show you it’s key benefits.
What is a Token?
A software token is a type of two-factor authentication security device that may be used to authorize the use of computer services. Internet users and web developers seem to prefer tokens over cookies.
JSON Web Tokens (JWT)
Let me give you an example of a web token.
JSON web tokens are very popular, they are text strings that can be used by client and server to authenticate and share information securely. In JWT, a token is encoded from a data payload using a secret. That token is passed to the client. Whenever the client sends that token along with a request, the server validates it and sends back the response.
Software Token Benefits
Let me list down the 6 main reasons why web developers choose tokens.
- Token-based authentication is more efficient.
Since tokens are stateless and only need to be stored on the user’s side, they’re a more scalable solution. All the server needs to do is create and verify the tokens and the information itself never needs to be stored. That means that you can maintain more users on the website at once.
- Token-based authentication is more flexible.
Tokens can be used across multiple servers, they also provide authentication on different websites, web apps or mobile applications at once. This enables more collaboration opportunities between companies and platforms.
- Tokens are well-suited for mobile applications.
In fact, tokens are much easier to use than cookies on mobile apps because tokens allow you to control exactly which devices have access.
- Tokens are a more secure authentication method,
since the token itself stores no sensitive information. Instead, the token acts as a placeholder for the user’s credentials. As the token travels between the server, web application, and the user’s browser, the user’s credentials are never at risk of being compromised.
- Tokens are great for scalability.
Your server will need to generate a token, but it will never need to store said token anywhere. All of the user metadata is encoded right into the token itself, so any machine on your network can validate any user. The server and client can pass the token back and forth forever and never store any user or session data.
- Tokens come with a mobile-ready backend.
Using tokens for authentication in a mobile app allow you to easily and securely control which mobile devices are accessing your API. Not only are they easier to use than cookies on iOS or Android, but they also allow your app to authenticate requests against multiple backends without extra effort on the part of your dev team.
I hope you find this useful! If you would like to add some more points to our list of benefits, feel free to do so in the comments section below! I would be happy to discuss it.