AngularJS or SPA with JWT - expiry and refresh

╄→尐↘猪︶ㄣ 提交于 2019-12-03 08:20:08


I understand the flow of JWT and a single page application in terms of login and JWT issuance. However, if the JWT has a baked in expiry, AND the server isn't issuing a new JWT on each request, what is the best way for renewing? There is a concept of refresh tokens, but storing such a thing in a web browser sounds like a golden ticket.

IE I could easily go into a browsers local storage and steal a refresh token. Then I could go to another computer and issue myself a new token. I feel like there would need to be a server session in a db that's referenced in the JWT. Therefore the server could see if the session ID is still active or invalidated by a refresh token.

What are the secure ways to implement JWT in a SPA and handling new token issuance whilst the user is active?


Renewing the token every 15 minutes (if it lives for 30) works if you don't have another restriction in your server in which you need to check for 1 hour inactivity to log the user out. If you just want this short lived JWT and keep on updating it, it'd work.

I think one of the big advantages of using JWT is to actually NOT need a server session and therefore not use the JTI. That way, you don't need syncing at all so that'd be the approach I'd recommend you following.

If you want to forcibly logout the user if he's inactive, just set a JWT with an expiration in one hour. Have a $interval which every ~50 minutes it automatically gets a new JWT based on the old one IF there was at least one operation done in the last 50 minutes (You could have a request interceptor that just counts requests to check if he's active) and that's it.

That way you don't have to save JTI in DB, you don't have to have a server session and it's not a much worse approach than the other one.

What do you think?


I think for my implementation I'm going to go with, after a bit of search, is...

Use case:

  • JWT is only valid for 15 minutes
  • User session will timeout after 1 hour of inactivity


  1. User logs in and is issued a JWT

    1. JWT has a 15 minute expiration with claim 'exp'
    2. JWT JTI is recorded in db has a session of 1 hour
  2. After a JWT expires (after 15 min):

    1. Current expired JWT will be used @ a /refresh URI to exchange for a new one. The expired JWT will only work at the refresh endpoint. IE API calls will not accept an expired JWT. Also the refresh endpoint will not accept unexpired JWT's.
    2. JTI will be checked to see if its been revoked
    3. JTI will be checked to see if its still within 1 hour
    4. JTI session will be deleted from DB
    5. New JWT will be issued and new JTI entry will be added to the db
  3. If a user logs out:

    1. JWT is deleted from client
    2. JTI is deleted from db so JWT cannot be refreshed

With that said, there will be database calls every 15 minutes to check a JTI is valid. The sliding session will be extended on the DB that tracks the JWT's JTI. If the JTI is expired then the entry is removed thus forcing the user to reauth.

This does expose a vulnerability that a token is active for 15 minutes. However, without tracking state every API request I'm not sure how else to do it.


I can offer a different approach for refreshing the jwt token. I am using Angular with Satellizer and Spring Boot for the server side.

This is the code for the client side:

var app = angular.module('MyApp',[....]);

app.factory('jwtRefreshTokenInterceptor', ['$rootScope', '$q', '$timeout', '$injector', function($rootScope, $q, $timeout, $injector) {
    const REQUEST_BUFFER_TIME = 10 * 1000;  // 10 seconds
    const SESSION_EXPIRY_TIME = 3600 * 1000;    // 60 minutes
    const REFRESH_TOKEN_URL = '/auth/refresh/';

    var global_request_identifier = 0;
    var requestInterceptor = {
    request: function(config) {
        var authService = $injector.get('$auth');
        // No need to call the refresh_token api if we don't have a token.
        if(config.url.indexOf(REFRESH_TOKEN_URL) == -1 && authService.isAuthenticated()) {
            config.global_request_identifier = $rootScope.global_request_identifier = global_request_identifier;    
            var deferred = $q.defer();
            if(!$rootScope.lastTokenUpdateTime) {
                $rootScope.lastTokenUpdateTime = new Date();
            if((new Date() - $rootScope.lastTokenUpdateTime) >= SESSION_EXPIRY_TIME - REQUEST_BUFFER_TIME) {                    
                // We resolve immediately with 0, because the token is close to expiration.
                // That's why we cannot afford a timer with REQUEST_BUFFER_TIME seconds delay. 
            } else {
                $timeout(function() {
                    // We update the token if we get to the last buffered request.
                    if($rootScope.global_request_identifier == config.global_request_identifier) {
                    } else {
                        deferred.reject('This is not the last request in the queue!');
                }, REQUEST_BUFFER_TIME);
            var promise = deferred.promise;
                $rootScope.lastTokenUpdateTime = new Date();
                // we use $injector, because the $http creates a circular dependency.
                var httpService = $injector.get('$http');
                httpService.get(REFRESH_TOKEN_URL + result).success(function(data, status, headers, config) {
        return config;
   return requestInterceptor;

app.config(function($stateProvider, $urlRouterProvider, $httpProvider, $authProvider) {

Let me explain what it does.

Let's say we want the "session timeout" (token expiry) to be 1 hour. The server creates the token with 1 hour expiration date. The code above creates a http inteceptor, that intercepts each request and sets a request identifier. Then we create a future promise that will be resolved in 2 cases:

1) If we create for example a 3 requests and in 10 seconds no other request are made, only the last request will trigger an token refresh GET request.

2) If we are "bombarded" with request so that there is no "last request", we check if we are close to the SESSION_EXPIRY_TIME in which case we start an immediate token refresh.

Last but not least, we resolve the promise with a parameter. This is the delta in seconds, so that when we create a new token in the server side, we should create it with the expiration time (60 minutes - 10 seconds). We subtract 10 seconds, because of the $timeout with 10 seconds delay.

The server side code looks something like this:

@RequestMapping(value = "auth/refresh/{delta}", method = RequestMethod.GET)
public ResponseEntity<?> refreshAuthenticationToken(HttpServletRequest request, @PathVariable("delta") Long delta, Device device) {
    String authToken = request.getHeader(tokenHeader);
    if(authToken != null && authToken.startsWith("Bearer ")) {
        authToken = authToken.substring(7);
    String username = jwtTokenUtil.getUsernameFromToken(authToken);
    boolean isOk = true;
    if(username == null) {
        isOk = false;
    } else {
        final UserDetails userDetails = userDetailsService.loadUserByUsername(username);
        isOk = jwtTokenUtil.validateToken(authToken, userDetails);
    if(!isOk) {
        Map<String, String> errorMap = new HashMap<>();
        errorMap.put("message", "You are not authorized");
        return ResponseEntity.status(HttpStatus.UNAUTHORIZED).body(errorMap);
    // renew the token
    final String token = jwtTokenUtil.generateToken(username, device, delta);
    return ResponseEntity.ok(new JwtAuthenticationResponse(token));

Hope that helps someone.