Updated 2020-02-11

Authentication and Authorization for JSON-RPC

Authentication identifies a user, and authorization verifies user access to requested JSON-RPC methods. Users are verified using a JWT token. JWT tokens are also used in multi-tenancy to verify tenant data access.

Hyperledger Besu supports two mutually exclusive authentication methods:

JWT tokens are created internally with username and password authentication, and externally with JWT public key authentication.


To prevent interception of authentication credentials and authenticated tokens, make authenticated requests over HTTPS. We recommended production deployments are run behind a network layer that provides SSL termination. Besu does not provide a HTTPS connection natively.

Username and Password Authentication

Enable authentication from the command line. Supply the credentials file and send a request to the /login endpoint using the username and password. The /login endpoint creates a JWT token that can be used to make permitted JSON RPC requests.

The /login endpoint is disabled when using public key authentication.

1. Create the Credentials File

The toml file defines user details and the JSON-RPC methods to which they have access.

Example Credentials File

password = "$2a$10$l3GA7K8g6rJ/Yv.YFSygCuI9byngpEzxgWS9qEg5emYDZomQW7fGC"

password = "$2b$10$6sHt1J0MVUGIoNKvJiK33uaZzUwNmMmJlaVLkIwinkPiS1UBnAnF2"

Each user requiring JSON-RPC access is listed with:

  • Username. Users. is mandatory and followed by the username. That is, replace <username> in [Users.<username>] with the username being defined.
  • Hash of the user password. Use the password hash subcommand to generate the hash.
  • JSON-RPC permissions.
  • Optional. The tenant’s Orion public key using privacyPublicKey. Only used for multi-tenancy.

password hash Subcommand

besu password hash --password=pegasys

2. Enable Authentication

Use the --rpc-http-authentication-enabled or --rpc-ws-authentication-enabled options to require authentication for the JSON-RPC API.

Use the --rpc-http-authentication-credentials-file and --rpc-ws-authentication-credentials-file options to specify the credentials file.

3. Obtain an Authentication Token

To obtain an authentication token, make a request to the /login endpoint with your username and password. Specify the HTTP port or the WS port to obtain a token to authenticate over HTTP or WS respectively. A different token is required for HTTP and WS.


curl -X POST --data '{"username":"username1","password":"pegasys"}' <JSON-RPC-http-hostname:http-port>/login
curl -X POST --data '{"username":"username1","password":"pegasys"}' http://localhost:8545/login
curl -X POST --data '{"username":"username1","password":"pegasys"}' <JSON-RPC-ws-hostname:ws-port>/login
curl -X POST --data '{"username":"username1","password":"pegasys"}' http://localhost:8546/login

Authentication tokens expire 5 minutes after being generated. It is necessary to generate a new authentication token if access is required after token expiration.

JWT Public Key Authentication

Enable authentication from the command line and supply the public key of the external JWT token.

JWT public authentication disables the Besu /login endpoint, meaning username and password authentication will not work.

1. Generate a Private and Public Key Pair

The private and accompanying public key files must be in the .pem format.

The key must use a RSA private key of at least 2048 bits.

Example using OpenSSL

openssl genrsa -out privateKey.pem 2048
openssl rsa -pubout -in privateKey.pem -pubout -out publicKey.pem

2. Create the JWT Token

Create the JWT token using an external tool.


The JWT token must use the RS256 algorithm

Each payload for the JWT token contains:

The following example uses the JWT.io website to create a JWT token for testing purposes.

Create a JWT token

3. Enable Authentication

Use the --rpc-http-authentication-enabled or --rpc-ws-authentication-enabled options to require authentication for the JSON-RPC API.

Use the --rpc-http-authentication-jwt-public-key-file and --rpc-ws-authentication-jwt-public-key-file options to specify the public key to use with the externally created JWT token.

JSON-RPC Permissions

Each user has a list of permissions strings defining the methods they can access. To give access to:

  • All API methods, specify ["*:*"].
  • All API methods in an API group, specify ["<api_group>:*"]. For example, ["eth:*"].
  • Specific API methods, specify ["<api_group>:<method_name>"]. For example, ["admin:peers"].

If authentication is enabled, to explicitly specify a user cannot access any methods, include the user with an empty permissions list ([]). Users with an empty permissions list and users not included in the credentials file cannot access any JSON-RPC methods.

Using an Authentication Token to Make Requests

Specify the authentication token as a Bearer token in the JSON-RPC request header.


In the Authorization tab in the TYPE drop-down list, select Bearer Token and specify the token generated. The token is generated externally, or by the login request.


Specify the Bearer in the header.


curl -X POST -H 'Authorization: Bearer <JWT_TOKEN>' -d '{"jsonrpc":"2.0","method":"<API_METHOD>","params":[],"id":1}' <JSON-RPC-http-hostname:port>
curl -X POST -H 'Authorization: Bearer eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJSUzI1NiJ9.eyJwZXJtaXNzaW9ucyI6WyIqOioiXSwidXNlcm5hbWUiOiJ1c2VyMiIsImlhdCI6MTU1MDQ2MTQxNiwiZXhwIjoxNTUwNDYxNzE2fQ.WQ1mqpqzRLHaoL8gOSEZPvnRs_qf6j__7A3Sg8vf9RKvWdNTww_vRJF1gjcVy-FFh96AchVnQyXVx0aNUz9O0txt8VN3jqABVWbGMfSk2T_CFdSw5aDjuriCsves9BQpP70Vhj-tseaudg-XU5hCokX0tChbAqd9fB2138zYm5M' -d '{"jsonrpc":"2.0","method":"net_listening","params":[],"id":1}' http://localhost:8545