Choosing the best auth method for your app

Last updated: 2024-01-31Contributors
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Every app needs to first authenticate itself and the user it will be acting on behalf of before calling the API. This process ensures that the application and the user has been authorized to perform the given action via the API. RingCentral supports multiple authentication methods to support a number of different scenarios and use cases.

What auth flow is right for my app?

There are two primary authorization flows a developer can use to obtain an access token to call the RingCentral API. Choosing the right one will help ensure the security of your customer's data and credentials. These two methods are:

  1. OAuth. Best for authenticating individual users an app may act on behalf of
  2. JWT. Best for authenticating a server connecting to the API

Still unsure which method is right for you app? Here are some questions you can ask yourself.

Does your app have a user interface, and will each of your users need to connect to RingCentral?

If the users of your app will need to independently log into RingCentral, then the best auth method for you is the Auth Code with PKCE Flow. However, some apps may elect to use the simpler, older and less secure Auth Code Flow.

These flows are ideal for apps that:

  • Have a frontend user interface.
  • Need to validate that the current user has a valid RingCentral account.
  • Need to call the API on behalf of a multitude of different users.

The following are examples of the kinds of apps these auth flows are ideal for:

  • An CRM app that initiates a phone call for one or more different users.
  • A scheduling assistant app that schedules meetings for one or more different users.
JWT is NOT recommended for individual user authentication

Many developers are attracted to JWT for authentication because it is much simpler to implement, especially when you are first learning the platform. However, JWT is not designed to scale to support the need to authenticate a large number of users. JWT is ideally suited to authenticate a single "service user" (typically an admin) who will be acting on behalf of all users within an account.

Use refresh tokens to keep sessions alive

When the auth code flow is used to obtain an access token for a specific user, it is highly recommended that you also implement the refresh flow in order to keep access tokens fresh and valid. If you do not, they will eventually expire, and your users will be required to re-authenticate via a user interface.

Does your app lack a user interface, and/or does it act on behalf of all users within an organization?

Apps that lack a user interface, or are run from the command line are typically utility apps that act on behalf of all users within an organization simultaneously. These apps often utilize a "service user" account that possesses administrative priveleges that allow it to act on behalf of all or any user in the organization. For these types of apps, we recommend the JWT auth flow.

The following are examples of the kinds of apps these auth flows are ideal for:

  • A script that runs every night at midnight to download and archive all phone calls in an organization.
  • A service that periodically gather call analytics to assess performance across am organization.

Further reading and relevant specifications

RingCentral supports OAuth 2.0 authentication flows as described in: