Authentication toolset

0.2.2 2016-03-12 21:24 UTC

This package is auto-updated.

Last update: 2023-03-01 00:10:07 UTC


Auth is a library designed to take the complexity out of multi-factor and high-security authentication in PHP projects. Data is stored in JWTs which are tamper-resistant, permitting authentication information to be stored completely client-side without the need for a database1.

By implementing a single interface, your existing PHP app can flexibly support MFA without being tied to a specific provider or implementation. Thanks to being based on open standards, the authentication data can be used with any framework, and even ported to other programming languages.

A simple example

use Firehed\Auth;
use Firehed\JWT;
use Firehed\Security\Secret;

// General setup
$keys = new JWT\KeyContainer();
    new Secret('some randomly-generated secret'));

$auth = new Auth\Auth();
    ->setLoader(function($uid): Auth\Authable {
        return (new User())->find($uid);

// Authenticating a user
$user = User::findByEmail($_POST['email']);
$password = new Auth\Factors\KnowledgeFactor(new Secret($_POST['password'));
try {
} catch (Auth\Exceptions\AuthException $e) {
    // password was incorrect

// Accessing a previously-authenticated user
try {
    $user = $auth->setEncodedToken($_COOKIE['auth_token'])
} catch (Auth\Exceptions\AuthException $e) {
    // Authentication failed, prompt for login
    header('Location: /login');


Installation is supported through Composer:

composer require firehed/auth

For more information, please visit the Composer website


setEncodedToken(string $token): self

Restore an authentication session from an encoded JWT. This method will be mostly used on logged-in pages.

setUser(Firehed\Auth\Authable $user): self

Start an authentication session for a new user. This method will be mostly used during the start of a login flow.

setLoader(callable $loader): self

Provide a callback that will return a Firehed\Auth\Authable object provided a unique identifier. This will be used alongside setEncodedToken to allow getUser to function on restored sessions.

It must have the following signature:

function($uid): Firehed\Auth\Authable

setRequiredLevel(Firehed\Auth\Level $level): self

Provide the authentication level required for getUser to return a user. This defaults to Level::LOGIN.

getEncodedToken(): string

Get a JWT containing the authentication data for the current user. This does not contain sensitive data, and is tamper-resistant thanks to signing. You SHOULD store the encoded token client-side, so long as transmission is done securely (this applies to any session identifier). Note that this does include the user's own ID.

getUser(): Firehed\Auth\Authable

Get the authenticated user. If the user is insufficiently authenticated, this will throw an exception, preventing accidental access.

enterHighSecurity(Firehed\Auth\Factors\Factor $factor): self

Use the provided factor to start a high-security session. It will last until the expiration time on the factor. If no expiration time is set, it will only last until the end of the request.

exitHighSecurity(): void

Exit high-security mode regardless of the time remaining.

validateFactor(Firehed\Auth\Factors\Factor $factor): self

Authenticate the user with the provided factor.

expireFactor(Firehed\Auth\Factors\FactorType $type): self

Remove the authentication data provided by the specified factor type. Most commonly, this will be used to log the user out.

setKeys(Firehed\JWT\KeyContainer $keys): self

Provides a KeyContainer that's used internally for JWT handling. This allows key rotation to be seamless and nearly-automatic

Core concepts

  • Authentication: the act of verifying identity
  • Factor: a method of authentication. There are three different factors:
    • Inherence: something a user is, such as a fingerprint
    • Knowledge: something a user knows, such as a passphrase
    • Possession: something a user has, such as a OTP token
  • High-security mode: conceptually similar to sudo, this is a way to protect especially-sensitive actions (password change, credit card management, etc.) by requiring a fresh authentication.
  • Levels: there are four authentication levels that a page can require:
    • ANONYMOUS: Users are not authenticated at all, nor will one be returned by getUser
    • PARTIAL: Allows validation methods to be called on a partially- authencitaed user, although getUser() will return null. This SHOULD NOT be used outside of an autentication upgrade flow; i.e. providing their OTP code or token. Use getPartiallyAuthenticatedUser() to get at the underlying user, which SHOULD be used ONLY for modifying the user's new factor registration (e.g. TOTP code provided didn't match)
    • LOGIN: Users require all of their factors to be present
    • HISEC: In addition to all factors being present, one must have been explicitly re-verified via the enterHighSecurity API


(new examples coming soon)


  1. Of course, you will still need to securely store password hashes, OTP shared secrets, etc. What you will not need to do is muck around with existing session storage and handling.