API Security: Contrasting Token-Based With Key-Based Security

Vincent-Philippe Lauzon contrasts token-based security (like OAuth) with key-based security for locking down APIs:

Instead of giving a nice & neatly formatted pros & cons table where all the pros have a corresponding cons, let’s just discuss the major aspects:  security & complexity.

Basically, in general, OAuth is more secure but more complex for both clients (i.e. consumer) and services.

Why is OAuth more secure?  Relying parties never see credentials & secrets in an OAuth authentication scheme.  They see a token.  Token are revoked after a while ; often minutes, maximum a few hours.

Read on for more.  My preference is OAuth, but it’s not always trivial to set up.

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