How should I use the id token returned to me by Google after a successful code exchange?

I am not clear on what exactly I should do with the id token from Google after the initial verification.

I'm developing on expo/react native and get the id token locally. Then, I send it to my server and verify it using google client libraries. Once it's verified what should I do with it?

Ideally I could use it to protect my api routes (express) but id tokens expire after 1 hour and I'm not sure how to refresh them with the client library. So, I don't know how I would do this.

Is that the intended use for id tokens? Should I instead be signing my own jwt and sending that back to the client? Then, the client could send that in the auth header of each request to a protected routes.

Google says:

After you have verified the token, check if the user is already in your user database. If so, establish an authenticated session for the user. If the user isn't yet in your user database, create a new user record from the information in the ID token payload, and establish a session for the user. You can prompt the user for any additional profile information you require when you detect a newly created user in your app.

Do I use the id token to "establish a session for the user"?

2 answers

  • answered 2021-02-23 08:26 Tore Nestenius

    Yes, the ID-token is only used to create the local session, perhaps also create a local entry in your local database if that is used.

    The ID token also have a very short lifetime, like 5 minutes in some systems. So it has no long-term use.

  • answered 2021-02-23 09:01 Michal Trojanowski

    The ID token is intended to authenticate the user. It gives you information about the authenticated user, it should not be used to allow access to your endpoints. Access tokens or sessions are intended to do so. So in your case, you should do exactly as your gut feeling tells you - create a session for the user basing on the data you got in the ID token.

    If you have your own Authorization Server you can use the ID token to issue an access token and return the token to the frontend app, then use the access token to access your backends. Have a look at OAuth flows if you would want to go this way.