How to pass username and password in rest api?

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When working with REST APIs, passing a username and password is a common requirement for authentication and authorization purposes. In this article, we will explore different methods and best practices for securely passing username and password in a REST API.

Basic Authentication

One of the simplest ways to pass a username and password in a REST API is through Basic Authentication. In this method, the client includes the username and password in the request headers using the “Authorization” field. The value of the “Authorization” field is formed by combining the username and password separated by a colon, base64 encoding the string, and prefixing it with the word “Basic”.

Example: Authorization: Basic dXNlcm5hbWU6cGFzc3dvcmQ=

While Basic Authentication is easy to implement, it is not considered secure for transmitting sensitive information over the network. The main reason is that the username and password are encoded, not encrypted, and can be easily decoded if intercepted.

Token-based Authentication

To address the security concerns of Basic Authentication, token-based authentication is widely used in REST APIs. In this approach, the client first authenticates with the server using their username and password. Upon successful authentication, the server generates a unique token (usually a long string of characters) and sends it back to the client. The client then includes this token in subsequent requests to authenticate itself.

Example: Authorization: Bearer eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJzdWIiOiIxMjM0NTY3ODkwIiwibmFtZSI6IkpvaG4gRG9lIiwiaWF0IjoxNTE2MjM5MDIyfQ.SflKxwRJSMeKKF2QT4fwpMeJf36POk6yJV_adQssw5c

Token-based authentication provides better security as the token is randomly generated and can be set to expire after a certain period. This approach also allows for more fine-grained control over access permissions by associating different roles or scopes with each token.

OAuth 2.0

OAuth 2.0 is an industry-standard protocol for authorization and delegation. It allows users to grant limited access to their resources on one website to another website without sharing their username and password. In OAuth 2.0, the client application obtains an access token from an authorization server and includes it in the API requests.

OAuth 2.0 involves multiple parties: the client application, the resource owner (user), the authorization server, and the resource server. The client application obtains an access token by redirecting the user to the authorization server, where the user provides consent. Once the access token is obtained, the client includes it in the request headers to access protected resources on the resource server.


Passing a username and password in a REST API can be done using various methods, including Basic Authentication, token-based authentication, and OAuth 2.0. While Basic Authentication is simple to implement, it is not secure for transmitting sensitive information. Token-based authentication and OAuth 2.0 provide better security and more control over access permissions. The choice of method depends on the specific requirements and security considerations of the API implementation.