In This Section

Introduction

NGINX and NGINX Plus can authenticate each request to your website with an external server or service. To perform authentication, NGINX makes an HTTP subrequest to an external server where the subrequest is verified. If the subrequest returns a 2xx response code, the access is allowed, if it returns 401 or 403, the access is denied. Such type of authentication allows implementing various authentication schemes, such as multifactor authentication, or allows implementing LDAP or OAuth authentication.

Prerequisites

  • NGINX Plus or NGINX Open Source
  • External authentication server or service

Configuring NGINX and NGINX Plus

  1. Make sure your NGINX Open Source is compiled with the with-http_auth_request_module configuration option. Run the command and check if the output contains the --with-http_auth_request_module line:

    $ nginx -V 2>&1 | grep -- 'http_auth_request_module'

    Skip this step for NGINX Plus as it already includes the auth_request module.
  2. In the location that requires request authentication, specify the auth_request directive in which specify an internal location where an authorization subrequest will be forwarded to:

    location /private/ {
        auth_request /auth;
        ...
    }

    Here, for each request to “/private”, a subrequest to internal “/auth” location will be made.

  3. Specify an internal location and the proxy_pass directive inside this location that will proxy authentication subrequests to an authentication server or service:

    location = /auth {
        internal;
        proxy_pass http://auth-server;
        ...
    }
  4. As the request body is discarded for authentication subrequests, you will need to set the proxy_pass_request_body directive to off and also set the Content-Length header to a null string:

    location = /auth {
        internal;
        proxy_pass              http://auth-server;
        proxy_pass_request_body off;
        proxy_set_header        Content-Length "";
        ...
    }
  5. Pass the full original request URI with arguments with the proxy_set_header directive:

    location = /auth {
        internal;
        proxy_pass              http://auth-server;
        proxy_pass_request_body off;
        proxy_set_header        Content-Length "";
        proxy_set_header        X-Original-URI $request_uri;
    }
  6. As an option, you can set a variable value basing on the result of the subrequest with the auth_request_set directive:

    location /private/ {
        auth_request        /auth;
        auth_request_set $auth_status $upstream_status;
    }

Complete Example

This example sums up previous steps into one configuration:

http {
    ...
    server {
    ...
        location /private/ {
            auth_request     /auth;
            auth_request_set $auth_status $upstream_status;
        }

        location = /auth {
            internal;
            proxy_pass              http://auth-server;
            proxy_pass_request_body off;
            proxy_set_header        Content-Length "";
            proxy_set_header        X-Original-URI $request_uri;
        }
    }
}