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JSON Web Key Sets
Want to learn how JSON Web Key Sets can boost the security of your app or platform? Here’s what you need to know.

JSON Web Key Sets

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JSON Web Key Sets (JWKS) are a secure and standard way of exchanging cryptographic keys in the JSON format. JWKS plays an important role in securely sharing information between different parties over the internet.

JSON Web Keys (JWKs) are contained within JWKS and are cryptographic keys representing properties of a key including its value and its use cases.

Both JWKS and JWKs are used in web apps, platforms, and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to keep communications safe and secure between two parties.

What are JSON Web Key Sets?

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JSON Web Key Sets (JWKS) are a set of cryptographic keys, containing public keys that are used to authenticate a JSON Web Token (JWT). They are provided by an authentication server and signed using the RS256 signing algorithm.

JSON Web Keys (JWKs) are JSON data structures representing a cryptographic key that specifies two high-level data structures, the JSON Web Key (JWK) and JSON Web Key Sets (JWKS).

  • JSON Web Key (JWK): a JSON object representing a cryptographic key. This represents the properties of a key, including its value.
  • JSON Web Key Set (JWKS): a JSON object representing a set of JWKs. The JSON object must contain a key member which contains a range of JWKs.

A JWK gives a standard way to represent and exchange cryptographic keys in the JSON format.  The JWKS format holds metadata that outlines each key in the set including its size, usage, and type which can be used to determine which keys are suitable and relevant for a particular use case.

JWKs are generally used in conjunction with other web standards including JWTs, OAuth 2.0, and OpenID Connect, ensuring a flexible and secure way of managing cryptographic keys. This allows communication between different parties on the internet to remain secure and protected.

Use cases for JSON Web Key Sets

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JWKS are used to provide a standard and secure way of managing cryptographic keys in APIs and web applications and platforms and can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • Secure communication: JWKS is used to securely exchange cryptographic keys between multiple parties, for example, a client and a server. The server can provide JWKS which holds its public keys which can then be used by the client to encrypt messages or verify digital signatures.
  • Token-based authentication: In conjunction with JWT, JWKS can be used to issue secure authentication procedures. JWKS can be used by a server to verify the digital signature of a JWT provided by an authentication provider.
  • API security: JWKS can secure APIs by allowing a secure way to manage cryptographic keys that are used for signing data and encryption. Servers can provide JWKS to clients as a way to verify the authenticity and validity of API responses.
  • Key rotation: to ensure the security of a system, JWKS can be used to manage the rotation of cryptographic keys where a server updates its JWKS from time to time to include new keys and ditch old, outdated ones.

From providing API security to effective key rotation management, JWKS are used to provide secure ways of managing cryptographic keys in web applications and platforms. JWKS offers a powerful way to keep communications safe, secure, and protected against unauthorized access.

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