Re: [OAUTH-WG] Second WGLC on "JSON Web Token (JWT) Profile for OAuth 2.0 Access Tokens"

Dominick Baier <> Mon, 20 April 2020 07:43 UTC

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From: Dominick Baier <>
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Date: Mon, 20 Apr 2020 03:43:14 -0400
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To: Philippe De Ryck <>
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Subject: Re: [OAUTH-WG] Second WGLC on "JSON Web Token (JWT) Profile for OAuth 2.0 Access Tokens"
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Hence my question

What should be the recommended semantics - “informative” - “or don’t accept
before a certain time stamp” ?

Dominick Baier

On 20. April 2020 at 09:05:53, Philippe De Ryck ( wrote:

In theory, you can issue a token that only becomes valid in the future.
That would have a different iat and nbf timestamp. I have not seen this in
practice though.

Given that RFC 7519 lists “iat” as informative, I would not change that
behavior in a specific use case if there is no significant need to do so.


On 20 Apr 2020, at 08:50, Dominick Baier <> wrote:

Just a quick data point -

The Microsoft .NET JWT implementation checks for exp and nbf. Not iat.

I guess my real question is - what’s the difference between the two
practically speaking - and shouldn’t be the more common (aka supported by
most libraries) be used?

Dominick Baier

On 20. April 2020 at 06:59:47, David Waite ( wrote:

There are a number of ambiguities and statements around using JWTs in
various contexts:

1. Some implementations interpret “iat" to also have the meaning of “nbf”
in the absence of “nbf”, although this is AFAIK not prescribed by any spec
2. The DPoP draft’s client-generated tokens have the resource servers use
their own nbf/exp heuristics around “iat”, since the tokens are meant for
immediate one time use by a party that may not have clock synchronization.
3. There are recommendations in the JWT profile for OAuth that the AS may
reject tokens based on an “iat” too far in the past or “exp” too far in the
future, but not that “nbf” was too far in the past or that the interval
between nbf and exp was too large.

The JWT spec also allows implementers to provide some leeway for clock
skew. Presumably this meant validators and not JWT creators, although there
is history of messages setting similar values to account for clock skew
(e.g. SAML IDPs setting notBefore to one minute before issuance and
notOnOrAfter 5 minutes after issuance).


On Apr 19, 2020, at 2:50 AM, Vladimir Dzhuvinov <>

On 16/04/2020 10:10, Dominick Baier wrote:

*iat vs nbf*
What’s the rationale for using iat instead of nbf. Aren’t most JWT
libraries (including e.g. the ..NET one) looking for nbf by default?

Developers often tend to intuitively pick up "iat" over "nbf" because it
sounds more meaningful (my private observation). So given the empirical
approach of Vittorio to the spec, I suspect that's how "iat" got here.

If we bother to carefully look at the JWT spec we'll see that "iat" is
meant to be "informational" whereas it's "nbf" that is intended to serve
(together with "exp") in determining the actual validity window of the JWT.

My suggestion is to require either "iat" or "nbf". That shouldn't break
anything, and deployments that rely on one or the other to determine the
validity window of the access token can continue using their preferred
claim for that.

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