Login with NEAR

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Recently NEAR has approved a new standard that, among other things, enables users to authenticate into a backend service.

The basic idea is that the user will sign a challenge with their NEAR wallet, and the backend will verify the signature. If the signature is valid, then the user is authenticated.

Backend Auth with a NEAR Wallet

Authenticating users is a common use-case for backends and web applications. This enables services to provide a personalized experience to users, and to protect sensitive data.

To authenticate a user, the backend must verify that the user is who they say they are. To do so, the backend must verify that the user has access to a full-access key that is associated with their account.

For this three basic steps are needed:

  1. Create a challenge for the user to sign.
  2. Ask the user to sign the challenge with the wallet.
  3. Verify the signature corresponds to the user.

1. Create a Challenge

Assume we want to login the user into our application named application-name.

We first need to create a challenge that the user will sign with their wallet. For this, it is recommended to use a cryptographically secure random number generator to create the challenge.

import { randomBytes } from 'crypto'
const challenge = randomBytes(32)
const message = 'Login with NEAR'
Here we use crypto.randomBytes to generate a 32 byte random buffer.

2. Ask the User to Sign the Challenge

As of today only Meteor Wallet supports the signMessage method needed to sign the challenge. However, we expect more wallets to support this method in the future.

The message that the user needs to sign contains 4 fields:

  • Message: The message that the user is signing.
  • Recipient: The recipient of the message.
  • Nonce: The challenge that the user is signing.
  • Callback URL: The URL that the wallet will call with the signature.
// Assuming you setup a wallet selector so far
const signature = wallet.signMessage({ message, recipient, nonce: challenge, callbackUrl: <server-auth-url> })

3. Verify the Signature

Once the user has signed the challenge, the wallet will call the callbackUrl with the signature. The backend can then verify the signature.

const naj = require('near-api-js')
const js_sha256 = require("js-sha256")

export async function authenticate({ accountId, publicKey, signature }) {
  // A user is correctly authenticated if:
  // - The key used to sign belongs to the user and is a Full Access Key
  // - The object signed contains the right message and domain
  const full_key_of_user = await verifyFullKeyBelongsToUser({ accountId, publicKey })
  const valid_signature = verifySignature({ publicKey, signature })
  return valid_signature && full_key_of_user

export function verifySignature({ publicKey, signature }) {
  // Reconstruct the payload that was **actually signed**
  const payload = new Payload({ message: MESSAGE, nonce: CHALLENGE, recipient: APP, callbackUrl: cURL });
  const borsh_payload = borsh.serialize(payloadSchema, payload);
  const to_sign = Uint8Array.from(js_sha256.sha256.array(borsh_payload))

  // Reconstruct the signature from the parameter given in the URL
  let real_signature = Buffer.from(signature, 'base64')

  // Use the public Key to verify that the private-counterpart signed the message
  const myPK = naj.utils.PublicKey.from(publicKey)
  return myPK.verify(to_sign, real_signature)

export async function verifyFullKeyBelongsToUser({ publicKey, accountId }) {
  // Call the public RPC asking for all the users' keys
  let data = await fetch_all_user_keys({ accountId })

  // if there are no keys, then the user could not sign it!
  if (!data || !data.result || !data.result.keys) return false

  // check all the keys to see if we find the used_key there
  for (const k in data.result.keys) {
    if (data.result.keys[k].public_key === publicKey) {
      // Ensure the key is full access, meaning the user had to sign
      // the transaction through the wallet
      return data.result.keys[k].access_key.permission == "FullAccess"

  return false // didn't find it

// Aux method
async function fetch_all_user_keys({ accountId }) {
  const keys = await fetch(
      method: 'post',
      headers: { 'Content-Type': 'application/json; charset=utf-8' },
      body: `{"jsonrpc":"2.0", "method":"query", "params":["access_key/${accountId}", ""], "id":1}`
    }).then(data => data.json()).then(result => result)
  return keys

module.exports = { authenticate, verifyFullKeyBelongsToUser, verifySignature };
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