Sessions track user interactions with a resource within a given time frame. For example, the resource may be an application (app), or identity provider (IDP)—a service that creates, manages, and stores digital identities like Transmit Security. By managing sessions, you can allow your users to securely access your application, without needing to reauthenticate for every request. This provides an enhanced identity experience that doesn't compromise on security.
This article explains how sessions work when created using backend authentication methods.
An application session (also known as a local session) is created by the app when the user logs in. By default, a session ends when the user leaves the website or closes the browser. However, an app can extend the session by storing information in a cookie so the user won't need to authenticate each time they return. The session lifetime is managed by the app. Once the application session is over, the user must re-authenticate.
An IDP session is created by Transmit Security when a user logs into the app. Each IDP session is bound to a specific user. The IDP session is active until it expires, unless terminated before (see Session lifetime).
Backend sessions are created upon backend authentication and can be shared with other backend methods, i.e. you can add multiple authentications to a session. The backend authentication returns an ID of the session which you should store and process on your side. See Manage backend sessions
Typically, both the application session and IDP session are used to determine if the user is authenticated whenever access is requested. Once the application session is over, authentication is always required. Once the IDP session is over, the app may rely on the access token until it expires, but access can no longer be extended without reauthentication.
In our documentation, sessions will refer exclusively to IDP sessions unless stated otherwise.
Backend authentication can create a new session, and receive an access token, ID token, and refresh token from Transmit. These tokens are bound to the session, user, and client. A valid access token is required to authorize user access to the application, even if there's an active session. The access token (JWT) contains the expiration, user ID, and authorization information—including which resource can be accessed and the user's roles to determine their permissions.
The session is valid for 2 weeks. Sessions get extended every time new access tokens are issued within the session lifetime.
The session length cannot be customized. The "session expiration" setting configured in resources corresponds to the maximum period of time the refresh token can be rotated.
A session terminates if a logout is requested using Logout sessions API. A logout will delete a session, as well as revoke the corresponding refresh tokens.
Typically, a session cookie is used to store the information needed to obtain user access and authorization, without requiring the user to authenticate. Upon completing backend authentication, Transmit creates a session and returns a session ID which you'll need to bind with the app session using cookies. Here are some security guidelines when creating application sessions using cookies:
secureflags on your cookies to ensure they are sent only over HTTPS
SameSitecookie attribute to
Strictif possible (note that this setting might interfere with SSO implementation), and
Laxotherwise ( learn more ).
- Generate new session cookies upon each authentication to prevent session fixation attacks
- Bind local session ID stored in the cookie to other user or client properties (client IP address, User-Agent, client-based digital certificate, etc.)
If possible (also considering your UX requirements), use non-persistent cookies or at least exclude
Expirescookie attributes since they will make the cookie persistent
Cache-Controlheaders for sensitive content
Cache-Control: no-cache="Set-Cookie, Set-Cookie2"directive, to allow caching everything except the session ID
- Logout to invalidate the session