Overview

The purpose of mix phx.gen.auth is to generate a pre-built authentication system into a Phoenix 1.5+ application that follows both security and elixir best practices. By generating code into the user's application instead of using a library, the user has complete freedom to modify the authentication system so it works best with their app. The following links have more information regarding the motivation and design of the code this generates.

The following are notes about the generated authentication system.

Password hashing

The password hashing mechanism defaults to bcrypt for Unix systems and pbkdf2 for Windows systems. Both systems use the Comeonin interface.

Forbidding access

The generated code ships with an auth module with a handful of plugs that fetch the current account, requires authentication and so on. For instance, for an app named Demo which invoked mix phx.gen.auth Accounts User users, you will find a module named DemoWeb.UserAuth with plugs such as:

  • fetch_current_user - fetches the current user information if available

  • require_authenticated_user - must be invoked after fetch_current_user and requires that a current exists and is authenticated

  • redirect_if_user_is_authenticated - used for the few pages that must not be available to authenticated users

Confirmation

The generated functionality ships with an account confirmation mechanism, where users have to confirm their account, typically by email. However, the generated code does not forbid users from using the application if their accounts have not yet been confirmed. You can trivially add this functionality by customizing the plugs generated in the Auth module.

Notifiers

The generated code is not integrated with any system to send SMSs or emails for confirming accounts, reseting passwords, etc. Instead it simply logs a message to the terminal. It is your responsibility to integrate with the proper system after generation.

Tracking sessions

All sessions and tokens are tracked in a separate table. This allows you to track how many sessions are active for each account. You could even expose this information to users if desired.

Note that whenever the password changes (either via reset password or directly), all tokens are deleted and the user has to log in again on all devices.

Enumeration attacks

An enumeration attack allows an attacker to enumerate all emails registered in the application. The generated authentication code protects against enumeration attacks on all endpoints, except in the registration and update email forms. If your application is really sensitive to enumeration attacks, you need to implement your own registration workflow, which tends to be very different from the workflow for most applications.

Case sensitiveness

The email lookup is made to be case insensitive. Case insensitive lookups are the default in MySQL and MSSQL but use the extension in PostgreSQLcitext.

Note citext is part of Postgres itself and is bundled with it in most operating systems and package managers. phx.gen.auth takes care of creating the extension and no extra work is necessary in the majority of cases. If by any chance your package manager splits citext into a separate package, you will get an error while migrating and you can most likely solve it by installing the postgres-contrib package.

Concurrent tests

The generated tests run concurrently if you are using a database that supports concurrent tests (Postgres).