I am using ember to write a web ui for a site that requires user to log in. Suppose the browser has stored some cookie from last login of a user. Now the user visits the site again. So, is it a secure and common way for ember to log the user in automatically based on the cookie from the last visit? If so, what are the common ways to implement this? (I can't find anything from Google.) Furthermore, how do I create the cookie upon login? Is it a common way to just put a user id, password hash, and expiration in the cookie?
Additionally, any references related to this subject are greatly appreciated.
In light of Vohuman's answer, I think I can make my question a little more specific. Basically, what I want to know is a common and secure implementation to keep a user logged in, even when they close and reopen the browser. Namely, the life time is beyond the session scope. Take linkedin for example. If you are logged in and exit the browser. Then next time you revisit linkedin, you are still logged in automatically. Right now, what I can picture is a solution like the following.
When you first log in to the site, the server will return a cookie which includes an authentication hash token. Then next time when you revisit the site, the server will receive the hash token and thus authenticate your session.
So, is above flow basically what people usually do to keep a user logged in? If so, is the JSON Web Token (JWT) basically one way to construct the hash token I mentioned above? Additionally, assuming the connection is HTTPS, this approach seems secure to me. Is it not?
This article gives an interesting discussion regarding where to store the access token.
is it a secure and common way for ember to log the user in automatically based on the cookie from the last visit?
Yes and no. Security is a complex topic. Usually session cookies are used for authorizing users. This is actually the most used method of keeping the users logged in. If the user can't keep his credentials secure then any layers of security can be vulnerable.
For Single-page applications usually access tokens are used instead of cookies and sessions. The client sends the user credentials and server returns an access token. The token is encrypted and expirable and can be stored in
sessionStorage. Using JSON Web Tokens (JWT) standard is a popular method for implementing user authentication and authorization in web services. As an example, the Facebook Open Graph API uses access tokens.
JSON Web Token (JWT) is a compact, URL-safe means of representing claims to be transferred between two parties. The claims in a JWT are encoded as a JSON object that is used as the payload of a JSON Web Signature (JWS) structure or as the plaintext of a JSON Web Encryption (JWE) structure, enabling the claims to be digitally signed or integrity protected with a Message Authentication Code (MAC) and/or encrypted.
So, is above flow basically what people usually do to keep a user logged in?
For traditional websites, yes.
The whole point of using access tokens is keeping the web service/API stateless. This means that server doesn't have to store any cookies/sessions for authenticating and authorizing users. The stateless is one of the key factors of implementing web services that follow the REST paradigm. It's client that has to store the token and send it to the server (via the Authorization header or query parameters). The server doesn't store the token. Of course, you can store the tokens on the server if you want to add another layer of security, but it's not so common and not necessary. Storing the tokens on the server can also make your application vulnerable to database attacks and is not recommended.
If you want to make the process more secure you can decrease the validity time of access tokens (1 hour, 1 day or 1 week, it's up to you).
As for localStorage, is it secure?
localStorage data are stored separately for each origin (domain). A malicious user can only read the data if he/she has access to the user browser. You should make sure that your app doesn't have any XSS vulnerabilities so malicious users can't inject any scripts to your application. This is actually a different topic.