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Secure mode

This is the default and the recommended auth mode to use for running ElectricSQL apps in production. In secure mode, Electric authenticates its replication connections by obtaining a JWT from each client and verifying its validity before allowing data streaming in either direction.


When starting the Electric server, specify which signature verification algorithm to use and include an appropriate key to use for the verification. A working example:

$ docker run \
-e AUTH_JWT_KEY="$(cat public_key.pem)" \

Now, all you need to authenticate your client is a JWT that includes a sub claim (formerly user_id) and is signed using the same ES256 algorithm and the matching private key.

See the JWT library for your programming environment for more information. Below are two examples for generating a token manually and using Elixir:

Let's use to hand-craft a token with static claims for demonstration purposes.

For example, using the following claims

"sub": "1",
"iat": 1684749213,
"exp": 1684759213

and private key


we get the following signed JWT


You can now include this token when connecting to Electric after the client instantiation code to have your client successfully authenticate with the server instance we configured above:

import { electrify } from 'electric-sql/wa-sqlite'

const token = 'eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJFUzI1NiJ9.eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjoiMSIsImlhdCI6MTY4NDc0OTIxMywiZXhwIjoxNjg0NzU5MjEzfQ.dLd_bG5_VayLzTemgATu566NP3itwafMbu1zgef_8mB6VGHojczsXyh3g7QE4GM_l8kUQm9MJN7OWg8Kf-40YQ'
const electric = await electrify(conn, schema)
await electric.connect(token)

How the server validates auth tokens

The sync service running in secure auth mode expects the standard iat and exp claims, as well as the custom sub claim (formerly user_id) to be included in the token.

If any of iat, exp, or nbf claims are included, they will be validated according to the JWT specification and so your token will get rejected if any of these standard claims' values are invalid. If you additionally configure the "issuer" and/or "audience" of the Secure auth mode, then the iss and/or aud claims are also required to be included in the auth token.

Configuration options


This is an optional setting that is set to the value secure by default. So to start Electric in the Secure auth mode, this variable either needs to be unset or explicitly set to the value secure.


The algorithm to use for signature verification. Electric supports the following algorithms:

  • HS256, HS384, HS512: HMAC-based cryptographic signature that relies on the SHA-2 family of hash functions.
  • RS256, RS384, RS512: RSA-based algorithms for digital signature.
  • ES256, ES384, ES512: ECC-based algorithms for digital signature.


The key to use for signature verification. A number of different key sizes and formats are supported. You have to provide one that is compatible with the chosen algorithm.

See Generating signing keys below to learn more about generating keys for different algorithms.


A boolean value that tells the sync service whether the value of AUTH_JWT_KEY needs to be base64-decoded before using it for signature verification.


This is an optional setting that specifies the location inside the token of custom claims that are specific to Electric. Currently, only the sub custom claim (formerly user_id) is required.

By default, if this setting is omitted or is set to an empty string, the sub / user_id claim is looked up at the top level. We recommend using the https://<your-app-domain>/jwt/claims namespace for custom claims to avoid collisions with any other applications in the future. E.g.

"iat": 1684749213,
"exp": 1684759213,
"": {
"sub": "1"

Note that standard claims are not affected by this setting and are always looked up at the top level.


This setting allows you to specify the "issuer" that will be matched against the iss claim extracted from auth tokens. This can be used to ensure that only tokens created by the expected party are used to authenticate your client.

Leaving this variable empty makes the iss claim optional and doesn't verify its value even if it's included in token claims.


This setting allows you to specify the "audience" that will be matched against the aud claim extracted from auth tokens. This can be used to ensure that only tokens for a specific application are used to authenticate your client.

Leaving this variable empty makes the aud claim optional and doesn't verify its value even if it's included in token claims.

Generating signing keys

Different signature algorithms require different types of keys. Below we explain the specifics of different algorithms and show sample code to generate keys for them.

HS256, HS384, HS512

These use the same secret key for both signing and signature verification. The key must be a randomly generated string of characters, long enough for the chosen algorithm.

Minimum required key size is 256 bits for HS256, 384 bits for HS384, and 512 bits for HS512. The longer the key, the more secure the digital signature. We recommend using a 512-bit key regardless of which specific HS* algorithm you pick.

If your deployment target makes it difficult to use a string containing random, non-printable characters for an environment variable, encode the secret key with base64 encoding and use the result for the AUTH_JWT_KEY setting, while also setting AUTH_JWT_KEY_IS_BASE64_ENCODED to true.

RS256, RS384, RS512

RSA is an asymmetric cryptography algorithm that uses a private key to digitally sign a token and a matching public key to verify the signature. The minimum required key size to use with JWTs is 2048 bits.

One RSA key pair can be used for all supported RS* signing algorithms. It can be created as follows:

$ openssl genrsa -out private_key.pem 4096
$ openssl rsa -in private_key.pem -pubout -out public_key.pem

ES256, ES384, ES512

Elliptic curve cryptography is a family of asymmetric cryptography algorithms that use smaller keys compared to RSA but provide the same or better security.

A different elliptic curve has to be used to create a key pair for every individual variation:

  • prime256v1 for ES256
  • secp384r1 for ES384
  • secp521r1 for ES512

Example of generating a key pair using openssl:

$ openssl ecparam -name prime256v1 -genkey | openssl pkcs8 -topk8 -nocrypt -out private_key.pem
$ openssl ec -in private_key.pem -pubout -out public_key.pem