Security and authentication

The ArcGIS Platform supports secure access to location services and private data. It ensures that only valid, authorized users and services access protected information. To access secure resources, you need to implement an authentication method so your applications can make authenticated requests to services.

An authentication method is the process used obtain an access token. Your app must present an access token whenever it makes an authenticated request to location services. Access tokens define the scope and permissions available to your application. The authentication method you use to get an access token will vary.

There are three kinds of access tokens:

  • API key: a permanent token that grants your application access to ready-to-use services and, with an ArcGIS Developer account, private content (currently in beta).
  • ArcGIS identity (formerly named user): grants a short-lived token, generated via OAuth 2.0, giving your application permission to access the content and services authorized to an existing ArcGIS user's account.
  • Application credentials: grant a short-lived token, generated via OAuth 2.0, authorizing your application to access ready-to-use services.

To make authenticated requests to services, you need to set the token parameter to an access token.

ArcGIS identity

An ArcGIS identity, also known as a named user login, grant a temporary access token giving your application permission to access the content and services authorized to your application user's ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise account. This temporary token is created using OAuth 2.0 protocol and authorizes your application to act on the user's behalf without revealing their secure password to your application. Any service credits your application consumes are billed to the authenticated user's ArcGIS subscription and, during the authenticated period, your app can access your user's content on their behalf.

Use ArcGIS identity when you want to:

  • Ensure users are signed in and authenticated with their own ArcGIS account.
  • Use your app user's credits to pay for their private data, content, or service transactions.
  • Limit the length of time users can be signed in to your app with a temporary token.
Learn more about ArcGIS identity

API keys

An API key is a permanent access token that grants your public-facing application access to specific, ready-to-use services, and, with an ArcGIS Developer account, private content, items, and limited client referrers (currently in beta).

Use API keys when you want to:

  • Quickly write applications that consume ready-to-use services.
  • Provide access to services without requiring users to sign in with an ArcGIS account.
  • Use an access token that doesn't expire.
Learn more about API keys

Application credentials

Application credentials grant a short-lived access token, generated via OAuth 2.0, authorizing your application to access ready-to-use services, such as basemap layers, search, and routing.

Use application credentials when you want to:

  • Access ready-to-use services with a more secure process and a short-lived token.
  • Provide access to services without requiring users to have an ArcGIS account.
Learn more about Application credentials

Choose an authentication method

The choice of which type of authentication to implement is mostly dependent upon the resources required by your application.

ScenarioSolution
Your app requires access only to ready-to-use services, such as the basemap layer, geocoding, or routing services.API key
Your app allows users to view and edit private data in ArcGIS.ArcGIS identity
Your app is on a web server or API backend and requires access only to basemaps and geocoding.Application credentials

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