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Two-Factor Authentication with Authy, Ruby and Rails

Download the Code

This Ruby on Rails sample application is an example of a typical login flow. To run this sample app yourself, download the code and follow the instructions on GitHub.

Adding two-factor authentication (2FA) to your web application increases the security of your user's data. Multi-factor authentication determines the identity of a user by validating once by logging into the app, and second by validating their mobile device.

For the second factor, we will validate that the user has their mobile phone by either:

  • Sending them a OneTouch push notification to their mobile Authy app or
  • Sending them a token through their mobile Authy app or
  • Sending them a one-time token in a text message sent with Authy via Twilio.

See how VMware uses Authy 2FA to secure their enterprise mobility management solution.

Let's get started!

Configuring Authy

If you haven't already, now is the time to sign up for Authy. Create your first application, naming it whatever you wish. After you create your application, your "production" API key will be visible on your dashboard.

Once we have an Authy API key we register it as a environment variable.

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      config/initializers/authy.rb

      Register Authy as 2FA provider

      config/initializers/authy.rb

      Let's take a look at how we register a user with Authy.

      Register a user using Authy

      Register a User with Authy

      When a new user signs up for our website, we will call this route. This will save our new user to the database and will register the user with Authy.

      In order to set up your application, Authy only needs the user's email, phone number and country code. In order to do a two-factor authentication, we need to make sure we ask for this information at sign up.

      Once we register the User with Authy we get an authy id back. This is very important since it's how we will verify the identity of our User with Authy.

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          app/controllers/users_controller.rb

          Register a User with Authy

          app/controllers/users_controller.rb

          Having registered our user with Authy, we then can use Authy's OneTouch feature to log them in.

          See how to log a user in with Authy

          Log in with Authy OneTouch

          When a User attempts to log in to our website, we will ask them for a second form of identification. Let's take a look at OneTouch verification first.

          OneTouch works like this:

          • We attempt to send a User a OneTouch Approval Request.
          • If the User has OneTouch enabled we will get a success message back.
          • The User hits Approve in their Authy app.
          • Authy makes a POST request to our app with an approved status.
          • We log the user in.
          How to send a OneTouch request

          Send the OneTouch Request

          When our user logs in we immediately attempt to verify their identity with OneTouch. We will fallback gracefully if they don't have a OneTouch device, but we don't know until we try.

          Authy allows us to input details with our OneTouch request, including a message, a logo and so on. We could easily send any amount of details by appending details['some_detail']. You could imagine a scenario where we send a OneTouch request to approve a money transfer.

          "message" => "Request to Send Money to Jarod's vault",
          "details['Request From']" => "Jarod",
          "details['Amount Request']" => "1,000,000",
          "details['Currency']" => "Galleons",
          
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              app/controllers/sessions_controller.rb

              Implement OneTouch Approval

              app/controllers/sessions_controller.rb

              Once we send the request we need to update our User's authy_status based on the response. But first we have to register a OneTouch callback endpoint.

              See how to register a callback endpoint

              Configure the OneTouch callback

              In order for our app to know what the user did after we sent the OneTouch request, we need to register a callback endpoint with Authy.

              Note: In order to verify that the request is coming from Authy, we've written the helper method authenticate_request! that will halt the request if it appears it isn't coming from Authy.

              Here in our callback, we look up the user using the Authy ID sent with the Authy POST request. Ideally at this point we would probably use a websocket to let our client know that we received a response from Authy. However for this version we're going to keep it simple and just update the authy_status on the User.

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                  app/controllers/authy_controller.rb

                  Configure OneTouch Callback

                  app/controllers/authy_controller.rb

                  Our application is now capable of using Authy for two-factor authentication. However, we are still missing an important part: the client-side code that will handle it.

                  Handle authentication in the browser

                  Handle Two-Factor in the Browser

                  We've already taken a look at what's happening on the server side, so let's step in front of the cameras and see how our JavaScript is interacting with those server endpoints.

                  When we expect a OneTouch response, we will begin by polling /authy/status until we see an Authy status is not empty. Let's take a look at this controller and see what is happening.

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                      app/assets/javascripts/sessions.js

                      Let's take a closer look at how we check the login status on the server.

                      Confirm the login

                      Finish the 2FA Step

                      If authy_status is approved the user will be redirected to the protected content, otherwise we'll show the login form with a message that indicates the request was denied.

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                          app/controllers/authy_controller.rb

                          That's it! We've just implemented two-factor auth using three different methods and the latest in Authy technology.

                          Where to next?

                          Where to next?

                          If you're a Ruby developer working with Twilio, you might enjoy these other tutorials:

                          Masked Phone Numbers

                          Protect your users' privacy by anonymously connecting them with Twilio Voice and SMS. Learn how to create disposable phone numbers on-demand, so two users can communicate without exchanging personal information.

                          Call Tracking

                          Use Twilio to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

                          Did this help?

                          Thanks for checking out this tutorial! If you have any feedback to share with us, we'd love to hear it. Connect with us on Twitter and let us know what you build!

                          Jarod Reyes Jose Oliveros Agustin Camino David Prothero Kat King Andrew Baker

                          Need some help?

                          We all do sometimes; code is hard. Get help now from our support team, or lean on the wisdom of the crowd browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.

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