NGINX - Reverse Proxy With Authentication at 2 Layers

zaidahmd nginx-forum at
Wed Mar 1 08:57:22 UTC 2017

** Problem Background  **
I have an application, say app-A, which is running on a private network
unreachable by public network. Now a new requirement needs to deliver the
webpages of app-A to external users over public network.

As a solution to expose app-A, I want to use NGINX as reverse proxy and will
use two layers of authentication as explained below. Kindly advise if i am
moving in the right direction in implementing the secure entry using NGINX.

Reference Images attached at the end of email.

** Authentication Level 1 **    NGINX Auth Service As a solution to expose
app-A, I want to use NGINX as reverse proxy and API gateway for External
users to access the application in internal network. Once NGINX
authenticates the request it will forward to app-A.

** Authentication Level 2 **    App-A performs Authentication After
receiving request from nginx, app-A will perform its own authentication,
ignoring that the request came pre-authenticated from NGINX. app-A will
perform the authentication as app-A is to be kept unaware of the new NGINX
reverse proxy and app-A will continue to work as is.

** Problem Situation **
NGINX Authentication service authenticates the request and sets a session-id
in response so that it can identify the next request coming from the same
client. As app-A also authenticates the request and puts the session-id in
response. The problem here is that one session-id will get overriden by the

Questions/Options in consideration :

1.  (Image-ref-1) Is there anyway that I can configure NGINX to keep both
the session-ids seperate in the request so that Auth service and app-A can
recognise there own session informations for authenticated client.

2.   (image-Ref-2) If both the session info cannot be saved, then can we
configure NGINX to store session-id response of app-A and auth service both
in its memory and only send the session-id of auth service back to client.
And when the request comes back with Auth Service's session-id, NGINX should
correlate the session of App-A and forward App-A's session to app-A. This
way the request would get authenticated at both layers.

3.    Which solution can be performed from the above 2 ?

4.    Is it good approach to have 2 layers of authentication when NGINX's
API gateway is used? If not then what configuration is required in app-A to
not perform authentication for the requests coming from NGINX? Application
environment java spring.?

** Links to Images **
Image-Ref-1 :
Image-Ref-2 :

Posted at Nginx Forum:,272674,272674#msg-272674

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