Weird behavior by netlify-identity-widget and role based access control / _redirects

Dear all,

I have been facing some issues with identity over the last 16 hours. Been working and found the following issues and investigation notes.

Build process:
I am using 11ty to build static pages and with a eleventyConfig.addPassthroughCopy('./_site/_redirects'); directive.

Using the netlify-identity-widget

Created a simple function to set role default to customer when signing up.

exports.handler = async (event) => {
  const { user } = JSON.parse(event.body);
  return {
    statusCode: 200,
    body: JSON.stringify({
      app_metadata: {
        roles: ['customer'],

Restricting sensitive data (not yet sensitive and you may feel free to test):
Restricted a few pages using the redirect rules below:

/houses-for-sale/* 200! Role=customer
/gated-community/* 200! Role=customer
/plots-for-sale/* 200! Role=customer
/tags/* 200! Role=customer
/gated-community/* /no-access/ 403!
/houses-for-sale/* /no-access/ 403!
/plots-for-sale/* /no-access/ 403!
/tags/* /no-access/ 403!

The /no-access/ page is the page where one would be redirected if there is no role to the user.

Build checks

  • Redirect rules and header rules processing (no redirect rules in the header)

Testing the web app

  • Sign up successful
  • Login successful and email / name shows up in the footer
  • Sign in successful and functions showing the right details

Problems I am facing:

  • Problem 1 - When logged out and the localStorage in the browser and the cookies has to sign up jwt in it, gated content can still be displayed after a hard refresh as well.
    I do not have a screenshot of this, missed it while making this post. (most weird part)

  • Problem 2 - Gated content not showing up even if I have all the right roles in place.

I am unaware if I am making any mistake at this point of time. I thought I figured out how this out a while ago but these sessions made me confused, Am I missing something?

To test, you could try by testing the app. There is no sensitive info yet on the app as it is in testing stage.

Greetings @sachinsancheti1! :wave:t2:

And welcome to The Community :netliheart:

Thanks for providing all that context and information. That’s super helpful and usually takes a few more back-and-forths to get to, so I appreciate you diligence there :slight_smile: From here on out I’m going to use “RBAC” instead of typing out “Role based access control” which is what the Role=xyz stuff in _redirects is. Just alerting you of the acronym ahead of time :stuck_out_tongue:

For the record, is this to imply that everything was working fine before and is now failing, or that you’re building a new site and haven’t quite gotten things working yet? The context you added later suggest the latter but I do want to clarify that this never actually reached a ‘fully working’ state yet.

In short, RBAC works by parsing and validating the JWT inside the cookie that’s sent for any given route requested. If the logout action doesn’t clear the cookie, RBAC will continue to work. The JWT / stateless auth system doesn’t really maintain the premise of whether or not you’re “logged in” — distributed / stateless auth systems sort of work that way. It’s very much just “if the cookie is present and valid, let the person through.” Now, that said, the logout() action from netlify-identity-widget should clear out that cookie (in a manner of speaking) so that RBAC doesn’t pass through.

Elaborating on my prior paragraph, while it’s good to check the local storage value for the gotrue.user, the gotrue-js library itself can be quirky — actually any JavaScript that attempts to finagle cookies that are HttpOnly can be quirky lol. Not getting into that but my point here is don’t watch the local storage keys/values for how a request behaved. Watch the Network log (with “preserve log” enabled❗).

Now, beyond the theory — let me dig into your site :+1:t2:

1 Like

So here’s a few things I did for debugging.

I always like to start with the command line — it’s the most “true” way to see what the redirects engine is doing. I use a tool called httpe so the command I use here is just https which fires off a basic GET request.

 ~ https
GET /houses-for-sale/ HTTP/1.1
Accept: */*
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Connection: keep-alive
User-Agent: HTTPie/2.3.0

HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
Age: 0
Cache-Control: public,max-age=300
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2021 17:40:59 GMT
Etag: "2fca8a1083ab4bf690b9086844222bff-ssl"
Server: Netlify
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000; includeSubDomains; preload
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
X-NF-Request-ID: 70885c53-8056-40dc-b76c-856069614619-53932943
X-Xss-Protection: 1; mode=block

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1, shrink-to-fit=no">
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Security-Policy" content="">

So the role-gate for /houses-for-sale/ is working. I sent a GET with no JWT and got kicked out — with a 403 response and the /no-access/ page being rendered as the content of the page. Working great :+1:t2:

I did make an account on the site real quick, so I’m going to grab the JWT that gave me and use that in another command-line request to the same path, using the JWT as the appropriate cookie header. I want to make sure that the role-gate allows me through with a valid JWT. Obfuscating my JWT for the sake of your site security :stuck_out_tongue:

 ~ https Cookie:nf_jwt='eyJhbInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJleHAiOjE2MTMxNTUxMzMsInN1YiI6IjhjZTA3ODY3LTNlMmYtNGMyN5In19.ixsIuHniUZ8lk79oS_P7Tft_tVR1a9w'
GET /houses-for-sale/ HTTP/1.1
Accept: */*
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Connection: keep-alive
Cookie: nf_jwt=eyJhbGciOiJ9.eyJleHAiOjE2MTMxNWV0YWRhdGEiOnsiZnVsbF9uYW1lIjoidGVzdGVyIHN1bGx5In19.ixsPnmP7Tft_tVR1a9w
User-Agent: HTTPie/2.3.0

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Age: 1
Cache-Control: public,max-age=300
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Encoding: gzip
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2021 17:47:51 GMT
Etag: "4691a63d0bf91d06e0c8a0bc4ae7004e-ssl-df"
Server: Netlify
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000; includeSubDomains; preload
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Vary: Accept-Encoding
X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
X-NF-Request-ID: e55d6fdf-23ed-4d03-a917-8bc5e15611f3-4538712
X-Xss-Protection: 1; mode=block

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1, shrink-to-fit=no">
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Security-Policy" content="">
    <link rel="preload" as="style" href=",500&display=swap" />
    <link rel="stylesheet" href=",500&display=swap" media="print" onload="'all'" />
    <title>Houses for Sale in Coonoor, Ooty and Kotagiri, The Nilgiris</title>
    <meta content="Villa and Houses for Sale in Coonoor, Ooty and Kotagiri. We deal wi....
etc. — the correct page 👍🏻

So with a valid JWT the page is allowed through. The _redirects are working great. Generally speaking, that means something’s going on with the javascript-level / client-side code that’s running on your site.

I popped open your site and hit the /houses-for-sale/ route in the browser. Here’s what I saw in the Network tools:

There’s a pretty big flag in there. “Source: Service Worker”.

If I go ahead and log out, I can see in the network log that the correct logout request was made by netlify-identity-widget to your Netlify Identity instance — a POST to

But again, the service worker is playing a middle-role that it really shouldn’t be. Using a service worker on sites that have both public and private content can be really tricky. If it’s not absolutely critical to your development (which… I won’t pass opinions on but lots of folks have been fine without SW’s for a long time :stuck_out_tongue: ) I would advise you to just not use service worker(s) on the site. That should shore up any of the oddness where your local storage and cookies may be clear but you’re getting gated content back anyway. In that case, the SW is probably giving you back the private content because it has no idea about auth and that you logged out :stuck_out_tongue:

Hope that’s helpful!


1 Like

Dear Jon,

Thank you for the warm welcome. I did read other community topics and discussions and then realized that presenting like this would be most helpful for anyone to assist me on this. Also, thank you for the detailed information and debugging report after signing up to the site. This is very insightful and I am sure it will be helpful whenever I am taking up such projects, and surely others in the community as well.

Yes, this is a new project. I did use RBAC for another project but that was not so consequential and had only 1 single page which needed it. Rightly said, this is not a “fully working” site just yet. In my previous tests, I not quite come across this, probably because I was focusing on other aspects of the project and running it locally.

Httpie - Thank you for the tip, I shall try working with such a tool too.

First and foremost - Removing the service worker. Done, completed, deployed and unregistered the sw, cleared cache etc.

Additional step - I change the cache setting in the _headers to no-store, max-age=0

Now testing all the steps in the following sequence.

  • Enter the website home page (no RBAC here) without logging in
  • Trying to access a webpage which needs RBAC
  • Logging in
  • Reloading the same webpage
  • Navigating to other RBAC pages
  • Logging out
  • Reloading to RBAC pages

Here are the results to all the above.

  • Enter the website home page (no RBAC here) without logging in - All is well here. No jwt or cookie in place.

  • Trying to access a webpage which needs RBAC - All is well here too. Booted out with a 403 and returned the /no-access/ page

  • Logging in - All seems well here too. Got my authentication token and other things in place.

  • Reloading the same webpage - Got hit with 403 though there is a cookie with the jwt. I am not sure what went wrong here. Is there something I am missing?

  • Navigating to other RBAC pages - Voila! Here is works! This is probably because the browser is visiting this page for the first time. The content of the page is also loading correctly as seen with the jpeg images loaded shown below the selected html request.

  • Logging out - Logout took place and the authentication and cookies was removed

  • Reloading to RBAC pages - The logout took place and the page returned 403

I hope this helps further to understand what could be going wrong here. Thank you once again for the prompt response.

1 Like

Nice! Looks like just about everything across the board is working as planned, short of the first load after logging in sputtering for some reason :thinking: is that repeatable? You’ve tested that workflow multiple times with the same results?


1 Like

Hi Jon,

Thanks for the reply. Yes , I tried multiple times similar workflows. Infact, after logging out and then trying to log back in, I find that the pages are still not showing, even after a hard refresh. I am unable to figure out what could be going wrong here yet.

hi @lauramiller199846 , I do not know what is a treat, but definitely if you could guide me on how to clear the treat, it may help.

hi there, i think that was a spammer who was just randomly copy/pasting unrelated content :frowning:

Unfortunately, I don’t have any further information for you, but i will try and find someone who does!

Dear @perry ,

Thank you. I am yet to figure out what could be done to fix such a thing.

Dear All,

I have been trying and reading other forum messages but not quite able to figure out what needs to be done to avoid the redirects even when I have a valid login

@sachinsancheti1, one thing I noticed is that you are using a 403 status code. Our documentation recommends that the fallback redirect use a 401 status code. Could you try changing to that and see if that works better?

Dear @Dennis ,

Thank you for the message. I tried with 401 but it still did not work. I checked in the console and it still responds with a 401 after completing the sign-in. The deployment is on here

Hi! If anyone has a clue, that would really help me and the future projects I undertake with netlify identity.