In very simple terms, can someone explain the difference between OAuth 2 and OAuth 1?

Is OAuth 1 obsolete now? Should we be implementing OAuth 2? I don't see many implementations of OAuth 2; most are still using OAuth 1, which makes me doubt OAuth 2 is ready to use. Is it?

You may found your answer here OAuth 2.0 - OverviewJohn Joe

10 Answers


Eran Hammer-Lahav has done an excellent job in explaining the majority of the differences in his article Introducing OAuth 2.0. To summarize, here are the key differences:

More OAuth Flows to allow better support for non-browser based applications. This is a main criticism against OAuth from client applications that were not browser based. For example, in OAuth 1.0, desktop applications or mobile phone applications had to direct the user to open their browser to the desired service, authenticate with the service, and copy the token from the service back to the application. The main criticism here is against the user experience. With OAuth 2.0, there are now new ways for an application to get authorization for a user.

OAuth 2.0 no longer requires client applications to have cryptography. This hearkens back to the old Twitter Auth API, which didn't require the application to HMAC hash tokens and request strings. With OAuth 2.0, the application can make a request using only the issued token over HTTPS.

OAuth 2.0 signatures are much less complicated. No more special parsing, sorting, or encoding.

OAuth 2.0 Access tokens are "short-lived". Typically, OAuth 1.0 Access tokens could be stored for a year or more (Twitter never let them expire). OAuth 2.0 has the notion of refresh tokens. While I'm not entirely sure what these are, my guess is that your access tokens can be short lived (i.e. session based) while your refresh tokens can be "life time". You'd use a refresh token to acquire a new access token rather than have the user re-authorize your application.

Finally, OAuth 2.0 is meant to have a clean separation of roles between the server responsible for handling OAuth requests and the server handling user authorization. More information about that is detailed in the aforementioned article.


I see great answers up here but what I miss were some diagrams and since I had to work with Spring Framework I came across their explanation.

I find the following diagrams very useful. They illustrate the difference in communication between parties with OAuth2 and OAuth1.

OAuth 2

enter image description here

OAuth 1

enter image description here


The previous explanations are all overly detailed and complicated IMO. Put simply, OAuth 2 delegates security to the HTTPS protocol. OAuth 1 did not require this and consequentially had alternative methods to deal with various attacks. These methods required the application to engage in certain security protocols which are complicated and can be difficult to implement. Therefore, it is simpler to just rely on the HTTPS for security so that application developers dont need to worry about it.

As to your other questions, the answer depends. Some services dont want to require the use of HTTPS, were developed before OAuth 2, or have some other requirement which may prevent them from using OAuth 2. Furthermore, there has been a lot of debate about the OAuth 2 protocol itself. As you can see, Facebook, Google, and a few others each have slightly varying versions of the protocols implemented. So some people stick with OAuth 1 because it is more uniform across the different platforms. Recently, the OAuth 2 protocol has been finalized but we have yet to see how its adoption will take.


Note there are serious security arguments against using Oauth 2:

one bleak article

and a more technical one

Note these are coming from Oauth 2's lead author.

Key points:

  • Oauth 2 offers no security on top of SSL while Oauth 1 is transport-independent.

  • in a sense SSL isn't secure in that the server does not verify the connection and the common client libraries make it easy to ignore failures.

    The problem with SSL/TLS, is that when you fail to verify the certificate on the client side, the connection still works. Any time ignoring an error leads to success, developers are going to do just that. The server has no way of enforcing certificate verification, and even if it could, an attacker will surely not.

  • you can fat-finger away all of your security, which is much harder to do in OAuth 1.0:

    The second common potential problem are typos. Would you consider it a proper design when omitting one character (the ‘s’ in ‘https’) voids the entire security of the token? Or perhaps sending the request (over a valid and verified SSL/TLS connection) to the wrong destination (say ‘http://gacebook.com’?). Remember, being able to use OAuth bearer tokens from the command line was clearly a use case bearer tokens advocates promoted.


Security of the OAuth 1.0 protocol (RFC 5849) relies on the assumption that a secret key embedded in a client application can be kept confidential. However, the assumption is naive.

In OAuth 2.0 (RFC 6749), such a naive client application is called a confidential client. On the other hand, a client application in an environment where it is difficult to keep a secret key confidential is called a public client. See 2.1. Client Types for details.

In that sense, OAuth 1.0 is a specification only for confidential clients.

"OAuth 2.0 and the Road to Hell" says that OAuth 2.0 is less secure, but there is no practical difference in security level between OAuth 1.0 clients and OAuth 2.0 confidential clients. OAuth 1.0 requires to compute signature, but it does not enhance security if it is already assured that a secret key on the client side can be kept confidential. Computing signature is just a cumbersome calculation without any practical security enhancement. I mean, compared to the simplicity that an OAuth 2.0 client connects to a server over TLS and just presents client_id and client_secret, it cannot be said that the cumbersome calculation is better in terms of security.

In addition, RFC 5849 (OAuth 1.0) does not mention anything about open redirectors while RFC 6749 (OAuth 2.0) does. That is, oauth_callback parameter of OAuth 1.0 can become a security hole.

Therefore, I don't think OAuth 1.0 is more secure than OAuth 2.0.

[April 14, 2016] Addition to clarify my point

OAuth 1.0 security relies on signature computation. A signature is computed using a secret key where a secret key is a shared key for HMAC-SHA1 (RFC 5849, 3.4.2) or a private key for RSA-SHA1 (RFC 5849, 3.4.3). Anyone who knows the secret key can compute the signature. So, if the secret key is compromised, complexity of signature computation is meaningless however complex it is.

This means OAuth 1.0 security relies not on the complexity and the logic of signature computation but merely on the confidentiality of a secret key. In other words, what is needed for OAuth 1.0 security is only the condition that a secret key can be kept confidential. This may sound extreme, but signature computation adds no security enhancement if the condition is already satisfied.

Likewise, OAuth 2.0 confidential clients rely on the same condition. If the condition is already satisfied, is there any problem in creating a secure connection using TLS and sending client_id and client_secret to an authorization server through the secured connection? Is there any big difference in security level between OAuth 1.0 and OAuth 2.0 confidential clients if both rely on the same condition?

I cannot find any good reason for OAuth 1.0 to blame OAuth 2.0. The fact is simply that (1) OAuth 1.0 is just a specification only for confidential clients and (2) OAuth 2.0 has simplified the protocol for confidential clients and supported public clients, too. Regardless of whether it is known well or not, smartphone applications are classified as public clients (RFC 6749, 9), which benefit from OAuth 2.0.


OAuth 2.0 signatures are not required for the actual API calls once the token has been generated. It has only one security token.

OAuth 1.0 requires client to send two security tokens for each API call, and use both to generate the signature. It requires the protected resources endpoints have access to the client credentials in order to validate the request.

Here describes the difference between OAuth 1.0 and 2.0 and how both work.


OAuth 2 is apparently a waste of time (from the mouth of someone that was heavily involved in it):


He says (edited for brevity and bolded for emphasis):

...I can no longer be associated with the OAuth 2.0 standard. I resigned my role as lead author and editor, withdraw my name from the specification, and left the working group. Removing my name from a document I have painstakingly labored over for three years and over two dozen drafts was not easy. Deciding to move on from an effort I have led for over five years was agonizing.

...At the end, I reached the conclusion that OAuth 2.0 is a bad protocol. WS-* bad. It is bad enough that I no longer want to be associated with it. ...When compared with OAuth 1.0, the 2.0 specification is more complex, less interoperable, less useful, more incomplete, and most importantly, less secure.

To be clear, OAuth 2.0 at the hand of a developer with deep understanding of web security will likely result is a secure implementation. However, at the hands of most developers – as has been the experience from the past two years – 2.0 is likely to produce insecure implementations.


If you need some advanced explanation you need to read both specifications:



As you will see, there are a several conceptual differences.

Here I show you a technical difference if you need to consume or publish some service with oauth1 or oauth2:

OAuth 1.0 Flow

  1. Client application registers with provider, such as Twitter.
  2. Twitter provides client with a “consumer secret” unique to that application.
  3. Client app signs all OAuth requests to Twitter with its unique “consumer secret.”
  4. If any of the OAuth request is malformed, missing data, or signed improperly, the request will be rejected.

OAuth 2.0 Flow

  1. Client application registers with provider, such as Twitter.
  2. Twitter provides client with a “client secret” unique to that application.
  3. Client application includes “client secret” with every request commonly as http header.
  4. If any of the OAuth request is malformed, missing data, or contains the wrong secret, the request will be rejected.



OAuth 2.0 promises to simplify things in following ways:

  1. SSL is required for all the communications required to generate the token. This is a huge decrease in complexity because those complex signatures are no longer required.
  2. Signatures are not required for the actual API calls once the token has been generated -- SSL is also strongly recommended here.
  3. Once the token was generated, OAuth 1.0 required that the client send two security tokens on every API call, and use both to generate the signature. OAuth 2.0 has only one security token, and no signature is required.
  4. It is clearly specified which parts of the protocol are implemented by the "resource owner," which is the actual server that implements the API, and which parts may be implemented by a separate "authorization server." That will make it easier for products like Apigee to offer OAuth 2.0 support to existing APIs.



From a security point of view, I'd go for OAuth 1. See OAuth 2.0 and the road to hell

quote from that link: "If you are currently using 1.0 successfully, ignore 2.0. It offers no real value over 1.0 (I’m guessing your client developers have already figured out 1.0 signatures by now).

If you are new to this space, and consider yourself a security expert, use 2.0 after careful examination of its features. If you are not an expert, either use 1.0 or copy the 2.0 implementation of a provider you trust to get it right (Facebook’s API documents are a good place to start). 2.0 is better for large scale, but if you are running a major operation, you probably have some security experts on site to figure it all out for you."