python, Uncategorized

FastAPI Security with a User Database

Header photo by fabio on Unsplash

In the last post we looked at how to enable two-factor authentication with FastAPI using pyotp. We looked at some areas we might explore how to improve on the v1 implementation. In this post we will be updating the implementation to include:

  • A backend user database (in this case SQLite).
  • Functionality to add a new user.
  • Functionality for the user to update their data.

This is based on the FastAPI docs for SQL (Relational) Databases.

As part of this application, we will be using the SQLAlchemy ORM (Object Relational Mapping) toolkit to interact with a backend SQL database. SQLAlchemy helps to achieve a consistent relationship between the object representation in Python and data storage in SQL. Using SQLAlchemy, we can manipulate the objects directly in Python which are then reflected in the SQL database. To install SQLAlchemy you can run pip install SQLAlchemy from the command line.

Clone the Repo

The code for this tutorial can all be found in the v2 directory in the github repo. You will see some other .py files have been added:


The is taken from the tutorial example in the FastAPI docs and I have kept it almost exactly the same aside from changing the SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URL.

The file describes the database structure, the tables and (if any) the relationships between the tables. In here we will declare the table name and columns that are in the user table along with their type and any default values.

Next, the schemas that were originally in has now been moved into it’s own file. The User schemas have been separated by read, write, read/write and update. There are currently two role types that can be used; admin and user. You can add others if you wish, for example “moderator”.

The file contains the helper functions used to query the database. CRUD stands for Create, Read, Update, Delete. Keeping these functions together in a separate file prevents code duplication and simplifies maintenance. For this example, there is create, read and update but, at this point, no delete. In we have the functions that determine the endpoints of the API, which can utilise the functions defined in

To run the code, type uvicorn main:app --reload and open the docs page.

Connect to the SQLite database

When you run the code, you should see a .db file is created, in this case it is called twofactor_app.db. This is the file that contains the data in the SQLite database. To interact with and view this data you can install the SQLite browser, which is freely available here.

Once installed, you can click on Open Database and then select the .db file from the directory. Initially, you will see a database with no records.

Creating new users

In the last tutorial, there was no way to create new users, aside from hardcoding them into the script. The code has now been extended to enable new users to be added by posting to the /users endpoint.

In the file you will see a new function, which enables the details for a new user to be added. The password entered will be hashed and a random otp_secret (which we used to generate the QR code in the previous post) is generated as part of the code. Once a change has been implemented, we also need to commit changes using the db.commit() function.
def create_user(db: Session, user: schemas.UserCreate):
    hashed_password = pwd_context.hash(user.password)
    db_user = models.User(,
    return db_user

It has been set up so that only an admin can create a new user. As there are no current users, we will need to manually add an initial user, which I will explain how to do.

In the code, you will see that there is a new function def get_current_active_admin_user in which, if the user logged in is not admin it will return a permissions error. This dependency is shown highlighted in the code for creating a new user in"/users/", response_model=schemas.User)
def create_new_user(
    user: schemas.UserCreate,
    db: Session = Depends(get_db),
    current_user: schemas.User = Depends(get_current_active_admin_user)):
    db_user = crud.create_user(db, user)
    return db_user

To add an initial user to the database, use the SQLite browser tool. To add a new record, click on the add a new record symbol in the menu as shown in the following screenshot:

Input the following values into the columns:

  "username": "johndoe",
  "email": "",
  "full_name": "John Doe",
  "hashed_password": "$2b$12$rMFOsKHq6qaX6bbPB0pb6.ymbwF63soIe19af9qd.1Q8PhbCVfXSO", //this password has already been hashed
  "otp_secret": "LGLEREYEPVVWTLYO", 
  "disabled": 0,
  "role": "admin"

Click on “Write Changes” to commit the changes.

Click on the refresh symbol and you will see the new user has been added.

You will now be able to log in in the same way as shown in the previous post using two-factor authentication. Once logged in with an admin user you will be able to create new users using a POST request to the /user endpoint.

To try out creating a new user, click on the POST /users create new user endpoint on the FastAPI application docs page. Click on “Try it out” and then input the following example request body. Click on the “Execute” button.

  "username": "alicewonderland",
  "email": "",
  "full_name": "Alice Wonderland",
  "password": "whiterabbit"

User Operations

The v2 directory code now includes the ability for a user to:

  • read their own data information or that of another user (if admin).
  • update their own data

The following endpoints (other than create new user, which was mentioned in the previous section) are now available to use:

GET /users/me – dependent on a user being logged in. If this dependency is fulfilled, this request will return the user details in the response body.

PUT /users/me – dependent on a user being logged in. If this dependency is fulfilled, user can update their own user data and these changes will be updated in the SQLite user database.

GET /users/{user_id} – dependent on a user being logged in and admin. If this dependency is fulfilled, admin users can get the user data for a user based on their user_id.

In the next installment, I will cover how we can make some more improvements so stay tuned! If there is something you are specifically interested in learning about FastAPI, feel free to leave it in the comments.


Getting started with Two-Factor Authentication in FastAPI

Header photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

DISCLAIMER: This tutorial is not a production ready implementation. It is an introduction into the implementation of two-factor authentication in FastAPI. Some issues are highlighted at the bottom of this article, some of which we will look into into future installments. Any application utilizing personal and/or sensitive information should be properly audited and penetration tested.

I’ve been using FastAPI for a project and, whilst looking at it’s security module, decided to write an article on how to set up Two-Factor (or Multi-Factor) authentication.

FastAPI is a Python package for easily creating REST API endpoints. Many of the tools you need to implement security are already included in the package.

Clone the repo for this tutorial here. The code is originally from the FastAPI security tutorial.


  • Python 3
  • Google Authenticator app (or compatible other) installed on your phone.
  • Clone this github repo that contains the code for this tutorial.

Step 1: Create and activate virtual environment and install FastAPI.

I am starting with the code from the FastAPI security tutorial docs.

Install FastAPI and the required packages:

pip install fastapi[all]
pip install python-jose[cryptography]
pip install passlib[bcrypt]

cd into the v0 directory of the github repo and the run the following command:

uvicorn --reload main:app

You should see the FastAPI application running at the specified (by default address.

Click on ‘Authorise’ in the top right. Enter the credentials that are in the code:

username: johndoe
password: secret

You can now try to make a GET request on the /users/me endpoint. You will see the following details for this user as the response:

  "username": "johndoe",
  "email": "",
  "full_name": "John Doe",
  "disabled": false

Step 2: Generating One-Time passwords with PyOTP

To enable the use of a one-time password, we are going to be using the PyOTP library. First install the library using the following command:

pip install pyotp

First, generate a pyotp secret key. This will give a random string with base 32 encoding, which is used to generate the one-time passcodes. You can do the following:

>>> import pyotp 
>>> pyotp.random_base32()

We can now generate a uri that can be used to create a QR code to allow the user to set up their authenticator app with the following code:

>>> pyotp.totp.TOTP('LGLEREYEPVVWTLYO').provisioning_uri(
name='', issuer_name='Secure App')

You can use the Qrious codepen example to generate a QR code using the uri we just generated.

Scan the QR code with your authenticator app. You should now be able to see a one-time password that is generated and renewed every thirty seconds.

In the Python shell you can also get the current one-time password by running the following commands:

>>> totp = pyotp.TOTP("LGLEREYEPVVWTLYO")
>>> print("Current OTP:",
Current OTP: 654244

Note, you will need to run the command in the same 30 second window. If this doesn’t work, ensure there are no typos and check that the date and time zone settings on both the phone you are using and the machine running the code.

Step 3: Integrate PyOTP with FastAPI

So that each user can eventually have their own OTP secret, we need to add a new field to the fake user database for "otp_secret". As an example, for user John Doe, we will use the secret key we generated previously.

fake_users_db = {
    "johndoe": {
        "username": "johndoe",
        "full_name": "John Doe",
        "email": "",
        "hashed_password": "$2b$12$EixZaYVK1fsbw1ZfbX3OXePaWxn96p36WQoeG6Lruj3vjPGga31lW",
        "disabled": False,
        "otp_secret": "LGLEREYEPVVWTLYO"

Also, add this field to the UserInDB class like so:

class UserInDB(User):
    hashed_password: str
    otp_secret: str

The easiest implementation of the OTP into the existing authentication workflow is to assume that the user will append their one-time password to their password. Thus, we will now change the code to check for both the correct password and currently valid one-time password.

def authenticate_user(fake_db, username: str, password: str):
    user = get_user(fake_db, username)
    if not user:
        return False
    if not verify_password(password[:-6], user.hashed_password):
        return False
    totp = pyotp.TOTP(user.otp_secret)
    if not totp.verify(password[-6:]):
        return False
    return user

Now when you execute this v1 version of the code, you can still authenticate at the FastAPI docs page. However, now the authentication is based on the user entering both the password (secret) + one-time password.

Further considerations

Here are some further considerations for a more production-like implementation, which we will look at in the next posts:

Remove passwords and secrets from source code

At the moment, the passwords and secrets are hard coded into the example. Ideally, we would want to remove these from the source code and in the next post I will go over an example of how to do this.

Upgrade the fake database

The database is currently hardcoded into the script. For a more realistic implementation, we will use a simple database, which I also cover in the next post.

Mechanism for user administration

Currently there is only a single user and adding more users would require changing the source code, which isn’t what we want. For a more realistic scenario, we need a way to add/remove/change users.

Token Expiry

At the moment, in this example, the jwt token expires after 30 minutes. After this, the user needs to log in again using their password and the one-time password. Depending on the type of application, this may not be very user friendly.