Filestack offers mechanisms to authorize various API operations including protecting public URLs with cryptographic signatures.


By default, requests that modify existing files or account settings are authenticated, but requests to upload or deliver files are not. Requests are authenticated by checking a policy string that is signed by a shared secret. Applications can be configured on an individual basis so that every request is authenticated. All security settings are configurable in the Developer Portal.

Request Default Authentication
Modifies existing file yes
Modifies account settings yes
Uploads new file no
Delivers file no

Policies and Signatures

Authentication and authorization against our APIs relies on Base64URL-encoded JSON “policies” and HMAC-SHA256 “signatures”. The policy determines which actions are authorized and the signature authenticates the policy. Depending on the API, these values may be required as part of the path, query parameters, or body of a request.

The secret used for signing is automatically generated for each application. The secret should be carefully protected and never exposed client-side. A secure application stack requires backend code that generates and signs short-lived and limited-scope policies for clients. The secret can be regenerated as needed, but this will invalidate existing signatures.

Policy Structure

A policy must contain an “expiry” but can exclude all other values. A minimal policy, containing only an expiry, permits nearly all requests. The “call” value limits the types of requests allowed, and additional values limit request parameters. Getting EXIF data from image files requires explicit permission.

This policy allows any request except one to get EXIF data:

  "expiry": 501379200

This policy only allows uploading and saving to custom storage:

  "expiry": 501379200,
  "call": ["pick", "store"]

Policy Keys

A valid policy must contain an “expiry” value set in the future, but can exclude any other values.

Key Value Purpose
expiry Unix timestamp Sets policy expiration
call Array of call names Limits allowed requests, defaults to all
handle ID string Limits file modifications to a single file
container Regex Limits storage containers allowed for uploads
path Regex Limits storage paths allowed for uploads
url Regex Limits source URL’s allowed for transformations
minSize Size in bytes Sets a min size for uploads
maxSize Size in bytes Sets a max size for uploads


Policies without a “call” array allow every call by default except “exif”. Requests to get EXIF data require the “exif” call explicitly.

Name Allows
pick Uploading
read Reading
remove Deleting
store Saving to custom storage (also need “pick”)
write Overwriting (not new uploads)
convert Converting (and using the document viewer)
exif Getting exif metadata for image files
stat Getting file metadata


The Developer Portal contains a widget to create and sign policies and each of the SDK’s contain helper functionality for the same. The below example shows how to create and use a policy for file delivery.

Create a JSON policy string:

  "expiry": 1523595600,
  "call": ["read", "convert"],
  "handle": "bfTNCigRLq0QMOrsFKzb"

Base64URL encode the policy string:


Create a HMAC-SHA256 signature of the encoded policy (using ‘mysecret’ as key):


Using the policy and signature with a download URL:

Using the policy and signature with a resize transformation URL:,signature:5191e4c6c304c08296eab217ee05236a5bacaab9b581b535d5922a41079b77e0/bfTNCigRLq0QMOrsFKzb

Domain Whitelisting

Domain whitelisting stops the web picker from working on unapproved websites. Whitelisting works by blocking requests that don’t contain an approved domain in the “Origin” header. It’s trivial to spoof an “Origin” header outside the browser however, so while whitelisting prevents another website freeloading off of an API key, it does not protect against attacks generally. To truly protect an account against attacks or abuse, configure it to authenticate every request.