ARA API Server authentication and security

The API server ships with a default configuration that emphasizes simplicity to let users get started quickly.

By default:

  • A random SECRET_KEY will be generated once if none are supplied
  • No users are created
  • API authentication and permissions are not enabled
  • ALLOWED_HOSTS and CORS_ORIGIN_WHITELIST are configured for use on localhost

These default settings can be configured according to the requirements of your deployments.

Setting a custom secret key

By default, the API server randomly generates a token for the ARA_SECRET_KEY setting if none have been supplied by the user.

This value is persisted in the server configuration file in order to prevent the key from changing on every instanciation of the server.

The default location for the server configuration file is ~/.ara/server/settings.yaml.

You can provide a custom secret key by supplying the ARA_SECRET_KEY environment variable or by specifying the SECRET_KEY setting in your server configuration file.

User management

The API server leverages Django’s user management but doesn’t create any user by default.


Creating users does not enable authentication on the API. In order to make authentication required for using the API, see Enabling authentication for read or write access.

In order to create users, you’ll need to create a superuser account before running the API server:

$ ara-manage createsuperuser --username=joe
Password (again):
Superuser created successfully.


If you ever need to reset the password of a superuser account, this can be done with the “changepassword” command:

$ ara-manage changepassword joe
Changing password for user 'joe'
Password (again):
Password changed successfully for user 'joe'

Once the superuser has been created, make sure the API server is started and then login to the Django web administrative interface using the credentials you just set up.

By default, you can start the API server with ara-manage runserver and access the admin interface at

Log in to the admin interface:


Access the authentication and authorization configuration:


And from here, you can manage existing users or create new ones:


Enabling authentication for read or write access

Once you have created your users, you can enable authentication against the API for read (ex: GET) and write (ex: DELETE, POST, PATCH) requests.

This is done with the two following configuration options:

These settings are global and are effective for all API endpoints.

Enabling external authentication

Once you you have enabled authentication against the API, you can enable external authentication. This is usefull especially in production environments.

This is done with the following configuration option:

Setting up authentication for the Ansible plugins

The callback plugin used to record playbooks as well as the ara_record action plugin will need to authenticate against the API if authentication is enabled and required.

You can specify the necessary credentials through the ARA_API_USERNAME and ARA_API_PASSWORD environment variables or through your ansible.cfg file:

# ...

api_client = http
api_server =
api_username = ara
api_password = password

Using authentication with the API clients

To instanciate an authenticated client with the built-in basic HTTP authentication provided by Django:

from ara.clients.utils import get_client
client = get_client(

If you have a custom authentication that is supported by the python requests library, you can also pass the relevant auth object directly to the client:

from ara.clients.http import AraHttpClient
from requests_oauthlib import OAuth1
auth = OAuth1(
client = AraHttpClient(endpoint="", auth=auth)

Managing hosts allowed to serve the API

By default, ARA_ALLOWED_HOSTS authorizes localhost, ::1 and to serve requests for the API server.

In order to host an instance of the API server on another domain, the domain must be part of this list or the application server will deny any requests sent to it.

Managing CORS (cross-origin resource sharing)

The ARA_CORS_ORIGIN_WHITELIST default is designed to allow a local development instance of an ara-web dashboard to communicate with a local development instance of the API server.

The whitelist must contain the domain names where you plan on hosting instances of ara-web.