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The proposed Cardano Improvement Proposal (CIP) outlines a conventional structure for data payloads that are signed by wallets, which can be used by decentralized application (dApp) servers to authenticate user requests. By leveraging the Cardano blockchain as an identity provider, dApp servers can securely and trustlessly verify user identities without relying on centralized servers or third-party services. This CIP aims to provide a standard approach for implementing wallet signature authentication in dApps, improving the security and reliability of user interactions with decentralized systems.


The cardano wallets have the ability to sign arbitrary piece of data as we can see in the Message signing CIP-0008. All wallets implement the method api.signData(addr: Address, payload: Bytes): Promise defined in Cardano dApp-Wallet Web Bridge CIP-0030.

dApps generate arbritary payloads as byte arrays. These payloads are signed and included in the protected headers of the signatures. The wallets are responsible for showing the payload data to the user, who will proceed to sign or reject the payload. It's a common practice to encode a string or a JSON string but there isn't any standard for the way to construct and to show this data.

The current implementations for web3 applications use static strings. This is dangerous because if a bad actor intercepts the signed message then it can be used in a replay attack by the bad actor. That's why it is very important to produce a dynamic payload rather a static string.

Another problem with the current approach is how the wallets show the information contained in the payload. The payload is a encoded byte array and it could contain anything. If Alice want to call an endpoint and Bob has the ability to change the message before Alice gets it. Alice must be notified somehow that she is signing a potentially malicious payload. A simple hex-encoded representation of the payload isn't enough to ensure a safe interaction.


This specification involves multiple parties: Wallet/Client, dApp Server and Blockchain.

  1. Wallet/Client: The Wallet/Client is responsible for managing the user's cryptographic keys. Anyone can create a wallet using the CIP-0030 API interface, but it may produce invalid or malicious data sent to the dApp. This CIP aims to validate the ownership and veracity of the data provided by wallets. Additionally, it establishes guidelines for mitigating common wallet attacks, improving security for user interaction.

  2. dApp Server: The dApp Server represents the server-side infraestructure that supports decentralized applications (dApps). It communicates with the blockchain to retrieve stored data and validate wallet status. It must enforce minimum payload requirements to ensure authenticity and protect users from malicious actors.

  3. Blockchain: The Blockchain is the underlying distributed ledger technology that forms the foundation of decentralized systems. It is a decentralized and immutable ledger that securely records all transactions and data in a chronological and transparent manner. The Blockchain can be utilized for authentication, providing user identity, and for authorization, tracking user history and current status.

+-----------+               +---------------+              +----------------+
| Wallet/ | | dApp Server | | Blockchain |
| Client | | | | |
+-----------+ +---------------+ +----------------+
| | |
| | |
| 1. Create payload | |
|------------+ | |
| | | |
|| |
| | |
| | 4. Verify signature |
| |------------+ |
| | | |
| ||
| | |

Requirement Levels

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

Payload structure

The payload MUST be encoded as a JSON string. JSON strings are semi-structured data that are human-readable. So that with a straightforward decoding into text, it will be understandable for the readers. This feature also allows the users to debug it in an easy manner, for example, with the browser debugger tools.

The content of the payload will be included in the protected header of the COSESign1 signature, hence the content effects directly the behavior and security of the system. The payload MUST have the following fields:

  1. The field uri MUST contain the full path to the endpoint, where the payload will be processed.

  2. Sometimes, the endpoint uri field is not enough to determine its purpose. The user should understand perfectly the objective of the payload which he or she is signing. That's why the payload MUST contain an action field with a descriptive text containing the purpose of the payload. For example, if someone calls the endpoint /users without an action field, they can create or delete users. However, by including the action field in the payload, it not only provides additional clarity but also effectively limits the scope of the payload.

  3. In order to improve globalization, the payload MAY include an actionText field that represents the action in the locale of the user. When present, the wallet MUST display this field to the user. By including the actionText field, the wallet facilitates the processing of the action field, eliminating the need for the server to be aware of the user's locale and the possible variants of the action text.

  4. The payload MUST include either a UNIX timestamp or a slot number. The slot field represents a specific time in the blockchain and serves as a reference for synchronization between the client and the server. The timestamp or slot number is also used as a nonce and serves as an indicator for payload expiration in case the payload is compromised.

Additional fields MAY be included in the payload, and these fields can be string fields or objects. Depending on the specific process or use case, including additional fields in the protected header of the signature can provide valuable functionality and security enhancements. For example, in a registration request, it may be useful to include the email information as an additional field in the protected header. By doing so, the payload can be uniquely associated with that specific email, ensuring its integrity and preventing tampering.

JSON Schema

"$schema": "",
"type": "object",
"properties": {
"uri": {
"type": "string",
"format": "uri"
"action": {
"type": "string"
"actionText": {
"type": "string"
"timestamp": {
"anyOf": [
"type": "integer"
{ "type": "string", "pattern": "^d+$" }
"slot": {
"anyOf": [
"type": "integer"
{ "type": "string", "pattern": "^d+$" }
"required": ["uri", "action"],
"oneOf": [{ "required": ["timestamp"] }, { "required": ["slot"] }],
"additionalProperties": {
"type": ["string", "object"]

Minimum payload:

"uri": "",
"action": "Sign in",
"timestamp": 1673261248,

Sign up payload examples:

"uri": "",
"action": "Sign up",
"timestamp": "1673261248",
"email": ""

"uri": "",
"action": "SIGN_UP",
"actionText": "Registrar",
"slot": 94941399

Wallet specification

The wallets can improve the overall security implementing the following guidelines. We RECOMMEND to show in a structured way the payload information for sake of clarity. This information should be well understood by the users before the payload is signed.

The uri field provides information about the hostname of the application. This hostname MUST be included in the wallet allow list. If a known domain A tries to sign a payload for an unknown domain B, you will be prompted with permission popup making more obvious the cross-domain interaction. When possible, the wallet SHOULD warn the user if a payload is for a different domain.

The wallet SHOULD update the timestamp field to the current time just before the signature. This field ideally should match the moment just before the signature such that the server receives fresh payload.

dApp Server processing

The server has ultimate responsibility of processing correctly the requests. We use the content to validate the payload. The request will be processed with the following steps:

  1. The server MUST check the action and the endpoint included in the request. Each route to an endpoint MUST have an associated action and a URI. The first step is to check that they match with the parameterized action.

  2. The server MUST check the expiration of the payload. The expiration SHOULD be enough to give time to the user to introduce the wallet password but it SHOULD NOT be too long, we RECOMMEND not more than 5 minutes.

  3. The server MUST validate the COSESign1 signature and check that the address inside the protected map of the signature corresponds to the public key in the COSEKey.

Additionally the server COULD extract the payload content and pass it through the server logic.

Rationale: how does this CIP achieve its goals?

CIP-0008 enhances authentication by enabling individuals to prove ownership of addresses, identities, and off-chain data through message signing. It provides a reliable means of authentication by allowing individuals to attach a public key to their data and sign messages associated with that data, thereby establishing ownership and ensuring the integrity of the authentication process.

Additionally, This specification provides the general guidelines and necessary recommendations for performing secure authenticated web3 requests in the Cardano ecosystem. It covers the two main desired characteristics for a secure payload: It must expire and it must be non-static. Moreover, the signature method proposed in this CIP does not require users to spend funds in a transaction, which further lowers the cost and barriers to entry for users.

Another important aspect for security is how wallets process the payload. They can improve the security using the data inside the payload to warn the users about possible malicious interactions. This specification emphasizes the importance of informing users clearly about the purpose of the payloads and how wallets can use the URI field to apply allow-lists and/or cross-domain policies. It establishes also the requirements and recommendations for server side processing. The server must also ensure the validity of the signature and the payload, as well as of its purpose in order to accomplish the authentication.

In addition to the aforementioned aspects, this CIP also aims to promote decentralization and enhance security and privacy by enabling users to sign and verify transactions without relying on external servers or third parties. By allowing users to create and sign their own payloads, this specification reduces the dependency on centralized authorities and enhances the security and privacy of the transactions.

Alternative implementations

During discussions about this specification, the possibility of modifying CIP-0008 to incorporate the standards defined here was considered. However, a thorough evaluation revealed that this approach would require extensive modifications to CIP-0008 and CIP-0030, leading to significant changes in the Cardano wallet API. Moreover, it would result in a lengthy waiting period for browser wallet developers to implement the necessary requirements. This could potentially bypass important security measures outlined in this CIP, such as the requirement for human readability.

While this alternative approach brings advantages, such as defining the payload in CBOR, which aligns well with Cardano, it also presents challenges. JSON and CBOR offer different levels of expressiveness, and the choice between the two depends on the specific needs of the application. JSON provides a more flexible and widely supported data format, whereas CBOR offers a more compact and efficient representation, particularly beneficial when working with the blockchain.

Considering these factors, it was concluded that deploying this standard as it currently stands, while coexisting with a future version that allows users to choose between JSON and CBOR payloads, would be the most practical approach. This would provide sufficient time for modifying CIP-0008 and CIP-0030, enabling browser wallet developers to fulfill the requirements for human readability and make necessary adjustments to the wallet API. Consequently, a version 2 of this CIP can be introduced, incorporating COSESign and CBOR, accommodating both realms, and ensuring broad support.

Common usage

The payload signature ensures wallet ownership without incurring transaction fees. However, requiring the user to enter their spending password for every authenticated request can be inconvenient for the user experience. To address this, it is recommended to restrict the use of the payload signature to only important requests such as login, sign up, or other critical operations depending on the dApp requirements.

A common practice is to request the user's signature for the login process, and once authenticated, the dApp can issue a session token, such as a JSON Web Token (JWT), to manage the session. By implementing this approach, future non-critical requests can be performed using standard web 2.0 methods, eliminating the need to enter the spending password for each step. This significantly enhances the usability of the application, providing a smoother user experience.

Version history

v12022-12-27Juan Salvador Magán ValeroInitial release

Reference implementation

Path to Active

Acceptance Criteria

  • At least one library should implement this authentication method.
  • The 80% users should have wallets implementing the following requirements:
    1. It MUST detect when the payload is formatted using this specification.
    2. The information contained in the payload MUST be parsed and formatted in the signing pop-up.
    3. The wallet SHOULD update the timestamp just before the payload is signed.
    4. The wallet MUST detect if the URI is in the allow list.
    5. The wallet SHOULD warn the user against cross-domain requests.
  • A detailed documentation about web3 standards should be published. This documentation will include this standard and further best practices for web3 technologies.

Implementation Plan

  • Create a library for processing payload according to this specification.
  • Open a conversation about this specification and its possible improvements.
  • Talk about further web3 standards and new specifications.
  • Write the documentation for web3 developers.

This CIP is licensed under CC-BY-4.0.

CIP Information

This null ./CIP-0093 created on 2022-12-27 has the status: Proposed.
This page was generated automatically from: cardano-foundation/CIPs.