How to Generate Authtokens and Control API Scopes in Zoho to Enhance API Security

This article focuses on the essential aspects of enhancing API security in Zoho integrations. Learn how to generate access tokens or authtokens and effectively manage and control Zoho API scopes, ensuring controlled data access and safeguarding sensitive information for seamless and secure data exchange.

Published on February 27, 2024

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Who is this feature for?

  • Developers & API integrators
  • Data analysts & System/IT administrators
  • Business owners & End users

What progress will you accomplish?

  • Enhance API security and controlled data access
  • Improve application reliability and increased trust
  • Faster integration development and flexible data sharing

Introduction

In this article, we explore the pivotal role of Authtokens and API scopes in strengthening API security within Zoho’s ecosystem. By adopting the OAuth 2.0 protocol for authentication, Zoho’s REST APIs provide a more secure and flexible approach to access control.

Auth tokens act as temporary keys, granting access to specific data without exposing sensitive user credentials to third-party applications. We will lead you through the process of generating authtokens while also instructing you on utilizing Postman for making POST requests to Zoho servers.

Additionally, we delve into the significance of API scopes, empowering developers to control access to specific resources and functionalities, and safeguarding sensitive data from unauthorized exposure. By the end, you’ll be equipped to implement authtokens and manage API scopes, enhancing the security and efficiency of your Zoho integrations.

Authtokens and the Significance of API Scopes

Authtokens are vital for secure API access in Zoho integrations. They act as short-lived tokens, granting permissions without compromising user credentials.

Offering a more secure approach than traditional methods, Authtokens or access tokens enable limited and time-bound access to specific resources in Zoho. Their short validity minimizes potential damage even if compromised.

Upgraded with OAuth 2.0, Zoho ensures safer authentication and granular data access for enhanced security within its ecosystem. This upgrade ensures a safer authentication experience within Zoho’s ecosystem.

API Scopes in Zoho integrations enable effective data access control. By defining specific scopes, developers regulate user permissions, minimizing over-privileged access risk. This tailored approach enhances security and protects sensitive data, optimizing Zoho integrations for usability and safety.

Generating Authtokens in Zoho

Step 1: Registering new client

To begin generating authtokens or access tokens, access Zoho Developer Console using the following link: https://accounts.zoho.com/developerconsole.

Then, log in using your Zoho CRM account credentials. Once logged in, proceed to create a client application by clicking on the Add Client button within the console.

Select Server-based Applications, and complete the necessary fields, including the Client Name, Homepage URL, and Authorized Redirect URIs. Afterward, click on the Create button.

[Please take note that if you do not possess a domain name and redirect URL, you may use placeholder values such as “http://www.zoho.com/books” during the registration of your client.]

Upon registration, a Client ID and Client Secret will be generated for your client. These credentials are essential for your application code as they are used to obtain the access token.

Step 2: Generating grant token

In order to acquire the code required for generating an authtoken or access token, the initial step involves generating a grant token. This can be done by modifying and visiting the following link:

‘https://accounts.zoho.com/oauth/v2/auth?scope=xxxx&client_id=yyyy&state=testing&response_type=code&redirect_uri=zzzz&access_type=offline’

Remember to modify the link by inserting your specific credentials and defining the scope for which the token needs to be generated. The scope determines the access permissions of the token.

You have the flexibility to provide multiple scopes, and they must be separated by commas. For instance, substituting ‘xxxx’ in the above link with “ZohoBooks.fullaccess.all” will grant you full access to all available scopes in Zoho Books.

To explore the complete list of scopes available in Zoho Books and determine a scope that suits your needs, follow this link:
https://www.zoho.com/books/api/v3/oauth/#overview

Replace ‘yyyy’ with your Client ID and ‘zzzz’ with your redirect URI, ensuring to remove all spaces from the link. Once you’ve made these modifications, redirect to the updated link.

When you make this request, a “user consent page” will appear, prompting you to click Accept. After clicking Accept, Zoho will redirect you to the provided redirect_uri, along with the parameters “code” and “state.”

Copy the received code as it will be required to make a POST request for generating an access token or authtoken.

[Please take note that the code remains valid for only one minute. Therefore, it is essential to make a POST request for the access token within that one-minute window immediately after generating the grant token.]

Step 3: Generate authtoken (access token) and refresh token

Once you have obtained the code from the previous step, proceed to make a POST request using the following URL, making sure to modify its parameters to generate the access_token, which will serve as your authtoken:

‘https://accounts.zoho.com/oauth/v2/token?code=xxxx&client_id=yyyy&client_secret=zzzz&redirect_uri=qqqq&grant_type=authorization_code’

Replace ‘xxxx’ with your code, ‘yyyy’ with your Client ID, ‘zzzz’ with your Client Secret, and ‘qqqq’ with your Redirect URI.

For ease of making POST requests and building APIs, consider using software like Postman.

It simplifies each step of the API lifecycle, allowing you to effortlessly create, share, test, and document APIs. Additionally, you can store information for running tests in various environments using Postman.

Leveraging Postman for generating the access token

Once you have installed Postman, launch the application and click on the Import option. Then, paste the provided link using the format ‘curl ” “’ into the designated field and press Enter.

Here’s the link to be pasted:

https://accounts.zoho.com/oauth/v2/token?code=xxxx&client_id=yyyy&client_secret=zzzz&redirect_uri=qqqq&grant_type=authorization_code

Since this is a POST request, we will switch the method from GET to POST and update the link accordingly.

Now, fill in the values for all the keys in the Query Params section. Enter the code, Client ID, Client Secret, and Redirect URI.

After making the necessary modifications to the link, click on the Send button to initiate a POST request to Zoho servers.

As a response to your request, you will receive both the access_token and refresh_token. The response will be in the following format:

{

    “access_token”: “1000.d21d3bf04f5835d1295f900aef935570.ce8d4a341d0a6410ffd558f3eeb7087e”,

    “refresh_token”: “1000.b0112e83b46b739d8836cd189165afa7.144a9e31a62f6c92e6d6e11d4ea6d733”,

    “scope”: “ZohoBooks.invoices.Create ZohoBooks.invoices.UPDATE ZohoBooks.invoices.READ ZohoBooks.invoices.DELETE”,

    “api_domain”: “https://www.zohoapis.com“,

    “token_type”: “Bearer”,

    “expires_in”: 3600

}

The access_token serves as your authtoken, but it has a limited duration (as indicated by the expires_in parameter in the response).

On the other hand, the refresh_token is permanent and serves the purpose of generating a new access_token in case the current one expires.

Step 4: Generate authtoken from the refresh token

To obtain a new access token, you can redirect to the following POST URL, providing your client credentials as parameters:

‘https://accounts.zoho.com/oauth/v2/token?refresh_token=xxxx&client_id=xxxx&client_secret=xxxx&redirect_uri=xxxx&grant_type=refresh_token’

Use Postman for this purpose. Simply click on Import and paste the above link using the format ‘curl ” “‘, then press Enter. This will enable you to request a new access token seamlessly.

As previously instructed, make the necessary modifications to the link, and remember to include the refresh_token.

Change the method from GET to POST, and finally, click on the Send button to initiate the request.

Upon successful request, the response will resemble the following:

{

    “access_token”: “1000.8e962e0c57cfbe4ccf652258a4b39c26.3845098412da5891e02bffb98b42bcdf”,

    “scope”: “ZohoBooks.invoices.Create ZohoBooks.invoices.UPDATE ZohoBooks.invoices.READ ZohoBooks.invoices.DELETE”,

    “api_domain”: “https://www.zohoapis.com“,

    “token_type”: “Bearer”,

    “expires_in”: 3600

}

The access_token in the response serves as your new authtoken, providing you with complete access to the Invoices module of Zoho Books.

You can utilize this token to interact with Zoho’s services for the duration specified in the ‘expires_in‘ parameter (3600 seconds in this case).

Controlling and Managing API Scopes

In Zoho, you have the capability to manage API scopes for your client applications, allowing you to control their level of access to various modules and functionalities.

API scopes determine the specific data and operations that your application can access on behalf of the user. When generating a grant token for an authtoken request, you can define the scope of your client.

For instance, to provide your client with complete access to the Invoices module of Zoho Books, you can set the scope as follows: “ZohoBooks.invoices.Create, ZohoBooks.invoices.UPDATE,ZohoBooks.invoices.READ,ZohoBooks.invoices.DELETE.”

This approach empowers you to have fine-grained control over the API scopes of your client applications. Furthermore, you can set specific permissions, such as read, create, update, or delete, for each module as needed.

For instance, if you wish to limit your client’s access to only read Leads module data from Zoho CRM, you can set the scope as “ZohoCRM.modules.leads.READ” while generating a code for the client.

By utilizing these capabilities, you can precisely manage and tailor the access levels of your client applications to suit your requirements.

Using this code, we will proceed to generate an access token. With the obtained access token, the client will have the capability to exclusively read data from the Leads module of Zoho CRM.

Zoho offers OAuth Scopes for each of its products. For instance, you can explore the Zoho People API scopes by visiting the following link:
https://www.zoho.com/people/api/scopes.html.

Similarly, to understand the scopes related to Zoho CRM APIs, you can refer to: https://www.zoho.com/crm/developer/docs/api/v4/scopes.html.

What Pain Points Does It Solve?

Implementing authtokens and API scope management in Zoho integrations helps address several pain points related to API security:

  1. Reduced Risk of Unauthorized Access: It eliminates the need for sharing sensitive user credentials with third-party applications and minimizes the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches.
  2. Limited Access to Specific Data: It allows developers to control access to specific resources and functionalities, ensuring that users only have access to the data they need, preventing over-privileged access.
  3. Enhanced Data Protection: Developers can safeguard sensitive data from being exposed to unauthorized users, reducing the likelihood of data leaks or misuse.
  4. Improved User Experience: Authorization tokens provide a seamless and user-friendly authentication process. Users can confidently grant limited access to their data without compromising their login credentials.
  5. Streamlined Integration Testing: Leveraging Postman for authtoken generation streamlines integration testing, making it easier for developers to ensure that APIs are functioning as expected before deployment.
  6. Simplified API Management: Managing and controlling API scopes offers developers a structured approach to control data access, leading to better organization and maintenance of API integrations.

Overall, implementing authtokens and controlling API scopes helps resolve security concerns, enhances user control, and provides a more secure and efficient way to integrate with Zoho’s suite of applications.

Conclusion

As this article concludes, it becomes clear that emphasizing API security is vital in the modern interconnected environment.

Grasping the importance of API scopes enables us to exert precise authority over data access, safeguarding sensitive information from unauthorized exposure.

Bear in mind that a well-executed authtokens and API scope approach is the gateway to unlocking Zoho’s integration capabilities to their fullest while upholding a strong security stance.

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