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Authentication (HMAC)

The authentication is already implemented in the API clients (SDKs).

HMAC-based authentication is the single preferred way of authentication to Recombee APIs.

Thanks to the nature of our APIs, authentication can reuse simple shared-secret approach with signature generated according to the HMAC-SHA1 standard. To be able to use HMAC based auth, you will need a token, which you can obtain in the Recombee Admin UI.

In case of server side implementation use the private token (which needs to remain secret and known only to you and Recombee) and in case of client side implementation (e.g. in a mobile app) use the public token (see this section for details).

There are two params you need to attach to every API call:

  • hmac_timestamp - is a current UTC unix timestamp (integer)
  • hmac_sign - is signature computed from your request URI without protocol and host

Every signature has limited lifetime (currently 10s). Therefore it is important that you have your server time synchronized via ntp or other source of precise time.

For example you want to make a call to the following URL

Initial input to the signing method does not contain protocol and host parts. And the hmac_timestamp is added:


you sign this and finally append the signature:


Hash examples#

To see whether you are hashing properly, you can try hash these strings and verify the results.

TOKEN = "gahpiev6eighaig1aek4ujietheiXeengae3Ohqu9iecutheof5rooxeigheel8G"
Hello world1291b164d8332792233dcc8ce94e1c9ea6113fb8

During implementation you only need to hash the address with the hmac_timestamp, without domain or protocol:

Right hash string:


Wrong hash string:

Authentication of Client-Side Requests#

The same authentication method is used also for client side (frontend) requests.

The differences are:

  • use the public token for signing
  • different names of the params: use frontend_timestamp instead of hmac_timestamp and frontend_sign instead of hmac_sign
  • the RAPI endpoint is at

See this example.


If you are using the Postman for making some API calls, you can use the following script for authentication of your requests:

Example Implementations#

Description itself can be a bit cumbersome, but the actual implementations are very simple and straightforward.


import time
import hmac
from hashlib import sha1

key = 'gahpiev6eighaig1aek4ujietheiXeengae3Ohqu9iecutheof5rooxeigheel8G'

url = '/recombee/items/9346/recomms/?count=5&targetUserId=fb2fbe12-9f69-45a1-9fc0-df0c1592e4c7'\
      '&hmac_timestamp=%s' % int(time.time())

sign =, str.encode(url), sha1).hexdigest()

print('%s&hmac_sign=%s' % (url, sign))


require 'securerandom'
require 'digest/hmac'

KEY = "gahpiev6eighaig1aek4ujietheiXeengae3Ohqu9iecutheof5rooxeigheel8G"

url = '/recombee/items/9346/recomms/?count=5&targetUserId=fb2fbe12-9f69-45a1-9fc0-df0c1592e4c7' +

sign = Digest::HMAC.hexdigest(url, KEY, Digest::SHA1)

puts "#{url}&hmac_sign=#{sign}"



  $key = 'gahpiev6eighaig1aek4ujietheiXeengae3Ohqu9iecutheof5rooxeigheel8G';

  $url = '/recombee/items/9346/recomms/?count=5&targetUserId=fb2fbe12-9f69-45a1-9fc0-df0c1592e4c7';
  $url = $url . '&hmac_timestamp=' . time();

  $sign = hash_hmac("sha1", $url, $key);

  echo $url . "&hmac_sign=" . $sign;


import org.apache.commons.codec.binary.Hex;
import javax.crypto.Mac;
import javax.crypto.spec.SecretKeySpec;

String key = "gahpiev6eighaig1aek4ujietheiXeengae3Ohqu9iecutheof5rooxeigheel8G";

String url = "/recombee/items/9346/recomms/?count=5&targetUserId=fb2fbe12-9f69-45a1-9fc0-df0c1592e4c7"+
                "&hmac_timestamp="+System.currentTimeMillis() / 1000;

Mac mac = Mac.getInstance("HmacSHA1");
SecretKeySpec secret = new SecretKeySpec(key.getBytes(),"HmacSHA1");
byte[] rawHmac = mac.doFinal(url.getBytes());
String sign = Hex.encodeHexString(rawHmac);



Using sha1.js from jsSHA.


  <script type="text/JavaScript">
    var key = 'gahpiev6eighaig1aek4ujietheiXeengae3Ohqu9iecutheof5rooxeigheel8G';
    var url =
    url =
      url +
      (url.indexOf('?') == -1 ? '?' : '&') +
      'frontend_timestamp=' +
      parseInt(new Date().getTime() / 1000);

    var shaObj = new jsSHA('SHA-1', 'TEXT');
    shaObj.setHMACKey(key, 'TEXT');

    url = url + '&frontend_sign=' + shaObj.getHMAC('HEX');

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