Forms authentication failed for the request. Reason: The ticket supplied was invalid

If your using forms authentication in .net and the application that creates the authentication cookie is different than the one that consumes it (i.e. Web farm scenario), the consuming application may not be able to decrypt the authentication token in the cookie and hence you might see something similar to ‘Forms authentication failed for the request. Reason: The ticket supplied was invalid’ in your event log. I had this recently and two common causes were:

  1. Machine key is different between application creating the authentication cookie and the application(s) using it.
    Keys must match. You can edit machine keys through IIS (as in below image) or directly through the web.config. Restart IIS/App pool shouldn’t be required.

image002

  1. Application creating the authentication cookie and the application(s) using it use a different cryptography core due to one targeting .net 4.5 and the other targeting 2.0 or 4.0. The method of decrypting tokens has changed since 4.5 and so an authentication token created by an application targeting 2.0/4.0 cannot be validated by an application targeting 4.5. The 4.5 cryptographic core is opt in (so not to break 2.0/4.0 applications running on machines which happen to have 4.5 installed) but the Visual Studio 4.5 project template includes one of the two different tags required to opt-in in the generated web.config. In our case our login app was a 2.0 app, but our new app was targeting 4.5.1 and so the default web.config included the following tag:

    <httpRuntime targetFramework=”4.5.1″ />

    which meant our new 4.5.1 app couldn’t decrypt the generated auth cookie. We simply changed that to <httpRuntime /> and things worked then. The second way to opt in is via the machinekey tag i.e:

    <machineKey compatibilityMode=”Framework45″ />

    so if you having problems decrypting make sure your apps have compatible runtimes set.

Related Links

Cryptographic Improvements in ASP.NET 4.5, pt. 2 – Great blog post detailing the cryptographic core changes in 4.5 and how to preserve compatibility with older versions of the framework.