How to Replace NTLM With Basic Authentication With a Proxy

How to Seamlessly Translate Basic Auth to NTLM in Your API Services Using Node.js

How to Replace NTLM With Basic Authentication With a Proxy

In today's interconnected world, where various applications and services interact seamlessly, encountering authentication protocols like NTLM can present unique challenges. This was precisely my dilemma when I encountered an API service requiring NTLM authentication, while my client did not support it. To bridge this gap, I devised a solution using Node.js to create a proxy that translates basic authentication credentials into NTLM authentication. This article outlines the process, including how to dockerize and deploy the solution using Docker Compose.

Understanding the Challenge

NTLM is a Microsoft authentication protocol used in Windows networks. While it's been largely replaced by more modern and secure methods, many legacy systems still rely on it. In contrast, Basic Authentication, a simpler HTTP authentication scheme, is widely supported but less secure. The need to connect a modern client that supports Basic Authentication to an NTLM-authenticated service necessitated an innovative solution.

The Node.js Proxy Solution

The core of this solution is a Node.js application that acts as a proxy. This proxy takes incoming Basic Authentication requests, extracts the username and password, and then uses these credentials to perform NTLM authentication with the target service.

Key Features of the Proxy:

Basic to NTLM Authentication: Seamlessly translates Basic Authentication headers to NTLM tokens.

Flexibility: Easily configurable to target different services.

Security: Ensures credentials are handled securely and minimizes exposure.

How It Works:

Receiving Requests: The proxy listens for incoming HTTP requests with Basic Authentication headers.

Credential Extraction: The username and password are extracted from the header.

NTLM Authentication: These credentials are then used to create an NTLM token, which is used to authenticate with the target service. Response Relay: Finally, the response from the service is relayed back to the original client.

Creating the Solution

Step 1: Initialize a NodeJS project

npm init -y

Step 2: Install packages

npm install atob express express-http-proxy httpntlm morgan

Step 3: Create server.js file

const express = require('express');
const morgan = require('morgan');
const httpntlm = require('httpntlm');
const atob = require('atob');

const app = express();
const port = process.env.PORT || 80;
const upstream = process.env.UPSTREAM|| "";

// Morgan for logging

// Basic Auth Translation
app.use((req, res, next) => {
    const authHeader = req.headers.authorization;
    if (!authHeader) {
        return res.status(401).send('Authorization header is missing');

    const [username, password] = atob(authHeader.split(' ')[1]).split(':');
    req.credentials = { username, password };
    delete req.headers.authorization;

// Proxy endpoint
app.use('/', (req, res) => {
    const { username, password } = req.credentials;

    const ntlmOptions = {
        username: username,
        password: password,
        url: `${upstream}${req.url}`,
        method: req.method,
        headers: req.headers,
        body: req.body,

    httpntlm[req.method.toLowerCase()](ntlmOptions, (err, ntlmRes) => {
        try {
            if (err) {
                return res.status(500).send(err);
            Object.keys(ntlmRes.headers).forEach(key => {
                res.setHeader(key, ntlmRes.headers[key]);
        } catch(error) {
            return res.status(500).send("Unknown internal error.");

app.listen(port, () => {
    console.log(`Reverse proxy listening on port ${port}`);
  1. Setting up Express App and Configuration:

    • Initializes the Express application.

    • Defines port for the server (default 80) and upstream URL (the target NTLM service).

  2. Basic Auth Translation Middleware:

    • Intercepts incoming requests to extract the Authorization header.

    • Decodes the Base64-encoded credentials (username and password) from the header.

    • Stores these credentials in req.credentials and removes the Authorization header that came with basic autentication before passing to the next middleware.

  3. Proxy Endpoint:

    • Captures all requests to the root endpoint ('/').

    • Constructs ntlmOptions with the extracted credentials, method, headers, and body of the incoming request.

    • Uses httpntlm to send the request to the upstream NTLM service, specifying the request method (GET, POST, etc.).

  4. Handling NTLM Responses:

    • On receiving the response from the NTLM service, forwards the headers, status code, and body back to the original client.

    • Implements error handling for failed NTLM requests or internal errors.

Dockerizing the Solution

Dockerizing the application makes it portable and easy to deploy.

# Use an official Node runtime as a parent image
FROM node:14

# Set the working directory in the container
WORKDIR /usr/src/app

# Copy package.json and package-lock.json (or npm-shrinkwrap.json) into the container
COPY package*.json ./

# Install any needed packages specified in package.json
RUN npm install

# Copy the rest of your app's source code from your host to your image filesystem.
COPY . .

# Make port 3000 available to the world outside this container

# Define environment variables

# Run the app when the container launches
CMD ["node", "server.js"]

Deploying with Docker Compose

version: '3.8'

    build: .
      - "80:80"
      PORT: 80
      UPSTREAM: "the target NTLM service"
    restart: always


This Node.js proxy serves as a versatile bridge between modern applications requiring Basic Authentication and legacy services using NTLM. Dockerization adds an extra layer of portability and ease of deployment, making it a robust solution for integrating disparate systems.

By sharing this solution, I hope to help others facing similar authentication challenges, demonstrating that with a bit of creativity and technical know-how, even the most complex interoperability issues can be effectively solved.