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Q: : No authentication challenges found

This was originally posted as an answer to the question " : No authentication challenges found" on

This error happens because the server sends a 401 (Unauthorized) but does not give a WWW-Authenticate header which is a hint to the client what to do next. The WWW-Authenticate header tells the client, which kind of authentication is needed (either Basic or Digest). This is probably not very useful in headless http clients, but that’s how the HTTP 1.1 RFC is defined. The error occurs because the lib tries to parse the WWW-Authenticate header but can’t.

From the RFC:

(…)The response MUST include a WWW-Authenticate header field (section 14.47) containing a challenge applicable to the requested resource.(…)

Possible solutions if you can change the server:

  • Add a fake “WWW-Authenticate” header like: WWW-Authenticate: Basic realm="fake". This is a mere workaround not a solution, but it should work and the http client is satisfied (see here a discussion of what you can put in the header). But beware that some http clients may automatically retry the request resulting in multiple requests (e.g. increments the wrong login count too often). This was observed with the iOS http client.
  • As proposed by loudvchar in this blog to avoid automatic reactions to the challenge like a pop-up login form in a browser, you can use a non-standard authentication method like so: WWW-Authenticate: xBasic realm="fake". The important point is that the realm has to be included.
  • Use HTTP status code 403 instead of 401. Its semantic is not the same and usually when working with login 401 is a correct response (see here for a detailed discussion) but the safer solution in terms of compatibility.

Possible solutions if you can’t change the server:

  • As @ErikZ wrote in his post you could use a try & catch
HttpURLConnection connection = ...;
try {
    // Will throw IOException if server responds with 401.
} catch (IOException e) {
    // Will return 401, because now connection has the correct internal state.
    int responsecode = connection.getResponseCode(); 
  • Use different http client like OkHttp