What is Authentication?


The process of recognizing a user's identity is known as authentication. It is essentially the mechanism that attaches a request with a bunch of identifiable credentials. These credentials are then tested and compared with those that are present on a file. This way, the identity of the user can be confirmed.

Every time you are asked for a password at the start of online activity, an authentication occurs. It is initiated before the permission and throttling checks happen and before the activity in question proceeds. Authentication can occur in the form of different checks, which vary from platform to platform. The most common form of authentication is password protection. The password is a secret and known only to the system and the individual user. 

Types of Authentication

The three main types of authentication are: 

Type 1 – Something You Know

This type of authentication includes secret handshakes, code words, combinations, PINS, or passwords. As the name suggests, you are the sole proprietor of this knowledge, and the system knows this, and this is how the authentication is carried out.

Type 2 – Something You Have

Physical objects like keys, smartphones, smart cards, USB drives, and token devices can also be used for authentication. This allows you to be identified using something only you could possess.

Type 3 – Something You Are

This type includes any part of YOU that can authenticate the action you are interested in taking. So, fingerprints, palm scanning, facial recognition, voice verification, retina scans are part of Type 3 authentication.

Multi-Factor Authentication

The best form of authentication is the blend of the above-mentioned types. This makes it much harder for someone to get into your account and steal your information. Look at it this way — if a password is the only kind of check you have in place, it is much easier for the intruder to pass by as you. There’s only one attack skill that they may need, and expert-level hackers can easily get that. 

However, when you have multi-factor authentication, it is considerably more problematic for the intruder to acquire passwords and imitate other authentication devices, making multi-factor authentication a lot more safe and secure than other singular forms of authentication. 

How is Authentication Used?

User authentication takes place in the form of human-to-computer communications that aren’t automatic logins or guest accounts. Usually, this means that you have to have a username and a  password. Without these, you cannot access a system. This authentication authorizes human-to-machine communication in apps and operating systems and, in doing so, ensures that the customer’s data is not compromised.  

Companies also use authentication because it enables them to keep the networks safe. Only authorized users can access their resources, and as such, authentication protects them from harmful Internet activity. Unless the user passes their authentication process, he cannot connect to the network, database, or website of a particular company. 

The Difference Between Authentication and Authorization

Despite sounding similar, these two are very distinct security functions. Authorization is a lot more specific - it involves giving the user permission to access only one function or resource. Essentially, authorization is a form of permission that allows a person to do certain actions while on a certain platform. For example, you may be allowed to view the standard section but not the premium section. 

Final Words

To keep the web experience safe and sound, authentication is a critical process. Keep your passwords and other sensitive information safe so that your accounts are not compromised. If you have the option to secure your account with multi-factor authentication, do it.