Authentication: what's this? Basic concepts
Surely every user of computer systems (and not only) is constantly faced with the concept of authentication. It must be said that not everyone clearly understands the meaning of this term, constantly confusing it with others. In a general sense, authentication is a very voluminous concept, which may include a combination of some other terms describing additional processes. Without going into technical details, consider what it is.
The common definition for this concept is to authenticate something. In fact, authentication is a process that allows you to determine the compliance of an object or subject with some previously recorded unique data or characteristics. In other words, in some system there are certain characteristics that require confirmation to access its main or hidden functions. Notice, this is the process. It should not be confused with identification (which is one of the components of the authentication process) and authorization.
In addition, there is a one-way and mutual authentication based on modern methods of cryptography (data encryption). The simplest example of mutual authentication can be, say, the process of two-way adding users as friends on some social networking sites, when confirmation is required from both sides.
So. Identification, in terms of computer technology, is the recognition of an object or, say, a user by a previously created identifier (for example, login, first and last name, passport data, identification number, etc.). Such an identifier, by the way, is subsequently used during the authentication procedure.
Authorization is the least simple method that provides access to certain functions or resources of various systems by entering, for example, a login and password. In this case, the difference between the concepts is that when authorizing, the user is only granted certain rights, while authentication is just the same comparison of the same login and password with the data,registered in the system itself, after which you can get access to the advanced or hidden functions of the same Internet resource or software product (use the authorization code).
Probably, many were faced with a situation where downloading a file from a site cannot be done without authorization on a resource. It is after the authorization that the authentication process follows, which opens up this possibility.
Why is authentication needed?
The areas in which authentication processes are applied are very diverse. The process itself allows you to protect any system from unauthorized access or the introduction of unwanted elements. For example, authentication is widely used when checking emails using a public key and a digital signature, when comparing checksums of files, etc.
Consider the most basic types of authentication.
Types of authentication
As mentioned above, authentication is most widely used in the computer world. The simplest example was described using the example of authorization when entering a specific site. However, the main types of authentication are not limited to this.
One of the main areas where such a process is used is to connect to the web. It will be a wired connection or WiFi authentication - no difference. In this and in the other case, the authentication processes are almost the same.
In addition to using a login or password to access the Network, special software modules produce, so to speak, verification of the legality of the connection. WiFi or wired authentication means more than just comparing passwords and logins. Everything is much more complicated. First, the IP address of the computer, laptop or mobile gadget is checked.
But the situation is such that you can change your own IP in the system, which is called elementary. Anyone more or less familiar with this user can perform such a procedure in a matter of seconds. Moreover, programs that automatically change the external IP, today on the Internet you can find a huge number.
But then the fun begins. At this stage, authentication is also a means of verifying the MAC address of a computer or laptop. Probably, there is no need to explain that each MAC address is unique in itself, and in the world of two identical ones it simply does not happen. This is exactly what makes it possible to determine the legality of connection and access to the Network.
In some cases, an authentication error may occur. This may be due to incorrect authorization or inconsistency with a previously defined identifier. Rarely, but still there are situations where the process cannot be completed due to errors of the system itself.
The most common authentication error is when using a connection to the Web, but this basically only applies to incorrect password entry.
If we talk about other areas, the most popular such process is in biometrics. That biometric authentication systems today are among the most reliable. The most common methods are fingerprint scanning, which is now even found in the blocking systems of the same laptops or mobile devices, and retinal scan. This technology is applied at a higher level, providing, say, access to secret documents, etc.
The reliability of such systems is explained quite simply. After all, if you look at it, there are no two people in the world whose fingerprints or retinal structure completely coincide.So this method provides maximum protection in terms of unauthorized access. In addition, the same biometric passport can be called a means of checking a law-abiding citizen using an existing identifier (fingerprint) and comparing it (as well as data from the passport itself) with what is in a single database.
In this case, user authentication seems to be as reliable as possible (not counting, of course, forgery of documents, although this is a rather complicated and time-consuming procedure).
Hopefully, from the above, it will be clear what the authentication process is.