Authentication refers to the task of verifying the identity of a

connecting to an application. The simplest form of authentication
consists of a

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secret password that must be presented when a user connects to the

Unfortunately, passwords are easily compromised, for example, by
guessing, or

by sniffing of packets on the network if the passwords are not
sent encrypted.

More robust schemes are needed for critical applications, such as
online bank

accounts. Encryption is the basis for more robust authentication

Many applications use two-factor authentication, where two independent

factors (that is, pieces of information or processes) are used to identify
a user. The

two factors should not share a
common vulnerability; for example, if a system

required two passwords, both could be vulnerable to leakage in the same

While biometrics such as fingerprints or iris scanners can be used in

where a user is physically present at the point of authentication, they

not very meaningful across a network. Passwords are used as the first factor in
most such two-factor authentication schemes. Smart cards or other encryption
devices connected through the USB

which can be used for authentication based on encryption techniques are widely
used as second factors.


– the selected

After users are successfully
authenticated against the selected data source, they are than authorized for
specific data or database or network resources. Authorization is basically what
a user can and cannot do on the network after that user is authenticated.

Authorization is typically
implemented using a AAA server-based solution. Authorization uses a created set
of attributes that describes the user’s access to the specific data or database.
These attributes are compared to information contained within the AAA database,
and determination of restrictions for that user is made and delivered to the
local router where the user is connected.


Encryption can be used to
encrypt data while it is in transit or while it’s stored on a hard drive.
Cryptography is the study of protecting information by mathematically
scrambling the data, so it cannot be deciphered without knowledge of the
mathematical formula used to encrypt it. This mathematical formula is known as
the encryption algorithm. Cryptography is composed of two words: crypt (meaning
secret or hidden) and graphy (meaning writing). Cryptography literally means
secret or hidden writing. Cleartext is the plan text which can be read by
everyone and understandable data, and cipher text is the scrambled text as a
result of the encryption process. Cipher text should be unreadable and show no
repeatable pattern to ensure the confidentiality of the data.

There are three critical
elements to data security. Confidentiality, integrity, and authentication are
known as the CIA triad. Data encryption provides confidentiality, meaning the
data can only be read by authorized users. Message hashing provides integrity,
which ensures the data sent is the same data received and the information was
not modified in transit. Message digital signatures provide authentication
(ensuring users are who they say they are) as well as integrity. Message encrypting,
and digital signatures together provide confidentiality, authentication, and