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Chapter 14. Security > Authentication

Authentication

Authentication is the process of establishing identity as an individual, a function, or a member of a class of individuals. Authentication procedures generally use one or more factors: something you know, something you have, or something you are. A high-security application generally requires at least two factors in the authentication process.

  • Something you know

    A password or secret that is known by an individual but not by anyone else. Generally, passwords should not be written down, but arguably this restriction should be relaxed for use on networks. The problem is that people tend to choose poor passwords, so they do not offer much security. Good passwords may be too difficult to remember. Another approach is the use of a pass-phrase consisting of several words.

  • Something you have

    A physical key, access card, or passport that is in the physical possession of an individual. In the electronic realm, this may be a hardware token or smart card. Arguably, a complex password or code that is written down is in this category, rather than being “something you know,” but traditionally “something you have” also implies that it cannot be copied.

  • Something you are

    A fingerprint, retinal pattern, or other so-called biometric that is a physical property of an individual.


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