Is there a difference between authentication and authorization?
I see these two terms bandied about quite a bit (specifically in web-based scenarios but I suppose it's not limited to that) and I was wondering whether or not there was a difference.
It appears to me that they both mean you're allowed to be doing what you're doing. So is this just a nomenclature thing, or is there a basic difference in meaning?
There is indeed a fundamental difference. Authentication is the mechanism whereby systems may securely identify their users. Authentication systems seek to provide answers to the questions:
- Who is the user?
- Is the user really who he/she represents himself to be?
Authorization, by contrast, is the mechanism by which a system determines what level of access a particular (authenticated) user should have to resources controlled by the system. For an example that may or may not be related to a web-based scenario, a database management system might be designed so as to provide certain specified individuals with the ability to retrieve information from a database but not the ability to change data stored in the database, while giving other individuals the ability to change data. Authorization systems provide answers to the questions:
- Is user X authorized to access resource R?
- Is user X authorized to perform operation P?
- Is user X authorized to perform operation P on resource R?
Steve Riley has written a quite good essay on why they must remain distinct.
Authentication refers to verifying an entity's identity. Authorization deals with what an authenticated entity is allowed to do (e.g. file permissions).
The main point is:
- Authentication deals with user account validation. Is this a valid user? Is this user registered in our application?. e.g.: Login
- Authorization deals with user access validation to certain feature. Does this user have the authorization/right to access this feature? e.g.: Claims, Roles
Authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user by obtaining some sort of credentials and using those credentials to verify the user's identity. If the credentials are valid, the authorization process starts. Authentication process always proceeds to Authorization process.
Authorization is the process of allowing an authenticated users to access the resources by checking whether the user has access rights to the system. Authorization helps you to control access rights by granting or denying specific permissions to an authenticated user.
In my experience, Authentication usually refers to the more technical process, i.e. Authenticating a user (by checking login/password credentials, certificates etc), whereas Authorization is used more in the Business Logic of an application.
For example, in an application, a user might login and be authenticated, but not authorized to perform certain functions.
Authenticating a user on a website means that you verify that this user is a valid user, that is, verifying who the user is using username/password or certificates, etc. In common terms, is the person allowed to enter the building?
Authorization is the process of verifying if the user has rights/permission to access certain resources or sections of a website, for example, if its a CMS then is the user authorized to change content of the website. In terms of the office building scenario, is the user allowed to enter the networks room of the office.
If I can log-in, my credentials are verified and I am AUTHENTICATED. If I can perform a particular task I am AUTHORIZED to do so.
Authentication verifies who you are and Authorization verifies what you are authorized to do. For example, you are allowed to login into your Unix server via ssh client, but you are not authorized to browser /data2 or any other file system. Authorization occurs after successful authentication........
Authentication verifies who you are and Authorization verifies what you are authorized to do. For example, you are allowed to login into your Unix server via ssh client, but you are not authorized to browser /data2 or any other file system. Authorization occurs after successful authentication.
Authentication: verifying who a user is.
To authenticate, the user provides credential information such as a username and password and if the credentials are valid, the user receives a token that can be sent in with future requests as verification of her authentication.
Authorization: determining what a user is allowed to do.
From the user’s perspective, a successful authorization takes place when she is able to send a request to access a system and do something (such as upload a file in the system) and it works.
Authentication only verifies identity—it confirms that a user is who she claims to be. Authorization determines which resources a verified user can access.
Authentication verifies who you are. For example, you can login into your server using the ssh client, or access your email server using the POP3 and SMTP client.
Authorization verifies what you are authorized to do. For example, you are allowed to login into your server via ssh client, but you are not authorized to browser /data2 or any other file system. Authorization occurs after successful authentication.
Authorization is a process by which server determines if the client has permission to use a resources or access file.
Authentication is used by a server when the server needs to know exactly who is accessing their information or site.
Simple real time example, If student is coming to school then principal is checking Authentication and Authorization. Authentication: Check student ID card it mean He or She belong to our school or not. Authorization: Check student have permission to sit in Computer Programming Lab or not.
I have tried to create an image to explain this in the most simple words
1) Authentication means "Are you who you say you are?"
2) Authorization means "Should you be able to do what you are trying to do?".
This is also described in the image below.
It is the process of validating if an identity is true or false. In other words, verifying that a user is indeed the one he or she claims himself/herself to be.
- Username + password type of authentication
- Authentication using social accounts
- Passwordless authentication
- Multifactor authentication
- Fingerprint or retina based authentication etc
OpenID is an open standard for authentication.
The technique that determines which resources are accessible to a user with a given identity or role.
OAuth is an open standard for authorization.