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Security measure designed to protect a communications system against fraudulent transmissions and establish the authenticity of a message.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


The verification of the identity of a person or process. In a communication system, authentication verifies that messages really come from their stated source, like the signature on a (paper) letter. The most common form of authentication is typing a user name (which may be widely known or easily guessable) and a corresponding password that is presumed to be known only to the individual being authenticated. Another form of authentication is biometrics.
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(1) Verifying the integrity of a transmitted message. See message integrity, email authentication and MAC.

(2) Verifying the identity of a user logging into a network or computer. Passwords, digital certificates, smart cards and biometrics can be used to prove user identity (see below). Digital certificates can also be used to identify the network to the client. See digital certificate, identity management, identity metasystem, OpenID, human authentication, challenge/response, IP spoofing and CAPTCHA.

Four Levels of Proof

The four levels of proof follow in order of least secure to most secure. None of them are entirely foolproof, which is why two methods are widely used (see two-factor authentication).

1 - What You Know
Passwords only verify that somebody knows the correct combination of characters. The answer to a security question such as "what is the name of your grandmother?" is in the same category. Although more personal, almost any data can be researched on the Web. See password.

2 - What You Have
A private cryptographic key in the computer is far more secure than a password, and authentication tokens, such as a USB key, verify that there is a physical item in the user's possession. However, computers and USB tokens can be stolen. See challenge/response, digital signature, public key cryptography and authentication token.

3 - What You Are
Biometrics such as fingerprint and iris recognition are more difficult to forge, but these systems can be fooled. See biometrics.

4 - What You Do
Dynamic biometrics such as hand writing a signature and speaking a particular phrase are the most secure; however, replay attacks can fool the system.
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References in periodicals archive ?
The authentification of each electronic recording requires the presence of a witness, under oath, that is willing to answer a set of questions, in order to prove the effieciency of evidence, to state the identity of the digital recordings and the existence of a policy for the information security, that must define the general directives, at the organisational level, regarding the information security, trials and principles for the use of criptography.
An authentification code may be needed to end the transaction but it is usually not required for small transactions.
Taxonomic authentification of plant specimens was performed by taxonomist at Department of Botany-Herbarium and Botanic garden, Maseno University, Kenya.
Therefore, just a few of the ten USP methods are somewhat, but not entirely, useful for saw palmetto extract authentification, whereas there are several possible ways to adulterate saw palmetto extract.
Not only are you naturally predictable, "the harder you try to be random, the more predictable you become," wrote Mark Burnett and Dave Kleiman in their book Perfect Passwords: Selection, Protection, and Authentification. By trying to avoid patterns, you create them.
The 1958 Hofner Senator is expected to sell for between pounds 100,000 and pounds 150,000 and comes with an authentification certificate from George Harrison.
Many departments conduct constructions and management on their own, without authentification, planning and assessment.
Species determination and authentification of meat samples by mitocondrial 12S rRNA gene sequence analysis and conformationsensitive gel electrophoresis.
Code examples, real-life scenarios and practical checklists are also included to ensure the enforcement of strict authentification and file system access.
Smart cards are more secure than prox cards because you can embed a digital certificate and/or biometric template on a smart card, its card serial number (CSN) can be encrypted, and mutual authentification between card and reader is possible.
(29) Mandell needs no university course in "authentification." She has been dragged beyond Zhu Xi's lampshade far into dark corners where evil lurked waiting to make its deadly strike.