The Ultimate Guide to Authn vs. Authz
Authentication (Authn) vs. Authorization (Authz) !
In information security, Authentication (abbreviated as authn) and Authorization (authz) are related but separate concepts. Both are an important part of identity and access management (IAM).
Authentication and authorization are essential aspects of identity and access management (IAM). Authentication (Authn) : is the process of verifying that an individual or entity possesses a specific identity. Authorization (Authz) : is the process of authorizing an individual or entity to perform a specific set of tasks while they have the required permission.
What is authentication (Authn)?
Authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a person or entity. In an authentication system, a user’s credentials are verified by a trusted third party and a password is generated for that user .
A common example of an authentication system is the user’s login credentials. Authentication systems are typically used to protect users from unauthorized use of a network. A password is the most basic form of authentication, in which the identity and privileges of a user are determined by a combination of specific data (such as username and password) and personal attributes.
What are some common authentication (authn) methods?
The authentication method is the process of authenticating (or verifying) a user’s identity. Authentication methods can be divided into two categories:
Password and Biometrics : Windows has implemented a combination of these authentication methods to meet the needs of different types of users.
Public key certificate : Public key authentication is a form of encryption, where the sender and the receiver use public keys. Public keys are generated by the sender and it’s stored in a public/private system. it can be more secure. It uses public key encryption to verify whether or not the authenticated party has the right private key.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) : MFA is most often implemented as two-factor authentication (2FA). Today many services implement 2FA by asking users to prove they have a token they were issued. This token can be generated by the service, or the user can create it on their own
What is authorization (authz)?
Authorization is the process of granting permission to access a resource.
The authorization process is usually performed by an authz system, which is a special kind of software that allows users to grant access to resources. based on their roles.
In one of its simplest forms, the authz system just allows users to access resources on the server, and is limited by a given set of permissions. This is called a controlled access system. In its most complicated form, an authz system can be used to create resource authorization schemes that allow multiple users to access the same resource at once.
How does authorization (authz) work?
Organizations use some kind of authorization solution for allowing or blocking user actions.
An authentication system is a system that allows users to authenticate their identity via some action. The steps taken typically involve:
In order to determine user permissions, we will be using the following approach:
- In role-based access control (RBAC): RBAC is a way of assigning permissions to applications and files. In most systems, users or groups of users are assigned roles, and one can then only access the files or applications that belong to a given group.
- In attribute-based access control (ABAC) : Users are assigned permissions based on their attributes or the attributes of the action they are trying to perform. ABAC is a security technique designed to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.
- In rule-based access control (RBAC): In software systems with RBAC, a user can be given access to a certain area of the system based on the set of rules that apply to all users. These rules are implemented as policies. that are enforced in the software. Common RBAC implementations are ACLs (authorization checks), user management structures, and centralized authorization databases.
The Difference Between Authentication vs. Authorization
Authentication and authorization are two different things.
- Authentication: A user needs to authenticate with a server in order to access a resource. This process is performed by the server and the user needs to agree on what they want to access before accessing it.
- Authorization: A user has to authorize an application, service or a device in order for it to be able to perform certain actions (e.g. receiving an email, making a payment). The user must agree on what they want the application/service/device do before it can perform those actions (e.g. sending an email).
- Authentication : Determines whether users are who they claim to be.
- Authorization ; Determines what users can and cannot access.
- Authentication : Usually done before authorization.
- Authorization : Usually done after successful authentication.
- Authentication : Generally governed by the OpenID Connect (OIDC) protocol
- Authorization : Generally governed by the OAuth 2.0 framework