Definition: Authentication is verifying the identity of a user logging onto a network.

What This Means: Any system that contains confidential information has to know who is accessing that system. Authentication is the gatekeeper task. Passwords, digital certificates, smart cards, and biometrics can be used to prove identity. This is especially difficult in an education setting where principals, superintendents, and staff too often give their sign-ons and passwords to someone else such as assistants, parent volunteers, or even student office aides. (See Authorization for a complementary term.)


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