The growing technological innovation is also increasing the risk of data breaches and hacking as cybercriminals are now well-equipped, skilled, and have a better understanding of exploiting the vulnerabilities in any organization’s security. Apart from utilizing different software, antivirus and firewalls, companies now use strong authentication and authorization methods to limit the users accessing their system.
Authentication and authorization can be termed as the front line of defense against any malicious attempt to gain access to the system and steal sensitive information. Both these terms although feel the same and are used interchangeably in some cases but they have a different purpose and one is followed by another in improving the cybersecurity of any individual or company’s system.
Authentication is the process of verifying someone’s identity or validating any user’s credentials to make sure they are what they claim to be before granting them access to the website, application, or any service. You can find in-depth information in Authentication and Its Types to learn more about authentication. The authentication process is now very common, from mobile devices to bank accounts and e-commerce websites, everything now requires a user to prove their identity so the system can authenticate and provide access filtering out the spam, illegal and malicious users trying to enter the system. While authorization is usually granted after a user has authenticated himself or his identity. It is the process of providing permission to the user to avail any particular service or access any specific resource. Access control and authorization are normally used in the same context. In any protected and secured organization, both authentication and authorization must be in place eliminating any risk of unwanted access to the network or system.
This difference between both terms can be understood from an example of an e-commerce website. They are the most sensitive ones regarding cyber-attacks as they contain personal and bank account information of the users. Any user utilizing his password and username to access the site is the authentication process. While after the user has logged into the website or his account, he has the permission to access the site as a buyer only, this is the authorization granted by the website. Sellers and buyers on the website have access to different parts and resources of the website while the admin team has permission to open or access much more options on the website. All these specific permissions to different types of users visiting the website are the access control or authorization process maintained and controlled by the developer team.
Authentication verifies and grants access to the website based on a password, pin, or biometric information while authorization is pre-determined and specific to the user, client, team, etc. In some cases, a user can change the authentication process or make amendments to it while authorization isn’t visible or amendable by the user or customer. Different departments including marketing, content, finance, customer support, etc. have permission to access specific resources on the system. This barrier to employees, users, clients, and vendors keeps the system secure and free from any insider’s access to sensitive or unwanted information.
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