What is Authentication?
Authentication is the broad category for a digital process that determines who you are, and makes you prove that you are that person by verifying your credentials against your account information. Authentication is the process digitally of determining 1) Who you are and 2) That you are in fact the person you’re identifying yourself as, for the purpose of access security. There are two stages–identification and credentials checking. First a user identifies themself with an account name (aka login ID, email address, identifier, etc.). Then they provide a credential (password, certificate, biometric, etc.) that can be checked to verify their identity.
Net net, authentication should answer the question: Whooooo are you? Who who? Who who?
What are some of the challenges for Authentication in a distributed environment?
Managing authentication across sources has many challenges. For the identification step, when there are multiple identity stores to search through and find a user entry– data structures each have their own way of representing data, locating and addressing a record, and structuring it in a schema. Identities are described differently in each source and there are different object class types. For the second stage, credentials may be stored in different repositories, and sources may have different checking mechanisms.