Authentication vs Authorization – What is the Difference?

authentication vs authorization
In the world of customer identity and access management, the words authentication and authorization are often confused with each other despite their vast differences.

Authentication simply is when the system checks if you are who you say you are. On the other hand, authorization enforces pre-determined rules on whether or not to provide you with access to a resource.

Let’s explore the different methods by which organizations use authentication and authorization.

Authentication – the popular types

  • A simple authentication system verifies a user if he/she knows their password.
  • Users can also get verified if they provide the system with an OTP, security PIN/ question, or by clicking on a magic link that is sent to their registered mobile number.
  • Users can get verification across several apps if he/she has a set of credentials.
  • Social media platform accounts can also be a verification method for users, as they are quite convenient.

Authorization – the popular types

  • To access the desired system or resource, you can use OAuth, as it lets the API do the authentication easily.
  • Via OpenID authorization, the user can gain access based on an authorization server’s authentication.
  • A standard Single Sign-On format is where digitally signed XML documents facilitate the exchange of authentication information.
  • JWT or a JSON web token is utilized to safely move data between parties. Authorization is carried out with a public/private key pair.
  • RBAC’s or Role-Based Access Controls, another popular technique of authorization, is employed for privilege management on a system-to-system and user-to-system basis.

Both authentication and authorization are the key aspects of ensuring that sensitive data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Their enhanced role in customer identity and access management can’t be underestimated, as they are critical to the web service infrastructure of the company.

To learn more about the authentication vs authorization – concept, differences, and techniques, check out the infographic below created by LoginRadius.

authentication vs authorization Infographic

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