Join Mike Chapple for an in-depth discussion in this video Identification, authentication, authorization, and accounting, part of CompTIA Security+ (SY0-501) Cert Prep: 4 Identity and Access Management.
- [Instructor] As security professionals, one of the most important things that we do is ensure that only authorized individuals gain access to the information, systems, and networks under our protection. The access control process consists of three steps that all Security+ candidates must understand. These steps are identification, authentication, and authorization. During the first step of the process, identification, an individual makes a claim about his or her identity.
The person trying to gain access doesn't present any proof at this point. They simply make an assertion. It's important to remember that the identification step is only a claim and the user could certainly be making a false claim. Imagine a physical world scenario where you want to enter a secure office building where you have an appointment. During the identification step of the process, you might walk up to the security desk and say, "Hi, I'm Mike Chapel." Proof comes into play during the second step of the process, authentication.
During the authentication step, the individual proves his or her identity to the satisfaction of the access control system. In our office building example, the guard would likely want to see my driver's license to confirm my identity. Just proving your identity isn't enough to gain access to a system however. The access control system also needs to be satisfied that you are allowed to access the system. That's the third step of the access control process, authorization. In our office building example, the security guard might check a list of that day's appointments to see if it includes my name.
When you get ready for the Security+ exam, it's very important that you remember the distinction between the identification and authentication phases. Be ready to identify the phase associated with an example of an access control mechanism. So far, we've talked about identification, authentication, and authorization in the context of gaining access to a building. Let's now talk about how they work in the electronic world. When we go to log in to a system, we most often identify ourselves using a username, most likely composed of some combination of the letters from our names.
When we reach the authentication phase, we're commonly asked to enter a password. There are many other ways to authenticate and we'll talk about those later in this course as well as how strong access control systems combine multiple authentication approaches. Finally, in the electronic world, authorization often takes the form of access control lists that itemize the specific file system permissions granted to an individual user or group of users. Users proceed through the identification, authentication, and authorization processes when they request access to a resource.
In addition to these processes, access control systems also provide accounting functionality that allows administrators to track user activity and reconstruct it from logs at a later date. Together, the activities of authentication, authorization, and accounting are commonly described as Triple A.
Instructor Mike Chapple has designed the training around the most recent version of CompTIA Security+, SY0-501, which expands coverage of mobile and cloud technologies. By learning about the topics in this course, you'll be prepared to answer questions from the latest exam—and strengthen your own organization's systems and defenses. To join one of Mike's free study groups, visit certmike.com.
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- Identification methods
- Authentication factors
- Multifactor authentication
- Single sign-on
- Authorization and access controls
- Account management