Authentication vs authorization, what's the difference?

DefaultUser

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I really only know about shared hosting and looking at getting either a dedicated server or a VPS so I have been looking at lots of information on both (info overload). I see the terms authentication and authorization and wanted to know if they are basically the same thing or if they are completely different. From an outsider or someone new to the terms they seem the same. What's the main difference if any?
 

gagah

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In theory authentication is proving who you are, authorization is proving what you have access to. But people used those terms interchangeably sometimes because most of the time both just asked for username and password anyway.
 

hfav

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Authentication is the process to identify user with username and password.

Authorization is the mechanism, which a system determines what level of access a user should have (authenticated user).

A user logged in to a Windows 10 computer using username and password - This process is Authentication.

A user has access to D:\public but he/she doesn't have access to D:\payroll - The mechanism which determines user's access is Authorization.
 

Gecko

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In theory authentication is proving who you are, authorization is proving what you have access to.
Nice answer! I am going to have to remember this one when I see a similar question somewhere. I have a tendency to sometimes get too technical and most of the time that is not needed. Your answer was great and anyone should be able to understand it.


A user logged in to a Windows 10 computer using username and password - This process is Authentication.

A user has access to D:\public but he/she doesn't have access to D:\payroll - The mechanism which determines user's access is Authorization.
I love this example since this is a way of putting it that everyone can understand!
 

LJSHost

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I would say Authentication is something where a challenge is made, SSH asking for login information for example. Authorization is more a rule that is already set such as an IP white listed on your firewall.
 

DefaultUser

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In theory authentication is proving who you are, authorization is proving what you have access to. But people used those terms interchangeably sometimes because most of the time both just asked for username and password anyway.
Well that is what was getting me confused. It was seeming like the terms were being used for several things that seemed to me were different. I just wanted to make sure that it wasn't just me thinking they were being misused.

Authentication is the process to identify user with username and password.

Authorization is the mechanism, which a system determines what level of access a user should have (authenticated user).

A user logged in to a Windows 10 computer using username and password - This process is Authentication.

A user has access to D:\public but he/she doesn't have access to D:\payroll - The mechanism which determines user's access is Authorization.
That's something like what I first thought but the more I started to see the terms the more confused I was getting.

I would say Authentication is something where a challenge is made, SSH asking for login information for example. Authorization is more a rule that is already set such as an IP white listed on your firewall.
That makes sense. I just wish that people were not doing there best (it seemed) to confuse people. Break it down and make it easier for more people to understand is what I think would be best for everyone.
 
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