How Does Authentication Work in Cybersecurity?

Written by: Renee Chambers
How Does Authentication Work in Cybersecurity?

Authentication methods, such as passwordless authentication, is a process by which we verify that a sure is who they say they are. When we log into a website, we’re performing authentication.

There are three different types of authentication that we perform daily; authentication, identification, and authorization.

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

3 Types of Authentication

Here are three types of authentication.


This is the most basic of the three. Authentication simply means verifying that a person, such as you, is who they say they are.

We may be authenticating to a website, establishing an account with a financial institution, using our social security number at an ATM, or accessing our home computer through terminals that don’t require us to identify ourselves. Authentication is performed for many different purposes.


Identification is much like authentication, but it confirms that a user has authenticated and entered something that cannot be easily guessed by anyone else (such as one’s username). An example of identification might be typing in your password when prompted by an automated system or text message on your phone.

Authentication and identification are sometimes combined into one process called single sign-on (SSO). However, authentication is still distinct from identification because when you authenticate with something (such as a login), you are verifying information about yourself. Still, it doesn’t confirm that you are who you say you are.


It’s worth noting that any network can operate only when everyone’s access to the network is granted, and each user must be authenticated before being allowed to access the network. Authorization is the process by which we are authorized to access network resources.

When granted permissions, we are asked to verify our identity before accessing any information or services on a network. This can be done through a login screen where we log in with our username and password or with technologies like biometrics, smartcards, and more.

The point is that all of this ensures that people who are supposed to have access will only have access to their data. We do not want just anyone able to view, edit or delete any information on a network. Hence, authorization grants us the power to control what others can see and control our systems and networks.

Authorization can even go further by forcing users to confirm that their actions were authorized by their own companies. For example, ensure that you’ve been asked for permission first when you log into your work computer from home (such as authorization).

How to Choose the Most Secure Authentication

The Type of Business You Run

The type of business and industry you work in determines the technology you may use to secure your network. If you run a larger company, then your IT department can handle most of the security concerns and can get a lot more done than someone running a small business might be able to do.

However, whether a company can afford to purchase expensive equipment such as firewalls or other security mechanisms depends on what it brings in revenue.

Your Technical Expertise

If you are more technical minded, then the chances are that you would have the expertise to modify equipment to meet your security needs. If not, someone would probably have to install it for you and check that it works.

Remember, no matter how well protected or secured your data is, someone could still access your server or system, potentially take all of your data, and destroy your data without any detection. This is because data is being stored in volatile memory (RAM).

A typical example is when someone browses through email but quickly loads images before sending them off. This is why many companies prefer plug-and-play devices where things work right out of the box without modification, but this may not be the most secure option.

Your Security Needs

There are many other reasons you might want to consider augmenting a client’s security solution. You might be running a business and want to increase your security budget to get the best solution for your needs.

It could also be because all your website data is stored in the cloud, which means you have little control over that data. Whatever reason you have for security, you must choose the correct authentication.

So, how does authentication work in cybersecurity?

Now, more than ever, businesses need to adopt a cybersecurity strategy that protects their information and their organization from cyberattacks. Cyberattacks have expanded to include securing sensitive data and intellectual property. While basic authentication works well, you might need other forms such as identification and authorization.