Differences between Authentication and Authorization

This tutorial compares authentication and authorization and lists the main differences between them. Learning these differences will help you in managing network more confidently.

Authentication and Authorization are two cybersecurity terms. Computers and networks use these terms to define the techniques they use to secure resources. They use two levels of protection to protect their resources. On level one, they verify the user or the service that wants to access the resources. On level two, they check the access level of the resources. Authentication works on level one. Authorization works on level two. Authentication defines who can access the resources. Authorization defines how much the authenticated user or service can access.

Differences between authentication and authorization

The following table compares authentication with authorization and lists their main differences.

AccessAuthentication works on the user or service level. A user or service either gets access or not at all.Authorization works on the object level. A user or service can get all, limited, or no access to objects.
ConfigurationAuthentication is easier to configure, implement, and manage than authorization.Authorization is harder to configure, implement, and manage than authentication.
LayerAuthentication is the first layer of defense against unauthorized access.Authorization is the second layer of defense. It works after authentication.
SecurityAuthentication provides more security than authorization.Authorization is flexible. It is less secure than authentication.
ComplexityAuthentication is simple.Authorization is complex.
ExamplesUsername and password, biometrics, smart card, PAP, and CHAP are examples of authentication.File and folder permissions, System properties change rights, encryptions, and ACLs are examples of authorization.

authentication and authorization


As a network or system administrator, you should understand the distinctions between authentication and authorization. Authentication involves the process of users logging on to the network using their unique usernames and passwords. After authentication, users get access to specific network resources based on their permissions. The permission or right that defines which network resources users can access post-authentication is known as authorization.

ComputerNetworkingNotes CCNA Study Guide Differences between Authentication and Authorization