Kerberos is a network authentication protocol designed to provide strong authentication for client/server applications. It was developed by MIT in the 1980s and is named after the three-headed dog from Greek mythology that guarded the gates of Hades, symbolizing the protocol’s aim to provide secure authentication in a potentially hostile network environment.

How Kerberos works

Kerberos relies on a trusted third party called the Key Distribution Center (KDC). The KDC maintains a database of secret keys for each user and service on the network. The protocol uses symmetric key cryptography, meaning that both the client and the server know the same shared encryption key.

The main goal of Kerberos is to prove the identity of both the client and the server to each other so that they can securely exchange information. To achieve this, the protocol uses tickets - encrypted messages containing information about the client’s identity, the server’s identity, and a shared session key.

Here is a high-level summary of the Kerberos authentication process:

Benefits of Kerberos


In summary, Kerberos is a robust and widely used authentication protocol that helps secure client/server communications. Its centralized management and strong security measures make it an excellent choice for organizations with demanding authentication requirements. However, it also has its limitations and complexities that must be carefully managed to maintain a secure and efficient authentication process.