Kerberos (protocol)

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Kerberos (pronounced /ˈkɛərbərəs/[1]) is a computer network authentication protocol, which allows nodes communicating over a non-secure network to prove their identity to one another in a secure manner. Its designers aimed primarily at a client–server model, and it provides mutual authentication — both the user and the server verify each other's identity. Kerberos protocol messages are protected against eavesdropping and replay attacks.

Kerberos builds on symmetric key cryptography and requires a trusted third party, and optionally may use public-key cryptography by utilizing asymmetric key cryptography during certain phases of authentication.[2]

Kerberos is also a suite of free software published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that implements this protocol.

Kerberos uses port 88 by default.


History and development

MIT developed Kerberos to protect network services provided by Project Athena. The protocol was named after the Greek mythological character Kerberos (or Cerberus), known in Greek mythology as being the monstrous three-headed guard dog of Hades. Several versions of the protocol exist; versions 1–3 occurred only internally at MIT.

Steve Miller and Clifford Neuman, the primary designers of Kerberos version 4, published that version in the late 1980s, although they had targeted it primarily for Project Athena.

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