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Endpoint authentication

(also device authentication)

Endpoint authentication definition

Endpoint authentication is a security process that verifies the identity of a device (like a computer or smartphone) before allowing it to access a network. Endpoint authentication validates the user’s credentials (typically a username and password or digital certificate) to verify the device’s identity. Companies use endpoint authentication to protect networks from cyber threats and make sure only authorized devices can gain access.

See also: MFA bombing

How endpoint authentication works

  • When a device tries to connect to a network or system, it provides some form of identification, often in the form of a username and password or a digital certificate.
  • The network or system checks the provided identification against its records to confirm if it matches a legitimate user or device.
  • If the provided identification matches, the device can access the network or system. If it doesn’t match or the system suspects someone is trying to get unauthorized access, it doesn’t allow the device to access the system.

Endpoint authentication and MFA

Many organizations use endpoint authentication together with MFA to improve network security because these two security measures complement each other to create many layers of protection.

  • Endpoint authentication is the initial layer. When a device attempts to access a network, it undergoes endpoint authentication to check the device's identity. If the device's identity is confirmed, it proceeds to the next step.
  • MFA is the additional layer of security. After successful endpoint authentication, MFA asks the user to provide one or more additional forms of identification. These could include something they know (e.g., a PIN), something they have (e.g., a smartphone or security token), or something they are (e.g., a fingerprint or facial recognition).