(also two-way authentication)
Mutual authentication definition
Two-way authentication, also known as mutual authentication, is a security process where both the server and client validate each other’s identities before initiating a connection. This protocol amplifies the security measures of a connection compared to conventional one-way authentication, where identity validation only happens from the server’s end.
Mutual authentication examples
- Secure shell (SSH): SSH uses mutual authentication to create a secure channel between a local and remote computer.
- Transport layer security (TLS): TLS can be configured for mutual authentication to ensure both parties in a connection are who they claim to be.
- Virtual private networks (VPN): Some VPN protocols use mutual authentication to increase the security of the connection.
Advantages and disadvantages of mutual authentication
- Enhanced security: By authenticating both parties, mutual authentication reduces the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks.
- Trust: It builds a higher level of trust in the communication as both parties verify each other..
- Complexity: Mutual authentication involves a more complex setup and management than one-way authentication.
- Performance: The extra security checks can lead to a slight delay in establishing a connection.
Using mutual authentication
- Use trusted certificates for authentication to avoid spoofing attacks.
- Ensure that both parties have a system in place for managing and renewing their digital certificates.