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Shared-key authentication

Shared-key authentication definition

Shared-key authentication (SKA) is a method of authentication where both the sender and receiver share a secret key or passphrase. This shared key is used to authenticate the identities of both parties and to secure communication between them. SKA is simple and straightforward and is often used where efficiency takes priority over ultimate security.

See also: adaptive authentication, biometric authentication

How does shared-key authentication work?

  1. 1.Key generation. First, both parties have to agree on a shared secret key or passphrase.
  2. 2.Authentication. The sender’s message includes the security key so the message can pass authentication.
  3. 3.Verification. The receiver verifies the authenticity of the sender by checking if the shared key provided matches the one they have.
  4. 4.Secure communication. If the keys match, the sender and receiver can communicate securely.

Examples of shared-key authentication:

  • Wireless networks. SKA is commonly used in Wi-Fi networks, using Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) with pre-shared keys.
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs). Some VPNs use SKAs to establish secure connections between clients and servers.
  • Embedded systems: due to being lightweight, SKA is used with embedded systems and IoT devices with limited computing resources.
  • File sharing. SKA is suitable for file sharing and encryption protocols where parties need to exchange files securely.