Cyber security

Introduction to Kerberos: The Network Authentication Tool


Earlier, users entered passwords to access computer systems. A disadvantage of this authentication method is that if hackers obtain the password, they can take on the identity of the user and gain access to the organization’s network. So there must be a better way for organizations to secure systems and users. The solution lies in Kerberos.

What Is Kerberos?

The protocol is an authentication protocol that uses third-party authentication for validating user profiles. Also, it uses symmetric key cryptography to encrypt the plaintext and decrypt the ciphertext. A cryptographic key is a secret key that enables two or more objects to share confidential information.

In short, Kerberos protects the privacy of an organization. Now that you understand what Kerberos is, you might ask why Kerberos. Kerberos authentication is stronger than other authentication protocols, which means cybercriminals find it hard to break it.


There will always be weaknesses in an organization that need to be handled so that it can defend itself from cybercrime. Many popular operating systems use Kerberos authentication, such as Windows, UNIX, and Linux. Kerberos has made the internet a more secure place with its use.

A Kerberos system or router provides a connection between a user’s computer and the internet. As a result, it prevents cyber attacks. As an intermediary, it is a server that sits between end-users and the web pages they browse online.

The main components of Kerberos are:

  • Authentication Server (AS):
    The Authentication Server creates Ticket Granting Service tickets and performs initial authentication.
  • Database:
    Authentication Server verifies that users have access to the database.
  • Ticket Granting Server (TGS):
    The TGS issues tickets to the server

Kerberos Overview:

  • Step – 1: User logs on to the host and requests services. The user then requests access to the ticket service.
  • Step – 2: As soon as the right to access the database is verified, tickets are granted and session keys are generated.┬áThe results are encrypted using the user’s password.
  • Step-3:
    After decrypting the message with the password, the ticket will be sent to Ticket Granting Server. A ticket contains authentication data such as user name and network address.
  • Step-4:
    This process begins with decrypting the ticket sent to the ticket-providing server; after that, the authentication server verifies the request and sends the ticket to the server.
  • Step-5:
    The user sends the ticket and authentification to the server.
  • Step-6:
    The server authenticates the ticket, granting the user access to the service. This will allow the user to access the services.

Following the client’s successful authentication, the target server sends the client a message verifying that the client and server have authenticated each other, at which point the secured session can begin.

To know more about public key cryptography visit our blog.

We have come so far in learning what Kerberos is, so let’s focus on the topic of the reliability of Kerberos.

Is Kerberos trustworthy?

There is no 100% impenetrable security measure and Kerberos isn’t an exception. As a consequence of its long existence, hackers have had plenty of opportunities to find ways around it, frequently by forging tickets, guessing passwords repeatedly, and using malware to weaken the encryption.

However, Keberos is still the best security access protocol available today. It also provides the flexibility to support more robust encryption algorithms, and if users follow good password policies, it should be fine.

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Why Kerberos is needed?

Kerberos is designed to eliminate the need to store passwords locally or send passwords over the internet, and it provides mutual authentication.

Where is Kerberos used?

Kerberos is a protocol for authenticating entities requesting network resources used mainly in large networks where SSO is required. However, many widely used networking systems use the protocol by default.

Which type of protocol is Kerberos?

Kerberos is an authentication protocol for networks. It uses secret-key cryptography to provide strong authentication for client/server applications.

What is the size of Kerberos?

A Kerberos ticket included in an HTTP request is Base64 encoded (6 bits expanded to 8 bits). As a result, the Kerberos ticket is only 133% of its original size. As a result, the Kerberos ticket can use 48,000 bytes when the maximum buffer size in IIS is 64 KB.

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