The most common way to identify someone is through their physical

appearance, but how do we identify someone sitting behind a computer

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screen or at the ATM? Tools for authentication are used to ensure that

the person accessing the information is, indeed, who they present

themselves to be.

Authentication can be accomplished by identifying someone through one

or more of three factors: something they know, something they have, or

something they are. For example, the most common form of

authentication today is the user ID and password. In this case, the

authentication is done by confirming something that the user knows

(their ID and password). But this form of authentication is easy to

compromise and stronger forms of

authentication are sometimes needed. Identifying someone only by

something they have, such as a key or a card, can also be problematic.