HP OpenVMS Guide to System Security > Chapter 1 Understanding System Security


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Kerberos is a network authentication protocol designed to provide strong authentication for client/server applications by using secret-key cryptography. It was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of Project Athena in the mid-1980s. Project Athena's mandate was to explore diverse uses of computing and to build the knowledge base needed for longer-term strategic decisions about how computers fit into the MIT curriculum.

Starting with Version 7.3-1, HP provides Kerberos as part of the OpenVMS Alpha operating system. Kerberos is compatible with OpenVMS Alpha Version 7.2-2 and higher, and OpenVMS VAX Version 7.3 and higher.

Until Kerberos V4, this technology was not available to the general public. Prior versions were for only internal Project Athena use. Kerberos V5, the current implementation, is the first commercial-ready release.

The Kerberos protocol uses strong cryptography, so that a client can prove its identity to a server (and vice versa) across an insecure network connection. After a client and server have used Kerberos to prove their identity, they can also encrpt all of their communications to assure privacy and data integrity.

For more information about Kerberos, see HP Open Source Security for OpenVMS, Volume 3: Kerberos or the Kerberos for OpenVMS web site at