An authentication token is something that you use frequently when going online and logging into your favorite websites, but most people don’t know what it is or how it works. This term applies to both physical and digital tokens, which equally serve the purpose of protecting the user and improving the developer’s system. Always be sure to keep your token safe so that you can keep your information private.
A physical token is a type of chip that is embedded in a card, keychain or some other object. There are now many credit cards with tokens that, during credit card processing, a cashier must enter into the system so that the card goes through. Regardless of the object, the main thing is that it has a chip that contains your personal token.
The chip on the object acts like a password. It allows you to access your personal information. People without the token will be unable to login under your username.
You use digital tokens all the time without even knowing it. Did you sign into Facebook? Then you used a token. How about Twitter or an online merchant account? Then you also had to use a token. In this sense, a token is a password, phrase or username. Anything that you had to enter before accessing your personal page is an authentication token.
While not as safe as the physical manifestation, this is the more popular option because it makes it easier for users to access their information with ease and speed.
Difference Between Token and Server Authentication
Though tokens are useful, they are far from new. Their predecessors were commonly used before with merchant account providers and other businesses. Usernames and passwords are almost as old as the Internet itself, but initially this information wasn’t treated like a token.
At first, all login information was run by server authentication. It’s similar in terms of security, but it’s a nightmare for the developer. With server authentication, every digital handshake was run through the server, which would make credit card processing and other digital processes very heavy in terms of coding and resources. A token gives the user a single unique key during their session so that they can go back and forth within the system without requiring a vast amount of resources.
This might seem like a small difference, but it makes servers much more efficient at juggling various users.