Sat Feb 7 10:07:47 PST 1998 — New authentication server online. The authentication server checks passwords. In most cases, when someone (say, Ann) presents a password to one of our servers, that server doesn’t have any idea what Ann’s password looks like.
Instead, the server encrypts the password and passes it to our auth server. The auth server inspects the password and returns a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response — if the response is ‘yes,’ Ann can retrieve her popmail (or log into her FrontPage web, or transfer files to the FTP server, or what have you.) We find this security model very attractive, because it means we can store passwords on specially protected hosts.
But there is a problem — as we load up our auth server with more and more authentication tasks, Ann discovers that it takes her longer and longer to retrieve her popmail, or log into the shell host, or connect to our network. Clearly, we need a very fast authentication server. Since June, Dane and I have been working on one — and that’s what we’ve deployed this morning: a very fast authentication server. If you’re interested in the details, please visit news:sonic.programmer. -Scott