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.
Kerberos is the name of the three-headed dog that guarded
the gates of Hades in Greek mythology. Cerberus, who many argue
should be the name used, is the Latin name for the equivalent entity
in Roman mythology.
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
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 encrypt all
of their communications to assure privacy and data integrity.
OpenVMS provides support for both Kerberos clients and servers,
beginning with OpenVMS Version 7.3-1. Kerberos Version 3.0 for OpenVMS
is based on MIT Kerberos V5 Release 1.4.1.