Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

Representation and authentication on computer networks

Christopher Gray Girling

154 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted April 1983 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Queens’ College.

DOI: 10.48456/tr-37


Controlling access to objects in a conventional operating system is a well understood problem for which solutions are currently in existence. Such solutions utilize mechanisms which accurately and trivially provide the identity of an accessing subject. In the context of a collection of computers communicating with each other over a network, provision of this mechanism is more complex. The design of such a mechanism and its implementation on the Cambridge Ring at Cambridge University is described.

The vehicle used to prove the identity of an object irrefutably is called a representation and the deduction of an object’s identity is called authentication. Methods of authentication are given which show that the mechanism can cope with identification needs that arise in practice (even in a network where the function asigned to each computer is constantly changing). These generate representations for such important components of a computer network as people, services and addresses. The implementation of a representation system utilizing some of these methods is described, including the incorporation of its use into a real operating system. The place of representations within the communication protocols that must transport them is considered and some enhancements are proposed. in addition, some interesting variations and extensions of the system are explored.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Girling, Christopher Gray},
  title = 	 {{Representation and authentication on computer networks}},
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  doi = 	 {10.48456/tr-37},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-37}