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Difference between Kerberos and SSL

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1. Kerberos : Kerberos is a computer-network authentication system which is used for the authentication of users information while logging into the system. Kerberos is based on symmetric key cryptography and depends on a reliable third party and works on the private key encryption during phases of authentication. Different versions of Kerberos are developed for enhancing security in the authentication. Kerberos is generally implemented in Microsoft products like Windows 2000, Windows XP and later windows.


  • Strong authentication: Kerberos provides strong authentication mechanisms that use secret keys to authenticate users and services, which helps to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Centralized authentication: Kerberos allows for centralized authentication, which means that users only need to authenticate once to access multiple resources.
  • Scalability: Kerberos is scalable and can handle large numbers of users and resources.\
  • Widely supported: Kerberos is widely supported and can be used on a variety of platforms, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.


  • Complexity: Kerberos can be complex to set up and maintain, especially for non-technical users.
  • Limited application support: Kerberos is not supported by all applications, which can make it difficult to use in some situations.
  • Vulnerable to certain attacks: Kerberos is vulnerable to certain attacks, such as brute force attacks and replay attacks.

 2. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) : SSL is an encryption protocol which gives secure transmission in a non-secure network. SSL requires a certificate and works on the public key encryption. SSL does not use any port directly, it works on TCP protocol and uses any port over TCP. SSL is implemented in different applications of networked environment such as web browsing, messaging, emails and other protocols like FTP


  • Widely used: SSL is a widely used protocol that is supported by most web browsers and applications.
  • Easy to use: SSL is relatively easy to use and does not require much configuration.
  • Strong encryption: SSL provides strong encryption that is difficult to break, which makes it an ideal protocol for secure web communications.
  • Compatibility: SSL is compatible with a wide range of devices and platforms.


  • Vulnerable to certain attacks: SSL can be vulnerable to certain types of attacks, including man-in-the-middle attacks and SSL stripping attacks.
  • Limited application support: SSL is not supported by all applications, which can make it difficult to use in some situations.
  • Expensive: SSL certificates can be expensive, which can be a barrier to entry for some users or organizations.

Similarities :

  • Authentication: Both Kerberos and SSL are designed to provide authentication, verifying the identities of users or devices accessing a network or website. This helps to ensure that only authorized parties can access sensitive information.
  • Encryption: Both protocols use encryption to protect the confidentiality of data being transmitted over a network. This means that even if data is intercepted by a third party, it will be difficult or impossible to read without the encryption key.
  • Widely used: Both Kerberos and SSL are widely used protocols, with support for them built into many operating systems and applications. This means that they can be easily implemented in a variety of environments, making them popular choices for securing networks and websites.
  • Vulnerabilities: Both protocols are susceptible to certain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers. For example, SSL can be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, while Kerberos has been known to be vulnerable to certain types of password attacks. As a result, both protocols require careful implementation and monitoring to ensure that they are providing adequate security.

Difference between Kerberos and SSL

1.Kerberos is an open source software and offers free services.SSL does not offer free service as it is patented.
2.Kerberos is generally implemented in microsoft products like Windows 2000, Windows XP and later windows.SSL is implemented in web browsing, messaging and other protocols like FTP.
3.Kerberos depends on a reliable third party.SSL is asynchronous as it depends on the certificate.
4.Kerberos works on the private key encryption.While SSL works on the public key encryption.
5.Kerberos is best suited for the WWW.SSL is appropriate and effective for the networked environments.
6.In kerberos, key cancellation is achieved by disabling any user on authentication server.In SSL, revocation server control records of the bad certificate for key cancellation.


 Kerberos and SSL are two different protocols used for different purposes. Kerberos is primarily used for authentication and authorization of network services, while SSL is primarily used for securing web-based communications. They use different encryption algorithms, have different authentication mechanisms, are implemented on different layers of the TCP/IP protocol stack, and use different approaches to authentication. Understanding the differences between these two protocols can help you choose the right one for your specific needs.

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Last Updated : 18 Mar, 2023
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